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Saturday, December 27, 2008

What Is A Biblical Tithe?

If one strives to keep the law, one had better familiarize one's self with it. We must look into the law and see what was tithe-worthy and what was not. Let's not forget the story of Aaron's sons Nadab and Abihu who offered profane fire on God's altar and were killed (LEV. 10). After all, God could not possibly want an offering of anything except what He commands... right?

(LEV. 27: 30, 32) 30 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.
32 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.

(DEU. 14: 22-23) 22 You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. 23 And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.

(NEH. 13: 5, 12) 5 the tithes of grain, the new wine and oil, which were commanded to be given to the Levites and singers and gatekeepers
12 Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse.

(DEU. 14: 28) At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates.

(DEU. 26: 1-2, 10) 1 And it shall be, when you come into the land which the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, 2 that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground
10 and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O LORD, have given me.’ 

This next verse is used by Armstrong to say that the tithe was of everything. It uses the phrase “tithe of everything”, but to say 'tithes were of everything and therefore they were of cash' is contradictory not only to the rest of the Bible but contradictory to the very verse where the phrase exists. The verse explicitly lists what tithes were brought in, then uses the word “everything” in reference to those things – not every possible thing in Israel. Top not come down!

(II CHR. 31: 5) As soon as the commandment was circulated, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of grain and wine, oil and honey, and of all the produce of the field; and they brought in abundantly the tithe of everything.

Where were the tithes taken from? The farming communities!

(NEH. 10: 35-37) 35 And we made ordinances to bring the firstfruits of our ground and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD; 36 to bring the firstborn of our sons and our cattle, as it is written in the Law, and the firstborn of our herds and our flocks, to the house of our God, to the priests who minister in the house of our God; 37 to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.

So, it is clear that tithes were specifically of the garden, the field, the orchard, and the flock. No mention of fish nor money. The tithe was not of money. This is evident in that the second tithe only was allowed to be exchanged for money (DEU. 14: 24-25). Anyone who says differently doesn't have a Biblical leg to stand on here.

Legion are the men who hope if they can prove that if God owns everything then money can be tithed on. This is absolutely false. God indeed owns everything... EVERYTHING! No Christian denies that. He owns athlete's foot fungus. He owns the vast methane wastes of the gas giant planets. He owns all that is beautiful and priceless. He owns the cold vacuum of space. He even owns those crumbs of toast at the bottom of your toaster. Simply proving that God owns all things does nothing for the tithing argument. Yes, the silver and gold are His (HAG. 2: 8). The Lord says in Psalms 50: 10-11, “10 For every beast of the forest is Mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. 11 I know all the birds of the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field are Mine.” And again “For the world is Mine, and all its fullness” (v 12). Yes, indeed everything that has been created is His (JOHN 1: 2). But that does nothing for the tithe argument.

In order to look at what is titheable, we must not look at what God owns, but what He and He alone says is to be tithed upon, and TO WHOM! The simple and undeniable fact here is that God tells us in the verses I've collected for you at the beginning of this post what He commands will be tithed upon, and no man has the authority to expand upon or decline from that. In a chapter which specifically lays out the tithe laws, God also says “Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it; you shall not add to it nor take away from it.” (DEU. 12: 32)

Those who misunderstand the tithe law look around at the grand ministries they have raised up and say “If tithing were only limited to agricultural produce, then preachers could not be sent out.” According to whom? The gospel that God sends out is His power to us (ROM. 1: 16), and if you are called to take that gospel where God desires it to be sent, then He Himself will see it is accomplished (ROM. 4: 21; I COR. 4: 12; HEB. 1: 3; II PET. 1: 3). God doesn't need the tithe laws to be messed around with in order to do what He purposes.  God doesn't need Herbert Armstrong or any man besides to figure out how to finance the New Covenant! Remember Luke 19: 40, where Jesus said “I tell you that if these should keep silent, the stones would immediately cry out.”

When it is argued that freewill giving is not acceptable to God in the New Testament, and the example of Cain's offering is brought up to illustrate the point, everyone should take a lesson in what exactly Cain did. Cain was making a burnt offering, which we must not do. Cain was indeed bringing what the Bible tells us time and time again that God finds acceptable to offer: produce of the ground. However, Cain brought a defiled offering. Genesis 4: 7 tells us Cain did not do well in his offering. Was that simply because Cain “brought whatever he wanted to God”? NO! What was done was done for a reason, and four our edification.
Read this excerpt from my post about The Genesis Prophecies:

Everyone knows that Genesis 3: 15 is a prophecy of Christ. In Genesis 4: 1-8 is the story of Cain and Abel.  Most people think this is a great little story, but it is much more - it is a prophecy too! With all due respect to the Jews, for whom I have great respect, Cain, the older brother, represents the Jewish Old Covenant church, and Abel, the younger brother, represents the Christian New Covenant Church (including the Messianic Jews, IMHO). Cain was a farmer, as Israel was an agrarian nation; Abel was a shepherd, as Christ is the Lamb of God (JOHN 1: 29) and the Great Shepherd (HEB. 13: 20). Cain's sacrifice was perfectly fine in God's eyes but was not accepted because of faithlessness, as the Jews were not accepted because of their faithlessness; Abel's sacrifice was accepted through faith (HEB. 11: 14), as the Christians are accepted through faith. Cain was jealous of Abel's blessings and set out to kill him, just as the Jews immediately set out to persecute and kill the Christians.

Now, take a very grave lesson from this. Those who say they can determine for themselves what the tithe laws say, those who think they must solve some problem in God's laws by taking the initiative and altering the law as they see fit, those who say they are modern Levites and ignore the plain words of the Bible, those who argue the Pharisees whom Christ cast out of the priesthood are our best example for tithe law – ALL skate on thin ice, dangerously close to hypocrisy. While they say “don't offer whatever you want”, they must add to and take from the clear law of God in order to offer [read receive] what it is that they want – money! You simply will not find money listed as an titheable item in the scriptures. Money, on the other hand, is a perfectly acceptable freewill offering. All should beware, unless they find themselves attempting to be more righteous than God. If the tithe law says “plants and animals”, then the tithe law is “plants and animals”. End of debate.

Those who demand tithes have used conjecture and human reasoning to conclude that since the nation is no longer primarily a farming community, we must tithe off of other sources. They hope to say, “God owns money, and so you must give some of yours to me.” This isn't what God says. Armstrong was adept at altering the law to suit himself, but no man can change tithe law! If there is a tithe, it must be from only what God selects. This is the problem that you get when you try to force the laws for one agrarian nation in the Old Covenant into a global religion in the New Covenant. It won't work. God foreknew that and prepared – not by adding money to tithe law – but by removing the Levites and the tithe. In their place is an entire way of life which could very much be referred to as “the way of give”. This goes well beyond money. God expanded giving into all things. We can give of money in a New Covenant fashion, we cannot tithe of it. Once again we hear from the tithe commanders “Keep the law! Keep the law!" ...Just not THAT law.

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