19.4.06

Malachi on tithing

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts. Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts. (Mal 3:6-12)

This will be my last post in the current series on tithing. It has been a fruitful exercise, with 40 comments on the previous five posts so far. The first post Best before 30AD? currently ranks #2 for the most comments of any post on this blog, whilst curiously, my exegesis on Leviticus 27 and the link between the tithe and the devoted things didn't get a single comment :-(. So now, to fulfil a promise and exegete the Malachi passage...

I actually think this passage is exceptionally clear and unambiguous, and poses no problem to those of us who believe in the principle of tithing. It is those who would dismiss it who must jump through hoops and bend over backwards. The usual dispensational loophole of "Not applicable because its part of the law" has been shut off by the very opening words. The prophet is introducing this discourse on the basis of the eternal nature of God himself, not the temporary nature of the Levitical regulations (if indeed it is valid even to consider these as temporary rather than eternal, yet fulfilled eternally in Christ).

The next argument raised against this passage, is that a God who calls us "robbers" and who talks of us being under a "curse" does not sound like the God of the New Testament. Where are the blessings and grace that is extended to us in Christ? Yet again though, the opening verse put it in context - God does not change! This is not the voice of a separate wrathful Old Testament God who has been replaced by the nice fluffy blessing-dispencing God of the New Testament. God is unchanging, and he is always to be feared and held in awe and reverence. He is still a most holy God who is full of wrath against wickedness, it is just we stand shielded from it because of the propitiatory sacrifice of Christ on our behalf. Acts 5 shows us that God is not opposed to reminding his people that he will not be dishonoured lightly.

Some would say that because we are in Christ we don't need to worry about God's curse anymore. On the contrary, I believe that because we are in Christ, God's curse is the only one that we need worry about! No other curse can touch us! (Nu 22:12) It is also important that we understand the nature of God's curse. God never desires to put a curse on anyone. His curse is not like a voodoo hex put on someone who invokes his displeasure. God sets out two paths before us, a path of obedience and submission, and a path of doing things our own way. It was this choice that led to the original curse when Adam chose to do things his way rather than God's. It was the choice laid out for the Israelites in the Law (Dt 30:19). It was the choice set before us when we heard the gospel. Although we have been set free from the curse of relying on the Law for justification (Ga 3:13) it is still true that God sets such decisions before us, and does not force our hand, even though he always desires us to take the right path. As every parent knows, sometimes your children have to find out the hard way, even though you wish it were not so. [And of course we are aware that as Christians we are not immune from the results of the original curse, even though we continually take more land for the Kingdom and see the extension of God's will done on earth as it is in heaven.]

The prophet Malachi reveals that the issue of tithing is one such crossroads in life, and the path we decide to take will have its own divinely ordained consequences either way. If we honour God by bringing him the tithe that is his, then he will bless the remaining 90% so that it produces far more than the 100% on its own ever could have. (See my previous post Is all money equal?)

Other points of note in this passage are "full tithe" and "into the storehouse" (See "What?" and "To whom?") There is also a clear distinction made between tithes and offerings (contributions.) The tithe is not giving, it is already given (See Devoted: Exclusively God's)

It seems that God himself is aware (how could he not be!) that some will be sceptical of this principle, as he invites us to "put him to the test." It is as if God is saying, "You may not believe me, but just try it and see!" It is important that our giving tests God the right way (Malachi 3 and not Acts 5!)

There is more I could say, but that's enough to kick things off, I'm sure the rest will come out in the comments... fire away!

37 comments:

Gavin White said...

Chris, Thanks for your extensive writing and posting on Tithing. It is such a vital, exciting and important in our lives as believers - I'm still taking in all that you've written on Tithing-I'll try and comment more once I've done that! - Keep the Kingdom Revelation flowing Chris.

Chris HH said...

Thanks, Gavin. That's a real encouragement. One of the things I'd like to have focused on more is the "heart" of tithing; but I think you and Richard have done an excellent job in communicating that. You Manchester boys are a blessing and an inspiration!

Elwyn Jones said...

Dear Chris
Can I just say before the sparks start to fly that you have acted most honourable in allowing these comments on this controversial subject of tithing. Not all bloggers are willing or brave enough to discuss tough issues but you are certaintly a man who stands your ground and fights from your corner, so "jock" my respect to you and I say that affectionately as a true "taffy".

I am in fellowship with a group of Christians that believe that the congregation should be free and trusted to give voluntary because we believe that tithing is unscriptural under the new convenant. We do not see our selves as dispensationalists just ordinary Christians.

You brother believe most passiontely that tithing is a bonafide legal obligation for members of a N. T. Christian Church.

I was told as a baby Christian by my then Elder that I was expected to tithe on my then measly income regardless as to whether there is sufficient left over to care for my family even having it implied that I was robbing God if I didn't and what baby Christian would want that thought layed on them. Yet every Scriptural reference I have read regarding voluntary giving has nothing to do with tithing.

I actually find it distasteful to expect old age pensioners, single parents, widows, disabled people, men on low wages, people who have got themselves foolishly in to debt to tithe on their low income. If some one is on 12k per year and is expected to tithe that means that their surplus income if they have any is wiped out. That is not pleading poverty that is reality. However if someone is on 35k a year after they pay their tithes they still have left over 31k.
Logic, common sense, being fair minded should tell us there's some thing wrong ,it doesn't make any sense. Our Lord Jesus and the N.T. apostles were very kind to the poor.Give to the fatherless, the orphan,the stranger,the widows, the poor, the needy,the homeless, and the beggar on the street,as God gives to us. We should give to reputable charities if we have money left over, give to our family members and relatives in need, give to a neighbour in financial distress and give what we can afford to our fellowship. That is the teaching I can see in the Bible.

I have read your exegesis on Malachi, in effect you are saying to those of us who do not believe in the practice of tithing, Give it a try, see, test God if He will not bless you...I ain't going to test God, no way! because I can not see how Malachi is speaking to Christians about tithing money to the Church and I am certaintly not dismissing God's Word.

My understanding of the book of Malachi is that the Priest of that day despised God's name. Their sarcrifices were no good and God said He would not accept their offerings. So really the people were tithing. It was the quality of their tithes was unacceptable.
Please read again Malachi 1. 2-10.
and as for the remainder of the book of Malachi God unfolds to them their many sins and weaknesses. It was the priests, the leaders that were defrauding God of tithes and offerings and God blamed them for it. because it was leading the people into sin.
I can't see the Scriptural authority in Malachi's prophecy for Christians to tithe today. Neither do I believe that God will curse me or anyone else if I don't tithe because He has saved me and forgiven me because of what He has done for me.But I do believe in GIVING absolutely but on this subject of tithing I disagree with you brother but as always I wish you my best.
Elwyn

Mark Robins said...

Here we go then at jumping through hoops I always wanted to be a circus performer!
At the risk of repeating myself, although not a hyper dispensationalist, can anyone argue against the dispensations of the OT and the NT? Hebrews 8:7 make it abundantly clear that God had a plan of change between the OT and NT, that is obedience to the Law versus obedience out of love.

Jeremiah 31:31 becomes a contradiction if you apply Gods immutability to His dealing with His people, but the doctrine of immutability is not in question here, God will always be a God of:
Love, truth, holiness, unity, justice, etc, in other words His attributes are unchanging, but His outworking with man wasn’t, to try and make His immutability a fulcrum for tithing is a nonsense, if the first covenant had been faultless there would have been no need for a second (Hebrews 8:7) surely this can’t be a contradiction to the immutability of God. A new covenant had always been on the books so to speak, all part of the plan that would change to outwork Gods plan and purpose. So His outworking with man had to change from one of legalistic obedience to the law to one of obedience through love. Loving ones neighbour as oneself, not to a religious rigid obedience to the law including the commandment of tithing. Of course the spirit of the Law still applies but what is the spirit of the Law? Giving because you love, what ever you are able to afford.
I think this whole argument is being made to complicated, scripture clearly states that we have fulfilled the law and commandments in Romans 13:8—10. It seems to me that the pro tither’s are the ones that are jumping through hoops, more like grasping at straws!

All we have to ask ourselves is or was, tithing a command under the Law? It should be unanimous that it is, is it legally binding to the New Covenant believer? Now here is where the debate starts, what is there that we all commonly agree on; that is no longer binding under the Old Covenant? Everything that has been fulfilled in Christ, obviously the sacrificial system and with it the priest class, well what about all the miscellaneous issues such as tithing? Well it’s definitely under the Mosaic Law but is there a better way of giving money pointed to in the NT? Romans 13:8 says love is to fulfil the law and any other commandment, we should all realise now that we don’t obey the legalistic letter of the Law but obey it spiritually. The spirit of the law still stands, so how do we support the things the church are active in? By love! Love will not see your leader begging bread, will not see the poor starve, God forbid that I should be responsible for anyone thinking that they can now get away with giving less money if tithing is no longer valid! That wouldn’t be love. On the other hand, people who are not so prosperous should not give but receive, Jesus said the most important commandment was to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Too many people love the church more than God, I believe the priorities are…
1st God.
2nd Your family.
3rd your extended family the church
Neighbour according to Christ was, any other man/woman irrespective of race or religion with whom we live, or whom we chance to meet.

1 Tim 1:5 Love then is the sum and end of the law, and where the Gospel is the fulfilment of the spirit of the law in its every essential jot and tittle (Ro 13:10). The foundation is faith (1Ti 1:4), the “end” is love (1Ti 1:14; Tit 3:15).

Warren Wiersbe put it this way: “We must constantly remind ourselves that true religion comes from the heart. We believe with the heart (Rom. 10:9–10); love from the heart (Matt. 22:37); sing from the heart (Col. 3:16); obey from the heart (Rom. 6:17); give from the heart (2 Cor. 9:7); and pray from the heart (Ps. 51:10, 17).”
Brothers, if you want to tithe legalistically that’s your prerogative, but I believe the anti-tithers give from a much better perspective (love), and it shouldn’t be less than the pro-tithers.

God Bless

Mark Robins
Markrobinsw@aol.com

Chris HH said...

Guys, thank you for your comments. I don't agree with them, but I appreciate that you take the time to respond to me.

We are in danger of repeating ourselves, but I do want to address the question of legalism again. Whatever you think of tithing or the Old Testament, you must get out of the mentality that doing something because God has told you to do it is legalism. It's obedience!

I do not choose to "tithe legalistically," I chose to take God at his word and obey in faith. Big difference!

The scriptures are full of examples and warnings (written for us!) of those who thought they knew better and made an offering to God on their own terms rather than in submission to his commands. "To obey is better than sacrifice." God does not need our money, but he does demand our obedience. Whether you obey because you follow the command, or you obey out of love, the issue is: do you obey?

"You shall not steal" is also a command that was given in the law. Does this mean we are permitted to steal, as long as generally we are prompted by love to refrain? The NT endorses this command, and many others from the law including tithing. If we recognise it is still wrong to steal from man, why should we bestow any less honour on God? It is not me who says that withholding the tithe is robbing God, but the words of God himself. "Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord." - this is not a description of a legalistic requirement, but a statement of fact.

Whether you tithe or not, whatever we do must be based on faith. Because without faith it is impossible to please God. If you tithe in faith that God is faithful to his word and he is your provider, then the issue of how much you earn is irrelevant. I started tithing on an income of 8.5K, and always had enough to be generous on every occasion.

Mark Robins said...

Hi Chris,

Another small response ;-)

Chris HH.
Guys, thank you for your comments. I don't agree with them, but I appreciate that you take the time to respond to me.

We are in danger of repeating ourselves, but I do want to address the question of legalism again. Whatever you think of tithing or the Old Testament, you must get out of the mentality that doing something because God has told you to do it is legalism. It's obedience!

Mark R.
God didn’t tell me to be obedient to the letter Chris; the NT tells me that I should obey the spirit of the law. I guess on your premise; if I caught someone in adultery then I should stone him or her to death. How about false prophecy? You shouldn’t allow a false prophet to live; half the God Channel would disappear overnight if you applied the letter! Do you think you are being bit selective in what we should obey to the letter and what we obey spiritually?

Chris HH.
I do not choose to "tithe legalistically," I chose to take God at his word and obey in faith. Big difference!

Mark R.
Yes, but you’re advocating obedience to the letter. Myself I obey the spirit of the law in faith through love.

Chris HH.
The scriptures are full of examples and warnings (written for us!) of those who thought they knew better and made an offering to God on their own terms rather than in submission to his commands. "To obey is better than sacrifice." God does not need our money, but he does demand our obedience. Whether you obey because you follow the command, or you obey out of love, the issue is: do you obey?

Mark R.
Who’s arguing against obedience? Jesus said if you "love Him" you would obey His commands, which in turn were given to the Disciples. Did they say to be obedient to the letter or the spirit, Did they say anything about tithing after the church was established, OK I’m not going to make a case out of silence, but they did mention giving big time, and giving out of love, that fits the spirit of the law more than the letter to my way of understanding it.

Chris HH.
"You shall not steal" is also a command that was given in the law. Does this mean we are permitted to steal, as long as generally we are prompted by love to refrain? The NT endorses this command, and many others from the law including tithing. If we recognise it is still wrong to steal from man, why should we bestow any less honour on God? It is not me who says that withholding the tithe is robbing God, but the words of God himself. "Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord." - this is not a description of a legalistic requirement, but a statement of fact.

Mark R.
I don’t know if I’m reading you correctly here, are really saying that it is OK to steal a little bit in love! If that’s the case may I direct you to 1Cor 13. I do not steal because the spirit of the law requires it, and that loving my neighbour demands it. How could it be possible to love my neighbour and steal a little bit from him? Chris I really don’t think it’s me that’s has not grasped legalism, I have to ask; have you grasped obedience out of love? Romans 13:8. That means that I am compelled to give out of love. I’m not advocating love versus the Law, but obedience to the spirit of the law out of love. And of course because I see a difference between the OT imperfect covenant, and the NT better covenant, I don’t see Malachi speaking to me directly, however I accept the principle/spirit behind it that if I didn’t give when I could; I would be robbing the body of Christ and therefore God.

Chris HH.
Whether you tithe or not, whatever we do must be based on faith. Because without faith it is impossible to please God. If you tithe in faith that God is faithful to his word and he is your provider, then the issue of how much you earn is irrelevant. I started tithing on an income of 8.5K, and always had enough to be generous on every occasion.

I totally agree with you on this point (who said miracles have ceased!) although I give in faith out of love. I’m not in to experiential points to prove doctrine. There are plenty of godly Christians who at this very moment near to death from starvation, and some who have starved to death. But as Paul pointed out “to live is Christ and to die is gain”, our main blessing is in heaven.
My own experience (for what it’s worth) was to have tithed for some 15 years (including my business profits), and found on some years things were very tight (didn’t make a profit). Now, I don’t tithe but give, I consider myself quite prosperous even able to retire from work soon, and able to do more in the church, without becoming a financial burden to them. I wouldn’t put that down to giving instead of tithing, I think my life is in God’s hands and He guides my life as He sees fit. I know from scripture that he doesn’t love me any more than any other believer. However I do believe that He will equip you for what ever His purpose requires.
Chris I really don’t want this to turn into some argument, I’m really not against giving 10 percent or tithing if you want to, I just don’t see that it’s demanded. In fact I would advocate giving a lot more if you’re able, I just wouldn’t teach anyone that they owe God 10 percent and some kind of an offering besides, or God withholds blessings because your poor and can’t give. I say give as much as you can cheerfully. If you’re on 100 quid a week, and to give ten pounds would rob food off the kitchen table then don’t give, in fact out of love the church should be giving to you, just be obedient to the spirit of the law.

My guess is from the links I see, that you are associated with what I used to know as the Restoration Movement. It’s refreshing to find someone who’s willing to debate, and I for one have learned more about Covenantal Theology (at least the way you relate to the OT) through you than a lot of my studies at Nettle Hill years ago. I pray every blessing to you and your family and apologise if I have offended you because of my passion. I’ll leave you to have the last words, and not overstay my welcome.

In Christ

Mark Robins.

Elwyn Jones said...

Dear Chris
Timeout! is that the term the yanks use when they play our game of rounders? I agree Chris, all this will end up like a ping-pong match.
You have made your position very clear on the subject of tithing and your fellowship's teaching. Most eloquently if I may say so.

I hopefully have made my position clear although I did focus in on the application of the principle of tithing. The other brother Mark Robins explained his understanding, incidentally he is an elder of a Christian fellowship here in the South Wales valleys who encourages spiritual discernment among those who regard themselves as biblical christians. I have found him provoking. I am reminded that it was your fellow elder here in the South Wales valleys Steve Dorricott who once told me that Mark Robins certainly knows the Word of God the Bible, I agree with Steve's statement.

One of the things that I am delighted about in all these exchanges is your openess and willingness to reason together with us who are not persuaded of your particular flavour of Christianity. You don't take offence and you don't chicken out.
Actually I respect you for that and take notice of what you say.
It's so important for our spiritual health and learning when we reason together in discussing God's word openly. These exchanges have been most edifying to me and I hope your friend Gavin White will find them of interest.

Just a tiny point on your 8k.Me too! I tithed for 18 years but now I give in love. There were times that I felt that God blessed me because I tithed, but there were times where we had to eat egg and chips for a week to meet the demand of the tithe and before anyone accuses me of pleading poverty Prov 18-23 says The poor man utters supplications,But the rich man answers roughly.

I will echo Mark Robins by saying God Bless you and your family.
Thank you for allowing me to have "my say" and you have the final say.

Your brother in Christ
Elwyn Jones

leoskeo said...

Here are a couple thoughts from the US.
There does not have to be a distinction between tithing and giving in love. I tithe on my income and it is done in love with great joy. Just because something is mandated does not mean we have to be grumpy in following the mandate. The issue here in the US is not poverty but greed. It is people who could give but instead buy a new car, a bigger home; dine out all the time, play expensive games and buy expensive toys. To move from the Law to Grace, if I understand grace, would compel me to give more not less. God’s word compels me to give, sacrificially, generously, faithfully, with joy and honestly. If I cannot give with joy the response should be to change my heart not cease to give.

Faithful giving in the Old Testament is to give my tithe, bring it into the store house and to make special offerings occasionally too. God’s promise is when the people did this they were blessed. In the New Testament I am encouraged to give sacrificially so that God will allow me to become even more generous. Often the question concerning giving is; “Can you trust God?” Every person I know who is a Christ follower would answer yes to that question. I am starting to ask this question. Can God trust you? With New Testament principles of faithful in little rewarded in much, the question becomes more penetrating. Thanks for all of your thoughts.

Chris HH said...

Thank you, leoskeo. That's a helpful insight. I agree!

Stephen said...

In all cases in the bible where it says that the people proved God, it is a sin. Proving God and tempting God are the same thing. Psalms 95, Malachi 3:10, and Malachi 3:15 all use the same Hebrew word for 'prove' except in Mal.3:15 it is translated 'tempt'.

There is a parallel between the manna and the fruit of the land. They 'tempted' God after they tithed the manna into the pot in Exodus 16 and 17. They tempted God for water. What is the 'windows of heaven'? Water.

Stephen said...

There are many parallels between the manna and the fruit of the land. This is the secret to understanding at least some of Malachi 3. When God says to 'prove me now and see if I open you the windows of heaven' he is repeating the pattern of what happened in the wilderness. It is not a coincident that they immediately tempted God for water after they put a tithe of manna into the pot (wilderness version of the storehouse in the land).

Oops!!! Sorry people, thought God was having his ministers charge for the water which God, in Isaiah 55, says is ...........FREE!!

God says to put corn, oil, wine, (fruit of land) into the storehouse. You would not consider putting money into the manna pot would you? This is why God says in Zechariah 11, "they weigh for salary thirty pieces of silver". Also in Deut.14 you could exchange the tithe for money. Does that pre-figure the exchange of Christ for thirty pieces of silver?

Search the prophets for the meaning of the strong drink. This is what you are to purchase with tithe money. Isaiah 56 says they (the shepherds) are greedy dogs who love 'strong drink'. Havn't heard that in Sunday school have you.

Stephen

Stephen said...

Maashaqqot or maashaqqah.

This is God's single word (Hebrew)answer to the great error of tithe collecting.

Chris HH said...

For the tithe to be "ma`ashaqqah" (extortion / unjust gain) then God himself who commands the tithe would also be "ma`ashaqqah" (an oppressor).

English, Greek or Hebrew, choose your words carefully!

Stephen said...

God put the burden of the tithe on the land. Modern tithe collectors have put the burden on the people. They do not inherit the promise of Isaiah 33. They that despise the gain of ma'ashaqqah (ma'aser and ashaq, tithe oppression) shall find the safe place and have the bread and sure waters given them.

There is a mate to the verse in Deut. 14. where those who exchange the tithe for money are to bind the money in their hand. In Jesus parable of the tares, it is the wheat that is brought into the storehouse but it is the tares that are bound (as the money in Deut.14).

Do you see the connection Chris? Why would God make the place of safety for those who despise this kind of gain, and then praise the tithe collector? God's promise is certain. Iron clad. How about those who make themselves servants? Do slaves charge wages? No. They are content with what those whom they serve give them. We need great men to serve the church, not men who buy and sell the poor and righteous for silver.

Chris HH said...

This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome 1Jn 5:3

Tithing is not a burden to me, nor to anyone else I know who obeys the command of God in faith and because of love.

Your exegesis gives a whole new meaning to "dividing the word of truth!"

Stephen said...

Deuteronomy 12:32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

Chris hh
The scriptures are full of examples and warnings (written for us!) of those who thought they knew better and made an offering to God on their own terms rather than in submission to his commands.

My challenge to you, Chris, is to quote from the law which command we are to keep without making a mockery of God's clear command and warning.

Could you do this without a circuitous round the barn explanation as to why I should not bring just wheat (corn)into the storehouse.

Just one verse, please.

Chris HH said...

Dt 12:17

Chris HH said...

The land was the Israelites' possession (bar the Levites) it represented all that God had given them after they were brought up out of slavery in Egypt. It is fairly elementary hermeneutics to realise that there is a principle here that is far beyond just an agricultural policy. This principle is best summed up in the words of Israel himself:

"Of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

The issue is not what manner of provision you have, but who you recognise as the source of that provision.

Stephen said...

Deuteronomy 12:17 is your answer to the query, 'which law do you keep without violating Deut. 12:32.' I guess it is good exogesis and hermeneutics to say you are violating that law. You are keeping a law of man. In Jesus words you are practicing 'vain worship'. Teaching the commandments of men.

Jacob vowed to give a tenth on the gift that God had promised him in the dream. "And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed." To this Jacob responds after he has awakened, "... and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."

The law that God gave to Moses follows along the lines of the vow that Jacob volunteered. The tithe that was to be paid was on the land. This was Old Covenant.

In New Covenant, Jesus gives us His body and blood. This is the food of eternal life. Jesus is our land of promise. In the old covenant you could exchange the tithe for money. Jesus gives indication that those who bind the money in their hand will themselves be bound as tares. Who is it among us that is exchanging the tithe for money?

It is evident that there is no tithe law associated with the gift that has been given us. Even Abraham made a vow to not take to a shoe of the goods of Sodom. Sodom is a spiritual example of the then future Jerusalem. They had tithes taken from their stuff. Abraham gave a tithe of the goods of Sodom and returned the remaining stuff to the king of Sodom.

Am I to be made into a spiritual Sodomite by having a tithe taken of my stuff? Abraham was himself rich at the time he rescued Lot and gave Melchisedek a tithe of the spoils. He was rich before and after. None of that was tithed. I follow his example and myself will never 'take to a shoe' of anyone elses stuff to provide me a salary. I will never take a tithe. It would be to the benefit of all New Testament leaders to make a similar vow. Then they could call themselves the children of Abraham.

Stephen said...

In response to some of the other's postings may I say this.

To those who exercise their liberty in Christ to give as they feel led, don't allow the accusation of sin to rest upon you. It is scripture relating to tithing that warns the collectors of money tithes. Through Deuteronomy 14 and Isaiah 56 you read of those with 'strong drink'.

"Yea, they are greedy dogs which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own gain, from his quarter. Come ye, say they, I will fetch wine, and we will fill ourselves with strong drink: and tomorrow sall be as this day, and much more abundant."

Through Abraham's oath to not take to a 'shoe', we read in Amos 2 and 8:

"...because they sold the righteous for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes:"

"That we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes;..."

Both the buyers and sellers come together again in the thirty pieces of silver chapter, Zechariah 11.

"Whose possessors (buyers) slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the Lord; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not."

All these words of God are connected to those who deal in tithe money. If the tithe can be exchanged for money then money is not the tithe and tithe is not money. It is about the Old Testament provision of food. This is pointing to the New Testament fulfillment of Christ as the source of food. Jesus was exchanged for money (silver).

Why do you think the apostles avoided the subject for getting income? They that minister are due income but the so called 'tithe' that they collect is a misuse of the old covenant. So is the use of the word "offering". The best word to characterize the money is 'gifts'.

Tithe money is the forbidden fruit of the church age. When Eve reached out to take the fruit, it was with covetous hands. The serpent has shown himself successful as the prophecy of scripture has warned. The minds of so many have been corrupted by this insidiously evil doctrine. The tail of the serpent is harvesting the stars of heaven. The voice that speaks from heaven saying, 'Now is come' after the Devil goes out is the same voice that says, "Now..." after Judas goes out.

I am convinced that this is what is happening with the spread of the tithe doctrine. God is allowing this to happen in the Church the same as with the angels in heaven. This is predicted by Paul. Jesus will not come till there be a 'falling away' or rebellion.

The tithe given to Melchisedek is of the goods of Sodom. The vine of Sodom (Deut 32) is found in the 'storehouse'. The vine of Sodom is virtually the same as the tail of the serpent in Revelations 12. Through subtilty the evil one casts doubt on the plainly spoken words of God. God says 'storehouse', they say 'collection plate'. God says 'corn, oil, wine', they say 'money'. God says to 'eat it in the place I have chosen' they say 'buy it'. God says, 'Tempt (prove) me again for the water that is free, they say 'give the money'.

Some will repent but others will go the way of Cain. It was Christ who was turned over to the politicians. Look for the government to get involved in the future. It has already happened after that pattern in the 'dark ages' when the Catholic church collected tithes under penalty of governmental law. The vine of Sodom was cut back by the Protestant movement but is now growing exponentially.

Elwyn Jones said...

What every minister of the Gospel and Bible teacher should do, is to so familiarise himself with the Scriptures, and saturate his mind with them, that he shall be able skillfully to use the instrument that the Holy Spirit has provided, for the "Sword of the Spirit" is the " Word of God" And it is only by the proper use of it that men are convicted of sin and regenerated.

I have read very carefully the exchanges between Stephen and yourself. I have read good reasons, good exegesis, good grammer and good rules of logic and I would like to thank you once again for allowing the subject of Tithing to be discussed on your blog site.

I would also like to thank the brother Stephen for his comments. I am really impressed with the way that Stephen layed it all out because it has brought understanding to me and thoughts that I never considered before. It is obvious that Stephen has carefully and patiently studied God's Word regarding Tithing. Thank you Stephen I certainly appreciate your comments especially when I have heared the accusation that I was robbing God if I didn't tithe ,that deeply troubled me. But I believe in giving , in love , absolutely.
thank you.

Chris HH said...

"Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom his master will set over his household, to give them their portion of food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes." (Lk 12:42-43)

Jesus says there will be food in his house and faithful managers to administer it until he comes again.

In 1Co 9, Paul also takes up the true meaning of food in God's house from the Law of Moses, to be the spiritual blessings that those who labour for the gospel sow out. Because of this it is the "Lord's command" that they have a right to material blessing. (Even though Paul himself declined this right.)

The notion that the food in God's house is fulfilled by Christ because he was exchanged for silver is an interesting twist, but deeply flawed.

P.S. Let's keep this discussion to the Scriptures and avoid any personal remarks.

Stephen said...

This is to respond to the original post subject on 'tithing on Malachi'.

You said;
"I actually think this passage is exceptionally clear and unambiguous, and poses no problem to those of us who believe in the principle of tithing."

I find several levels of ambiguity. That is, it is not as clear as many would make it out to be.

1. In verse five of Malachi 3 God says He is against those that "oppress the hireling in his wages." Am I mistaken in this that only land owners were to tithe the fruit of the land. Carpenters and fishermen did not tithe as simple 'hirelings'. That means none of Jesus disciples were tithe payers according to the law. Interesting that when God said in the law that you were to not give 'them any inheritance, I am their inheritance' that He was looking forward to these men whom He chose as his disciples. To us also as Christians, too, I would say.

2. "Will a man rob God." This word translated 'rob' is only used in one other place in the bible. In Proverbs 22:22-23
"Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the Lord will plead their cause, and spoil (rob) the soul of those that spoiled (robbed) them."

In this verse God is against those who 'rob' the poor. This adds to the ambiguity of the tithe collector's many quotes of this verse for collecting tithes from everyone, rich and poor.

3. In the parallels between the manna and the fruit of the land, you find that they tempted God for water. It seems that God may indeed be repeating this in Malachi 3 where He challenges them to do the same. That is, He says, "Tempt me now" and see if I give you water (windows of heaven). This follows them putting a tithe of manna into the pot (for storage).

4. In Malachi 3:15 God says, "And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that 'prove' God are delivered." This is the same Hebrew word for what I quoted earlier where I used the word 'tempt' instead of 'prove'. The translaters should have used the same English word in both cases. They should both be 'tempt' or both be 'prove'. This twist in translation adds a certain level of ambiguity to the text.

5. Genesis 27:12 "My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing."

The reason I quote this verse regarding Jacob's plan to steal his brother's blessing,(really put up to it by his mother), is from what note I read about the word 'rob' in a Hebrew bible. 'Rob' is the root word from where Jacob got his name. Rob (qaba) and Jacob (Ya'aqob).

Could this be a rejection of all of that nation's religious system, including the bringing of tithes and offerings. Didn't He say through another prophet to take them away. He no longer accepted them from them.

Isaiah 1:10-17 "Hear the word of the Lord ye rulers of Sodom; give eaqr unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah. To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts? Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting. Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; i am weary to bear them. And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well; seek judgement, relieve the oppressed..............."
Remember that the tithe given to Melchisedek was of the goods of Sodom (spiritually Jerusalem).

What are offerings anyway? Sin offering, peace offering, trespass offering, sheep, doves etc.

You know, I have this quote from the early church historian Eusebius.
"This upstart teacher who causes the gifts to roll in under the name of 'offerings'. That gluttony may provide the incentive for those that teach it."

Sounds like they didn't use Malachi 3 to collect donations. I have searched all the early church writings and can not find one reference to Malachi 3's 'bring your tithes and offerings's'.

Lots of ambiguity here as far as I can glean from studying this text.

Chris HH said...

Actually, I think that proves my point about jumping through hoops. The scriptures were not written to keep intellectuals busy finding secret messages, but for ordinary people to understand and to do. I have no problems squeezing the most truth out of a verse when it confirms an already established truth, but not when it makes a verse say the opposite of its plain reading.

What God requires and what he wants his people to do in this passage couldn't be clearer.

Regarding early church writings: Try the Didache - it is the earliest (non-canonical) of them all.

"Take also the firstfruits of money, of clothes, and of every possession, as it shall seem good unto thee, and give it according to the commandment."

[P.S. This is an open forum, so to keep this exchange readable, I'm going to set a limit on comment size. I reserve the right to delete any posting over 45 lines of text. That last comment was bigger than my original post!]

Stephen said...

"And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price (wage); and if not, forbear (leave it alone)."
Zechariah 11:12

The wheat is in the barn,
Leave it alone.
The manna is in the pot,
Leave it alone.
Jesus replaced the land and its tithe,
Leave it alone.
Jesus is our inheritance,
Leave it alone.
Jesus offerd himself as the priest after the order of Melchisedek,
Leave it alone.
The devil offers the forbidden fruit,
Leave it alone.
God placed it in the midst of the garden,
Leave it alone.
It's promise is to bring prosperity,
Leave it alone.
Come ye, say they, we will fill ourselves with strong drink,
Leave it alone.
Abraham says 'I will not take',
Leave it alone.
Judas exchanged the food of eternal life for money,
Leave it alone.

Stephen

Thadeus said...

I recently gave a slightly lengthy response to the tithing issue. However, I would like to offer this observation or agument. Lets go back to the FAMOUS Malachi 3:10. As you know already, I believe that this book was directly addressing the Priests who were offerring Lame, Sick, Blink animals on Gods alter. So God said you ROB me.
From an angle of the tither - those who firmly hold to the tithing law:::::::::::::::::::
MALACHI 3:10 - "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it".
Do you Tithers really believe that? And the answer is yes. Well let me ask you, how many of you currently can say you have "TESTED" GOD in this and he has bleessed you SO SO MUCH that you do NOT have roon enough for it? Do you think that GOD is so unjust that YOU tithe TODAY but HE hold out to fullfill his part of the agreement say 20 years from now? If you tithe now, don't you need your blessing NOW also? In addition if you are a tither and you read this verse correctly, as a TITHER you should should have ABSOLUTELY NO LACK, PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
So since most of you TITHERS reading this have varying amounts of LACK in your life(no offense - I have some lack also), this surely isn't the answer. Some of you have been tithing for many many years, some all your life, some just recently and yet you have not experienced the FLOODGATES part in your life. You know why? The Floodgates of Heaven is WATER from heaven to wet the land so that it would yield it's fruit, hence the people have aboundance. No WATER, No FRUIT, NO Aboundance: get the picture? Do your search yourself and you will see EVERYWHERE Floodgates is mentioned in the Bible was in regards to WATER. Here's what I belive which is Biblically sound: Give and it shall be Given unto you good measure Pressed doem and Shaken together will MEN pour into your bussom. Also, The same measure you meat it shall be meaured back to you: If you sow Bountifully, you will Reap bountifully.
Any disputes???
Thanks for reading

Sue said...

Chris... Nowhere did Paul or the Apostles talk of tithing. It is an Old Testament Law and we are under GRACE....cheerful giving.
It is no light issue for Pastors or teachers to try and put Christians back under the law.
Christians, be Bereans and check it out for yourselves. It is the traditions of men..... not scriptural. Sue

Chris HH said...

Sue,

Nowhere does grace, even when capitalised, give any believer the right to cut out 39 books from God's word! There is not a different God in the Old Testament than in the New, and his word carries no less authority because it came before Christ. There is a big difference between a command of God (even those which originated under the Old Covenant) and a tradition of man.

Shall we dishonour our father and mother because this command came in the Law under the Old Covenant, and we are under "GRACE"?! Surely not! Jesus had strong word for the Pharisees who tried to pull such tricks to get out of the obedience that was required.

However, we no longer obey purely by the written code, we obey because of faith. Grace does not overturn obedience - on the contrary it is what enables it!

The Law is not no longer binding on believers because Jesus came - Jesus himself spelled this out very clearly! But because those aspects of the law were fulfilled in him - an important distinction. There is no longer requirement for sacrifice for sins, because Christ is the sacrifice once and for all. Likewise for circumcision. Likewise for many other aspects of the Levitical law... but all of it??

Did Christ fulfil the need to honour our father and mother, and so free us from such a requirement? Clearly not. So one cannot just ignore a command of God just because it originated BC, one must examine how it relates to the NT believer through Christ.

We are indeed to be cheerful givers, but if we have not tithed we are not givers at all. To obey is better than sacrifice!

Teifion said...

Wow, cut out 39 books from the old testament? Didn't sound like she did that, no need to bite down on that comment Chris!

In anycase, great discussion thread, very good of you to have an open debate on the whole subject - I must say Stephens arguments were quite compelling. I would say one thing though (if I may!), that throughout this discussion the argument for tithing has been a little lax in expounding the old testament teaching clearly - For instance: Did the poor tithe? Also when tithes are taken it is generally said in the same breath that the offerings will be taken as well.

I was just wondering if you could explain how agricultural tithe became a monetary tithe, and also how burn offerings became a monetary tithe. Weren't all these requirements fullfilled by Christ, and rather we are expected to give gifts out of submission and love - i.e. stewardship?

THanks again for hosting this post Chris & God Bless,

Teifion

Chris HH said...

Thanks for your comments, Teifion.

> Wow, cut out 39 books from the old testament? Didn't sound like she did that, no need to bite down on that comment Chris!

It's reductio ad absurdem. If you follow the logic that tithing is "unscriptural" then since it is a clear command in the Old Testament, the Old Testament cannot be Scripture. Since this is an absurd conclusion, the original assertion must be false. (But you are right, I didn't have to "bite down" in response.)

This is just one of several posts I have written on tithing. If you search in the box at the top, or look under Categories->Tithing in the side bar, you should find some other posts where I tackle some of your questions.

If anything is still not clear, feel free to ask me again.

Teifion said...

Thanks, I hadn't read through your other blogs, but I will! I really am interested in this subject, having once tithed myself. But I cannot see how itd oes trancend into the new covenant as it muddles my understanding of our saviour, Jesus Christ, and what he fulfilled.

We'll talk again!

regards

Teifion

AmeriKan said...

Chris, I can't believe I read all the comments to this tithing blog. It was a delightful read, especially since the subject of tithing is so controversial. One reason it is so controversial is because it deals with money. It has been said that if God can get to your billfold/pocketboook, He can get to your heart.

Without dragging this out, the NT spends a good deal of time on the subject of giving and receiving. One could scratch the whole OT and the problems people have with those OT tithing scriptures and just concentrate on the NT and see substantial evidence for the principle of tithing. If all we had was John 3:16, that would be enough scriptural evidence for the new birth/born again experience. I think the same is true of Luke 11:42 in regards to the tithe, which Jesus endorsed.

To the man who said he did not tithe but was blessed financially, so much that he could retire. Think how much more he could have been blessed by being obedient. I have been consistently tithing for 35 years and we have been blessed with the "running over." My wife and I started with little but we always tithed and gave offerings. In material things we had far less than most of our friends. As we gave with cheerful hearts, in time our income steadily grew each year. And, now for over 15 years our income has been in the six figures (U.S.). We keep giving and God keeps adding! You cannot convince me otherwise...both scripturally and in the natural.

Thankyou, Chris, for handling this subject in the superior way you have.

And, now, as Kenneth Hagin so often answered his critics, "How dumb can you be and still breathe."

AmeriKan said...

Chris, I can't believe I read all the comments to this tithing blog. It was a delightful read, especially since the subject of tithing is so controversial. One reason it is so controversial is because it deals with money. It has been said that if God can get to your billfold/pocketboook, He can get to your heart.

Without dragging this out, the NT spends a good deal of time on the subject of giving and receiving. One could scratch the whole OT and the problems people have with those OT tithing scriptures and just concentrate on the NT and see substantial evidence for the principle of tithing. If all we had was John 3:16, that would be enough scriptural evidence for the new birth/born again experience. I think the same is true of Luke 11:42 in regards to the tithe, which Jesus endorsed.

To the man who said he did not tithe but was blessed financially, so much that he could retire. Think how much more he could have been blessed by being obedient. I have been consistently tithing for 35 years and we have been blessed with the "running over." My wife and I started with little but we always tithed and gave offerings. In material things we had far less than most of our friends. As we gave with cheerful hearts, in time our income steadily grew each year. And, now for over 15 years our income has been in the six figures (U.S.). We keep giving and God keeps adding! You cannot convince me otherwise...both scripturally and in the natural.

Thankyou, Chris, for handling this subject in the superior way you have.

And, now, as Kenneth Hagin so often answered his critics, "How dumb can you be and still breathe."

Teifion said...

Hi Chris - still wading through these blogs - you have done a lot my friend! Also enjoyed the .pdf comentaries on Daniel, though I'm unsure if the 666 mentioned in revelation resembled the statue of Nebuchadnezar's dream. Nero is interesting, but how does your view fit with luke 21? (but a comment for another post another time maybe!)

I agree, though, on the principle of offering your first fruits to God, and giving with a clean and honest heart as it shows in luke 11:37-52 (it is too easy sometimes to build a doctrine on a verse that is taken out of context, looking for hidden meaning).

I guess the issue I have with tithing originally has come from personal experience, where I was taught that I could choose life or death, blessing or cursing, to tithe or not to tithe. It was demanded from everyone, rich or poor, and those who wanted to please God gave - because they didn't want to be cursed. If you read 1 Peter 5:1-3 it teaches us why this kind of leadership is wrong.
Matt 23:11 'The greatest among you shall be your servant.' Jesus taught servant leadership, not pedestals for men. If we are all now equal in Christ, why would there be a need to pay a priest? Jesus taught us to give 100% - of ourselves, which means good stewardship of everything we are not just have. If an elder rules well he is worthy of a double honour - how can this be if a tithe is a fixed amount?

You were right in saying that some paths do need straightening (your elijah blog), and it is of servitude.

What the church gives is a gift, and it is of the best we can offer God, we determine in our own hearts how much we can afford. Maybe God does sometimes ask us to do somethings in faith - beyond our means. But He also teaches us accountability. If your child needs food you should supply that before thinking of giving money away, it is a responsibility.

**In anycase, to comment on 'amerikan's earnings - I would say that there are many more rich people in this world that do not tithe, than there are christian's that do. And the measure of wealth a man has does not represent his heart, Jesus himself said that we will always have the poor among us (let us also not forget Luke 18:18-30). I wonder what your vocation is, and what is your wife's?

The reason I ask is not because I doubt God has blessed you, but I think it is easier for a proffesionnal to gain wealth than a factory worker. We here in the west see a Chritianity that has wealth, but in the Eastern Europe, Asia and Africa it is very different.**


Anyway...
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions and reading my comments, you obviously know the scriptures - and you never know, if you can show me a better way to serve Christ I may listen!

God bless

Teifion

Chris HH said...

Teifion,
Thank you for taking the time to read my posts, and for giving me feedback. I appreciate your kind comments about my Daniel notes.

As far as a better way is concerned, all I can do is to point you to the Scriptures (which you obviously know yourself, too). There is no better way to serve him than the way laid out in the 66 books of the Bible.

That's why Jesus told us to make disciples, "teaching them to obey." There is an obedience that is required even in the grace that is ours in the New Covenant. And God's way is always better than our own ideas.

So although we are completely agreed on the nature of free giving - we differ on our understanding of the obedience of faith that is also required in the area of our finances - the tithe.

Whatever your reasons and basis for your position, make sure they are based on faith. If you are at all uncertain I would urge you, as Malachi did, to come to an understanding through doing it. So much of the journey of faith works this way, we never truly understand until we put it to practice.

No one ever regretted obeying God too much!

Teifion said...

I agree. As scripture says 'obedience is better than sacrifice' - and though we do differ on our understanding on tithing (I did tithe at one time), I have found it far more compelling to give my all to God (and I echo your sentiments in today's post), to obtain that 'pearl of great price'. But I did not come away from tithing lightly, it was an effort in understanding what Jesus taught and what He expected. Clean and honest hearts, loving your brother as you love yourself.

It's oppression of the poor that concerns me, I strongly believe that we should protect those who are weaker. Great men are great servants, humble before God, and concerned with the well being of others. Faithfulness is the action of trusting in the truth that is exemplified (and perfected) in Christ Jesus, persevering to the end. It is so improtant to always question our foundations in life (as trials do - refining us), so that we can obey better :-)

Teifion

AmeriKan said...

Chris, I debated whether to post this. Please forgive me for the length.

I will try to comment in line with James 3:13,14. "Who is wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation (lifestyle) his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth."

Early on, when we were in lack (poor), giving was not easy, let alone tithing. But we were faithful to the latter because we believed in what God's Word said. It did not happen overnight...it was "line upon line, precept upon precept." I knew it was not God's will for us to stay in the "poorhouse." And, yes, we will always have the poor among us. There are tons of scripture about helping the poor. Many do not know the promises of God's Word...others are just in unbelief. As in Jesus' day in Nazereth, there were few healings...because of unbelief...they stayed in their sickness. But that did not change the fact that Jesus came to heal (all).

Had we not tithed in the early days, would we be where we are today? I think not. I don't believe God would have opened the doors to get me into school the way I did. It was very competitive and my application was initially turned down twice. A vacancy opened at the last minute and I was called to accept the vacancy. This was just the beginning of economic change in our lives. We believe it was part of God's supernatural intervention because of our faithfulness to the tithe.

Now, I say, "Why a tithe...why not more?" For us (my wife and I), the tithe was just a beginning, a starting point. What God has taught us in the realm of giving has been liberating and shown us the faithfulness of God. We have now been able to help so many more people because of the basic principles of sowing and reaping that we learned many years ago. There is no limit to what God has for us. We put the limits on God and His Word by what we choose to believe or not believe.

There are wealthy people in the secular world who have learned the laws of sowing and reaping better than many Christians. Giving works for them, too, because it is a natural and Biblical law...one of reciprocity. Now, do I give to get?! This idea of "getting rich quick" is all messed up and full of carnality. But, when I give, do I believe I will receive...absolutely! It is part of the promise and I have learned to expect and believe no less. "Give and it shall be given unto you." I cannot argue with God's Word, as now we are into, "the running over." This has become a way of life for us that was learned over time. Rebellion profited me and my family nothing but obedience brought increased blessings. And, now that we are in the "running over" we can and are a greater blessing to many more people. God will do no more for me, than He will do for you. Faith and trusting in God's Word is what made the difference.

If you or I try to figure this out in our heads...how it will work for you/me, that will never suffice. It is all built on our relationship with the Lord and our trust in His Word.

Chris, you have done an exemplary job of giving us the scriptural foundation for giving and tithing. I have merely shown how it can impact our day to day lives over the long haul.