This is a long one, so fix a cup of coffee or tea and get cozy.
In the previous article, I listed some startling facts about God’s holy tithe. As we review these facts, take note of how different God’s holy tithe was from what is falsely called “tithing” today.
1. Who Is Required To Tithe?
Monetary Tithing: EVERY Christian.
God’s Word: Only land-owning farmers & herdsmen in the holy land of Israel.
Remember, God specifically stated that the tithe had to come from crops, herds and flocks in the holy land. Only land-owning farmers and herdsmen had crops, herds, and flocks — so only they were required to tithe. No one else was required or expected to tithe, because they did not have the natural resources that God specified.
2. How Many Tithes??
Monetary Tithing: One tithe.
God’s Word: Three separate tithes
In the Law of Moses, there were three separate tithes:
The First Tithe which provided food for the Levites and the priests, since they received no inheritance of land in Israel (Numbers 18:21).
The Second Tithe which provided food for festivals in Israel and was eaten/drank by tithers and their family (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
The Third Tithe which provided food for the poor (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
These three tithes were carried out over a 7-year cycle, with no tithing during the 7th year because it was a Sabbath year or a year of rest.
During Sabbath years the land of Israel was “to have a sabbath of rest, a sabbath to the LORD. Do not sow your fields or prune your vineyards. Do not reap what grows of itself or harvest the grapes of your untended vines. The land is to have a year of rest. . .” (Leviticus 25:3-7).
3. Who Receives The Tithe?
Monetary Tithing: Research shows that most ‘tithes’ and offerings goes towards operating costs (the church-building & church staff), and few donations goes towards youth & adult programs, benevolence, and mission work.
God’s Word: The poor, Tribe of Levi, & tithers themselves
The First Tithe went to the Levitical priests and their Levite-assistants. Tithers would bring this tithe to the Levites who lived in nearby Levitical cities. The Levite-assistants would then transport only *one-tenth* of this tithe to the Old Covenant temple in Jerusalem when it was their turn to assist the priests. So the Levitical priests only received one-tenth of one-tenth of this particular tithe, and they offered it up to God as an offering. This portion of the Levitical tithe was suppose to be placed in the storehouse and shared with the Levites who were assisting them at the Old Covenant temple.
The Second Tithe was eaten/drank by tithers and their families.
The Third Tithe remained in your gates and went to the poor, the orphans, the widows, and strangers in Israel.
As you can see, most of God’s holy tithe was allocated to FEED THE PEOPLE, not fund operation costs and maintain a building. God’s holy tithe was never money, and so it never paid for salaries and such. The Levite-assistants had regular jobs most of the year, so they were not a financial burden and dependent on the people. They only assisted at the Old Covenant temple for about two weeks out of the year (Levites served in 24 divisions, each serving at the temple only a week at a time, or about two weeks per year, see 1 Chronicles chapter 24 and Luke 1:5-6).
During Jesus’ earthly ministry, He did not tithe because He was poor. He did not own any land and He was not a farmer nor a shepherd. Even though He was poor, Scripture does not show Him living off of people’s tithes or telling anyone to tithe to Him. Jesus was a traveling preacher who lived off the provision of the Father, worked with His own hands, and received hospitality from people who supported His ministry. The apostles didn’t collect tithes from anyone either. They wanted to set an example for the saints by working with their own hands and not being a burden by depending on God’s people for long-term financial provision. The apostles only accepted material help from the saints when there was an imminent need (i.e. imprisonment, persecution, illness, traveling ministry).
God’s holy tithe had to come from the holy land of Israel. Is anyone tithing produce from the holy land? Are you able to tithe produce from the holy land? Most Christians don’t live in Israel, so they aren’t able to tithe what God commanded.
God’s holy tithe required the Levitical priesthood and their Levite-assistants — only they were authorized by God to collect, receive, and transport tithes. But in the New Covenant, there is no Levitical priesthood and no Levite-assistants. Some leaders try to get around this by teaching that they are modern-day “Levitical priests” and therefore they are authorized to receive monetary ‘tithes.’ This is false. Church leaders are not modern day “Levitical priests.” Levitical priests were male descendants of Aaron from the Tribe of Levi. God never authorized church leaders to collect, receive, or transport tithes. In the New Covenant, Jesus is our High Priest and the entire body of Christ is a royal priesthood (1 Peter 2:5, 9).
God’s holy tithe required the Old Covenant temple (one-tenth of the Levitical Tithe had to be offered up in the Old Covenant temple by a Levitical priest), but the Old Covenant temple doesn’t exist anymore — it was destroyed around 70 A.D. Therefore, the Levitical Tithe cannot be carried out. In the New Covenant, the individual Believer and the body of Christ are God’s temple.
The tithing laws were a part of the Old Covenant system of Law, and Hebrews 8 teaches that God made the Old Covenant obsolete and replaced it with a New Covenant based on better promises. This was the fulfillment of a prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31-34. The term “obsolete” means “no longer in general use, fallen into disuse, discarded or outmoded, out of date.”
Being that God Himself did away with the Old Covenant, the Levitical priesthood, and most Christians aren’t land-owning farmers and herdsmen in the holy land. . . how can anyone possibly keep the tithing laws today? We can’t! And what man has authority to re-institute what God did away with?
Since no one can keep the tithing laws today, then how do we support the work of Christ? By giving!~
In the next article, we’re going to see how God feels about leaders re-instituting Old Covenant ordinances and placing His people back under the Old Covenant system of Law.
Click here for the next article in this series.