How Important is Tithing Today?
Is Tithing Binding on New Covenant Believers?
(Scriptures are quoted from the King James Bible, unless otherwise stated. The names of the Father and Son have been changed to "Yahweh" and "Yahshua" by the author of this article.)
(Word definitions and numbers are taken from the Hebrew and Greek dictionaries in The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, by James Strong, LL.D., S.T.D., unless otherwise specified.)
(editor’s note: Underlining and bold are used in this article for emphasis.)
Many churches talk about tithing and offerings. They ask people to pledge how much they will tithe on a regular basis. Do you understand what that is all about? What is tithing? What does the word mean? Who is obligated to tithe? On what? Why? To whom does the tithe belong?
From Strong’s Concordance –
· Hebrew Dictionary, page 167, #4643, “ma’asher or ma’ashrah, a tenth; especially a tithe.”
· Hebrew Dictionary, page 223, #6237, “ahsar; to accumulate; but used only as a denom. From #6235, to tithe, i.e. to take or give a tenth.”
· Greek Dictionary, page 35, #586, “apodekatoo; to tithe (as debtor or creditor).”
· Greek Dictionary, page 63, #1181, “dekate; a tenth, i.e. as a percentage or (technically) tithe.”
· Greek Dictionary, page 63, #1183, detatoo; to tithe, i.e. to give or take a tenth.”
Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition, 2000, Michael Agnes, Editor in Chief, page 1502 – “tithe 1-one tenth of the annual produce of one’s land or of one’s annual income, paid as a tax or contribution to support a church or its clergy. 2-a)a tenth part b)any small part. 3-any tax or levy.”
FIRST MENTION OF TITHE IN SCRIPTURES
Over a number of years, several kings had been battling. Abram finally became involved after Lot was taken captive. Then this event occurred.
Genesis 14:11-20 11-And the kings took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. 12-And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. 13-And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew; for he dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eschol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram. 14-And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. 15-And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. 16-And he brought back again his brother Lot, and his goods#7399, and the women also, and the people. 17-And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. 18-And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high El. 19-And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high El, possessor of heaven and earth: 20-And blessed be the most high El, which has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Even though there is no record of a discussion beforehand, it seem that Abram already understood the tithing concept and simply did so. There is no previous command in Scripture for this to be done. It appears that Abram gave to Melchizedek as a way of expressing his appreciation.
On what did Abram tithe? Grain? Livestock? A paycheck? Verse 16 says Abram brought back “goods” – and he gave tithes of “all”. The word “goods” is Hebrew #7399, “rekuwsh”, meaning “property (as gathered).”
Genesis 28:20-22 20-And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If Elohim will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, 21-So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall Yahweh be my Elohim: 22-And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be Elohim’s house: and of all that you shall give me I will surely give the tenth unto you.
Still – no command from Yahweh regarding tithing. But it is clear that Jacob understood it and made a vow to carry it out. It was an acknowledgement that the blessings he received came from Yahweh.
TO WHOM DO TITHES BELONG?
Exodus 22:29-30 29-You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe fruits, and of your liquors: the firstborn of your sons shall you give unto me. 30-Likewise shall you do with your oxen, and with your sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam: on the eighth day you shall give it me.
Exodus 13:12-13 12-that you shall set apart unto Yahweh all that open the matrix, and every firstling that comes of a beast which you have; the males shall be Yahweh’s. 13-And every firstling of an ass you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among your children shall you redeem.
Leviticus 27:26-33 26-Only the firstling of the beasts, which should be Yahweh’s firstling, no man shall sanctify it; whether it be ox, or sheep: it is Yahweh’s. 27-And if it be of an unclean beast, then he shall redeem it according to your estimation, and shall add a fifth part of it thereto: or if it be not redeemed, then it shall be sold according to your estimation. 28-Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto Yahweh of all that he has, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto Yahweh. 29-one devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed: but shall surely be put to death. 30-and all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is Yahweh’s: it is holy unto Yahweh. 31-And if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. 32-And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passes under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto Yahweh. 33-He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy: it shall not be redeemed.
While some individuals grumble about the idea they “have to” give a set amount – a tenth – we see in these verses, that the tithe is not the end of the matter.
All firstling animals were Yahweh’s. They came out of the herd first, no matter what. Then, after that, one category of animals at a time, the ones born that season, were made to pass under a rod. Every tenth one was Yahweh’s. For example, if a man had 19 new lambs in a season, Yahweh got only one – the tenth one. It was not 10% of the animals, which would be 1.9 animals, but only every tenth one.
Notice what else is to be tithed – Leviticus 27:30. It wasn’t only grain. “Seed of the land, of the fruit of the tree” would include vegetables, fruits, nuts, olives, grapes, dates, etc. It involved whatever was harvested. And the tithe of those came after they had given the first fruits of each one.
THE TRIBE OF LEVI
Yahweh gave instructions to Moses.
Exodus 28:1 And take you unto you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons.
Deuteronomy 18:1-5 1-The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of Yahweh made by fire and his inheritance. 2-Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; Yahweh is their inheritance, as he has said unto them. 3-And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw. 4-The firstfruit also of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, shall you give him. 5-For Yahweh your Elohim has chosen him out of all your tribes, to stand to minister in the name of Yahweh, him and his sons forever.
Aaron and Moses were descendants of Jacob’s son Levi. All the male descendants of Levi – called the Levites – were to be servants in the worship of Yahweh. But only Aaron and his male descendants made up the priesthood. All priests were Levites, but not all Levites were priests.
Numbers 3:2-4 2-And these are the names of the sons of Aaron; Nadab the firstborn, and Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3-These are the names of the sons of Aaron, the priests which were anointed, whom he consecrated to minister in the priest’s office. 4-And Nadab and Abihu died before Yahweh, when they offered strange fire before Yahweh, in the wilderness of Sinai, and they had no children: and Eleazar and Ithamar ministered in the priest’s office in the sight of Aaron, their father.
These three men and their descendants would constitute the priesthood. The other Levites were to assist them.
Numbers 3:5-13 5-And Yahweh spoke unto Moses, saying, 6-Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. 7-And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle. 8-And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregations, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. 9-And you shall give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel. 10-And you shall appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on their priest’s office; and the stranger that comes near shall be put to death. 11-And Yahweh spoke unto Moses, saying, 12-And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that opens the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine: 13-Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be; I am Yahweh.
INHERITANCE OF THE PRIESTHOOD
Numbers 18:20 And Yahweh spoke unto Aaron, You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any part among them: I am your part and your inheritance among the children of Israel.
Notice: the priesthood inherited no land. They would not be farming and raising crops. So what about their food?
Numbers 18:8-19 8-And Yahweh spoke unto Aaron, Behold, I also have given you the charge of my heave offerings of all the hallowed things of the children of Israel; unto you have I given them by reason of the anointing, and to your sons, by a ordinance forever. 9-This shall be yours of the most holy things, reserved from the fire: every oblation of theirs, every meat offering of theirs, and every sin offering of theirs, and every trespass offering of theirs, which they shall render unto me, shall be meat most holy for you and for your sons. 10-In the most holy place shall you eat it; every male shall eat it: it shall be holy unto you. 11-And this is yours; the heave offering of their gift, with all the wave offerings of the children of Israel: I have given them unto you, and to your sons and to your daughters with you, by a statute for ever: everyone that is clean in your house shall eat of it. 12-All the best of the oil, and all the best of the wine, and of the wheat, the firstfruits of them which they shall offer unto Yahweh, them have I given you. 13-And whatsoever is first ripe in the land, which they shall bring unto Yahweh, shall be yours; every one that is clean in your house shall eat of it. 14- Every thing devoted in Israel shall be yours. 15-Every thing that opens the matrix in all flesh, which they bring unto Yahweh, whether it be of men or beasts, shall be yours: nevertheless the firstborn of man shall you surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shall you redeem. 16-And those that are to be redeemed from a month old shall you redeem, according to your estimation, for the money of five shekels, after the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. 17-But the firstling of a cow, or the firstling of a sheep, or the firstling of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy; you shall sprinkle their blood upon the altar, and shall burn their fat for an offering made by fire, for a sweet savor unto Yahweh. 18-And the flesh of them shall be yours, as the wave breast and as the right shoulder are yours. 19-All the heave offerings of the holy things, which the children of Israel offer unto Yahweh, have I given you, and your sons and your daughters with you, by a statute for ever: it is a covenant of salt for ever before Yahweh unto you and to your seed with you.
INHERITANCE OF THE LEVITES
Numbers 18:21-24 21-And, behold, 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 of the congregation. 22-Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come near the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. 23-But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel, they have no inheritance. 24-But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto Yahweh, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
Now, notice what else was said to the Levites: they were to tithe on the tithes they received! A tithe of the tithe.
Numbers 18:25-32 25-And Yahweh spoke unto Moses, saying, 26-Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When you take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall offer up an heave offering of it for Yahweh, even a tenth part of the tithe. 27-And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress. 28-Thus you also shall offer an heave offering unto Yahweh of all your tithes, which you receive of the children of Israel: and you shall give thereof Yahweh’s heave offering to Aaron the priest. 29-Out of all your gifts you shall over every heave offering of Yahweh, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. 30-Therefore you shall say unto them, When you have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshing floor, and as the increase of the winepress. 31-And you shall eat it in every place, you and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation. 32-And you shall bear no sin by reason of it, when you have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall you pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest you die.
The word “increase” of Numbers 18:30 is the same word used in referring to the tithes of the people.
Deuteronomy 14:22 You shall truly tithe all the increase of your seed, that the field brings forth year by year.
“Increase” is Hebrew #8393, “tebuwah.” It means “income, i.e. produce.”
Interesting! In a former organization, all the people were to send their tithe checks to the headquarters office. They then provided for the ministers from that – ministers who were not required to tithe at all by the organization!
Then the people were to send an amount equal to a tithe of their tithe to headquarters. That was supposed to cover the costs of the feast sites.
That organization certainly didn’t use Scripture as an outline, did it? They basically reversed the process to get the most money they could out of the people.
Most people assume all the priests and Levites lived at Jerusalem. But that is not the way Yahweh set things up. He said the tithes would go to the Levites. If they had all been in one location, that would have made it hard for the people. It would have meant a long trip every time another crop came in. Or for the women who were to appear before a priest every month (see Leviticus 15:19-30).
Also, if all were located in one city, it would have been a burden on the tribe who had inherited that area. It would have diminished the size of their inheritance. So Yahweh had a plan that evened out the situation.
Numbers 35:1-3, 6-8 1-And Yahweh spoke unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, saying, 2-Command the children of Israel, that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and you shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them. 3-And the cities shall they have to dwell in; and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts. 6-And among the cities which you shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which you shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee there: and to them you shall add forty and two cities. 7-So all the cities which you shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities: them shall you give with their suburbs. 8-And the cities which you give shall be of the possession of the children of Israel: from them that have many you shall give many; but from them that have few you shall give few: every one shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inherits.
There are scholars who claim that this never happened because there is very little information available about it. But once the Israelites took the land and divided it into areas for each tribe, this is recorded.
Joshua 21:1-3 1-Then came near the heads of the fathers of the Levites unto Eleazar the priest, and unto Joshua the son of Nun, and unto the heads of the fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel; 2-And they spoke unto them at Shiloh in the land of Canaan, saying, Yahweh commanded by the hand of Moses to give us cities to dwell in, with the suburbs thereof for our cattle. 3-And the children of Israel gave unto the Levites out of their inheritance, at the commandment of Yahweh, these cities and their suburbs.
The chapter goes on to list the forty-eight cities and in which tribe’s territory they were located.
So, to get the tithes to the Levites would be much simpler than having to go to Jerusalem or wherever the high priest dwelled. The Levites in a particular city would receive the tithes from the area surrounding that city and then send a tithe of that to Aaron and his sons.
As a side note – in the beginning of their time in the land, the high priest was not at Jerusalem. That city, known as Jebus, was not under the control of Israel I\until King David conquered it much later. (2 Samuel 5:6-9)
But later, once Israel and Judah went into captivity, the Scriptures are silent about these Levitical cities. Other peoples had been moved into the areas by the conquerors. But even then, reference does come to mind to show that not all were at Jerusalem, speaking of Zacharias, the father of John the Immerser.
Luke 1:5,9 5-There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia; and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 9-Accoring to the custom of the priest’s office, his lot was to burn incense when he went into the temple of Yahweh.
Once Mary heard that Elisabeth was pregnant, she went to visit her.
Luke 1:39-40 39-And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; 40-And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth.
Yahshua used the word “tithes” only once, recorded by two witnesses.
Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithes of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought you have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Luke 22:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of Yahweh: these ought you to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Yahshua acknowledged that it was right for them to pay tithes on even the smallest things they harvested. Nowhere did He say tithing was no longer necessary. But even though they did tithe, they were obeying only the letter of the law and ignoring the spirit of the law.
Did Yahshua give any indication what would happen in the future?
At His death, the veil of the temple was torn in half, from top to bottom. His sacrifice did away with the need for ALL animal sacrifices and the need to turn to the Levitical priesthood for atonement.
Keep that in mind as we work our way forward – after looking at how He instructed the apostles when He sent them out, as well as things stated by Paul.
Matthew 10:9-10 9-Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, 10-Nor scrip for your journey, neither two coats, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat.
Luke 10:3-8 3-Go your ways: behold, I send you forth as lambs among wolves. 4-Carry neither purse, nor scrip, nor shoes: and salute no man by the way. 5-And into whatsoever house you enter, first say Peace be to this house. 6-And if the son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again. 7-And in the same house remain, eating and drinking such things as they give: for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Go not from house to house. 8-And into whatsoever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you.
The disciples were to out with nothing. They were working for Yahweh – He would see to it that their needs were met. They were to receive housing and food for their service.
Paul worked for his “keep” while he stayed with Priscilla and Aquilla, as well as wherever else he went.
Acts 18:3 And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.
Acts 20:33-34 33-I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel. 34-Yea, you yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.
I Corinthians 4:11-12 11-Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwelling-place; 12-And labor, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it.
Paul was actually homeless! He did not have a large, beautifully furnished mansion paid for by the church, but stayed wherever a place was available.
1 Corinthians 11:7-9 7-Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that you might be exalted, because I have preached to you the gospel of Yahweh freely? 8-I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. 9-And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which came from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself.
Paul was teaching the people of Corinth, but it appears they made no great effort to take care of him, to see that he had meals and a place to rest.
He said “taking wages.” It seems he had a right to them. “Wages” is Greek #3800, “opsonion”, meaning “rations for a soldier, i.e. (by extens.) his stipend or pay.”
2 Corinthians 12:13-15 13-For what is it wherein you were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? Forgive me this wrong. 14-Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will not be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. 15-But I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls, even if loving you more and more, I am loved the less.
Is he saying that it was wrong of him to be self-supporting and didn’t insist that they do their part? If he hadn’t worked and taken care of himself, there probably would have been times he would have gone hungry. But apparently they were supposed to take care of the laborer who worked so hard to teach them. It appears he did not demand from the people what was rightfully his.
Galatians 6:6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teaches in all good things.
In the King James, the word “communicate” appears rather than “share.” It is the Greek #2841, “koinonea” meaning “to share with others.”
I Timothy 5:17-18 17-Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially they who labor in the word and doctrine. 18-For the scripture says, You shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, the laborer is worthy of his reward.
The scripture quoted here is found in Deuteronomy 25:4. It means that the animal doing the work of threshing the grain is to be allowed to eat of it as a recompense for doing the work. The last part of the above verse is from Matthew 10:10. Yahshua said that workers are to receive payment. The pay can be in the form of money food, drink, or a place to rest.
Paul’s clearest statement is a little longer. Apparently his apostleship and his rights to share the produce of the people were being challenged.
I Corinthians 9:1-18 1-Am I not an apostle? Am I not free? Have I not seen Yahshua Messiah our Master? Are not you my work in the Master? 2-If I be not an apostle unto others, yet doubtless I am to you: for the seal of my apostleship are you in the Master. 3-My answer to them that do examine me is this. 4-Have we not power to eat and to drink? 5-Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Master,and Cephas? 6-Or I only and Barnabas, have we not power to forbear working?
7-Who goes a warfare at any time at his own charges? Who plants a vineyard, and eats not of the fruit thereof? Or who feeds a flock, and eats not of the milk of the flock? 8-Say I these things as a man? Or says not the law the same also? 9-for it is written in the law of Moses, You shall not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treads out the corn. Does Yahweh take care for oxen? 10-Or says he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that plows should plow in hope; and that he that threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope. 11-If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? 12-If others be partakers of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power: but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Messiah. 13-Do you not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? And they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? 14-Even so has the Master ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel. 15-but I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me; for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void. 16-For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel! 17-For if I do this thing willingly, I have a reward: but if against my will, a dispensation of the gospel is committed unto me. 18-What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Messiah without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel.
The word “power”, used six times in this passage, is the Greek #1849, “exousia”. It means “privilege, i.e. (subj.) force, capacity, competency, freedom, or (obj.) mastery (concr. magistrate, superhuman, potentate, token of control), delegated influence. As a noun, it denotes authority, permission, or power.”
Paul said they had the right – the authority – to eat and drink and to have a sister or wife travel with them and receive the same benefits. They were to share in the life-sustaining necessities of the people.
How can that be? The tithe is Yahweh’s and He gave it to the Levites. How is it that the apostles – who were not Levites – had the right and authority to take payment for services rendered? And what about the elders of today?
A CHANGE IN THE LAW
Remember, Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20), who was not a Levite. Was he commanded to do so? We have no idea – Scripture doesn’t say.
Hebrews 7:1-12 1-For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high El, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2-To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3-Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of El; abides a priest continually. 4-Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. 5-And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren though they came out of the loins of Abraham: 6-But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. 7-And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better. 8-And here men that die receive tithes, but there he received them, of whom it is witnessed that he lived. 9-And as I may say so, Levi also, who received tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. 10-For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedek met him. 11-If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12-for the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
Consider: the tithe went to Melchizedek before the Levites. So if the priestly office were removed from the Levites, where would it go? Why not return to Melchizedek?
And who was Melchizedek? Commentaries have a range of opinions on this. But there is only one who could fit this description. Who, besides Yahweh the Father, has no beginning of days or end of life (Heb 7:3)? It could only be Yahshua! He existed as a powerful being before He was born as a human.
Some say that isn’t possible, because He did not exist until his human birth. Are they sure?
Written long before Yahshua’s birth –
Proverbs 30:4 Who has ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has bound up the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if you can tell?
In Yahshua’s prayer before His death –
John 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify you me with your own self with the glory which I had with you before the world was.
Ephesians 3:9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world has been hid in the Father, who created all things by Yahshua Messiah.
Hebrews 1:1-2 1-The Father, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2-Has in these last days spoken unto us by his Son whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds.
Hebrews 7:22-28 22-By so much was Yahshua made a surety of a better testament. 23-And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: 24-But this man because he continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood. 25-Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that came unto Yahweh by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them. 26-For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27-who needs not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people’s: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. 28-for the law makes men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, makes the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.
Hebrews 3:1 Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Messiah Yahshua.
So what about the tithe? Does it apply to us today? What did Yahshua say?
Matthew 5:17-19 17-Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets; I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. 18-For verily, I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19-Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
The command to tithe remains. What changed was the priesthood. Remember, as we quoted earlier (Leviticus 27:30-32), the tithes do not belong to any man. The tithes belong to Yahweh – and that has not changed. Could there be a penalty or curse for ignoring this? And possibly a blessing for following the instructions? Just look at the verses quoted just above from Matthew.
Malachi 3:8-10 8-Will a man rob Elohim? Yet you have robbed me. But you say, Wherein have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. 9-You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me, even this whole nation. 10-Bring you all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, says Yahweh of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Think back to what we saw earlier. Deuteronomy 14:22 said the people were to tithe on the increase received in a year’s harvest season. Not on everything they had, but on what was added that year.
And the Levites in Numbers 18:30, the tithes they received were to be counted as their increase. And they were to tithe on those products.
Psalms 105:44 And (Yahweh) gave them the lands of the heathen: and they inherited the labor of the people.
Deuteronomy 6:10-12 10-And it shall be, when Yahweh have brought you into the land which he swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you great and goodly cities, which you built not. 11-And houses full of all good things, which you filled not, and wells digged, which you digged not, vineyards and olive trees, which you planted not; when you shall have eaten and be full. 12-Then beware lest you forget Yahweh, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
After Israel took the land and divided the inheritance, Joshua spoke Yahweh’s words to the people.
Joshua 24:13 And I have given you a land for which you did not labor, and cities which you built not, and you dwell in them; of the vineyards and olive yards which you planted not, do you eat.
Israel came into a land that was free. The homes were free – no mortgage or rent. Animals, crops and food had been left behind by fleeing inhabitants. So what did it cost the Israelites to settle their territory? Thanks and obedience to Yahweh. Following that, the people were to give firstlings to Yahweh; firstfruits of grains, grapes, olives, fruits, etc. would be offered to Yahweh; and Yahweh’s tithes were to be given to the Levites.
So, today where would tithes go? Today the tithes are still Yahweh’s – no Scripture gives any hint that we owe nothing. We can’t put the tithes into Yahweh’s hands, but we can place them where they can be used to glorify Him. Not into large organizations that build multi-million dollar mansions and properties, that pay huge salaries. Instead, to a smaller group or assembly that is seeking to follow and obey Yahweh.
And where would they be using the money? The idea is not to establish tithing to build an empire or to support those who serve – often in conditions which the average person cannot match. Like Paul, these work for a living or have a retirement that allows them to serve the Father. Groups may vary in size and needs, but there will be expenses---providing a meeting place for services and fellowship; furnishings; utilities; supplies; a feast site; and possibly an outreach program. That program would require the equipment to record and duplicate messages and/or to print booklets and articles; and postage, etc. Those who enjoy the benefit of any of these things should be willing to share what they have so that it can all be made available to others whom Yahweh may call.
In other words, the participants should use their tithe to facilitate the spread of the teaching of Yahweh and Yahshua, for the growth of His family. Would that not be offering the tithe to the Father? Think about it. If others had not done so, where would you have gotten the knowledge you now have?
SOMETHING TO CONSIDER
Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Facts, by J.I. Packer, Merrill C. Tenney, William White, Jr., page 380—
“The giving of a tithe was man’s acknowledgement that he is a steward of God’s creation. The Old Testament clearly demonstrates that every spiritual relationship of man is expressed in some material way. Rites of worship gave the Israelites a way to confess the operation of their faith in every sphere – not the least of which was the economic sphere.”
“When the Israelites offered their tithes, they confessed God’s providence to their forefathers, His deliverance in their time of need, His redemption of them from oppression, and His gift of the land of Canaan (Deut. 26:59). They invited the Levites, the poor, the widows, and the orphans of their local community to join them at the central sanctuary as they made these offerings to the Lord. No man could appear at a feast empty-handed. The law required each man to bring an offering proportionate to the way he had been blessed (Deut. 16:10,17).”
“Notice the economic dimension of Israel’s worship. They offered the Lord a large part of their time; they presented the first fruits of their grain and livestock; they came to the feasts with offerings and tithes; they made freewill offerings of their lives and property; and they gave liberally for the building of the tabernacle and temple. When they returned with booty taken in battle, they set aside a portion for the Lord and Levites before dividing it among themselves (Num. 31:26-54). Their devotion to God cost them the best of all they had (cf. 2 Sam. 24:24). The tithe clearly expressed this costly devotion.”
What about you? How does Yahweh see your devotion? Or does He see any at all?
(2nd & 3rd Tithe will be addressed in another article)
Copyright ©2015 The Congregation of YHWH, Irving, TX.
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