Of Father Abraham and the origin of Tithes.
In the English Bible, Abraham was the first person to be associated with the concept of tithes because it says in Genesis 14:20, “and Abram gave him tithes of all”.
I suspect that the idea of tithe was not Abraham’s but God’s else why would God sign into His law what was a fallen man’s idea? Just as God asked Abram to sacrifice Isaac, He could have asked Abram to offer the tithes to Melchizedek.
I find it interesting that the next thing that happened after Abram tithed was financial wealth in a life altering magnitude, though the man turned it down in favour of a better reward (Genesis 15). So it wasn’t Prophet Malachi’s declaration that made it a channel of “blessing”, it was already so since before Abram or else it wouldn’t have worked for Abram either.
In fact, I think Abraham was not the first person to bring tithes. If we look at Genesis 4, we’ll find Abel bringing a firstling of his flock and, in addition, portions of the fat. Now from the aforegoing scriptures, we see that the firstlings were the tithes on livestock. Exodus 22: 29-30; 29:13, 22-25, Leviticus 1:8; Levitcus Chapters 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 17, Numbers 18:17 all show “the fat” to be an offering to God. So essentially, Abel brought in tithes and offerings to God. If we look at Cain’s gift, we see he brought in “the fruit of the ground”. He didn’t bring in the “first fruits” which would have amounted to tithes of crops but what he brought is shown in other scriptures already considered to be offerings.
And so we see that God respected Abel and respected his gift probably because he brought in all he was expected to bring. And to Cain he had no respect for which Cain was embittered and what did God say to him, “If you had done well”. He said in James 4:17 “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin. “
That means Cain knew what was well but didn’t do it and he knew why God didn’t respect him at that point. And what was Cain’s life like after this, rather than repent and be the master over sin, he strayed further and further away from the covering of blessing till his life became a curse. Check well, God did not curse Cain. God informed Cain that the earth was cursing him. And in verse 15, God showed His mercy again by setting a mark on Cain to prevent him from being killed by anyone.
Now why did God show pleasure and displeasure over the “tithe” if He wasn’t expecting it, if it wasn’t His own to claim? God is not unjust to expect from you what you do not know to do. It is He who said “to whom much is given, much shall be required”.
I suspect Adam taught his boys what to do and I suspect God told Adam what to do on this matter after he was relocated outside the garden. I maintain that it was not man’s idea. The best idea that Adam came up with on his own after the fall was to cover himself with leaves. Leaves would cover him for some time and then wither and fall off making another set of leaves necessary; typical man’s idea – temporary. Leaves could not have kept him warm. But when God got involved again, God introduced fur coats or at least leather coats which would last a long time and provide warmth.
I believe God introduced the tithes and offerings as channels so that the man He made in His own image could still experience His blessing on a cursed earth. And all this took place before the Law of Moses.
Concerning the tithes, summarily, I see from the scriptures available to us, that there were three types of tithes described in the Old Testament, viz,
The regular tithes on the income (i.e. crops and livestock) which must be taken to the place of worship.
The annual tithe which the giver was to partake of alongside his family and his Levites and priests which should be taken to the place of worship so that the Levites and priests can have their share.
And the three yearly tithe which was meant for the Levites and the less privileged in their society and should be done from their various homes.
Each one commemorated various things but as we can see, the Priests and Levites were never left out of any of them. Where the confusion might arise is that the term tithe is used to describe all of them. This is because the word tithe simply means ten percent. God gave the prescribed amount or percentage of their resources to be committed to these acts of worship. You can look at it this way, God was simply saying to them, “every time you make a profit, bring ten percent of it to the church so that the ministers can be taken care of. Once in a year, bring ten percent of you annual profit so that you, your family and your ministers can celebrate the goodness of God together by feasting together. And once every three years, take another ten percent of your annual profit and give the less privileged and the ministers in your society”. They were three different types of tithes to be given and none cancelled out the other.
I think we don’t have to look far to see how the various types of tithes have been at work in our lives today. We bring our tithes and offerings to God in church, we have love feasts, or whatever you might call it in your setting, where everyone brings a portion of goods to be shared with family and friends and our Pastors which we sometimes call seeds, and we give to the less privileged in our society from time to time, whether corporately or individually. And we are thoroughly getting blessed for it. As I said before, if we put them in their right contexts, we will find that the administration of tithes makes for fairness, mercy and faith.
Still to come…Part 7, The conclusion.
For part 5, http://wp.me/p6rlMY-1M