The concept of tithing in the church today is
greatly distorted from the biblical model.
The New Testament does not directly endorse tithing,
yet this law (in a simplified adapted form) is
apparently still a part of the church today.
Today, most people fully reject laws such as the
Sabbath (Matt. 12:11-12, Luke 6:5), Holydays (Luke
2:41-42, Acts 18:21), and the sacrificial system (Acts 21:26,
Acts 24:17), yet these laws are directly cited in
the New Testament. It appears that the church today
is accepting the word of God as it pleases. If
we like a certain law we will find a way to make it
still valid, but if we do not, then we claim that it
has been nailed to the cross with Jesus.
The truth is, "man shall not live by bread
alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).
Every commandment, statute, and judgment of God is
relevant to the church today and should be
practiced, including tithing. The problem is
that we have lost the true meaning of these concepts
and have, "forgotten the law of thy God"
(Hos. 4:6). Tithing is a practice that is
beneficial to man. After all, God promises a
blessing to those that give of His tithes (Mal
is a Tithe?
This is a simple question. To answer this
question we simply need to look up the Hebrew word.
The word for tithe is, ma‛ăśêr ma‛ăśar
ma‛aśrâh, which means, "a tenth"
(Strong's Dictionary - H4643). This word is
first used in reference to Abram tithing with
Melchizedek (Gen 14:18-20). It is confirmed in
the Law of God in the book of Leviticus (Lev.
27:30). A tithe is simply giving a tenth of
your increase (what you might call income today)
to God. This was always given to a man who
represented God (a priest). This priest was
one who accomplished the work of God on earth.
The principle of tithing is a concept found early in
scripture, yet, hundreds of years later God further
clarified this concept in the Mosaic Law. When
God gave the law to Moses He gave several statutes
regarding tithing. These statutes help clarify
what God intended by the tithe. In fact,
within the Mosaic Law, you can see that there are
three tithes commanded for us to give.
Although the scripture does not call them first,
second, and third tithe, I will do so in this
article so as to provide a clear distinction between
The first tithe is the original tithe that Abram
gave to Melchizedek. To give you some
background, Melchizedek was a priest of God.
This High Priest received a tenth of
Abrams increase because He was accomplishing the
work of God on earth. To better understand
this we need to understand what the world was like
during the times of Abram/Abraham. Keep in
mind, Abraham was born around 1,948 years after
flood of Noah was around 1,656 years after creation. Abraham
lived approximately 300 years after the flood and
Noah was still alive.
Here is a chart to help better understand this
timeline. 300 years of population is not much.
The population of the world was probably only
measured by the thousands. At this time, Melchizedek walked the earth and
represented God to man. He was a priest, which
made Him a judge. He most likely judged
matters amongst men, which is why He received the
tithe. Hundreds of years later, as the
population of the earth grew, men began to forsake
the law of God. Civilizations, such as Egypt,
began practicing a law that was no longer of God.
God's way of dealing with this was to separate a
population of people and give them His law to
practice (Ex. 15:13, Lev. 20:26).
When God gave His law to Moses, instead of one
priest He created a priesthood. This
priesthood was designed to deal with matters among a
nation following God's law. However, this
priesthood also had a High Priest, which represented
Melchizedek, who was a foreshadow of the Messiah (Heb. 4:14, Heb. 6:20).
The Levitical Priesthood was a priesthood for
matters of the flesh (Heb. 7:16). It dealt
with matters pertaining to life here on earth.
The High Priesthood dealt with matters pertaining to
the Spirit, or "endless life" (Heb. 7:16).
This is why the Levitical Priesthood dealt with our
sins against each other in the Holy Place and the
High Priest dealt with our sins against God in the
Holy of Holies (Heb. 9:7-8). To judge sins
against each other was the job of the Levitical
Priesthood and the Holy Place, but to judge sins
against God was the job of the High Priest in the
Holy of Holies. We now have a permanent High
Priest at the right hand of God where we can
"come boldly unto the throne of grace" (Heb.
The first tithe is given to the Levites. Ten
percent of all increase was to be given to the
Levitical Priesthood for their work in the
Tabernacle (Num. 18:20-21). The Levites worked
in the Tabernacle to deal with the sins/crimes of
all the people. If someone had a dispute
against their brethren they would bring the matter
before the judge/priest in the Holy Place. A
judgment would be given and a fine/sacrifice might
be sentenced. For this service every Israelite
was to give ten percent of all their increase to the
Levites. The Levites are in turn to give ten
percent of their tithes to the Aaronic Priesthood
(Num. 18:26-28). In fact, we still do this
today, our state judicial system still gives ten
percent to our federal system. This first
tithe is always for the civil service of a nation.
We practice this tithe in the form of the income tax
today, although, we do not practice it correctly.
We should have a flat tax of ten percent instead of
the heavy progressive income tax we have.
The second tithe is found in the laws regarding the
holydays. We know these refer to a different
tithe because they are designed for the individual
to partake of (Deut. 14:26). The first tithe
was only for the Levites while the second tithe was
specifically for the individual offerer. The
second tithe is designed to be offered only at the
place where "LORD your God shall choose"
(Deut. 12:5, Deut. 14:22-24). Though it was
not known at the time of Moses, we now know that the
place where God chose is Jerusalem. All
Israelites were to appear before the LORD three
times in a year for each feast (Ex. 23:17, Deut.
16:16). At these feasts each Israelite was to
bring their tithes to participate in the feast.
If you had crops you were to bring of your crops, if
you had animals you were to bring of your animals,
if you worked a trade you could exchange for money
and purchase something to offer.
This second tithe is for, "whatsoever thy soul
lusteth after" (Deut. 14:26). It was a
way of making sure each Israelite could afford to
feast before the LORD. This tithe is what we
might call a savings account today. We are to
put ten percent of our increase/income aside and
this money will become available for us to spend on
whatever we like at the time of each feast. It
is first to pay for the necessary arrangements for
the feast and then to purchase whatever you like.
If one chooses, they can simply continue to use
those funds as a savings. The option to borrow
from this savings account/second tithe is available,
but a penalty of twenty percent is to be levied
(Lev. 27:31). Practicing this second tithe is
a way where the believer can pay for vacation time
(feasts) and build a savings account. It is
good financial planning.
Though this was to be given at the place where the,
"LORD your God shall choose", an exception is
given when Israel grows. God has planned for
Israel to grow beyond its borders of Jerusalem.
"When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border,
as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will
eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh;
thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth
after. If the place which the LORD thy God
hath chosen to put his name there be too far from
thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy
flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have
commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates
whatsoever thy soul lusteth after" (Deut.
12:20-21). God has allowed us to participate
in this program even when Jerusalem is too far.
In fact, this is a principle of God's Law that
allows us to participate even here in America.
The United States is an Israelite nation for our
Constitution upholds the Law of God, what we call
the Common Law today. Though Jerusalem is too
far to travel to for the feasts, we can celebrate
them here in America without a Tabernacle/Temple.
We can do so in our own homes.
The third tithe is different than the first two.
It was to be given on the third and sixth year of
the seven year cycle (Deut. 14:28, 26:12). We
know this tithe is different because it was not
given to the Levites only or for the individual
offerer. This tithe was given to the, "the
stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow"
(Deut. 14:28-29, 26:12). On the third and the
sixth year all Israelites were to give another ten
percent of their increase/income over to the
Levites, the poor, the orphans, and the strangers in
need. The third tithe is God's welfare
program. It is designed to help people in
need. We do this in America with our welfare
program. However, we do not do it correctly.
We should give to the poor from our tithes only on
the third and sixth year and it should be taxed only
ten percent during these years. This is
designed to keep people from taking advantage of
government aid and trying to live off of the system.
For it is only available during these years.
The third tithe could fulfill a large need to give
someone the support they need to get back on their
feet. The remaining years the statutes
allowing the poor to glean from your fields (Lev.
19:9-10) will be able to sustain them.
It is unfortunate today that the church has hijacked
God's tithing program. The scripture no where
endorses giving your tithes to the church.
This does not mean we should not give to a church,
especially if we receive teaching and instruction
from it. The tithe however is to be given for
the Levites (government), for the feasts (a savings
account), and for the poor and needy. Churches
today seem to believe that they are acting in the
role of the Levites which is why they are entitled
to that ten percent tithe. However, churches
today do not sit in judgement on judicial cases,
enforce laws, keep peace, etc. which the Levites
did. In fact, in Micah 3:11 it speaks
negatively of the time when the Levites were
teaching for hire.
If one wants to give to the church it should
be in the form of a freewill offering (2 Cor. 9:7,
Ex. 35:29, Ezra 3:5). We are to give as we
purpose in our own hearts. There is not a set
standard to give, but a voluntary offering we give
as we feel it is necessary. Churches that push
tithing on their members are treading in dangerous
waters. It is true that we should give to the
work of the church, but this is according to how
each member has prospered and is to be purposed in
their own hearts, not a set amount (1 Cor. 16:1-2, 2
Tithing is a commandment of the LORD. We
should practice this system today in the countries
we live in. We should have a flat tax of ten
percent that pays for the civil service. We
should each individually save ten percent of our
increase/income for participation in the feasts,
like a vacation pay. This should first be used
for the feasts of the LORD and second for our own
pleasure. Finally we should put ten percent
aside every third and sixth year as a welfare
program. This is to be given out by each
individual to an individual(s). This is the
tithing program God commanded and we would be better
off if we did so.