DO I HAVE TO TITHE?
EVERY VERSE IN THE BIBLE
Tithing was practiced by Abraham before the Law of Moses (Genesis 14:20). Then tithing was made official in the Law of Moses. The Jews were to tithe both their grain (vegetables) and fruit that grew on their trees (Leviticus 27:30-32). Then those tithes of crops were to be given to the Levites because the Levites were supposed to work in the Temple and were not allowed to own land (Number 18:24-28).
However, this was just the beginning. In Deuteronomy 12:6, the Jews were told to donate these additional things: (1) burnt offerings, (2) sacrifices, (3) regular tithes, (4) special gifts, (5) vow and freewill offerings, (6) the first born of all their various herds and flocks. And if he lived too far from the Temple to make it practical to take his tithes of crops and herds, he was to exchange them for silver, then buy the equivalent once we got to the Temple (Deuteronomy 14:22-28).
Further, according to Deuteronomy 26:12, every third year, they were to give an EXTRA TITHE for the Levites, aliens and fatherless in their land ~ a kind of welfare program.
Over and above all their tithes, they periodically brought additional “contributions, tithes and dedicated gifts” of dedication when needed (II Chronicles 31:5-12).
Nehemiah 10:37-38 says only the priests and their helpers, the Levites, were allowed to collect the tithes. And they were stored in special storerooms at the Temple (Nehemiah 12:4; 13:5). People even got so they bragged about their freewill offerings made in addition to their tithes (Amos 4:4-5).
The last verse in the Old Testament using the word tithe is in the last book of the Old Testament ~ Malachi 3:8-10 ~ wherein the Jews were told they were robbing God whenever they did not tithe.
The only time tithing is mentioned in the New Testament is in reference to Jews under the Law of Moses. Jesus lived under the Law of Moses; the church was not set up yet. Let's look them up.
In Matthew 23:23; Luke 11:42 Jesus told of the Jews tithing even herbs and spices, but it did not buy them out of being just and actually loving God. And in Luke 18:11-14, Jesus said the Pharisee who bragged he tithed everything was not just before God.
And finally, in Hebrews 7:5-7 where the intricacies of the Old Testament Law of Moses were compared with the New Testament Law of Grace, it was recalled that Abraham centuries earlier gave tithes to priest Melchezedik.
APPLYING THOSE LAWS TO REAL LIFE
Remember Deuteronomy 12:6 listing the five kinds of giving. Let us investigate how much over tithing the Law of Moses required. (A shekel of silver is worth about $5 in today's money.)
A middle-income Jew made about 1200 shekels a year or about $6,000 American dollars. A tithe of that would be $600. Keep this in mind for we are going to create an annual giving budget for the middle-income Jew living under the Old Testament Law of Moses. Add this $600 to the Tithing Budget of a Good Jew listed below.
Next, remember that Deuteronomy 26:12 required that once every three years they were to give an additional tithe for their welfare program. So the above Jew would have to give an average of $200 extra a year for their welfare program. Add this $200 to the Tithing Budget of a Good Jew listed below.
Now we come to vows which had to be paid for. Here is a list of some of them:
Genesis 28:20 - To have a safe journey ("traveling mercies")
Leviticus 27:2 - To dedicate someone for special service to God
Numbers 21:2 - To be delivered from enemy army
1 Samuel 1:11; Proverbs 31:2 - To have a child
2 Samuel 15:7-8 - To return to homeland and reconciled to family
Psalm 22:11, 25; 66:13 - To be freed of troubles and desertion by friend
Psalm 76:11; Isaiah 19:21 - To prove allegiance to God before others
Psalm 116:8, 14, 18-19 - To thank God for a verdict of not guilty
Job 22:27; Jonah 2:7-9 - To recover from illness
Leviticus 27:2-7 listed how much each category of people had to pay for their vows:
Age 60+ - 15 shekels
Age 20-60 – 50 shekels
Age 5-19 – 20 shekels
Age birth-4 – 5 shekels
Age 60+ - 10 shekels
Age 20-60 – 30 shekels
Age 5-19 – 10 shekels
Age birth-4 – 3 shekels
Let’s say we have a male Jew around 35 years old. Multiplying the number of required shekels times $5.00 (equivalent of 1 shekel). He would have to pay $250 for any of the vows noted above. Add this $250 to the Tithing Budget of a Good Jew listed below.
FIRST-BORN PEOPLE AND LIVESTOCK
Since each family only has one first-born their entire existence, we will not count this in the Annual Giving Budget (see Number 3:45-47).
However, according to that same scripture, all first-borns had to be redeemed (bought back) for 5 shekels or $25 each. if your herds had twenty females giving birth for the first time in a year, you would owe 500 shekels or a total of $2500) to redeem (buy back) all 20 newborns from becoming burned offerings. Add this $2500 to the Tithing Budget of a Good Jew listed below.
Let us give an average value of $25.00 per animal (5 shekels of silver).
Leviticus 1:6, 8-13; 8:18-21; 16:24 - This BURNT OFFERING was wholly consumed by fire. It was voluntary to atone for unknown, unintentional sin, expression of devotion, or complete surrender to God. If you asked God to forgive you for unknown, unintentional sins every week at $25.00 each, that would be $1300 a year. Add that to the Tithing Budget of a Good Jew listed below.
Leviticus 4:1 - 5:13; 6:24-30; 8:14-17; 16:3-22 - This SIN OFFERING was required to atone for a specific unintentional sin (probably done in public) and involved confession, forgiveness, and cleansing from defilement. If you asked God to forgive you for one unintentional but public sin a month at $25.00 per animal sacrificed, that would require $300 in a year. Add that to the Tithing Budget of a Good Jew listed below.
Leviticus 5:14 - 6:7; 7:1-6 - This GUILT OFFERING was required for sins requiring restitution of an added 20% such as for stealing (intentional) or destroying property (unintentional). Let's say you are real good and never get into this kind of trouble. Don't add it to your Annual Giving Budget.
Grain offerings were usually cooked and eaten by the priests. They were flour, oil, incense (flavoring), bread, and salt. Let us give each such offering a $5.00 value.
Leviticus 2; 6:14-23 - This THANKSGIVING OFFERING was voluntary. Let's say you, a good Jew, have a positive attitude and thank God for things once a week. Your grain offerings would add up to $260 during the year. Add that to the Tithing Budget of a Good Jew listed below.
Leviticus 3; 7:11-34 - This FELLOWSHIP OFFERING was voluntary and another form of thanking God for his goodness. Let's say you make this kind of offering once a month. Your grain offerings would amount to a value of $60 for the year. Add that to the Tithing Budget of a Good Jew listed below.
Annual Giving Budget of Good Jew
$____________ Tithing for the year
$____________ One-third of tri-year welfare tithe
$____________ One vow a month for a year
$____________ Twenty first-borns in herd for the year
$____________ One unknown sin a week (burnt offering)
$____________ One unintentional sin a month (sin offering)
$____________ One thanksgiving offering a week for a year
$____________ One fellowship offering a month for a year
$____________ TOTAL GIVING FOR A GOOD JEW
So, you see that, in order to adopt the tithing of the Law of Moses, we must adopt the other giving rules also.
Remember, James 2:10 says if we keep only part of the law, then we are guilty of breaking the entire law. BUT....
GIVING IN THE NEW TESTAMENT ERA
Jesus nullified the Law of Moses. Colossians 2:14 says the written code requiring circumcision (Deuteronomy 10:16) and everything else in the Law of Moses was nailed to the cross. Ephesians 2:15 says that Jesus abolished through the sacrifice of his flesh the law of Moses with its commandments and regulations. And finally, Hebrews 8:13; 9:1 says Jesus made the first covenant (testament - KJV) with its earthly tabernacle, etc. obsolete and gave us a new covenant (testament).
FIRST CENTURY CHURCH GIVING
First-century Christians in Acts 4:32-35 “From time to time” whenever there was a special need, some first-century Christian who owned land or houses sold them and gave the money to the apostles to distribute to anyone in need.
1 Corinthians 9:13-14 explained that, just as priests who served in the Jewish Temple got their food from the sacrifices which were not burned up. Therefore, the Apostle Paul explained that those who preach the gospel of Jesus should receive their living from those who respond to the gospel.
So, for the most part, Paul said we are to give our contributions on the first day of the week (I Corinthians 16:1-2). By tithing? No, we are to set aside a sum of money in keeping with our income so when someone comes with a need, we don't need to take up a special offering.
Paul commending some Christians in 2 Corinthians 8:2-5 because they gave out of the most severe trial and extreme poverty. They gave even beyond their ability. Even before their donation, they first gave themselves to the Lord, and that is the basis for Christian giving. If we love the Lord, the church will have sufficient money to support the things and people that need to be supported.
Interestingly, although you may have been frustrated by being asked a year ahead of time what your giving was going to be, in II Corinthians 8:10-13, the Christians in Corinth decided a year in advance what they wanted to give for the year. Paul urged them to complete their plans according to their means (income). The gift is only acceptable if the willingness is there. We are to give according to what we have, not what we don't have. No donations were requested to make them hard pressed.
Paul went on to say in 8:24 that monetary donations are one way to show our love. And finally in II Corinthians 9:6-7, Paul concluded “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly; whoever gives generously will also reap generously.” We must give whatever we have decided in our own heart, “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”