Looking at “tithe” scriptures
In this section, I referred only to scriptures that used the words tithes or first fruits directly and not by inference, not that it’s wrong to infer since the scriptures do interpret themselves. I chose this way so it would not appear that I am “twisting” the scriptures to make them say what I want.
Exodus 23:19. Bring the first fruits to the house of your God.
Leviticus 27:30. It is the Lord’s. I give him his due, which is another way of saying payment. My employers may “give” me my salary, but since I earned it by my service over the agreed period of time it is a “payment” of that which is due. But whatever language I choose to use as a reflection of my understanding, God expects me to bring Him His tithe.
Numbers 18:24. It is for the Levites who serve in the tabernacle.
Numbers 18:31. Tithe is the priest’s reward for service.
Numbers 18:13. “First ripe in the land”. This suggests either first ripe of annual harvest, or first ripe of crops harvested from a particular parcel of land in which case it would be a once for all tithe in a cycle of 6 work years and a 7th Sabbath year. I cannot tell which exactly this particular portion of scripture is referring to at the moment.
Numbers 18:15. “Openeth the matrix”. The first born of every animal was considered the tithe on that animal, which indicates that as often as a shepherd’s animal has a first born, the shepherd would present it to the Levites as tithe. It was still a means of getting the Levites paid for their services, else even the first born of men should have been handed over but God said they should be redeemed, bought back, with animals.
Deuteronomy 12:5, 13. “unto the place where God shall put his name shall you come … bringing your tithes”. I think it means where I go to fellowship. Of course God has put His name upon me but does that mean I should pay my tithe to myself? Just as God was with each Israelite under the old covenant, though they didn’t know it, He is with me now and since he asked them to take the tithe to His symbolic place of worship, I should take it to God’s place symbolic place of worship too.
Deuteronomy 12:6 -7. You get to eat it? Yes. Everything you brought? Obviously, no. You couldn’t possibly eat that much. And besides, some of the items on the list had already been designated as the portion for the priests.
Deuteronomy 12:15. The menu for personal consumption.
Deuteronomy 12:21-27. Again, identifies two groups of edibles. There is the regular stuff which you should take to the appointed place and eat together with friends and family, even strangers. This you can eat at home, or “within your gates”, if the appointed place is too far. Then there is the holy portion of the edibles which you must take to the appointed place of worship.
Deuteronomy 14:22. “Year by year”. Although it says to eat it personally here, I think this refers to a specific kind of tithe. If it is to be done once a year, then it couldn’t refer to all the tithes of the year because harvests of various crops come in at various times of the year. I think this tithe refers to a special celebration but it is still holy to God as other scriptures indicate.
Deuteronomy 14:27 begins with “And” tying it to the list of the beneficiaries of the spread mentioned in the preceding verses.
Deuteronomy 14:28 begins a separate concept though it uses the same parameters for measurement, i.e. the tithe. This particular “tithe” is entirely for other people.
Deuteronomy 26:1-4. “First fruit of a new parcel of land”. Application varies from people to people but I think it means product of first contact on a newly acquired source of income. It therefore cannot be an annual thing, unless you change jobs every year.
Deuteronomy 26 shows that our tithes, and I believe by extension our offerings, convey a message being a reminder or a re-enactment of the covenant that brought us into the prosperity we are enjoying.
2 Chronicles 31:4 “to encourage the priests and Levites in the law of the Lord”. Distributions were made to all the Levites from the stash.
2 Chronicles 31 mentions all the items brought by the people but makes no mention that the people sat down to eat any of them but records that the priests ate enough and had so much left over that stores were required and all the abundance stirred up a blessing from the soul of the King.
Nehemiah 10:37 – 39. Tithe of the tithe. You pay upwards.
Nehemiah 12:14. Even in the Old Testament, under the law, joy was a requisite part of every giving as we see in this scripture and several others afore mentioned. Though it was required of them to give, they were required to give joy too. Paul said, “For God loves a cheerful giver.” The “For” here suggests he was making reference to a well-known established fact that God loves a cheerful giver.
Nehemiah 13:12. Unto the treasuries. Not anywhere else.
Amos 4:4 a sarcastic reference to the three year tithes.
Mal 3. The cause and effect of tithes and offerings.
Will God curse you? Of course not, you are blessed by God already. But do you reap a blessing from robbing God? I think not. And if you do, God doesn’t need to curse you, you’ll just find things are tougher than they should be and that is a curse not a blessing.
A question one would ask here is this: “can a child of God be cursed”? I believe the short answer is, no. But the long answer is a little … longer. God gave me this analogy some years ago: Picture the sun shining really hot on the whole world. And then picture yourself walking around under an umbrella. As long as you stay under the umbrella, you could as well live as though there was no burning sun but the moment you step out from under the umbrella, you will get burnt by the sun. In like manner, the whole earth is cursed but the child of God is living under the blessing of God but if he steps out from under the blessing, he would labour and suffer as though he were cursed. 1 Peter 4:14-15 gives an example of this principle.
Referring to the statement I made before, “we are blessed, we are being blessed and we shall be blessed”, there is an aspect of your blessing that is not affected by what you do but there are others that are. You have to choose to live in the blessing or you could very well find yourself starving in the midst of plenty.
Matthew 23:23. Jesus did not say we should not tithe but said all we do should be focused on judgement (fairness), mercy and faith. If the tithe and offerings are put in their proper place, we would see that it actually focuses on fairness, mercy and faith. The picture of the proper place is what we have portrayed in the canonized Old Testament.
Luke 11:42 focusing on the tiniest details of the tiniest matters and missing huge stuff is hypocrisy. But he didn’t say tithing is hypocrisy. He just said they were missing the big picture.
Luke 18:12. Obviously the man was boasting but for Jesus to have used it as an example of a man trusting in his good works would mean that Jesus counts fasting as well as tithing to be good works.
Genesis 14:18-24. Melchizedek blessed Abram, then Abram gave him tithes.
Application: I should give my tithes to the ministry that is blessing me and is responsible for me as a spiritual covering (Hebrews 7). If I am not being blessed in my current ministry and responsibility is not being taken for me where I am, I should move!
By the way, I may have teachers in the remotest parts of the earth who are teaching me things that are building me up tremendously, but they are not my father and therefore not my priest. (1 Corinthians 4:15). They cannot be there to pray with me, to counsel me, to clarify issues that their teachings might create in my mind and life, they cannot be there to hold my hand when I lose a loved one or when my wife is in the labour room, they cannot be there to mentor me through life in the pursuit of my calling. They are ministering to me in terms of sharing the word with me but in other critical areas, they will never be there. No matter how great my teacher is, he can never be my father. There are other provisions in the scriptures for me to be of financial benefit to my teachers. Galatians 6:6.
Still to come…Part 6
For part 4, http://wp.me/p6rlMY-1K