Monday, November 15, 2010

The Tithe?

This Law of Moses that was given to the Israelite nation by God has been used for centuries to collect money from believers to fund the buildings of man and the salaries of clergy. The misuse of the tithe has led to divisions in many families and marriages, causing a multitude of Christians over the years to go without food, pay their bills, put gas in the car, buy clothes, and many other necessities of life. It has also caused many believers to feel manipulated, guilty, and afraid that God will curse them if they don’t tithe or can't give due to their financial situation.

The scriptures used to validate the tithe in the New Testament church comes from:

Malachi 3:6-12

“For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances And have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’ Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try 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. “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; And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the LORD of hosts.”

The first question we need to ask is: Who was Malachi prophesying to?

Malachi 2:6To you priests who despise My name.”

The main recipients of this prophetic word were the levitical priests of Israel who offered defiled food, lame, sick, and blind animals on the altar of God. They were the ones who went away from the ordinances of the Lord and were doing evil in His sight. It was the priests in the temple who asked the Lord ‘in what way shall we return?’ ‘Will a man rob God?’

The nation of Israel was robbing God of His tithes that were commanded by the Law of Moses to be given for the priests to live on in the temple. The priests withheld the pure and unblemished offerings that were required by the law to be sacrificed to God. This is why God said bring all the tithes and offerings into the storehouse, that there may be FOOD in My house, not money! The Israelites tithed on their food and livestock so that the priest’s and those who needed it would be fed. If they did this THEN God would open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing on the nation of Israel and their land, NOT on Christians today!

When we read ALL of Malachi in context we can clearly understand that God was not talking to those under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ. In truth He was talking to the levitical priests and the nation of Israel who were under the Old Covenant.

Malachi 2:1

And now, O priests, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name,” Says the LORD of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart.”

The Lord makes it very clear who He was talking to through the prophet Malachi!

Malachi 3:9

You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.”

What nation? The nation of ISRAEL!

When man takes scripture out of context and uses it for his own gain the consequences always fall upon the sheep who listen to them and trust them. Many ministers are afraid to speak the truth for fear of losing the sheep and their salaries, but every shepherd must realize that the sheep are the Lord’s and we are just tending the flock until the Great Shepherd returns!

Now take a look at how the New Testament church began under the New Covenant of Jesus Christ, the Covenant of grace, truth, and faith by the law of the Spirit.

Acts 2:44-46

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

The saints in the New Testament church were exhorted by Paul to excel at the grace of giving, and to give from the heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion. There are no scriptures that command the Christians to tithe ten percent of ALL their income every week to the church.

2nd Corinthians 9:7

“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”

2nd Corinthians 8:1-4

“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”

The first century churches were concerned about taking care of one another and providing for the needs of the poor, their offerings were free will offerings. The apostles didn’t have to tell them to give, they gave joyfully even under affliction and poverty. They wanted to minister to the needs of the saints. If the believers today were like this, there wouldn’t be any need that couldn't be met!

2nd Corinthians 8:12-15

For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”

Giving in the first century was all about equality and sharing the blessings of God, but today we see guilt giving, reluctant giving, and giving to get something back from God. Is there anywhere in the scriptures that tell Christians to do what we hear coming from the mouths of ministers and televangelists today? Paul told the saints to give according to what they had, not what they didn’t have, so there would be equality in the church.

1st Corinthians 16:1

Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come. And when I come, whomever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem. But if it is fitting that I go also, they will go with me.”

Again we see a collection being made for the SAINTS and NOT for the clergy or a building, but to provide for the other churches. The church in Jerusalem was in need so Paul told the Corinthian church and the churches of Galatia to set something aside as they have prospered so a collection could be made for the Jerusalem church; NOTHING about the prophecy of Malachi in these scriptures. In truth you will not find any of the apostles quoting the prophet in order to get money from the saints, and Paul knew the Old Testament scriptures well and quoted them often, why didn’t he quote the prophet Malachi?

In truth, you will not find one scripture in the New Testament that commands a Christian convert in the first century church to tithe, and tithing is NOT a New Covenant obligation for the saints today. If the apostles in the first century church didn’t command it, why is it being commanded and taught today?

If you have more questions and would like to go even deeper into the truth about the tithe, here is a link to a very detailed and in-depth study: http://www.bible-truths.com/tithing.html

In His Service,
Tyrone