I say, if the tithe were not still pertinent and important to a successful and abundant, 21st Century Christian lifestyle, then there wouldn't be so much controversy - it would be a non-issue that the enemy wouldn't fight so hard!
So, in a nutshell, here is a biblical teaching on tithe for the "New Testament" church:
- There is no "New Testament Church" biblically.
- The concept of the tithe was initiated by God in the Garden of Eden
- The first true "tithe" was given by Abraham, prior to the Law of Moses
- Initially, the tithe was RECEIVED by the priests for their livelihood
- The tithe was, and still is, GIVEN by the individual for their blessing and protection
Prior to Old Covenant Law - or the Mosaic Covenant that was given by God to Moses - there was the Abrahamic Covenant. And, prior to the Abrahamic Covenant there was the Adamic Covenant with Adam. That covenant was immediately "broken" by Adam and his wife Eve. You know the story: God said of every tree of the Garden you may freely eat, the Tree of Life in the midst of the Garden also. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat. For in the day that you eat of it, you shall surely die. (Genesis 2:9, 16-17) This was the covenant given by God that Adam and his wife couldn't keep. But guess what? This covenant was the first ever concept of the tithe. Essentially God was saying then the same thing He says to us now regarding the tithe: if you leave the 1 or one tenth alone, consecrating it unto Me; I will bless the rest and you will have an abundant and everlasting life. But Adam and Eve couldn't do it. No wonder Christians balk at paying the tithe! It's embedded into our nature to reject the tithe through the original disobedience of our forefathers!
By the time Abraham came along - and in fact, while he was still Abram - He had discovered the benefits of giving the tithe. His troublesome nephew Lot had gotten himself taken by several kings and Abram went to deliver him - slaying the kings and taking all the spoils of his efforts. After having done so, Abram paid tithes of all he had to Melchizedek, king of Salem and priest of the most high God (Genesis 14:14-20). When Abram gave the tithe, Melchizedek blessed him - and Abram's wealth was started by the 90% left from the king's spoil. There was no Mosaic Law commanding Abram to give a tithe; there were no 10 Commandments and in fact, this act of tithe was given very nearly in response to the covenant God gave Abram - that Old Covenant of blessing that we as Christians are part and parcel to today simply because we believe on Jesus by faith. Galatians 3:29 "And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."
Once Jacob had become Israel, and his twelve sons had become tribes in the nation of Israel, God had instituted the Law through Moses so that the Israelites would have a structure to live by and a guideline to know what was sin and what was righteous. The concept of the tithe was now commanded by the Lord, instead of simply expected as in the past. That tithe was to go to the priestly tribe of Levi since they had no other inheritance, land or livelihood amongst the other tribes. Numbers 18:24 "But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance." Knowing that the Levites had no other provision, the Israelites did not begrudge the priests the tenth that was given to the temple. Matthew 10:10 reveals this concept in the New Testament when Jesus tells the disciples as he sends them from city to city to preach the gospel that the "workman is worthy of his hire."
From the old covenant to the new, Jews knew their command to tithe and give offerings unto the Lord. But even they had strayed away from it. The famous scriptures on tithing in Malachi were God's answer to their disobedience to the law. Malachi 3:7 asks, "Will a man rob God?" The tithe always belongs to God. The first of the firstfruits, the first of our offering - it all belongs to God. He is the God that never changes. From now until we meet Him face to face the tithe belongs to Him. And when we spend it, we spend what doesn't belong to us. This is why the scripture says asks if we would dare rob God by taking the tithe that belongs to Him. If we do, we make our own selves subject to a curse. God doesn't do it - we do through our ignorance and disobedience. And we open ourselves up to attacks from the enemy when we are disobedient to God. That's why Malachi 3:10 goes on to say, that when we bring all the tithes into the storehouse (the congregation), then the Lord will open us up the windows of heaven and pour us out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And, God also promises to rebuke the devourer (the devil who comes not but for to steal, kill and destroy - John 10:10), for our sakes. God says to prove Him at this and see that it is true, and when we do, He is faithful to prove to us that Jesus has come to give us life and life more abundantly.
The tithe may belong to God, but giving it is for our own good. Everything God has for us is for our blessing. Giving the tithe is not punishment, hardship or burdensome - in fact, it is the first gateway for abundance, blessing and protection.
The tithe belongs to God but it is not for God. The tithe is for YOU!
Power, Love & Peace, ya'll!
(II Timothy 1:7)
Min. Deidre Campbell-Jones