Tithing

"But rather give alms of such things as ye have ( or, as ye are able)"..Luke 11:41

THE TITHING LAW GIVEN TO ISRAEL:

The word "tithe" means 'a tenth'. The first recorded incident in Scripture, of tithing, is in Genesis 14:20 , where Abraham gave "tithes of all" the spoils he had won in battle against the king of the north, unto Melchizedek, priest of the Most High God, after Melchizedek, king of Salem had blessed him.

The meaning of this symbolic act is given in Hebrews 7. There the Apostle shows the Jewish Christians (who were contemplating returning to Judaism), that Melchizedek was a type of Christ-- "made like unto the Son of God", v. 3. He was "greater" than Abraham was, as Abraham's paying him a tithe signified, and his priesthood, based upon God's oath, is "better" than the Levitical priesthood, based as it was on fleshly descent from Abraham. The Apostle shows that Jesus Christ was "made a surety ( or mediator) of a better testament (or covenant)", v. 22, gave "better hope", v.19, because that hope was based upon "better promises". Ch. 8:6

The exhortation the apostle gives in Hebrews 10:19-39 is to "draw near" to God, not "draw back unto perdition"-- into Judaism ( "the yoke of bondage",..(Galatians 5:1). He encourages his readers to "BELIEVE unto the saving of the soul (or life)" , (Heb. 10:39).

So, Abraham's payment of a tithe is NOT set forth as something which his spiritual children should copy-- at least not until the Lord Jesus returns to earth, assumes His role in Jerusalem in the Kingdom of God as "High Priest for ever after the order of Melchisedek"---God's king reigning forever over all nations, in righteousness and peace.

The law of tithing was a part of the Mosaic Law given only to the children of Israel. It came into force from when they gained the land of Canaan, which God had promised to Abraham and his seed. There they were served by the Levitical priesthood, (Lev. 27:30-34). That stopped operating when the Mosaic Law was superseded by Christ's way.

THE PURPOSE OF THE TITHING LAW:

Whilst each family of the children of Israel were given a land inheritance by which they could provide for themselves and worship God by the sacrificial code, the Levitical priesthood was denied such. They had a greater inheritance: "I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel ", said God to Aaron. (Numb. 18-20). God gave the Levites "the tenth in Israel for an inheritance", v.21: "I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle". "It shall be a statute for ever (Hebrew, olahm 'the hidden period' of time in which the Levites served), " throughout your generations". v.23. This time ended when the Mosaic covenant ended upon the death of Jesus Christ, which death ratified "the new covenant" of faith. The tithe provided for the Levites human needs and enabled them to devote themselves without distraction to their service to God and to Israel.

The Levites were the nations 'public servants'---its teachers, judges and counsellors. The tithe upon the nation was like a tax to pay for the nation's administration. It was only 10% "of all their increase" of each year, whilst the third year's tithe was both for the Levites and other needy Israelites. (Deuter. 14:27-29). Israelites paid a tenth of all their annual increase, presumably their net income. We gentiles pay for our Public Service at about one third of our gross income ---- some more, some less. God was a much kinder king to Israel than human governments are to us!

CHRISTIANS NOT UNDER THE MOSAIC LAW:

The Mosaic Law has been superseded by a "better covenant"---the new covenant of faith in Christ and the Gospel, (Hebrews 8:7-13). Tithing was a necessary and an integral part of the Mosaic Covenant, which Christians are NOT required to observe. To promote tithing is really to Judaise and to depart from God's "new and living way" of faith in God (Hebrews 10:19-20). The Mosaic Law was described by the Apostle Paul as "a ministration of death", because it cursed everyone under it to death who disobeyed even one of its many laws. Law, (or compulsory service), always brings people to a curse, whilst faith (voluntary service), always brings God's people to His blessings of mercy, grace and peace. (2 Peter 1:2)

THE COMMANDS OF CHRIST AND HIS APOSTLES:

These are:

 "give alms as ye are able", (Luke 11-41)

 "do not your alms before men, to be seen of them, (Matthew 6:1-4)

 "As ye have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men especially unto them who are of' the household of faith". (Galatians 6:10)

WHY DO SOME CHURCHES TITHE?

If neither the Lord Jesus or His Apostles command tithing (which was part of the now superseded Mosaic Law), why do some churches tithe? The simple answer is found in the wealth of these churches and the (often) poverty of the people who surrender to a tithing law. Those churches do NOT compare favourably with the Lord Jesus who came to serve (not to be served), who had no where to lay His head, (not to have great wealth, ornate churches and cathedrals), and who laid down His all that WE might have life "abundantly". (John 10:10).

Our Lord Jesus overturned the tables of the religious moneymakers in the Temple, saying, "Take these things hence; make not my Father's house an house of merchandise". (John 2:16). Instead of helping rich churches become even richer, building up their treasure on earth, we should be building up our own treasure in heaven, by a faith which pleases God.

May we worship God "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:23-24). Let us do all the good to all we can. In the spirit of faithful service we may, as we are able, choose to financially support things that truly are of God. Perhaps churches which tithe ARE NOT!

 

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