Making A "Payment" to God?

How many times have you had this same discussion with your Brothers and Sisters? To "tithe" or to "give" seems to be where the dilemma is stationary.

In this short article, I would ask you to follow along, and be a Berean by checking the Scripture references that will be given. Along with studying this topic from God’s Word, please try to remove any preconceived notions, and study it from Scripture alone, without being biased by doctrines of man, which we have all accumulated [to some degree or another] during our walk with the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a difference between the offering (Take for Me an offering [Exodus 25:2]) and the Tithe. Tithing was a system of giving that God gave to supply the needs of the Priests, Levites [who had no inheritance as a Tribe] and the Temple in Jerusalem during Temple times. Today, there is no command that applies to the believer to Tithe. The reason is because there is no Temple, and no Priests or Levites in Temple service. Therefore, the Tithe is totally INVALID. You simply cannot institute a tithe without the proper order set forth by God, i.e., to support the Priests, Levites, and the Temple. One cannot just replace the recipients of the Tithe, just because it seems like a spiritual thing to do, or because it is a convenient way to generate income. Otherwise, one might find themselves serving the aims of replacement theology. The church cannot apply the Tithe to itself since it has not replaced Israel, nor has it replaced the Temple, Jerusalem or the Priesthood.

The offering [terumah in Hebrew], on the other hand, is not only emphasized in numerous books of the Older Covenant, but also is what the Lord, through the Newer Covenant commends us to do in many texts. The Terumah is paralleled with the Hebrew saying, "Nidvat HaLev," or "what the heart gives generously." Generosity gives not from a percentage of one’s income, neither from the gross or from the net. Instead, generosity, gives unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and unto God, what belongs to God. With generosity, you cannot connect prosperity and success to what you give, because it’s a free-will offering. You give because it is in your heart, not because you get something in return. You cannot make deals with God in the context of the offering. It is a mistake to tie your success to how much you give. Give to God what belongs to Him.

Another important point to make with regard to offerings, is the emphasis that the Newer Covenant places on who received them. Paul always collected for the saints in Israel, and more specifically in Jerusalem. Collections from the Gentiles outside of Israel were never directed to humanitarian needs or projects of unbelievers, or the orthodox leaders of their day. Paul drives these points home at the ends of his letters to the Romans, Philippians and elsewhere. Everywhere, the emphasis is in relation to giving to the saints in Israel, and Jerusalem (Rom. 15:26, 1 Cor 16:1-3, II Cor 9:5-15).

We most certainly cannot address this issue of Tithing without bringing into focus the one scripture that we’ve ALL been battered with at one point in our lives:

Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD 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.
11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.

Please keep in mind that this is an agricultural people who are being addressed in this passage. What did they "tithe," you may wonder. They tithed what they had to offer to the Levites, who tithed to the Priests, for their service in the Temple — they tithed their grain, their herds, their lands — matter of fact, probably the last on their list of tithes was money! We have such a Western mindset, and we try to understand God’s word with that Western mindset and culture, and, unfortunately, it just won’t work that way, since we are dealing with an Eastern culture and mindset during the time of the Temple.

As I’ve stated above, this particular portion of Malachi is probably the most-referenced in churches on a regular basis. It’s been said many times, and should be aptly applied in this particular situation, that a text taken out of context, becomes a pretext.

Let’s go back to Malachi, and read it in its complete context. Beginning in Malachi 2:1, you will see exactly whom God is addressing with this portion of scripture! Keeping in mind, that in the original scrolls of the Older Covenant, there were no paragraph separations, nor chapter separations.

Malachi 2: 1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. [Emphasis added]

Well!! This certainly casts a new light on this passage, doesn’t it? Is this the way we’ve heard it from the pulpits for years and years? I will leave the reader to their own conclusion on that question.

Referring back to Malachi 3:10, it has been purported by many to liken the "storehouse" with the phrase "in store" from the Newer Covenant. Let’s put these two passages side by side for an examination:

Malachi 3: 10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD 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.

1 Corinthians 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.

The "storehouse" was the treasury [Heb. #0214], and "in store" [Gr. #2343] actually means to save up, put aside, the "piggy bank" effect. The idea behind Paul’s remark is that they should accumulate their gifts (which could include grain, fruit, money, etc.), so that when his company arrived, Paul would NOT have to make any special effort to consummate the collection. What!?!? Paul didn’t want to TAKE a collection? And, he was instructing them to give "as God hath prospered" them. Perhaps God had not prospered them in the area of finances? But, consider that perhaps God had prospered them in the area of pomegranates? Folks, we need to quit limiting God to only money! After all, He owns it all! Do we throw it up into the air, and hope that God will catch it? Is that how we offer our money to him? Of course, I’m being facetious.

While we are in the book of Malachi, let’s address another verse that has been twisted so many times, it has lost its true meaning.

Malachi 3:11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.

This verse has been used by the Pentecostal/Charismatic crowd for many years to support the theory that God is referring to the devil. Reader, I implore you to keep in mind that this is addressing an agricultural issue. Could it be even remotely possible that God would rebuke the "devourer" of their crops, their fields, their flocks? Of course it’s reasonable, and most plausible. It is dishonoring the word of God to use an analogy to create a doctrine. One would then be simply opening themselves up for all sorts of nonsensical interpretations of scripture.

After reading this far into this article, you may still want to continue to tithe. That is your option. But, if you are going to continue to tithe, I would urge you to do it God’s way. If you are going to follow the scriptures for tithing, then please consider the following:

The people paid a general tithe to the Levites (Numbers 18:21).

The Levites paid a tithe of the general tithe to the priests (Numbers 18:25-31).

The people kept a tithe to pay for their annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Deuteronomy 14:22-26).

The people paid a tithe for the poor, the orphans and the widows (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).

So, dear Reader, if you are going to continue to tithe, please make sure you do it God’s way with HIS percentage, which is equal to 23.3% !!! If you feel you need to make a "payment" to God, and call it a tithe, then make the full payment, not just part of it.

As a Believer in Yeshua HaMashiach [Jesus the Messiah], and living according to the Newer Covenant, then I am free to give everything, but no one is free to demand anything but love (Romans 13:8). In this is the fulfillment of the Law of Liberty, rather than bearing the judgment of the Law of Moses, by not keeping every jot and tittle (Galatians 3:10).

If I have provoked you in writing this paper, then the following Scripture is my prayer for you, and I would hope it is your prayer for me also:

Hebrews 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.

Humbly submitted by Anna L. Schwery, for study purposes and edification.
1999 Yad b'Yad Ministries

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