GOD’S PEOPLE FREE
From the Tyranny of Tithing and the Curse of Corban
church traditions must always be examined in light of the Word of God, as it applies to us today as New Testament believers.
When they are not sanctioned by Scripture, they’ll do far more harm than good, and should be repudiated as false; even
popular, deeply entrenched doctrines. The Gospel of Grace, as revealed to the original apostles, must be the sole foundation upon which we practice our Christian faith (Galatians 1:8-9; Romans 2:16; Jude
3). NOT ONCE does Paul, Apostle to the Gentiles, ever command New Testament believers to tithe on their wages. If he had mandated such a law, he could have lived in luxury, rather than saying: At this very hour we
are hungry, and thirsty, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace (I Corinthians 4:11).
of televangelists can boast: “At this very hour we are feasting at five-star restaurants, sipping champagne, and wearing
$1000 suits. We enjoy lavish buffets on cruise ships and dwell in million-dollar
mansions.” One eminent evangelist boasts a stable full of pedigree Arabian
horses. Another flies around in a gold-plated jet. Believe it or not, still another boasts that he wears a pair of new shoes
only once “because he has a shoe fetish”. Are God’s people
to blame for waking up to their game? Are they to blame for not saying “amen” to the amenities enjoyed by carnal
“ministers of the Word”? How do they get all that mad money so easily? They sure don’t get it by punching a time clock everyday!
source squeezed out of Christians is the tithe.
But is the Christian tithing ordinance God-given or man-mandated? What
was the purpose of the biblical tithe, what did it consist of, and to whom was
this regulation really given?
The Tithe: An Edible Product
me on the most exhaustive Bible study I have ever done on any topic? A burning
desire to know the real truth. God has guided me in my search. Here’s how it all began.
One day I was taking a tour of the Word of God when I happened across a passage of Scripture
I’d never head any preacher expound on in all my long life. I thought my
eyes must be playing tricks on me, so I read it again to make sure it really was in the Bible! It made me ask myself: Could my suspicions be well-founded? As a student of the New Testament, I’d always had a question nagging at the back of my mind:
Why didn’t the apostles ever remind church-goers to pay their tithe
So I began
digging and researching. I accumulated an overwhelming body of evidence to prove that no minister, whatever his credentials,
is authorized by Scripture to collect tithes today, only freewill offerings!
Scriptures contradicted a sacrosanct exhortation I’d heard all my life: DON’T EAT THE TITHE! But what was the original
purpose of the tithe, and what did it consist of?
14: 22-27 deals with the Festival Tithe, one of three tithes brought by the Israelites
to their place of worship.
VERSE 22 Thou
shalt truly tithe all the increase (harvest) of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
And thou ( the tithe-payer!) shalt EAT before the LORD thy God, in the place which He shall chose to place His name there,
the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thy olive oil, and of the firstlings
of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. What an eye-opener!
VERSE 24 introduces
the only context in all of Holy Scripture where money is mentioned in conjunction with tithing! Let’s read. And if the way be too long for thee, so
that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set His Name
there, when the Lord thy God hath blessed thee;
Then thou shalt turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God
VERSE 26 And
thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after; for oxen, or for sheep,
or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and THOU SHALT EAT there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy household,
VERSE 27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no
part nor inheritance with thee (in the Promised Land).
The Tithe: Ancient Israel’s Public
Service and Social Welfare Tax
prophet Malachi, so often quoted to keep the funds flowing, says the purpose of the tithe was to keep FOOD, NOT MONEY, in
God’s House (Malachi 3:10). Why? God doesn’t need farm produce to stay alive! The Levites (priestly tribe of Israel) were denied an inheritance (of real estate) in the
Promised Land. The tithe was their compensation for this, and their reward for their Tabernacle service (Numbers 18:21-24).
Three tithes (Ma’aserah) were paid by the people, two each year, during a seven-year
tithing cycle (the Shemittah cycle). Every seventh year the Land was to lie fallow,
to take its sabbath rest from being worked, even as the people rested every seventh day from physical labor. No tithes would
be collected that year at all. Have you ever heard of any churchgoer getting
a rest every seventh year from paying tithes?
how the Levitical tithing cycle worked: The first tithe, the Ma’aser Rishon,
10% of all the produce of THE LAND, went
for the support of the Levites (Numbers 18:21-32). This was paid once every year, except the seventh year. The second
tithe, the Festival Tithe (Ma’aser sheni), was levied on the remaining
90% of the crop, and was eaten by the worshippers themselves, as well as
the stranger, the fatherless, the widow, and the Levite. It was collected on the first, second, fourth, and fifth years of
the Shemittah cycle. In the third and sixth years, the Poor Tithe, (Ma’aser ani)
was tithed on the 90% remaining after bringing in the tithe for the
Levites. This one was paid instead
of the Festival Tithe.1 In all, 19% of Israel’s produce was brought in by the people as payment of tithes.2 Tithes were collected to feed the stranger,
the fatherless, the widow, and the Levite (Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12-15). Let’s see what Deuteronomy 14:28-29 says: And at the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year; and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
(And the Levite, because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.) and the stranger (foreigner), and the fatherless
and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come and eat and be satisfied; that the LORD they God may bless thee in all
the work of thine hand which thou doest. Notice, the landless Levites were counted among the poor! Thus, there were six Levitical
tithes, four Festival Tithes, and two Poor Tithes in any given tithing cycle, followed
by a sabbatical (seventh) year of rest for the Land. In every case, the
tithe was eaten, not deposited in a bank account!
there was a fourth tithe paid not by the people, but by the Levites on the tithe
they received, 10% of the tithes offered by all the other tribes of Israel to the tribe of Levi., or 1% of all the produce
of the land. This tithe of the tithe was
hand-picked and presented by the
Levites to the High Priest; who in turn presented it as a “heave offering”
to the Lord, as described in Numbers
18: 25-32. This best part of the crop was eaten by the Priestly division of the
tribe of Levi, who were descended from Aaron, brother of Moses. To qualify for the Levitical Priesthood, the highest calling
among the Levites, only physically perfect male specimens (no ladies, please!) of Aaron’s clan qualified to serve as priests
at the Altar (Leviticus 21:16-24). All other Levites ate the remainder
of the Levite’s tithe (Ma’aser rishon) brought by the people. It
was their wages for the service they rendered in the Tabernacle of the congregation,
under the authority of the Priesthood. These subordinate Levites played supporting
roles. They served as policemen, health inspectors, and ministers of public education. Some Levites (the sons of Kohath) were
responsible for transporting the sacred articles of the Tabernacle during the Israelites’ wilderness wanderings. All priests had to be Levites (members of the Tribe of Levi) but not all Levites
were priests; just like all Alabamians are Americans, but not all Americans are Alabamians.
It was the
Land, not the Federal Mint, which produced the tithe! Leviticus 27:30 says: And
all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto
the Lord. It is safe to say that only landowners who reaped the fruits of livestock
or land cultivation ever paid tithes in ancient Israel. Fishermen surely did not tithe on their catch! Nor did God require tithes of manufactured
articles, such as pottery, plows, tents and sandals.
Christians do not possess any Biblical inheritance (land), and poor people must rent their living space at exorbitant rates. Surprisingly, a lot of “spiritual Levites”
own luxurious mansions situated on prime real estate (privately owned,
of course), although Old Testament Levites were not given a stake in the land, except for a few scattered towns set aside
for them to dwell in.
Again I emphasize:
Numbers 18:21-24 makes it plain that only the sons of Levi were ever authorized
by God to collect tithes, and only from the children of Israel.
No other tribes of Israel were ever supposed to collect tithes, and certainly not Gentiles!
The Tithe: Old Testament
Law Reimposed By Men
simply do not trust God to inspire a spirit of liberality in His people. Compulsory tithing helps ensure a minimum contribution
from each parishioner. In this paper I’ll present some solid support for my firm conviction that the early church did
not compel its members to tithe.
to McClintock and Strong’s Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature, “In the early Christian Church the custom of consecrating
to religious purposes a tenth of income was voluntary, and it was not made obligatory until the Council of Tours in 567 A.D. The second Council of Macon in 585 A.D. enjoined the payment of tithes under pain of excommunication (article
of Catholicism states: “Paul’s
instructions on the Jerusalem collection urge voluntary giving
(I Corinthians 16:1-4; II Corinthians Chapters 8 and 9) which became the practice of Christians until religious and civil
authorities (sixth and eighth centuries) initiated legislation mandating tithing.”
By the beginning
of the Middle Ages (the sixth century A.D.),
Like a bloated bureaucracy, Big Religion had grown so complex that it needed
a more predictable source of income than freewill offerings to keep its machinery
running. It was hard for organised Christendom to subsist by faith alone.The prelates sitting on Church councils knew that the poor peasants generally could neither read nor gain access to the Scriptures, let alone scrutinize Church laws in the light of Paul’s Gospel. So the council met with no serious resistance when they took material out of the Old Covenant and spun
it into a panacea for their financial ills: obligatory tithing on money. And even though most modern Christians are well able to check this doctrine out for
themselves, they are made to feel guilty for even questioning its validity. It would be too costly for organized Christendom
if too many tithe-payers learned the truth. But why should modern Christians be burdened with
man’s version of an ancient ordinance the early Church didn’t have to keep? Jesus denounced the Pharisees for teaching as doctrines the commandments
of men (Matt. 15:8-9; Mark 7: 6-7).
escapes some ministers of modern-day Christendom who scarcely bother to “search the Scriptures to see if those things
are so” (Acts 17:11). Perhaps they’re afraid to do this, for with knowledge comes responsibility to walk in the
light of it. Nevertheless, tithing is hardly ever held up to unbiased scrutiny
by those who profit from it. In one American
“Word church”, one non-tither was singled out for open censure from the pulpit for “helping satan hinder
the spread of their ‘gospel’.
The Tithe: A Tax on Christian Liberty
To resurrect, reinvent and reimpose part of a Law nailed to the Cross of Christ is contrary to the
will of God, whatever the rationale behind it. Religious legalism is at enmity with our Liberty
in Christ. Paul admonishes us, as believers freed from the Curse of the Law, to stand fast in our liberty (Galatians 5:1).
It is the
business of politicians to “spin and grin” and compromise with lies in order to try and placate everyone at the
same time. Religious opportunists do the same thing when they use the Word of God deceitfully to gain their own ends (II Corinthians
2:17; 4:2). In Galatians 2:4-5,
Paul warns of false brethren who come into the congregation to “spy out our liberty in Christ Jesus, that they might
bring us into bondage. Bondage to what?
The old Law of Moses, the 600-odd ceremonial ordinances which were added to the Ten Commandments. He goes on to say firmly: To whom we gave place by subjection,
no, not so much as an hour; that the truth of the Gospel might continue with you. This
was the same apostle who urged believers to “insofar as possible, live
peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18). It might ruffle some folks’ feathers,
but the truth of the Gospel of Grace is never open to compromise!
Paul, who said, “bless, and curse not” (Romans 12:14) pronounces a curse on anyone who preaches any other gospel
than the one he himself presented (Galatians 1: 8). To drive home that point, he repeats that curse in verse 9. That in itself
shows God’s disapproval of seasoning the Gospel of Grace with a little legalism!
Now for even
more Scriptural evidence that mandatory tithing violates your liberty in Christ
the New Covenant Denies Who We Are in Christ
Scripture is any believer authorized to waive the Old Testament preconditions
of being a physically perfect male descended from the line of Aaron in order
to lay claim to imaginary perks of that ancient
priesthood (Rolexes, perhaps?). Nor is any pulpiteer supposed to officiate
as a feudal lord collecting rent in God’s name from lowly peasants out
in the pews (at least that’s the way worshippers are often treated!). Even Pharaoh pressured God’s people with
quotas. Tithing on money is an example of offering “strange fire before the Lord, which He commanded not” (Leviticus
10:1). If God’s people give a set amount of money because some preacher
threatens them with divine retribution, that springs from fear-mongering, not faith, and whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14:23). We who have entered into
God’s perfect rest of faith (prefigured by the Jewish Sabbath) have ceased to rely on our own works to earn God’s
approval (Hebrews 4: 1-13). Notice verse 10: He that has entered into his (God’s)
rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.
indeed have a spiritual priesthood under the New Covenant,but that includes every member of the Body of Christ, not just a
privileged few! Not only have WE (everyday believers) been made a royal priesthood and a holy nation in Christ (I Peter 2:5,9), but we are the Temple of
God (I Corinthians 3:16). What right does
anyone have to force us, the so-called laity (a man-made division in the Body of Christ) to pay tithe money to “spiritual
Levites”, when every blood-washed believer in Christ is called a priest? A believer’s position under the New Covenant
is a much more desirable one than that enjoyed by any Old Testament Israelite
or Levite. Why?
“laity” , as we understand it, could be applied to all Old Covenant Israelites not of the tribe of Levi, since
these other tribes were not chosen to draw near unto God to perform sacred rituals. “Laity” is derived from a
Greek word meaning “people”, and in this paper, I use it to distinguish the ministers of the Tabernacle from those who are not chosen for such a vocation. Although
Israel was God’s Chosen People,
only sons of Aaron,descended from Levi, were chosen by God to minister before Him at the Altar. And of that one clan of Levi , only the High Priest
was allowed to pass beyond the inner Veil of the Tabernacle into the Holiest Place of all, the
Holy of Holies, where the sacred Ark of the Covenant was. And even he
could only enter once a year (Hebrews 9:7), to sprinkle blood upon the Mercy Seat of the Ark,
as an atonement for himself and for the people.
Hebrews 10:19-22 assures us that now every true believer can enter into
the Holiest Place and draw near unto God because the Blood of Christ makes us acceptable to Him.
We who are saved by faith in Christ ARE the Temple of God, and God’s Holy Spirit dwells in us (I Corinthians 3:16; II
confuse the issue when they say only professional ministers are spiritual Levites.
Now if you’re gonna spiritualize the chicken, you’d better spiritualize
its eggs, or your analogy just won’t fly.
In time of
warfare, men from all the tribes of Israel were conscripted to fight real
flesh-and-blood foes on literal battle fields. Not so the Levites, who were exempt from military service. II Corinthians
10:3-5 and Ephesians Chapter 6 speak of the spiritual warfare waged by believers. Are “spiritual Levites” (tithe-collectors) then exempt from having to fight
spiritual battles with satan? On the contrary, a lot of preachers claim they fight the devil harder than anybody else!
is a spiritual Israel, which is the Household of Faith, composed of believing
Jews and Gentiles (Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:11-22), who are built together into a Holy
Temple of the Lord. I believe in the priesthood of all true believers
in Christ, spoken of by the early apostles. On that basis I’m convinced that there is no such thing as “spiritual
Levites” in the Body of Christ, anymore than there are spiritual Benjamites, Gadites or Danites. If you spiritualize one egg in a carton of twelve, you just gotta spiritualize all the others!
the Levites were set apart from the rest of Israel in the first place? God’s
original intention is stated in Exodus 19: 5-6: Now therefore if ye will obey
my voice indeed, then ye shall be a peculiar (special) treasure unto me above all people:
for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests
and an holy nation. These are the words which ye shall speak unto the children
little word “if”. IF the Children of Israel obeyed God’s commandments
the WHOLE nation, not just Levi, would belong to the priesthood. But this CONDITIONAL
promise was made a few chapters before they threw a wild orgy around the golden calf at the foot of Mount
blew it big time. It was only through the intercessions of Moses that the entire
nation wasn’t wiped off the face of the earth. It was then an uneasy distance
was created between God and the people because of rebellion. Only the Levites were willing to take sides with Moses against
their idolatrous brothers. Instead of the entire nation serving as priests, only
the tribe of Levi would execute that office.
to popular belief, this division of God’s people does not apply to the Church of the New Covenant.The whole Church, preachers and parishioners alike, are called to offer up spiritual sacrifices unto God. The Church is not guilty of dancing around a golden calf, and it never incurred the penalty of losing its
all-inclusive priesthood for doing so. As for obeying God’s voice, the obedient Son of God, the High Priest of a better
Covenant, lives by faith in my heart, and God has written His Law of Liberty on my heart,
not on tables of stone (II Cor. 3:3; Rom. 2: 28-29; Phil. 3:3). Christ
is the One Who makes me worthy to belong to the New Covenant priesthood.
might say, there’s still a difference between a vocational evangelist who wins thousands of souls to Christ and somebody
who toils at a secular job. Well, Paul made tents, and that didn’t make him any less of an apostle! Somebody who prays with a friend over a cup of coffee at work is doing the same type of work on a smaller
scale as a big-time evangelist, and who’s to say such obscure faithfulness is
not just as precious in God’s sight!
I might not
be a seminarian, but I’m filled with the Spirit of the Living God, and He gives me a few
insights I’d otherwise miss. I’d say it is much more wonderful
to have the Spirit of God dwelling in our hearts by faith than to live as an Old Testament Israelite; someone who truly loved
the Lord but didn’t dare approach His glorious Presence within the Veil, for he would have died for doing so. Now if
our position in Christ is far superior to what any of the Levites had, how can any religious leader exalt himself over us as God’s IRS agent?
You Just Can’t Improve on God’s Ways
performed an unauthorized religious rite out of personal expediency (I Samuel 13:8-14).On another occasion, he kept the best
of what God ordered destroyed (I Samuel Chapter 15). These acts of self-will cost him his kingdom and led to his spiritual
ruin. Oh, it might “prosper” preachers to compromise the liberty
of the saints by latching onto their favorite Mosaic ordinance, but in the end
they must answer to God for painting a picture of Him as a stern landlord,
rather than a loving Heavenly Father. Even innovations which seem to be spiritually motivated can ultimately spring from satan,
who often appears as an angel of light in order to distort the simplicity of
the Gospel message (II Corinthians 11: 3, 14).
to what modern-day charlatans teach, we are to give freely, not tithe, as God
has already prospered us (I Corinthians 16:2). And, if you choose to be part
of a church which is paying off
a big mortgage on a beautiful building, it is only fair that you contribute what you can to help pay it. If you don’t feel right about worshipping there because you can’t afford the fixtures, go elsewhere,
but don’t get caught in the tithing trap. Perhaps you could find a fellowship meeting in a private home (Romans 16:5; I Cor. 16:19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 2). Some
churches meet in storefronts, which is cheaper than paying a mortgage on a fancy building situated on prime real estate.
If the 10%
standard of surrender to God transfers to money, it should transfer to everything else, don’t you think? Otherwise the
whole equation gets a little lopsided. If 10% of your earnings belong to God, by inference, 90% is your property, and you,
not Christ, are lord over it! That means you can fritter it away
as you like, and He has no say in the matter! And what about your most precious possession, your soul? Does God own only
10% of that? Christ is either Lord of all, or He’s not Lord at all!
By the way,
a question is nagging at the back of my mind: Why aren’t preachers as eager to claim 10% of the squash and butter beans
in people’s gardens as they are to demand a tithe of their other greenery? And yet these same preachers go on and on
about people straying from the inerrant Word of God! Talk about hypocrisy!
a lot of preachers who claim to feed on the pure Word of God add their own seasonings to it so they can get others to swallow
the parts they like, sections they’ve yanked out of context and given a facelift. There’s money to be made from
doing that. Years ago, I would give away money on a tidal wave of emotion, stirred
up by “faith teachers” who bamboozle people into giving to “God” out of their want. That can easily
turn into an addictive bondage of gambling with “God”; a compulsion to mail off money your family needs to “miracle”
ministries in hopes God will multiply your “seed” of $20 into a bumper crop of $2000. But it’s more likely you’ll suffer a spiritual crop
failure, following that slick sales pitch.
Temple was destroyed
in A.D. 70, the Levitical priesthood also ceased. Why should we Gentiles, who never were commanded to tithe at all, bring the wrong kind of tithe to some church building which substitutes for a Temple which was reduced to rubble ages ago? God’s Spiritual House now exists only in the form of the whole Body of Christ, which is His Royal Priesthood,
of which I myself am a part! I maintain that if a professional pulpiteer has
the right to take tithes, I do too!
So What About Pre-Mosaic Tithing?
some people tithe before the giving of the Law? Yes, two examples are cited. But they did it voluntarily, not to avoid breaking
some law. One lone New Testament verse, Hebrews 7:8 is the only Church Age scripture which some might use to construe that the Law of Tithing is still in force today,
and only because of the present-tense italicized words which appear in the KJV: he receiveth them , which were added by translators
to help the verse make grammatical sense. When this book was written, the Second
Temple hadn’t been destroyed yet, and Jews (or Hebrews), not Gentile
Christians, still presented tithes of agricultural produce to the Levites (the “men that die” the verse refers
to). I believe that the word “there” which appears before ‘he receiveth them’ points back to the time in
Abraham’s day when He Who lives forever took tithes, voluntarily offered on one occasion by Abraham, out of the spoils
of war (see Genesis 14:18-20 and Hebrews 7:1-10.
In this context, the eternal nature of Christ’s perfect priesthood is contrasted with the temporary priesthood
of mortal sons of Aaron. It is always dangerous to build a major Christian doctrine
on one lone verse, especially one whose ambiguous wording must be carefully interpreted in the light of the context in which it is found.
tithes of OTHER PEOPLE'S STUFF to Melchisedek, King of Salem
(Genesis 14:18-20), who typifies the eternally living Christ. This loot had been
plundered from the citizens of Sodom by the Kings of the Plain,
who were defeated in battle by Abraham’s men. This was Abraham’s
spoil. But far from coveting this treasure he tells the King of Sodom in Genesis
14: 22-23: “In the Name of the Most High God, Possessor of heaven and earth, I will not take so much as a shoe latchet,
lest you say you have made Abraham rich.”
inedible products must have been included in Abraham’s voluntary tithe (i,e, the “shoe latchet” he spoke
of, and probably valuables like jewelry, gold or silver. But mandatory tithing
never included non-agricultural products! I really wouldn’t advise you to follow Abraham’s example in tithing
anyway. You would have to give away someone else’s possessions, and you
could end up in the state pen!
28:20-22, Jacob makes a VOLUNTARY vow to give back to God one-tenth of all that
thou (God) shalt (future tense) give me. But first Jacob attaches conditions. First God must protect him from harm, provide the necessities of life for him, and
bring him back again safely to his father’s house. Jacob didn’t get home for 20 years, so his vow wasn’t even payable until then! A far cry from preachers who say God will disinherit you if you don’t keep their Law of Tithing to
them, before you’ve provided for your family, regardless of the level of your faith!
No one has the right to use these two isolated examples of voluntary tithing
as an excuse to levy an unscriptural religious tax on paychecks, a man-made statute
which bears little resemblance to its supposed precedent in the Law of Moses, either in substance or implementation.
Tithing Ordinance Suspended During Babylonian Exile
destruction of the Temple of Solomon in 586-587 B.C., the Jewish nation was taken captive by Babylon, and deported from the Promised Land. As
a rule, while they were captive in Babylon, the Jews did not
tithe on the fruits of the pagan soil where they lived. Why? Because Babylon was not holy unto the Lord. It was not that “place which He had chosen to set His name there” (Deuteronomy
14:22-23). Viewed strictly from an Old Covenant perspective, no other territories
on earth are holy unto God except the land He promised the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and He did not desire tithes
of the Gentiles’ agricultural produce, much less tithes of their money. The only tithing Jews did during the Exile was
if a Jewish community wanted to tithe on crops grown in the lands of the Diaspora (dispersion in Gentile nations). In that case, they had to get a special Rabbinical dispensation declaring that because a large number of
Jews lived in their area, its produce was kosher enough to tithe on. Nevertheless,
the Law required tithes to be levied only on produce of Israel,
not that of foreign lands.
mandatory tithing ceased during the Exile, Jews of the Diaspora still found ways
to look after their own poor, as Esther 9:22 shows. God’s beloved children live in all nations. But where it concerns Mosaic ordinances given strictly to God’s Holy Land,
no other places on earth fall under their jurisdiction. Enforcing a tithing law in Oklahoma
is just as ridiculous as trying to collect Nevada state property taxes on an estate in New Jersey!
ARE FREE! THE TITHE HOLDS NO JURISDICTION IN 21st-CENTURY GENTILELAND! GIVE YOUR HEART TO JESUS, AND LET GOD TELL YOU WHAT
TO DO WITH YOUR HARD-EARNED TAKE-HOME PAY! NOBODY ELSE, AND I DO MEAN NOBODY!
(except maybe your spouse, ha!)
principle of time and place jurisdiction applies to Jewish Temple worship. Even
though synagogues may be built throughout the world, God did not order replicas of the Jewish Temple to be built in the Diaspora for animal sacrifice. Only the Temple
Mount in Jerusalem, Israel, qualifies as THE place for a rebuilt Jewish Temple where adherents to Judaism
might offer those sacrifices, and at the time of this writing, that hasn’t happened yet!
To show what
God thinks of people tampering with His divinely ordained instructions I’ll give you a case in point. After King Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took charge. First thing he did was leave no room for doubt as
to who was boss. The elders of the Tribes came pleading with him to ease up on them, for
Solomon had been a hard taskmaster. But the new king let the elders know
they were in for a rough ride. He would be an iron-fisted tyrant, and they’d
better get used to the idea.
threw such a scare into the Chosen People that they were afraid not to rebel against him.
The northern tribes had an ongoing rivalry with giant Judah anyway, and it had taken much delicate diplomacy for King David to weld them all together
as a single powerful nation in the Middle East, and then pass that peaceful Kingdom on to
Solomon. But crude, rude Rehoboam blew it big-time.
So the ten
northern tribes (Reuben, Simeon, Issachar, Ephraim, Zebulun, Manasseh, Dan, Asher, Naphtali and Gad) seized on this excuse
to secede, leaving Rehoboam with only his own tribe of Judah
and the loyal little tribe of Benjamin. The Levites were forbidden by Jeroboam to perform their divinely appointed duties
so they also defected to Rehoboam (II Chronicles 11: 14-17). The Levites weren’t numbered among the Children of Israel anyway when military censuses were taken,
as Numbers 1:47-54 and 2:33 show. The territory Jeroboam retained was called
“Judah”. The other ten tribes to the north formed the Northern Kingdom, “Israel”.
tribes elected Jeroboam, foreman over Solomon’s forced labor and “a mighty man of valour” to be their king.
God had earlier promised to establish Jeroboam’s dynasty over Israel if only he would be faithful to walk in His ways as
David did (I Kings 11: 26-40). But Jeroboam forgot God’s promises. It made
him sweat, just watching all his subjects go south to observe the Passover at the Temple in Jerusalem, which was in his rival’s
territory of Judah. They just might defect to Rehoboam, he worried, then his
neck would be in the noose again. He’d already spent time as a political
exile in Egypt, afraid to return to Israel until his nemesis King Solomon
died. It was because of Solomon’s idolatry that God had resolved
to take ten of the twelve tribes away from him in the first place. After Solomon’s son Rehoboam made his fatal PR gaffe, God fulfilled
His promise to set Jeroboam over the ten breakaway tribes. But Jeroboam didn’t think God had the power to keep him in power!
Just as medieval clerics invented the church tithe to keep the money rolling in,
Jeroboam resorted to clever religious innovations to safeguard his regime his own way.
I Kings 12:
25-33, and 13:33-34 relates how Jeroboam
set up two conveniently located worship centers; one in Bethel, and one in Dan. He made up his own religious
holidays. He made priests of any Tom, Dick or Harry he owed a favor to, regardless
of tribal affiliation. Kind of reminds
me of the way knighthoods are passed out like candy to exciting celebrities. Jeroboam
said something like: “Hey, now, it’s too big a bother for you good people to make that long trip all the way to
Jerusalem. And why not be able to see what you’re worshipping?” So the same folly committed in the Sinai
desert was repeated. Not one, but two golden calves were built to serve his subjects’ worshipping needs. Not only that, he worshipped demons (II Chron.
What an insult
toward the true God of Israel, Who had shown Jeroboam such incredible favor! Jeroboam’s clever ideas didn’t get a rubber stamp from God, they only
made God mad. Not only had Jeroboam deliberately violated God’s divine order for sacrifice and worship, he committed
and promoted idolatry, the very same sin which had cost Solomon’s dynasty ten tribes.
Jeroboam’s convenient innovations, terrible judgment was pronounced upon his nation (see I Kings 14:1-18). The
prophet Ahijah predicted the doom of Jeroboam’s family. Only his little son found favor with the Lord. But even he died, though he was the only one who got a decent burial. Jeroboam’s rebellion against
God was the seed which would be harvested in the future dispersion of the Ten Tribes of Israel to Assyria
No, not just
any ol’ place will do. If you’re intent on keeping an old Testament ordinance given exclusively to Jews living
in the Promised Land, you’d better do it according to Old Testament guidelines, or you’ll be guilty of sin like
Jeroboam. Regardless of whether your “tithe” is a twenty or even a hundred,
paying money in fulfillment of a tithing law is still unscriptural and
wrong. If you feel God wants you to donate money in a New Testament church service, better
just call it a gift. And always give out of love, not because you feel
forced to do it.
Liberality vs. Legalism
born and raised in the Holy Land long after the Jews ( who were mostly members
of the tribe of Judah, along with some Benjamites and Levites) returned from Babylonian captivity and their Temple
was rebuilt. Didn’t Jesus mention tithing in the Gospels? He sure did, but always in a negative context. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus is rebuking some
Pharisees for neglecting the
Love of God. He says to them: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and
cummin , and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith; these ye ought to have done, and not
to leave the other undone.”
Aha! So Jesus
did approve of tithing! But don’t forget, Jesus hadn’t yet
been sacrificed for our sins, and His hearers were still living under the Old Covenant. Jesus never taught tithing on money, nor did He ever support His ministry with such an innovation. Sometimes He had to forage for food, and He had no certain dwelling place (Matthew 8:20; Mark 11: 12-13). At the time of
Christ, coinage was in circulation, so no one can say people were merely substituting garden herbs for money in a primitive
society. If the Lord had meant the tithe to be reinstated as a perpetual tax
on the wages of saints, surely He would have made that clear from the very inception of the Church Age!
us back to penniless Paul, who repeatedly exhorts the saints (preachers and parishioners alike) to follow his own example in following Christ (I Cor. 4:16;11:1; Phil. 3:17). He plainly says to the tightwad
Corinthians: We seek not yours, but you (II Cor. 12:14).
Now if tithing
was mandatory under the New Covenant, why didn’t Paul mention that minor
point when he defended his right
to financial support (I Cor. 9: 1-11)? If modern preachers profess to follow
Paul’s example, why do they do something he didn’t do: dun parishioners for 10% of their salaries and wages? And that, in spite of the fact Paul, a descendant
of the tribe of Benjamin, compares himself to a priest who serves at the Altar, and ought to live off the things offered upon
Have I just
painted myself into a corner? Not at all. All true believers in Christ are priests. And again, it was edible things, not money,
which Levitical priests offered upon the Altar. In Leviticus 6:14-18, the bread
offering is given to Aaron and his sons to eat, as is the sin offering (flesh food)
in verses 24-29. If Paul was after their money, he would have plainly said: If we have sown unto you spiritual things,
is it a great thing if we shall reap your money? Try eating a dollar bill. Chances are, it’ll taste nasty, and give you the worst case of heartburn you
ever had.The “carnal things” Paul said he needed were likened to
the fruit of the vineyard and the milk of the flock (I Corinthians 9:7); food,
period. Paul was definitely not money-motivated. He declared his determination
to preach the gospel free of charge ( verse 18). In I Timothy 6:10 Paul says: And
having food and raiment (no mention of money!) let us be therewith content.
expected, being in full-time ministry,
that his basic needs should be met by the saints, and he shouldn’t have to go hungry or in rags. Jesus told His evangelizing disciples to eat and drink such
things as their hosts offered, for the laborer is worthy of his hire (Luke 10:3-8). Amazingly, Jesus told them to take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse!
one Scripture I have never ONCE heard any Prosperity preacher expound on: III
John 7 (yes, there’s 3 epistles written by the Apostle John, in addition to the Gospel of John). That tiny gem of a
book comes right before Jude and Revelation. That one little verse throws a monkey
wrench into the notion that money must be collected at each and every church meeting.
It says:Because that for His Name’s sake they went forth, taking NOTHING of the Gentiles. Even today, most of God’s Church is composed of Gentiles. It
is perfectly scriptural and often necessary to collect offerings from people,
but even freewill offerings aren’t compulsory under the New Covenant, or they cease to be freewill offerings. Obedience to God, however, is mandatory for believers, and
if He tells you to give, by all means give, or you’ll feel like you’ve missed an opportunity to do good for God’s
Kingdom. God desires His people to have
a liberal heart; then the giving and
good works will follow, as you are truly able. In this context, John’s
fellow laborers in the Gospel chose not to take donations from poor Gentiles they preached to.
A vast proportion
of Paul’s converts were unpaid, penniless slaves. But the prosperous Corinthians were without excuse. In refusing to
lighten Paul’s heavy load, they disobeyed the heart of the Law: Thou shalt love they neighbor as thyself (Galatians 6:2; James 2:8).
In I Corinthians 4:6-18, Paul draws a sharp contrast between their wealth and his privations. He says in verse 8: Now
ye are full. Now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us. Clearly, these
people were abusing their liberty, and Paul was suffering need as a result. But
never once did he ever use that as an excuse to suspend their God-given liberty
and impose a new tithing tax upon them.
In II Corinthians
11:5-11 Paul reiterates his resolve not to be burdensome to these affluent Christians, and to minister to them free of charge. Another, much poorer, church gladly met his need ( II Corinthians 8:1-6; 11:9; Philippians
4:15-19). In verse 18 he lets the Philippians of Macedonia know he has received
the things (their giving meant more than money) sent from them, and calls their
freewill offering “an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God.” At that time, these Macedonian brethren were the only Christians Paul could depend on for steady
If love for
God won’t inspire godly liberality, some ministers think, fear of His punishment might.
Paul might have threatened the much wealthier Corinthians with the wrath of God
for refusing to share their bounty with him, but he didn’t. If Paul
knew that tithing on wages was binding on Christians and still refused to teach this doctrine, even out of softheartedness,
he stands guilty of gross negligence and failure to declare the whole counsel
of God. But he didn’t fail on that point (Acts 20:27).
Tithing: Money Just
Doesn’t Fill the Bill
One unscriptural scripture preachers use as leverage over the “laity” is: “The first tenth of your paycheck belongs
to God”. Wrong! It ALL belongs to God, because we ourselves are His purchased
Some think they’re doing God a favor by reinventing and transplanting Old Testament
Laws (ones they deem profitable) into the Body of Christ. But did God really tell the people to take the first item off the
pile to pay as a tithe, or the tenth? Let’s dig into a little more
Scripture, and you just might get an even more vivid picture of how ridiculous
it is, trying to marry the Old Covenant, with its obsolete rules and regulations, to
the New, which is a Covenant of Liberty in Christ Jesus. Talk about strange bedfellows!
review our definition of tithable commodities with Leviticus 27: verse 30: And
all the tithe OF THE LAND, whether OF THE SEED or OF THE LAND, or OF THE FRUIT OF THE TREE, is the LORD’S. It (not money) is holy unto the Lord.
VERSE 31: And
if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. How can a dirty dollar bill,
which has passed through countless sinful hands, possibly be redeemed as a holy thing?
How can you redeem money with money anyway? Does God run a Savings and Loan, authorizing His supposed representatives
to charge His children a prime rate of 20% interest? I maintain that if some of the rules of Old Testament tithing on farm
produce apply to tithing on a New Testament Christian’s cash wages, then they all do! If you “borrow” $100 of “tithe money” to go see the doctor, you’ve gotta pay “God”
(the preacher?) back $120, or you break that same Law you’re so anxious to return to, and you’re counted as a
And concerning the tithe OF THE HERD, OR OF THE FLOCK, EVEN OF WHATSOEVER PASSETH UNDER THE ROD (Ever seen a twenty-$ bill toddling on two legs to pass under the rod?) , the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.
your hat: VERSE 33: HE SHALL NOT SEARCH WHETHER IT BE GOOD OR BAD, NEITHER SHALL HE CHANGE IT: and if he change it at all,
both it and the change shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed. How comical, the idea of applying this principle to filthy
lucre. Imagine dividing your $1000 salary into 10 $100 bills, then putting them
in a bag to shuffle them up. Then you pull them out one by one, till you get
to the last one. That one, not the first, counts as the “tithe”. And
even if it’s a dirty, faded bill, you’ve still got to count that
one as the tithe. But money-hungry preachers tell you, regarding tithing: “Give
of your best and first tithe (money)
to the Master, before you meet every other obligation.” But the aforementioned passage is proof that it was the TENTH
item counted in a series of tithable commodities which was set aside by farmers
and herdsmen as the holy tithe under the Old Law; not the first, and not necessarily the best one. The word “tithe”
simply means “tenth”. Even if a rancher’s tenth cow was the scrawniest of the whole lot, it was still counted as the tithe. The “best of the tithes”, or a mere 1% of the total, were
to be offered by the Levites, not the laity, as described earlier.
brought to the Altar always had to be without spot or blemish (Deuteronomy 15:21). Since
tithes were taken at random from every tenth item counted, and worshippers were not to “search (check) a tithed animal whether it be good or bad” before counting it as the tithe, the
people’s tithe didn’t qualify for the Altar anyway. All this sanctimonious spin about rank-and-file Gentile Christian
“laity” offering up
“tithe” money, an inedible item on the Altar just doesn’t wash with Scripture! Only that 1% of all the produce
OF THE LAND OF ISRAEL, the Heave Offering (KJV) hand-picked from the people’s tithe and PAID BY THE LEVITES to the High
Priest, was ever presented at the Altar!
those times where terms like “without spot or blemish”, “firstfruits”
or “redemption money” are applicable? Let’s dig up a few more Old Testament observances, and after reading
the following sections tell me whether you’d like to go back to keeping this mind-bogglingly complicated Scroll of the Law, with its 600-odd ordinances. Or rather, just read it so you can better appreciate
what a colossal burden Christ has delivered you from!
The Law: Fulfilled In Christ, but Misapplied
God has opened
my eyes. Now I am able to see through the religious hoopla going on in churches
and “miracle crusades” presided over by Prosperity gurus. One favorite fund-raising gimmick is to prime the pump of pious fervor by throwing around a lot of Old
Testament buzzwords, and doing it with the right theatrics. At least once I was
in a meeting where the preacher appealed to his flock to present a “wave
offering to the Lord” (with cabbage of the highest denominations, what else?).
trusting, bah-h-h-ing sheep would readily follow, the man said, “God loves a cheerful giver. Let’s see you wave your biggest bill as your firstfruits offering unto the Lord. That’s it! Wave those bills high now, and make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
Now, in a
crowd of thousands of excited people, you must have enough sanctified common sense to
master your own emotions and be grounded in God’s truth enough to judge the collective “blessing”
by the strict yardstick of Scripture. Have you ever read of the Apostle
Peter groaning to organ music and appealing to Levitical laws to make the money flow like milk and honey? What did the Firstfruits offering and the Wave offering consist of anyway, and what was the significance of these
It was upon
the Altar that the Firstfruits, the very first ripening fruits of a harvest, were brought in a basket (not a checkbook) by
the Israelite farmer (see Exodus 23:19; Numbers 18:13; Deuteronomy 26:1-11; Nehemiah 10: 35-37). From this the “wavesheaf” was taken and offered up as holy unto the Lord (Leviticus 23: 9-12;
). This ritual was performed on the second day of Passover, or 7 weeks before Pentecost (verse 15).
is not synonymous with the tithe of the whole harvest offered by the laity of the Nation of Israel. The tithe was payable
later in the season, when the whole crop ripened. Nehemiah Chapter 10 describes how sacrifices, tithes, and offerings were
resumed after being discontinued in exile. Notice in verse 37: And to bring the firstfruits of our DOUGH (bread dough, that
is!) and our offerings, and the FRUIT OF ALL MANNER OF TREES, unto the priests, to the chambers of the House of our God; and
the tithes OF OUR GROUND (the Firstfruits and the tithes are listed separately)
unto the Levites (who receive the people’s 10%). And remember, the LEVITE’S
tithe of the tithe (Or 1% of Israel’s agricultural output) comprised the Heave Offering
(Numbers 18:25-28 KJV), (Heb.”Terumah”).
unblemished Passover Lamb, fulfilled the Wavesheaf offering when he offered Himself
up to God once and for all for our redemption from sin (see Hebrews Chapter 10). Paul the Apostle compares the dying
and burial of the natural body to the sowing of a seed which results in a harvest, where that seed is changed into a new,
far more glorious form, speaking of our own resurrection to immortality (I Corinthians 15:35-44). Christ is the Firstfruits from the dead (verses 20-23), and the First to be resurrected to immortality
and offered to God, in happy anticipation of the resurrection of His saints. Christ IS the Fulfillment of both the Firstfruits
and the Wave Sheaf offerings, even as as He fulfilled in His own sacrificial death the animal sacrifices of ancient Israel. I
suspect God is offended by the way fishers for funds make a big haul by perverting the simplicity of the Gospel of Christ
with appeals to people’s religious sensibilities.
In the Book
of Nehemiah, the exiles of Judah are returning
from captivity after a 70-year absence.
Now Temple worship was being reinstituted, along with all the various ordinances which could only be kept in the Land of Israel.
Turn to Chapter 10: 38 to get a real thrill: And the priests the sons of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the
Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the TITHE OF THE TITHES into the House of our God, to the chambers, unto
the treasure house (Now, get this!) That’s the very same “storehouse” (Hebrew: outsair ) so often quoted
from Malachi 3:10 ( the lone verse tithing
teachers base most of their doctrine on!) That was the place where THE LEVITES (whom modern preachers readily identify with)
took their own tithe (1% of the total) to THE PRIESTS (again, “Levite” and “Priest” are not synonymous
terms!) These are the same Levites who are cited by Malachi as being guilty of withholding the best of the tithe from God!
They, NOT THE LAITY, were the ones primarily responsible for keeping this treasure house full of good things!
Pick One Law, You Marry ‘Em All
If any religious
leader still insists on playing Levite, let him go the whole gamut and keep all the 600-odd points of the Old Law. Stop eating pork, ham and shrimp. Southerners, you’ll have to give up catfish, as that has
no scales (Deut. 14:9-10). Cease all work on Saturdays. Wear a beard and side locks. Don’t order cheese on your Big
Mac, or you’ll break he law against consuming meat with dairy products. If
your brother dies childless, marry his widow to raise up a son to perpetuate his name. It works both ways, now!
but I couldn’t do that,” you say. Why? “Well, Paul says church leaders are to be the husband of only one wife.” Yes, he did say that.
You are not expected to follow the ancient custom of levirate marriage. Neither
are believers bound by the old Law of Tithing, which never was on money to begin with.
Old Covenant, the first-born of every man and beast was the Lord’s (Exodus 13:1-2; Numbers 18:15-16; Leviticus 27: 26-27).
Human males under 5 had to be redeemed with a payment of 5 Temple
shekels, 3 for females. The redemption fee was higher for an older person. The firstborn of all unclean (non-kosher) animals
had to be redeemed instead of being offered, e.g. the jackass (Exodus 13:13;
Leviticus. 27:27) This is one example of hundreds of Mosaic ordinances preachers
have neglected to transfer over to our Dispensation of Grace. James 2:10
says: For whosoever shall keep the whole Law, and yet offend in ONE point, he is guilty of ALL. Where commitment is concerned,
the Law of Moses is indivisible. If you vow faithfulness to one law, you yoke yourself to the whole clan. You can’t just covenant with God to keep one law you
like and shine off on all the rest. How long has it been since anybody sent their friendly TV preacher a redemption fee for a firstborn kitten or puppy! If anybody hopes to score points with God by observance of one Mosaic ordinance, that
individual must place himself under ALL of the Law of Moses! It’s a package deal!
If one Mosaic ordinance is transferable to the New Testament Age of Grace, every other Mosaic ordinance is transferable
and binding, not just the money-makers! The whole Law includes circumcision for men, periodical seclusion and pigeon offerings
for women, ritual cleansings and washings, animal sacrifices, physical inactivity on the Sabbath, abstinence from pork
BBQ, going to the Priest to have your zits checked, and paying a redemption fee for your firstborn child.Thanks to Christ,
we are redeemed from the condemnation of imperfect Law-keeping, without having to muddle through all those Levitical Laws
and fees (Isaiah 52:3; I Peter 1:18).
open up a can of worms when you try to enforce Old Testament Laws in this Dispensation of Grace. Even if monetary fees still
had to be paid today in fulfillment of ancient Levitical law, God wouldn’t accept U.S. currency, with its mystical inscriptions and images of men, as these violate His Law against making images (Exodus 20:4). Ministers simply couldn’t accept $3.00 as a redemption fee for
a baby girl, instead of three Shekels of the Sanctuary! The Jews of Christ’s
time had to exchange their Roman coins, engraved with images of Caesar, for acceptable
Temple shekels (Matthew 21:12). Even then, those coins were not used to pay tithes, but taxes for the maintenance of the Temple, as in
the census tax taken of every Israelite over twenty (Exodus 30: 11-16). Each person, whether rich or poor, was charged the same amount--half a shekel. That
would constitute far less than 10 %of a rich man’s income. Under Nehemiah’s
leadership, God allowed this small sum to be reduced to one-third of a shekel,
perhaps because the people at that time were under foreign tribute and needed a bit of relief.
This is one example of God’s compassion.
The Temple Tax, however, cannot be used to argue that money paid for the
eternal redemption of the Israelites, even if this tax was easily affordable by most everyone. Psalms 49: 7-8 tells
us that nothing we can give God can ransom anyone’s soul from death, and the redemption of our soul is precious (costly). It is the Blood which makes atonement for sin (Leviticus 17:11; Hebrews 9:22). Rather, paying that census tax was a tangible reminder (memorial) of the faith each person directed toward the God Who inhabited the Temple,
and also symbolized the fact each Old Testament saint had an equal vested interest in
the benefits of its rites. The money paid for the upkeep of a Temple which performed substitutionary animal sacrifices on their behalf.
These rites were crucial in the salvation of believing Israelites in that they served as “promissory notes” before
God until their ultimate fulfilment in Christ, the perfect Lamb of God. The Blood of Christ, not silver and gold, has redeemed us (John 1:29; John 1:29; I Peter 1: 18-19). Faithfulness to ritual
obligations, as in paying the Temple
tax, showed their faith in the future coming of the final Sacrifice for sins, Jesus.
In every dispensation, good works spring from true faith ( James 2:26).
census-taking was a sin unless God authorized it. King David, a man after God’s
own heart, committed a census sin once. He,
rather than the Lord, ordered a national census taken of Israel, God’s heritage. He wanted to know how many warriors he had on hand to protect his kingdom. As a result of this transgression,
a plague fell on Israel ( II Samuel Chapter
24).Some preachers keep a watchful eye on who gives what by requesting that envelopes
be filled out, supposedly for purposes of tax deduction. Carnal preachers feel their kingdom is more secure, just knowing they have a core group of big tithers they can count on. It’s easier to trust
in the Lord if the projected numbers for the coming fiscal year are already predictably high.
Then the building committee can go ahead and set a firm time frame for the new choir loft, or the renovations on the
parsonage. But that doesn’t excuse the tithe. Besides, drawing attention
to your big contributions is not
God’s way. Jesus prefers us to give in secret (Matthew 6:1-4).
Lay Your Money Down....Where?
gifts and tax money could enter the Temple, as when Jesus
referred to “the gold of the Sanctuary” in Matthew 23:17 But gold
was never placed on the Altar but in the treasury (Luke 21:1). When Jesus referred to “placing a gift on the Altar”
( verse 18) he clearly meant animal sacrifices, as He did when he told one leper he had cleansed: ‘Go and offer the gift that Moses commanded as a testimony to others (of his cleansing). This process of ceremonial, in contrast to the actual cleansing Jesus did, was a complicated business: The first phase of the gift consisted of an initial offering of two sparrows, and then,
after a week of shaving, washing, and ritual seclusion, another offering had
to be given, comprised either of two lambs, or one lamb and two birds. (Leviticus
Actually, there were two altars in the Temple;
one the Brazen Altar, where animal sacrifices were offered by fire ( a picture of the spotless Offering of Christ), the other,
the Altar of Incense, where sweet incense (which pictures the worship of saints) was burned.
But money was never sacrificed on either Altar! Can you imagine a pile
of fat checks and $20 bills going up in smoke? That would be a televangelist’s worst nightmare! So much for preachers
pleading: ‘If you don’t lay your money on the Altar, you can’t offer yourself to the Lord, either! Paul says in Romans 12:1: I beseech you,
brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present YOUR BODIES (no mention of money!) a
living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Giving, not tithing, as God leads to
meet genuine needs comes as a result of a transformed heart. The Law of Moses had the power to show a person his faults, but never to impart righteousness to him (Romans
8:3). When we walk according to the Love of the living Christ within, we walk in the the Law of Liberty. We obey His leadings out of love, rather than fear. For example, Acts Chapter 4:35 says believers were “of one heart and one soul (true unity)
and there was none that lacked”.
was made to each person (not just the “clergy” ) according to his need,
not his greed!
preachers who so eagerly seize upon the Old Testament Law of tithing to increase funds
dismiss as impractical the example of the newborn Church, where nobody
claimed exclusive ownership of anything.
A Hypothetical Case:
Sally in Titheland
a widow with a two-year-old son, makes $300 a week at her nursing job. 30% of her salary goes for Social Security, state and federal tax, BEFORE she even tackles her spiralling
rent, which seems to increase every other month. More goes for child care, utilities,
work-related expenses, and car payments. Her net income, before paying all those
whopping bills, is only $210, but her pastor habitually warns: (I actually heard something like this once): “Just try and withhold God’s tithe. If you break
this Law He has set in motion, you’ll reap the consequences. God will withdraw
His protection and you’ll end up paying it anyway, either through a hospital bill, or
for medicine and doctors!”
at her little son. Fear has tied her to the tithe. What responsible mother could
risk her own child’s safety and well-being over a little money? So with
more heaviness than hilarity she writes out a check for $35. The extra $5.00 constitutes her “love offering”,
so “God” won’t think she’s a tightwad. The $30 was one-tenth
(the tithe) of her gross income, but exactly one-seventh of her net (disposable) income. By appealing to the punitive force
of a “law” God never meant for New Covenant believers, tithe teachers
snag much more than 10% of a person’s take-home pay.
So what is
poor Sally to do, moonlight at McDonald’s so she can afford to tithe on
her first paycheck? Doesn’t she deserve a few minutes of quality time each night with her son so she can read him a
bedtime story and tell him how much Jesus loves him? Doesn’t she deserve a decent home life at least as much as the
tithe-extractors do? Does God really prefer sacrifice to mercy? Is He, as some
insinuate, only pleased with His children when they are suffering privation “for the Kingdom of God”?
and turns all Saturday night. Next morning, she’s way too tired to go to
church. She can just go for the evening service.
Surely, she reasons, the church won’t go bankrupt before she delivers her
Sally have the right to fulfill her inner need to break free? Is it safe to even
investigate the validity of her pastor’s claim on her money? She flips open her Bible to I Thessalonians 5:21. Prove all things, hold fast that which
know for sure. She prays for guidance.
Far from rebuking Sally from wanting to be sure, God honors her prayer. He shows her where to dig to find the nuggets
of truth she needs, in her own Bible reference books and on the Internet. She discovers a host of other souls who have been
set free to examine teachings in the light of Scripture, people who have learned to reject that which is false.
she thinks, her pastor has never preached on THESE Scriptures! A weight of oppression
lifts from her soul. She “has church” right there in the privacy
of her home, worshipping and praising God.
up her tithe. That’s one pastor she just can’t afford.
been liberated from fear imposed on her by a manipulative, money-obsessed pastor who appeals to negative forces to punish
people who dare to break free from flawed religious traditions.
One modern heresy making the rounds is that “laws” (impersonal
forces) govern everything, and even God is subject to them. Don’t buy this
lie! God still sits on the Throne of the universe. Hold fast to the truth as revealed in the Gospel of Grace.
Trust in God to be your Defender against all the deceiving spirits who would fill your heart with fear of breaking
with bad traditions. He will give you courage to hold fast to the truth, although
others might prefer traditions of men to truth, and would deny your liberty as
a blood-washed, Spirit-indwelt child of God.
have found tithing much more merciful under the Old Covenant. As a landless widow,
she wouldn’t have been expected to tithe at all. She would have helped
consume the tithe instead of paying a religious tax on her limited income.
of tax-paying, so long as the Israelites remained under God’s original theocratic government with judges as their leaders
instead of kings, they never had imposed upon them other big income
taxes in addition to bringing in the tithe of the land. Big taxes only came with
“big government”, after Israel
demanded that God give them an earthly king. Today’s tithers pay
heavy secular taxes before tithing on the original figure, which is never even in their possession.
Tithe Takers Play on Fear and Ignorance
as preached and enforced by legalistic ministers of Christendom, allows no exemptions for poverty or personal hardship. When the candy-coated religious veneer is stripped
away, any Spirit-guided student of the Word can see what sternly enforced, mandatory tithing truly is: Paying protection money to men in fancy suits who, for
all practical purposes, paint a picture of a ruthless “godfather”.
No mercy is shown by such carnal, greedy men whose appetite for “the finer things in life” is insatiable (Isaiah
56:11). They play on the fact that while most adults can read, lots of folks can’t yet “rightly divide the Word
of Truth” in order to discern solid truth from hyped-up error based on one or two
Scriptures twisted and taken out of context. By playing on people's nagging
fears of offending God, these wolves in sheep’s clothing judge those who
refuse to cough the money up as being “cursed with a curse” for not
giving in to their arm-twisting!
wolves dare paint our dear Heavenly Father as just another wolf at the door! Shame
And, in the
minds of petrified parishioners, those self-serving “lords over God’s
Heritage” are equated with God Himself, to be paid off with fear and trembling.
Liberty Must Be Defended
Be on your
guard. Let the Scriptural truths I have just shared with you fortify you against
the wiles of the devil, who appears as an angel of light. He will even use zealous, unscriptural sermons to try to shame you into
tithing anyway, to try to steal more and more your God-given liberty by degrees. Give satan an inch and he’ll surely demand a mile. He has as his end the impoverishment of the Bride of Christ, and its re-enslavement into the bondage of fear. So he uses spiritually blind religious leaders
to enforce a Law of Tithing by using his favorite below-the-belt tactic: instill guilt toward God into a people who, at conversion,
received the gift of peace with God through faith. Those who are keen on filling their coffers but can’t fool believers
who have studied their Bible will say: “If you really loved Jesus, you
wouldn’t be so contentious about it, or resort to intellectual arguments
to get out of it.” Lacking Scriptural backing for this destructive doctrine,
they’ll resort to mysticism, and wrest (twist) Scripture to their own advantage, as Peter warns in II Peter 3:16. Scripture
correctly applied in context must be the final authority, not the biased reasonings of someone who has an extensive seminary
I once read
a booklet written by a well-known expounder of Scripture. In it, he gives a bird’s
eye synopsis of the major themes of the minor prophets, one of which is Malachi. In that section he zooms straight up to...guess what? The Tithing Scripture in Malachi
chapter 3! Despite his glowing enthusiasm he says nothing new, just what I’ve
heard preachers say before: “Just imagine, tithing is YOUR chance to prove
God!” His little blurb was like a pep talk,
encouraging people to master their misgivings and put God to the test,
because that’s one area where “God puts Himself in a box”!
on science and world events are well-researched, but on the subject of tithing he misses by a country mile. Without any Scriptural
backing he just glibly assumes it’s
a given that the tithe applies to modern Christians, and applies to money, and it should fill Christians with joy to comply
with this tradition. The central theme of Malachi
is never mentioned: God’s efforts to set a crooked priesthood straight. I, a housewife with a Junior College degree
and 30-odd years’ informal teaching by the Holy Spirit, have already shared more than enough solid evidence to rest my case on that point, and
I’d be surprised if tithe-collecting
theologians have never come across or wondered about the very Scriptures
I’ve shared with you. Peter and John didn’t even have a high school
diploma (Acts 4:13), but their words rang with a truth which set people free. Even Jesus held his own in the Temple
when He was a boy of twelve discoursing with some very learned Rabbis.
I’ve heard for obligatory donations is:
“You must die to self (i.e. your own feelings and needs). You might
think you know the truth, tithe-teachers will tell you, “but you’d
better shut up and pay up anyway, or your heart isn’t right with God, and
you’re just being selfish and divisive.”
Hogwash! If anybody’s being greedy, it’s those blind leaders of the blind who are
living like royalty at the expense of the Body of Christ! And the more luxuries
they enjoy, the more they want.
Lots of Christians
believe in defending their Constitutional liberties, because they realize much blood was shed in the past to secure those
freedoms. I maintain that it is infinitely more important to defend your spiritual
liberty in Christ from unwarranted encroachment. Jesus did indeed shed His own precious Blood so we could live in liberty.
Scripture instructs us to earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints (Jude 3). Paul tells us to prove ALL things (even deeply entrenched religious traditions); hold fast that which is
good (I Thessalonians 5:21). And the flip side of the coin is to reject that which isn’t good. Never, never, never shrink
away from your God-given right and duty to examine all teachings in the light of Scripture just because some bigwig in a fancy
suit tries to pull rank on you to lay claim to the fruits of your labor. Remember
your position in Christ Jesus as an heir of God, and joint-heir of Christ (Romans 8: 14-17).
You have the mind of Christ, and He will reveal all truth to you through the Spirit, so that you are able to distinguish
between doctrine which springs from man’s so-called wisdom and the true
counsel of God (John 6:45; 14:26; 16:13, I Corinthians 2:11-16; I John 2:20, 27). We are not to be bound by questionable doctrines,
but our hearts are to be deeply rooted in the grace of God ( Hebrews 13:9).
We’ve feasted on the solid meat of the Word, now for the
18:20 the Lord says to Aaron: Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither
shalt thou have any part among them: I AM thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.
So we read
that the Lord Himself was the inheritance of the Levites, rather than the land which grew the tithe. In Ephesians 1: 12-14 it says: That we should be to the praise
of His Glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that
ye heard the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation: In whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy
Spirit of promise which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise
of His glory. Like the Levites, we can truly say the Lord Himself is our inheritance!
it was the fruits of the Old Testament worshipper’s inheritance that mandatory
tithes were paid on, and nothing else! The burden of producing the tithe was laid on the land, never on the backs of poor
wage earners! In applying principles of Scripture, you must do it strictly by
God’s rules, or your doubtful doctrine is built on shifting sand, and collapses like a house of cards! Now
if we must tithe, we ought to do it the Biblical way, don’t you think?
That means we must tithe just like the Israelites did, on the inheritance God has given us! Now I challenge any “expert
on Christian finance” to answer me this: How can a modern believer tithe on the fruits of his God-given inheritance, which is a heavenly inheritance,
of which the Holy Spirit Himself is the down payment! Can you tithe on the fruits of the Spirit? Nonsense! How do you put 10% of the Spirit’s love, joy, and
peace into the offering plate!?!
15 tells of a great theological dispute among early church leaders. Were non-Jewish believers obligated to keep the Law of
Moses in order to earn and keep their salvation? None other than the Apostle
Peter says that if the Old Law was hard for Jews to bear, why should Gentile believers, who were already justified by faith,
have that burdensome yoke placed on them?
reached a sensible decision. Only four restrictions would be placed upon the liberty of the Gentile believers:
To refrain from:
1. Foods offered to Idols
3. Meat from strangled animals
4. The consumption of blood
builders of the Church believed that if just those four things were observed, God could surely take care of the rest. Conspicuous
by its absence is the Law of Tithing.