Why the Tithe
Many have said that tithing has been done away with, and that it is for the Old Covenant only. They say it has no part of the New Covenant, and that it is legalistic and holds us in bondage. I would like to take a look at this from a Biblical perspective, and try to see the truth of God's Word and find out, why the tithe?
Letís start by defining tithe. According to Strongís, the Hebrew word ma`aser translated tithe means a tenth.
In the New Testament the word dekate
feminine of GSN1182; a tenth, i.e. as a percentage or (technically) tithe:
KJV--tenth (part), tithe.
W. E. Vines says this - Transliterated: apodekateuo
Text: "to give tithes," in Luke 18:12 (some texts have No. 2).\ Note: Heb. 7:4-9 shows the superiority of the Melchizedek priesthood to the Levitical, in that (1) Abraham, the ancestor of the Levites, paid "tithes" to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:20); (2) Melchizedek, whose genealogy is outside that of the Levites, took "tithes" of Abraham, the recipient himself of the divine promises; (3) whereas death is the natural lot of those who receive "tithes," the death of Melchizedek is not recorded; (4) the Levites who received "tithes" virtually paid them through Abraham to Melchizedek.
I donít want to bore you with definitions, however it is important to understand the meaning of something before we talk about it. Letís start at the beginning. You can read the entire 14th chapter of Genesis to get the whole story but because of space I will start at vs.18. Abraham was at war with the regional kings. After the battle and Abrahamís victory, as he was on his way back in the King's Valley, something happened.
Genesis 14:18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19. And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20. And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.'' And he gave him a tithe of all.
Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizedek who was a type of the coming Christ.
Hebrews 5:6 As He also says in another place: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek'';
It is important to note that throughout the Bible the first time something is mentioned it is commonly called the law of first mention. This section of Scripture here in Genesis 14 is the first time tithing is mentioned. The reason that this is important is because it establishes a precedent in the Word of God. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek over 400 years before the law was established. My question is, who told Abraham to tithe to Melchizedek? There is no mention that anyone told him to do it. He was certainly under no compulsion or coercion to do this. There was no law to command Him to do this yet was there? Did he do this of his own volition? I believe Abraham did this to show honor to God as an act of worship through Melchizedek, who as we have seen was a type of our coming High
Priest, Jesus Christ. I believe this is relevant because in our day and time many are saying that the tithe was done away at the time of the New Covenant.
Jesus said thisÖ
John 8:56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.''
Abraham worshiped God as an act of his free will. God thought it was significant enough to have it recorded in the Scripture for posterity. If worshiping God with a tenth of his spoils was not that big of a deal, then why was it mentioned? Because, worshiping God as an act of our free will and not because we are commanded to do so is a big deal. Did Abraham have to tithe, no he did not. Did God bless him because of his honoring Him first? Yes, He absolutely did! God always blesses those who honor Him first.
John 4:23 "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.
Are we really worshiping from our heart in spirit and in truth if we are doing it legalistically? I donít see how we can. If we are only doing it as a legalistic act, whereís the true worship that the Father is seeking? There is another mention of Melchizedek in the book of Psalms that is very enlightening, letís take a look at it.
Psalms 110:3 Your people shall be volunteers In the day of Your power; In the beauties of holiness, from the womb of the morning, You have the dew of Your youth. 4. The Lord has sworn And will not relent, "You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.'' 5. The Lord is at Your right hand; He shall execute kings in the day of His wrath.
The -- Living Bible says it like thisÖ In that day of your power your people shall come to you willingly,
Other translations say it in a similar way. I think it is highly interesting that in the only other mention of Melchizedek in the Old Testament, it makes a specific mention about our freewill. Whatever God requires of us, He requires it of a free and willing heart. The first time that Melchizedek is mentioned, we also see an act of freewill. Jesus also as an act of His will gave His all in obedience to the cross. He did not have to do this, He could have walked away. He submitted His will to the will of the Father because of the greater plan of God. He set the ultimate example for us.
Jesus said this of HimselfÖ Matthew 5:17 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18. "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19. "Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
Jesus did not come to do away with the law but to fulfill the law. The commandments that were written legalistically werenít abolished, theyíre now written in our hearts. Thatís what grace is for. Itís not a get out of jail for free card, itís among other things the great enabler to walk out the will of God here on the Earth. God wouldnít have had to initiate the law in the first place if man had not followed after his own path and walked away from Him. The law was established because of the hardness of their hearts and to show us the error of our ways. The people were too hard hearted to honor God willingly, they had to be commanded to do it. There is a better way.
The Apostle John saidÖ For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:17)
I hope you see the relevance of our free will as an essential part of worship and honoring God. In the New Covenant we are under grace and given the freedom and ability to follow after God and worship Him without coercion. We are not hand puppets, we are His children.
We can see in the book of Genesis that the tithe was initiated before the law. We can also see that the last book of the Old Covenant is devoted primarily to tithe and the attitude behind it. It is my belief that this is no coincidence. This is a powerful area of Scripture that carries over into many areas of our life as Christians. God was reprimanding the children of Israel for their callus attitude. Has God changed? The Word says that He is the same yesterday today and forever. Do you think His attitude towards honor has changed? In the book of Malachi we can see the importance of our attitude in our giving and the tithe.
Malachi 1:6 "A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am the Father, where is My honor? And if I am a Master, where is My reverence? Says the Lord of hosts to you priests who despise My name. Yet you say, `In what way have we despised Your name?' 7. "You offer defiled food on My altar. But you say, `In what way have we defiled You?' By saying, `The table of the Lord is contemptible.' 8. And when you offer the blind as a sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? Offer it then to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you favorably?'' says the Lord of hosts. 9. "But now entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us. While this is being done by your hands, will He accept you favorably?'' says the Lord of hosts. 10. "Who is there even among you who would shut the doors, So that you would not kindle fire on My altar in vain? I have no pleasure in you,'' Says the Lord of hosts, "Nor will I accept an offering from your hands. 11. For from the rising of the sun, even to its going down, my name shall be great among the Gentiles; In every place incense shall be offered to My name, and a pure offering; For My name shall be great among the nations,'' says the Lord of hosts. 12. "But you profane it, in that you say, `The table of the Lord is defiled; and its fruit, its food, is contemptible.' 13. You also say, `Oh, what a weariness!' and you sneer at it,'' says the Lord of hosts. "And you bring the stolen, the lame, and the sick; thus you bring an offering! Should I accept this from your hand?'' says the Lord. 14. "But cursed be the deceiver who has in his flock a male, and makes a vow, but sacrifices to the Lord what is blemished for I am a great King,'' says the Lord of hosts, "And My name is to be feared among the nations.
There is so much said in the book of Malachi that I can not do it justice with limited space, so I would encourage you to read the entire book and meditate on what is being said.
In chapter 1:6-14 we can see the Lord God is upset with the children of Israel. It wasnít just their giving, but their rotten attitude. This manifested in their actions and was a direct reflection of how they honored God. When you study the Word of God you will see that honor is always shown in action as well as attitude, and often that action is shown monetarily. Jesus taught this.
Matthew 15:4 "For God commanded, saying, `Honor your father and your mother'; and, `He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.' 5. "But you say, `Whoever says to his father or mother, "Whatever profit you might have received from me has been dedicated to the temple'' 6. `is released from honoring his father or mother.' "Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition.
Here Jesus is referring to the commandment that says to honor your father and mother, but He was saying that the commandment of honoring father and mother required monetary giving to their parents. He called this honor. They understood this. They weíre saying they didnít have to honor their father and mother, (or give monetarily) in order to take that same money and give it to the temple. In the next verse Jesus called them hypocrites.
Back in Malachi they were saying tithing was a weariness, and in essence that it was not worth the effort. So, they took the stolen, lame, and sick and offered them unto the Lord. Basically they gave God their ill gotten gains, leftovers, and castoffs. Itís not that much different now in our time is it? Our commerce may not be based in farming and agriculture but our attitude hasnít changed much has it? As we look at the modern church, we can see the same kinds of attitudes now as we saw then. People are saying whereís the profit in this, Iím no better off, so whatís the point. So in order to appease a guilty conscious, they give God their leftovers. If we are paying our tithe to ease our conscious, we are tithing for the wrong motive. Do we worship God so that we will feel better. The truth is you can't help but feel better when you have come into the presence of God in worship, but that shouldnít be our primary reason for worshiping Him.
They missed the entire point. He deserves our honor and worship. I believe our modern society has lost so much in this area. Many are not properly taught to honor and respect authority, and donít understand the high importance that the Word of God places in it. Because of this, they donít understand the importance of showing honor and respect toward God in a proper way. The children of Israel robbed God of His Honor. Godís question to them was not where is my tithe, but where is my honor. They weíre either not paying tithes and offerings at all, or they weíre giving their castoffs just to meet the basic minimum requirement out of some kind of legalistic act. They certainly wernt doing it with the proper motives. This is not what God wanted from them. He took no pleasure in them. Has Godís attitude in showing proper honor towards Him changed? He doesnít need our money. He requires our honor. Heís trying to get us in the proper position in order to bless us, but we have to cooperate with Him if we want to see that happen. Thank God He is merciful. He took this opportunity to teach them and us as well the importance of honoring Him with a pure heart.
The third chapter of Malachi is the more familiar section of Scripture that I want to look at. Here God is showing us how to receive His blessing. It is the only place in the Bible where God actually says, prove Me. If we will step out by faith and prove Him with this as He declared, He promises not only to bless us but to rebuke the devourer for our sake.
He wants us to have a blessing so huge that we donít even have the capacity to receive it. What an awesome God we serve.
Malachi 3:10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and prove Me now in this,'' says the Lord of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. 11. "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,'' says the Lord of hosts; 12. "And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,'' says the Lord of hosts.
There is a proper way to do things, and if we will follow Godís way we will get Godís results.
Lets look at a section of Scripture in the Old Covenant that I believe has a strong New Covenant correlation and symbolism. Again because of space I will only use portions but please take the time to read the entire 26th chapter of Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 26: 1. "And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, 2. "that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. 3. "And you shall go to the one who is priest in those days, and say to him, `I declare today to the Lord your God that I have come to the country which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.' 4. "Then the priest shall take the basket out of your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. 5. "And you shall answer and say before the Lord your God: `My father was a Syrian, about to perish, and he went down to Egypt and sojourned there, few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6. `But the Egyptians mistreated us, afflicted us, and laid hard bondage on us. 7. `Then we cried out to the Lord God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and looked on our affliction and our labor and our oppression.
8. `So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9. `He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, "a land flowing with milk and honey''; 10. `and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.' Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God.
It doesnít take a great stretch of our imagination to see the Old Testament shadow of the New. After they were to inherit the Promised Land, they are commanded to take some of the first of all and take it to the place where the Lord God chooses to make His name abide. Then, they were to go to the one who is the priest in those days, and bring the offering and worship before Him.
We know that in our day, Jesus is our High Priest.
Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus.
Jesus is the High priest of our confession, or we could say He is the High Priest of our words. Lets worship Him with our first fruits and confess our victory in Christ Jesus as He commanded us. As we come before the High Priest with our offering and make our confession before Him. We are even being told what to confess as we worship. We are to declare a confession of faith and victory over our enemies and thanksgiving unto God as our deliverer. Wow!
The Word then goes on to sayÖ
De. 26:16. "This day the Lord your God commands you to observe these statutes and judgments; therefore you shall be careful to observe them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17. "Today you have proclaimed the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. 18. "Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He has promised you, that you should keep all His commandments,
19. "and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.''
Heís not just wanting our blind obedience but as vs. 16. Says, we are to do this with all our heart and all our soul. Our God has a divine destiny for us and wants to bless us. In order for Him to do just that, we have to show Him the proper honor that He deserves. I believe this includes the tithe, but more than the actual act of tithing, doing it with the proper motives. Without the proper attitude and honor shown along with it, weíre no better than those that God spoke to through the Prophet Malachi. Letís do as He says and prove Him now in this and see that He will truly open up the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing upon us that is greater than we can handle. I love to prove Godís Word true. I have seen His faithfulness more times than I can count. If you havenít had this same experience, its never too late to start. Amen