The Mighty Tithe
Why Tithing Isn’t Christian
As a Christian, just like many I have tithed for most of my life; having been persuaded to do so by the leaders of the churches I have been a member of.
But in recent years I had begun to question the validity of this doctrine, with questions such as these:
Where in the bible does it say we should tithe?
What exactly is the Tithe?
Who should we be tithing to?
Should we be concerned with where our money is going?
And why are the poor supporting wealthy pastors who can retire on comfortable pensions, and yet the members of their congregations have to work well into their old age?
And many more questions in this vein.
Now it should be noted that not all of the above questions will be answered specifically in this blog post. However, as I continued to study the subject of tithing it became necessary to review the nature of some of the sermons I had heard preached and in particular the most often repeated doctrinal slants each Minister would make as a point of religious law.
I felt it necessary to examine if the content of these sermons were true for the New Covenant Christian, and in so doing I managed to compile a list of the key phrases and the accompanying passages in the bible that Ministers use to support their arguments for the inception and the continuation of the Tithe.
The purpose in addressing this list is to open your eyes to see if you have been manipulated into giving your money through false promises and the dubious religious reasoning's of clever people.
We know that there is nothing wrong with being generous, in fact God loves a cheerful giver.
Despite that, God always looks at the heart, and especially in the area of giving. Our motivations always outweigh our actions, and while we may have the appearance of happy generosity. If we are giving in order to ward off a potential curse from God, or to be blessed by him specifically through our giving. Then our giving is neither free or cheerful but rather is a disguise for coercion and fear.
As stated in the previous post on the subject of the Tithe, the fundamental reasons as to why Christians are not called to tithe remain the same.
That is – we are no longer supporting a Levitical Priesthood, and are therefore no longer required to tithe as a substitute for their inheritance in the land the LORD gave to Israel.
In addressing the question as to when was the Tithe imposed on the Church.
We see from the Catholic Encyclopedia (12th edition only) that through a series of Synods in Tours France in 560AD, and the Canons of the Council of Macon in 580AD.
The Bishops set themselves up as being the equivalent of the Levitical Priesthood, and in preference to voluntary contributions of food, goods or hospitality from the laity, insisted that they were owed tithes of goods and produce as a religious right. Tithes were later ratified by Charles the Great in AD 779. Incidentally it was in AD 1200 that England’s Pope Innocent III began to demand that the people should bring to the church money as a tithe.
Below is an excerpt from the Catholic Encyclopedia (12 edition only) on tithe.
In the early ages of the Church no special provision was made for the maintenance of the clergy. St. Paul, the tent-maker, set the example (I Cor., iv, 12) of earning his own livelihood. In imitation of him many clerics worked at some craft or followed some profession, living by the labour of their own hands. Even in the fifth and sixth centuries there were bishops, priests, and deacons, who in keeping with the advice of the Fourth Council of Carthage (a. 398, cann. 52, 53) supported themselves by their own labour… Later the payment of tithes was frequently insisted on by St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and others (Thomassin, ‘‘Vet. et nov. eccl. disc.,’’ III, II, xii, xiv). The Synods of Tours (560) and Macon (586) strenuously exhorted the faithful to pay the tithes ordained by God. Charlemagne made their payment obligatory on his subjects by a royal ordinance of 779, the requirements of which he himself faithfully observed.
We are free from the responsibility of the Tithe.
Sadly, one of the things I find most interesting when Christians are liberated from the bondage of tithing, is the freedom they now have, and how they all speak of what a burden tithing was. These same people become open to discussing their struggles with the guilt they had felt when not meeting the Tithe, and the strategies they had to employ to stay within the tenets of this obsolete religious law.
The arguments that are used by leaders to persuade their congregations to tithe usually start with one of the following phrases finishing with, ‘...therefore you should tithe.’
Tithing (or in the new speak - Giving) demonstrates your faith in God.
As the same versus are frequently repeated to both support and refute varying positions and persuasive points of view.
I have dealt with each statement as a separate numbered argument.
This is both for the ease of navigation and to prevent blogpost-burn-out.
Just click the statement you’ve heard to be directed to the relevant paragraph
Then click, ‘Back To The Top’ to be redirected to this list.
So Let’s Begin
The Tithe is the Lords… Therefore we should tithe.
Leviticus 27:30-32 reads as follows.
‘And all the Tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord. If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one fifth to it. And concerning the Tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.’
The above is probably the most powerfully persuasive verse used in the, “You Must Tithe,” preachers arsenal.
They would preach that this is a cornerstone passage regarding tithing and is without argument for all Believers. Any Christian who dares to dispute this passage as a valid reason for tithing in this day and age, may as well label themselves as a heretic.
It clearly states that the Tithe belongs to God, and if we were to leave the discussion at this point there would be nothing left to say.
However, there are a few things to be examined in these verses.
Questions such as, to whom was this passage written, and in what context were these verses to be read and applied?
First of all, Moses is writing the law for the people as God revealed it to him. In so doing Moses is establishing to the Israelites the terms of the covenant that God is making with them; the general rule is – If they will love the Lord and obey His laws, He will bless them.
In this context the people are gathered before the Tabernacle having the law recited to them. As part of this address, God has declared that the Tithe is holy to him, not because God needs to consume food, Psalm 50:7-13.
Rather the Tithe was to be given as a means of support for the whole tribe of Levi.
In Numbers 18:21-26 God states, “I give to the Levites all the Tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting.”
With a few exceptions, which I’ve written about in the previous post, the Tithe was the compensation the Lord made available for this particular group of people. While the Tithe was to be considered holy, it was not set aside or given for God’s benefit.
It should be noted that the Tithe was not used for the maintenance of the tabernacle or temple. These buildings were paid for and maintained through gifts and offerings Exodus 25:1-8, Exodus 35:4-29, 1 Kings 5:1-12, 2 Chronicles 5:1, and later through specific taxes, Matthew 17:24.
So how is this passage to be applied to Christians?
Number one, as Christians we are no longer under the first covenant of the Mosaic law.
Two, we no longer have a Levitical priesthood to whom tithes need to be given.
And three, the Tithe was produce for the maintenance of the Levites not money.
We are therefore, not called to honour God with our tithes as we are not First Covenant Israelites under the law as it was laid out through Moses.
The earth is the Lord’s, Psalm 24:1… Therefore we should tithe.
This verse is often closely linked with Leviticus 27:30-32 ‘The tithe is the Lord’s.’ But with an interesting additional layer of persuasion added.
The argument here is that as the earth is the Lords, everything we have does not belong to us rather our belongings remain the property of God.
I have heard many strange teachings surrounding this verse, such as, because everything you own belongs to God; if he asks, you must give ten percent of your possessions even the garments in your wardrobe. If you have ten pairs of shoes and he asks for a pair you must give it, if you have ten dresses and he asks you to give one away you must give it.
This teaching is not only a complete misunderstanding of God’s rulership. It is petty and ridiculous, reducing our Father to an omnipotent bean counter.
The earth is indeed the Lord’s, but he has given dominion of the earth to mankind.
David writes in Psalm24:1, The Earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.
While it is also written in the Psalms 115:16 “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to the human race.”
And again in Psalm 8:4-6 “You made them [mankind] rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet.”
And let’s not forget Genesis 1:26-28 where it is clearly stated that God’s original design was to have mankind rule over the earth.
As for the Tithe.
Let us not forget that under the old covenant, the Lord only asked for the tenth of the produce of the land.
Not ten percent of everything, and definitely not ten percent of the entire earth.
As I have written in the previous post, God was much more lenient with regards to tithing than man’s rules regarding money and giving are today.
It should be further noted that of all the verses that speak of God’s ownership of the earth, they are never within the context of tithing or giving.
You will never see a verse that says, ‘God owns it all, therefore we must give ten percent of it back to him.’
This concept is a deception, and we need to be aware of the cunning deceitfulness of it. This teaching sounds biblical, unfortunately it isn’t.
While we as Christians are today not bound to tithing. We need to understand the purpose and heart of God within the context of the Tithe.
God blessed the land, so that it would provide for His people, who would in turn bless those who served him at the tabernacle.
The Tithe was a vehicle of blessing for all of Israel based on the law, through sacrifices and obedience.
Abraham and Jacob tithed… Therefore we should tithe.
The next compelling argument that is used for tithing is the example of the patriarch Abraham.
The argument is; Abraham gave a tithe to the priest Melchizedek before the law was established.
Therefore, Christians who recognise that they are under grace and not the law should follow Abraham’s example and tithe.
Before deep diving into the logic of using Abraham as an example for tithing, first I’ll establish the circumstances surrounding the event that precipitated Abraham’s gift.
Abraham’s nephew Lot had been taken captive by a cohort of Kings lead by Kedorlaomer during a battle against the king of Sodom and his allies.
Abraham decides to rescue Lot. He musters 318 of his fighting men, defeats Kedorlaomer, rescues Lot and his family, and seizes all of the plunder that was the result of the original conflict for himself. While returning back to his encampment, the King of Sodom rides out to meet with Abraham, but his intentions are interrupted by the appearance of the King Melchizedek.
Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine.
He was priest of God Most High,
19and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
At this point we don’t know exactly why Abraham tithed to Melchizedek.
However, it is not unreasonable to assume that Abraham gave a tenth of the plunder to Melchizedek in recognition of the victory that God gave to him in providing him with the strength and favour to rescue Lot. Then in Hebrews 7:1-2 it is simply explained that Abraham tithed because Melchizedek blessed him.
If we are to use Abraham as an example for tithing there are a few things to consider.
Abram was already a very wealthy man, long before the event that initiated his tithing. Furthermore nowhere during the accumulation of his wealth is it recorded that he ever tithed, Genesis 13:1-2.
It is apparent that Abram only felt compelled to tithe after he was blessed during his meeting with Melchizedek.
Abram tithed on the entire amount of the plunder, before he had allotted any to his fighting men or had his encounter with the King of Sodom.
Abram did not keep any of the goods he had acquired as a result of rescuing Lot. It’s clear that Abram felt that the goods he had obtained had come from a questionable source; and would not allow his wealth to be attributed to the King of Sodom’s generosity, rather than the favour of God on his life, Genesis 14:22-24.
If we are to follow Abraham’s example, then we are not compelled to tithe on our day to day wages but only on bonuses we receive above and beyond our usual wage earning activities, and more specifically only during times of war.
And even then; if we follow this example we will not keep any of that bonus money for ourselves.
Rather, we would be in a crazy situation, where we only tithe on our bonuses and then give the remainder of the money back to our employers, declaring that, “We would not have it said that they made us rich”.
When examined and stripped of all religious connotations and sermonising. Following the logic of Abraham’s tithe, is not in the least bit logical.
Following on from Abraham.
The less often quoted example of someone who tithed to God before the inception of the law was Jacob.
The probable reason for Jacob’s omission in the canon of tithing sermons, is because his tithe went up in smoke.
Jacob was a schemer who made a bargain with God. He prayed that if God would bless and protect him, he would give God a tenth of his wealth, Genesis 28:20-22.
So, one day after he had become very wealthy, the Lord spoke to Jacob telling him it was time to full fill his vow made at Bethel, Genesis 35:1-3.
At Bethel Jacob built an alter to God as he was commanded, on this alter he would have made his sacrifices to God. There is no indication that Jacob made multiple offerings during the acquisition of his wealth, rather he made an offering to God only on the alter he built at Bethel to honour the Lord. This offering would have been the tenth of all of his wealth that he promised to God.
This alter would not have been decorative, or built for a token purpose. This was an alter built for sacrifices. The sacrifice would have been at least a blood sacrifice, and quite possibly a burnt offering as well. Every animal that represented a tenth of his wealth would have been sacrificed on Jacobs alter and burnt to ashes that day.
You wont find many Ministers advocating this approach to tithing, and remember Jacob along with Abraham proceeded the Mosaic laws.
Using the ‘Pre-Dating the law’ argument for tithing using Abraham and possibly Jacob as examples, is extremely problematic.
There are too many Ministers who like to use Abraham and Jacob as examples for tithing, even though they fail to give full disclosure as to the methods and reasoning behind either Jacob or Abraham’s approach to their tithes; as to do so would result in their congregation’s reasonable conclusion that they do not need to tithe as a regular practice.
Should Christians follow all things prior to the law of Moses?
At what point should it be agreed upon that the detail, methods and practices do not need to be followed?
It is for this reason that the Apostle Paul writes that we need to correctly handle the word of God,” Rightly dividing the word of truth,” 2 Timothy 2:15. And to not make commandments where no command has been given, 2 Corinthians 8:8.
Continuing the Melchizedek theme.
In the letter to the Hebrews Melchizedek is mentioned several times, and Paul particularly labours the point that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek in Hebrews 7:1-28.
For this reason some Ministers have used these passages to advocate the continuation of tithing.
Declaring that, Abraham tithed to Melchizedek who is a type of Christ, therefore Christians should tithe.
Because Abraham owed tithes to Melchizedek; therefore following his example, so accordingly Christians owe tithes to Jesus.
In addition to this theme, others have preached.
Abraham was in covenant with Melchizedek, demonstrated through Melchizedek bringing out bread and wine to share with Abraham. These preachers have stated that the giving of the bread and wine was a symbol of the covenant made with Abraham; and as we are in covenant with Jesus Christ, so we should follow Abraham’s example and continue to tithe.
There are two problems with this specific interpretation of Genesis 14.
Firstly, the covenant God made with Abraham did not take place until Genesis 15:18
Secondly, all covenants are created and sealed with a blood sacrifice.
No sacrifices had been made during Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek, there are no indications to suggest that this was a covenant making encounter.
To reach the conclusion that Christians should tithe because of the comparison of Christ and Melchizedek in Hebrews, is a gross misinterpretation of the epistle.
It is clear that Paul’s primary purpose in writing this letter was to emphasise the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ over the Levitical priesthood. That through Jesus we have the guarantee of a better covenant, without the need for yearly sacrifices of atonement, as Jesus is the once and only sacrifice for all of mankind.
And that Abraham’s tithe was given in recognition of the authority of Melchizedek as the Priest of God and in the receipt of the blessing given to him in the defeat of Kedorlaomer.
There is nothing in this letter to imply that Christians should continue to tithe, if anything, it should be understood that this letter is about the establishment of Christ and the new covenant we have through his sacrifice and blood, and a doing away with the regulations of the law as they were represented through the Levitical priesthood, Hebrews 8:8-13.
Money is a seed that will return a harvest… Therefore we should tithe.
The problem with some of these teachings is that they are so close to the truth it is challenging to discern the lie.
Money is a seed that returns a blessing --as it is metaphorically sown when given away-- is an example of this lie.
The two main passages of scripture used to support this teachings is in Genesis 26:12-15 from the life of Isaac, and 2 Corinthians 9:10.
Isaac is used as an example in the following way.
During a time of famine Isaac wanted to escape to Egypt where it seems there was plenty of food. Having consulted with God. The Lord tells Isaac to stay in the land of Gerar, with the promise that the Lord would bless him, and through him, fulfil the promises made to his grandfather Abraham, Genesis 26:1-6.
So Isaac stayed in Gerar, and in the time of famine he planted crops in the land and in the same year reaped a hundredfold yield on his produce. The man became rich, and his wealth continued to grow until he became very wealthy, Genesis 26:12-14.
How this event is conflated with tithing, is to promise that if people would tithe then God will bless them in the same way that He blessed Isaac. The preacher will teach that money is to be regarded like the seed that Isaac had sown and in the same way the givers will reap a hundredfold harvest on their giving.
However this special circumstance has absolutely nothing to do with tithing or giving.
1. Isaac planted his seed in the land of the Philistines, the people who ultimately become the enemies of Israel.
2. Isaac planted his seed to reap a harvest for himself, to feed his family. He wasn’t giving the seed or the harvest to the Philistines, or any other supposedly Godly cause.
3. Isaac became very wealthy.
It isn’t spelt out how he became wealthy. With that being said, it wouldn’t be too far fetched to assume that it was through a simple case of sowing, reaping, and the favour of God.
Isaac reaped a hundred fold harvest on the seed he planted in the ground providing him with seed for food to feed his people and animals, seed for re-planting, and an excess that he sold; this process was repeated.
And in time by following this simple process he became very wealthy.
Along with Isaac as an example of a seed sower, Ministers will cite the Apostle Paul who encourages the Corinthian church to be generous in their giving. while partially quoting Isaiah 55:10, Paul adds, ‘Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.’ 2 Corinthians 9:10-11.
Is Paul advocating that giving will result in God reciprocating?
Yes he is.
In Proverbs 19:17 it is written, ‘Whoever is kind to the Poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward them for what they have done.’
Is he Advocating giving to ministries?
In 2 Corinthians 9:1-2 Paul writes, ‘There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians.’
However, Paul is not demanding a tithe or that the money would be given as a continuous never ending stream of giving until the Christians of the Corinthian Church die.
Neither is he asking that the money and gifts be given to meet his personal needs or the personal need of his emissaries. The gifts Paul collected were to offer aid to the persecuted, famine struck Jerusalem church, and for that one time purpose only.
When giving we need to do our due diligence.
Later I will address the question of stewardship, but be assured it is not good stewardship to blindly give your money away to any or every cause that you encounter. Neither should you give your money away because you’ve been persuaded to do so, by a well dressed charismatic Minister. We are called to test every spirit, 1 John 4:1. It is not unreasonable for you to ask such questions as:
How will the money be spent?
To whom is the money going?
Is the Minister actually doing God’s work?
What is the character of the Minister?
We should not be afraid to ask questions of accountability or be intimidated into silence when we see that something is awry.
It is an unfortunate truth that, “Power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
As part of the tithe seed sowing sermon I have heard the question raised.
‘Are you a sower or an eater?’
The thinking behind this question is again based on the passage in Isaiah 55:10-11, to which the Apostle Paul quotes in, 2 Corinthians 9:10. Paul expands upon the passage and turns it into a blessing in response to the potential generosity of the Corinthian church.
Faced with this question many church members will be either filled with pride or shame.
A feeling of pride due to the implication that if you are a sower, then God will give more to you, so that you can sow more seeds in the form of your money.
In which case you can be comforted and give yourself a pat on the back because of how blessed you are due to your obedience and generosity.
Conversely, if you are an eater; then you are only concerned with having your needs met and God will not bless you with more, as you will spend all that you have on yourself as is your current practice.
Therefore, if you are a poor Christian you must be fundamentally selfish, otherwise God would be blessing you with more money so that you could give the excess away.
However, if you are a rich Christian you must be intrinsically generous, because you have more than enough to give away; at least this would seem to be the logic as I have read and heard this particular concept preached.
A question to ask.
Is God making a distinction between either the sower or the eater?
Without seed there is no bread and without bread people die. The idea that the sower is blessed whereas the eater isn’t, when closely examined the concept is utterly ridiculous. The context of Isaiah 55:10-11, is a demonstration of God’s determination that all His Words, as they are spoken will completely fulfil their purposes, there is no correlation to giving or tithing in the original passage.
Where as Paul, in quoting the passage in the context of giving, is turning it into a prayer, and is not telling the Corinthian church that they must tithe. Neither is he asking the Corinthian Church to give to his ministry, as we would understand the concept of ministry today. Rather Paul was asking for material and financial help to support the members of the Jerusalem church. The method of which is more in keeping with the present day method in which charitable donations are collected for famine and disaster struck communities.
Further more, as God himself says, He gives rain to the righteous as well as the unrighteous, Matthew 5:45. How much more would He not make petty divisions between the saved and the righteous, the sower or the eater. For those who are saved we are all made righteous, 2 Corinthians 5:21, and are not under any kind of curse, Galatians 3:13.
Concluding thoughts on the example of Isaac
Does it make sense that you will become wealthy by supporting a ministry by giving away your finances?
Unfortunately there are too many horrible examples of people who have given vast sums of money to unscrupulous ministries over long periods of time; only to find themselves broke, desperate and disappointed with God.
Don’t be deceived by the ‘God blessed me,’ stories, these are just clever marketing devices perpetuated by wily leaders.
If you are giving money to a ministry because you are in debt, and you’re hoping the money given will return in such a way that you will have enough to pay your debtors; you are probably deceived.
Unless you have had a powerful, irrefutable encounter with God telling you that this is how He is going to rescue you, you need to find another method.
While debt is mentioned many times in the bible, there is only one example of someone who was rescued from debt by seeking God, and that was the woman who’s sons were about to be taken as slaves. Her husband was a servant of Elisha, his advice to her was to set up a business, and through the profits of the business pay off her debts, 2 Kings 4:1-7.
God blesses givers… Therefore we should tithe.
There is no doubt that God loves a cheerful giver.
As the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthian church urging them to follow the example of the Macedonians, he writes.
‘But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.’
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
However, while generosity is the theme.
This passage in context has nothing to do with the obligation to tithe.
Paul requests that a freely given gift be gathered to help the struggling Jerusalem church, who have been plunged into extreme poverty due to the famine of Judah in AD45.
It should be noted that this was a once only gift.
This gift was gathered over a period of time by the Corinthian church, and was not a repeat obligatory contribution that had to be made every year as tithes were under the law.
Paul also writes, as a result of their giving there was a reasonable expectation that there would be a sense of reciprocity, 2 Corinthians 8:13-15. As the Macedonian church was generous in their support; so they could expect an equal level of support as the other churches prospered.
This is clearly in the scriptures, yet to express such an expectation is to risk being met with scorn from the vast majority of the Christian Church for having such an irreligious mindset.
Forgetting that our Father God is eminently practical and naturally supernatural, James 2:14-17.
So do we only ever give to those who can return the favour?
Of course not.
Jesus taught us to not only give freely to those who may never be able to give back to us, but to practice our giving in secret.
The man of wisdom writes.
‘He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord,
And He will pay back what he has given.’ Proverbs. 19:17.
This then is the key.
We are called to help the poor and disadvantaged.
Not to build religious empires or bolster the super inflated egos of people who claim to be serving Christ, who instead, enslave God’s people through the demanding of the giving of the now defunct tithe.
Honour God with your money...Therefore we should tithe.
The message of, ‘Honouring God with your money,’ is consistently preached in one of three ways:
Giving of the firstfruits.
Making a sacrifice to God.
a) If you have read this far, then hopefully, you will by now understand that while the Tithe is biblical, it isn’t Christian. Furthermore, the Tithe was never money, but rather produce that was given by the people, to support the Levite tribe in their service to God, Leviticus 27:30-32.
Here is an example to clarify the point.
In comparing a farmer who grew crops or reared herds of animals, with a carpenter who made his living purely from his carpentry business and did not grow so much as a pot of herbs.
The farmer would tithe on the increase of his herds and crops.
Except under the old covenant the carpenter would not have anything to tithe.
However, if the carpenter did in fact grow a few herbs; he would need to tithe on those herbs.
We see this clearly in the following passage, Matthew 23:23, ‘Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practised the latter, without neglecting the former.
Commanding that the Christian should tithe and be bound by the law is an act of injustice.
As we have seen the tithe was never money.
This revelation does however raise two questions:
Was money available at the time of writing the Old Testament?
How did Israel raise revenue to pay for the building and upkeep of the temple?
In answering the first question, yes money was available. The currency of the day was silver, gold, bronze, iron, tin, lead and barley seed as a measured weight, Leviticus 27:16.
For example when Sarah, Abraham’s wife died he bought a burial field from a man named Ephron, for which Abraham paid four hundred shekels of silver, Genesis 23:12-16.
In addition to this, if God had wanted people to pay their tithes in money he would have allowed it. In the Books of Deuteronomy, Leviticus and Malachi, God makes it clear that the tithe was food.
Deuteronomy 14:22-27, Leviticus 27:30-32, Malachi 3:10.
So, in answering the second question we see that all revenue was raised as a Freewill Offering.
The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the Israelites to bring me an offering. You are to receive the offering for me from everyone whose heart prompts them to give.’
We see again in Exodus 35:20-35 that all kinds of goods and materials were brought to Moses, gold, silver and precious gems. But it is continually emphasised that their gifts were brought only by those who were willing, whose heart moved them. There is no sense of coercion, or the fear of coming under a curse for not complying.
After this initial offering God instructs Moses to collect a half shekel from all the men 20 years or older, this sum was ransom for their lives and a protection against plagues. This atonement money was used for the maintenance of the tent of meeting, Exodus 30:12-16.
In the New Testament we see that the practice was continued in the form of the temple tax.
Jesus, through Peter is challenged by the Temple officials for not paying the temple tax, Matthew 17:23-27. This was a very specific sum of money and is clearly not part of the Tithe. In fact the only reason Jesus gave for conforming with the payment of the tax, was to not offend the collectors; and not because he felt under any obligation to do so.
To be clear, God does not collect taxes from his children, Matthew 17:25-27.
As the children of God we do not have to make atonement through the paying of money to a church ministry, neither do we have to live under the fear of a curse or plagues.
Christ is the once for all time atoning sacrifice, He is all we need, 1 John 2:1-2, and Galatians 3:13.
b) The delivering of the Firstfruits Sermon will usually be based on one of these two verses, ‘Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops,’ Proverbs 3:9 or, Romans 11:16, ‘If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.’
What usually captures the imagination of most Ministers as they preach on the first passage is the idea of wealth.
Unfortunately, the mind of the modern man, almost always automatically thinks of wealth as money.
However in an agrarian society wealth comes from what is produced by the land. If you do not have the means to grow plants for food or have sufficient land to raise animals you were not considered to be wealthy.
God’s definition of wealth is not confined to the narrow abstraction of money.
Which is made clear when the passage is read in context,
‘Honour the Lord with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; 10then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.’
As for the second passage, Romans 11:16, it is preached in many tithing sermons as a means of justifying the tax.
The Minister will say something along the lines of, ‘When you tithe your ten percent. The remaining ninety percent has now become holy.’
Within the confines of this doctrine the belief is that prior to tithing, the 100% was in some way unclean. And had you kept that money for yourself, you would have made yourself subject to Satan coming along and taking the ten percent that is owed to God by bringing some kind of God sanctioned disaster into your life.
Immediately after you have tithed the Pastor will openly say that an extra blessing is now conferred on the remaining money, and a hedge of protection is surrounding you and your finances because of your obedience.
Except the problem with using this passage as an endorsement for tithing, is to totally ignore the context. Romans 11 has absolutely nothing to do with money, instead is about the inclusion of Gentiles into the family of God alongside the Jews.
And is a discourse on how the Gentile is grafted into the promises and favour of God, which was once reserved only for the people of Israel.
Throughout all of scripture the firstfruits were either associated with some kind of produce or as a representation of the first born son, Psalm 78:51, 1 Corinthians 15:20.
For the Christian we are the Firstfruits having been made righteous through Jesus.
The only sacrifice we as Christians are called to make is a sacrifice of praise, 1 Peter 2:4-9.
The continued practice of giving your money as a type of firstfruits is an expression, of a form of transactional faith; giving to God to secure the future protection of your money.
The thinking is, ‘If I give this percentage of my money, then God will protect the rest.’
This kind of thinking is a form of paganism, which leads to the final point in this section.
c) Making a sacrifice of your money is a way to honour God.
This teaching is couched in the belief that the Christian must make a ten percent sacrifice of their income to protect the rest of their resources. In the same way that a virgin would be sacrificed to ensure a good harvest, or to appease an angry God.
Now, when a pastor declares that it is your duty to give your money to God, what they really mean is that they want you to give your money to them.
To their endeavours and ambitions.
This usually means giving your money to the church funds, the salaries and pensions of the Pastor, his ancillary staff, and any ego boosting luxury he desires.
Unfortunately as most churches have members who are struggling financially, to ensure that they continue to give, the Pastor will exhort those members to faithfully pay into his coffers with this common line.
‘You don’t have enough money to meet your needs, so you might as well give it to God.’