Dear friends, I have been avoiding this subject for a long time. I have my reasons. I thank you that many of you have used this blog as a reference point for your teaching as well as resource for research. You would also note that I have only posted one article on tithing so far. However, in the course of the last few weeks, I seemed to be led by a deep impression to look into this matter. Please note that these are my views. I am not saying this is the final word as I am still reading on this subject. However, I feel led so far to the following conclusions.
The last week
My previous impression was that tithing is valid for believers on the understanding that while we tithe here Jesus receives them in Hebrews 7. However, reading the same and in its context, it would seem that the person receiving it in Melchizedek and not Jesus. I asked the Lord if my reading is correct and I just saw this post 5 minutes ago. It was from Phil Drysdale.
The way this is typically used is to say:
Here [in the New Covenant] mortal men [pastors] receive tithes [from New Covenant believers], but there [in Heaven] he [Jesus] receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.
More accurately when we look at the context of Hebrews 7 and Hebrews as a whole the passage is saying in no uncertain terms:
Here [in Israel that the time Hebrews was written] mortal men [priests under the Old Covenant] receive tithes [from Old Covenant Jews], but there [2000 years ago in Abram’s day] he [Melchizedek] receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives.
I know… it’s unfortunately this is the only other scripture that mentions the tithe in the New Testament!”
I believe this could not be coincidence.
Having said that, I still believe in the tithe. Not regular tithing but the tithe. Let me explain. If we look carefully at the Scriptures, both Abram and Jacob tithed before the Law was given. Here is the issue, they tithe only once.
This was what I wrote a week ago.
“Hebrews 7 is not about tithing. It is an illustration that shows us that Levi tithe to Melchizedek. You only tithe to someone greater than you. As such he is saying the priest hood of Levi is inferior to Melchizedek.
The passage in Hebrews 7 is about the superiority about the priest hood of Jesus. The continually tithing by Abraham’s descendants is not from grace but from the law.
Notice how great Melchizedek is! Our famous ancestor Abraham gave him a tenth of what he had taken from his enemies. The LAW teaches that even Abraham’s descendants must give a tenth of what they possess.
Note the continual tithing is a LAW thing. Not a grace thing. There is a grace tithing. It existed before the Law. Abram and Jacob tithed, once. Jesus is that tithe, he died for you and paid for your sins ONCE. God paid your tithes once and for all through Jesus.
When Abram brought the tithe to Melchizedek, Melchizedek had bread and wine in his hands. When Abram brought the tithe, he was showing us that the Tithe will be paid in the presence of bread and wine.
Jesus said this:
New Living Translation (NLT)
26 As they were eating, Jesus took some bread and blessed it. Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying, “Take this and eat it, for this is my body.”
27 And he took a cup of wine and gave thanks to God for it. He gave it to them and said, “Each of you drink from it, 28 for this is my blood, which confirms the covenant[a] between God and his people. It is poured out as a sacrifice to forgive the sins of many.””
The bread and the wine was where Jesus tithed for humanity. It was there he cut a covenant where the sins of the world were to be paid. So you see I believe the tithe is our Lord Jesus. Regular tithing is actually based on the Law.
This morning it dawned upon me that when Abram tithed to Melchizedek, he actually tithed to a priest who was the King of Righteousness and the King of Salem (Peace), he was both a king and a priest. He was a royal priest. He was not a normal priest. He was the first royal priest. Even Abraham tithed to him. Levi was in Abraham at that time. Hence Levi tithed to him. You only tithe to someone greater than you.
This means a ‘royal priest’ are greater than the best of the Aaronic priests.
Do you the Bible says you are not “priests” but “royal priests”? As such I state you are greater than Levi.
But ye are a chosen generation, a ROYAL PRIESTHOOD, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light; Which in time past were not a people, but are now THE people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy (1Pet 2)
The Law should tithe to us rather the other way around. The Law now owes us because Jesus overpaid for us.
Tithing and Giving
Listen carefully to what I said, I am not against giving. Neither am I against tithing. Tithing and giving is 2 different things. The tithe is a 10% thing. Giving is not limited to or limited by the 10%. I also said Jesus is the payment of our sins, in fact he is the over payment for our sins. He tithed on our behalf. Once and for all. Just like Abraham and Jacob. They tithed once and for all.
There are some who say that Abraham and Jacob tithe regularly. I cannot agree, if that is so why was Jacob’s promise to tithe given special reference at Bethel? Also notice the Lord remembered that particular tithe at that Bethel. If he had tithe regularly, why was this so special?
They paid their tithe once, Jesus died for you once.
Let me reproduced what Phil said in his wonderful article: http://www.phildrysdale.com/2014/02/tithing-the-great-commission/
Things to ponder…
1) It seems Abram gave of his own volition not according to any rules. God never asked him in the scriptures to give anything.
2) Abram never gave from his own wealth. It was from the spoils of war he gave. He literally killed a bunch of people and then gave their stuff away.
3) Yes he gave 10% to Melchizedek. However, he also gave 90% to the king of Sodom. So if you want to tithe like Abraham that’s 10% in the church and 90% to the local strip club or something. (I’m not honestly sure what the direct parallel would be for a modern-day king of Sodom.)
4) The Bible records this happening once. There is no evidence he gave ever again in his life. Given he lived 175 years that’s not all that impressive!”
Things to ponder…
1) Notice that Jacob never once said he would give to receive. It was simply a gift back to God to thank him for what he received. A sacrificial thank you. This is how we should give, not greedily to get more but generously and sacrificially because we have received an abundance from God.
2) It was food and clothing he was receiving, this was produce not money.
3) Who did he give to? There were no priests and God doesn’t have a bank account to setup a monthly transfer. He presumable gave in burnt offerings or to the poor. We simply don’t know.
The tithe does not make you rich, the death of Jesus did.
The New Covenant underlines the reason why you are made rich, it is not the tithe you give to God, and it is based on the payment Jesus made for you: the Lord Jesus who was rich has for your sake been made poor that you who are poor may be made rich.
Now let’s look at how Paul deals with this issue. I honestly believe the principle ‘whatever you sow you will reap’ is a principle of giving in the new covenant. This is where it gets interesting. Does this principle apply when the amount is given is more than 10% or less than 10%? No? Yes? Does it have to be 10%? Does “whatever” mean 10%? How does a person give “cheerfully” when the amount is fixed at 10%?
Tithing and Giving are different
That is why I say under the new covenant: It is the Spirit that moves you to give. Now am I saying let’s not give. I have stated above, there is a difference between giving and tithing. Tithing is base on 10%. In fact if you look at the Law there are 3 different tithes:
Here are some things to take away from the tithe under the law…
1) It was never money.
2) It was always food.
3) There were 3 tithes!
a) Supporting the Levites
10% of your produce (not money) went to the Levites who did not own land and ministered to the people of God
b) The festival of the tithe
A further 10% of your produce went to having a feast in Jerusalem once a year. This is the only time these passages mention money. If you had too much food to carry then God permitted you to sell it before travelling to Jerusalem. You could then repurchase food in Jerusalem for the festival. Note well: The tithe still had to be food! Money wasn’t acceptable!
c) Supporting the local priests, orphans, widows and poor
Every 3 years you had to give an additional 10% of your produce to the poor and needy in the area.
4) The tithe was NOT 10%. It was 20% every year and 30% every third year!
So you see where confusion is. People confused the tithe with giving. Giving is not tithing. It is not based on the Law. We don’t tithe again and again. We tithed once. Am I saying you cannot tithe over and over again? By all means if you want to give 10% every month, go ahead but don’t call it a tithe, if you do make sure you bring 20% every year and 30% every third year.
“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 to the Lord. If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord. He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’”
“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”
So you see: giving is not tithing.
Let me just share with you why I give. Giving is the natural response for the believer. Give because it’s your Father’s nature to give. Your Father’s nature is now your nature. Give because the church needs your support. The church’s role is to bless you, equip you and to serve you. If you benefit from it the very least is for you to bless it.
The real problem!
I am also a huge believer that your pastor should be paid better than your boss. I seriously think your pastor should not be made to suffer financially. I do not agree with the notion that pastors must be poor. I once ask a wise brother of mine “why do you pay your pastor well?” He said, “Simon, what is the value of a marriage?” “What is the value of a young man who turned from being a gangster to a pastor?” I was stunned. With these 2 questions, my selfishness was exposed. I can spend endless monies on the things that seemingly make me happy and place so little value on things that really matter!
Let me be very blunt. I seriously think a lot of the people who are against tithing are not against it because it is under the Law but they refuse to give. That to me is a disgrace. I must enter my caveat here. I do not refer to everyone but there are those who do. Even if they were forced to tithe, they will ask “gross or nett”? The spirit is simply wrong.
I think we seriously have to change the way we think. To see the things we value, I seriously think whether you are against tithing or not, that is not really the issue. The issue is this. What value do you put on a saved soul? A healed marriage? A man miraculously healed of cancer? A family delivered from debts?
Today we complain that the church does not have air condition, we don’t have good food for fellowship, we don’t have HD projectors. The issue is this when you walk into a church, who pays for all these? So when you really give, how much of that giving is really giving? It’s more for payment for the things you enjoy. No wonder we are impoverished. We are poor in our selfishness. That I believe is our real enemy. The mentality of Adam. Seeing lack in abundance.
So I encourage you go beyond tithing. Give. Give cheerfully. Give abundantly. Give graciously.
There is only one rule to giving: Love one another as Jesus loves you.
Please also read this note on Melchizedek and how we have misconstrued him.