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The Truth About Tithing

Twelfth Edition: January 2000
Author: George Potkonyak
While traveling through your spiritual journey - and we all have to do it - you need a guardian, not to incite you or to restrain you by a set of dos and don'ts, but to protect you from those who are after your soul.

To put it bluntly, when it comes to tithing and giving, it will protect you from those who are after your wallet.

That's what this message is all about. If you don't believe that there are many in the 'Christian' community who are after your wallet, you need not read any further - you'll be wasting your time.


(Part One is for the busy readers; it is about ten percent of the whole text. Part Two is a rather long detailed study.)


Many reports from around the world testify of an incredible bondage to the new form of indulgences, which we call tithing. It is not only the people in the pew that are bound, but very much so many preachers themselves who 'believe in tithing'. They have created an idol, a 'golden calf', before which they lay prostrate in worship. That idol appears to be the sole purpose for the existence of many 'Christian Fellowships' or 'Ministries'. Remove the idol, and they have nobody or nothing to worship.
Many of those who are supposed to teach you the truth, spare no effort in searching the Scripture to find the backing for their new 'commandment': "Thou shalt tithe of thy substance to thy church." They will tell you that if you 'tithe' you will be blessed, if you don't you will be cursed. They fail to tell you what the tithing according to God's commandment is. Instead, they give you their own definition of tithing and then quote to you scriptures that cannot apply to you by any stretch of imagination, in order to compel you to giving to their church or ministry.

They will quote to you Malachi chapter three, which has absolutely nothing to do with you. If a parallel can be drawn at all between the Old Testament God's people and us today, then the message of Malachi is for the preachers rather than for the 'ordinary' believers. Those preachers who 'believe in tithing' are the ones who rob God in tithes and offerings.
I will also show you that the 'Abraham's tithing principle' has nothing to do with you giving one tenth of your income to your church.

Abraham hasn't given 'one dime' of his possessions or income to anybody.
You may also be surprised that the most commonly quoted New Testament scriptures from 2Corinthians chapters eight and nine, in connection with giving to your church, has actually nothing to do with it.

Those scriptures are about giving to the fellow believers in times of need.


It is important to understand the fundamental deception about tithing: it is not what it is presented to be. It will be clear from the following few verses, which you most probably never heard your preacher mention.


Deuteronomy 14:22-23 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[22] You shall truly tithe all the increase... year by year.
[23] And YOU SHALL EAT before the Lord your God... the TITHE of your grain and your new wine... that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.

(See also Deuteronomy 12:5-7; 12:10-12; 12:17-19)

Deuteronomy 14:24-26 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[24] But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the TITHE...
[25] then you shall exchange it for money...
[26] And YOU SHALL SPEND THAT MONEY for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; YOU SHALL EAT there before the Lord your God and you shall rejoice, YOU AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD.

The above scriptures are COMMANDMENTS OF GOD concerning tithing.

The Israelites were supposed to take their tithes to the appointed place of worship and EAT THEM there before the Lord, rejoicing, TOGETHER with their families, their servants and their local Levites. 
In other words, God has commanded them to come into His presence from time to time and to have some fun!
One thing is important to remember: the Israelites WERE NOT REQUIRED TO LEAVE ANY PORTION OF THEIR TITHES at the appointed place of worship - the tithes were supposed to be consumed in an atmosphere of celebration, sharing and communion with God. This applied to the first two years of each three year cycle.


Deuteronomy 14:27-29 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[27] You shall not forsake the Levite...
[28] At the end of EVERY THIRD YEAR you shall bring the TITHE of your produce of THAT YEAR and store it up WITHIN YOUR GATES.
[29] And the LEVITE... and the FATHERLESS and the WIDOW... may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may BLESS YOU in all the work of your hand which you do.

Deuteronomy 26:12 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[12] When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase IN THE THIRD YEAR - THE YEAR OF TITHING - and have given it to the LEVITE, the STRANGER, the FATHERLESS and the WIDOW, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled...

God has not forgotten those whom He has called into His ministry. He has allocated to them a sufficient portion: on average about ONE THIRD OF TEN PERCENT of an ordinary Israelite's income.

The Israelites were to store one tenth of their income of every THIRD year "within your gates", instead of spending it on their family feasts. This storehouse (which was to be administered by the Levites) was where the tithes were stored to be used to provide not only for the Levites, but also for the poor and the strangers in the land of Israel.


Israelites were to use their tithes of the first and second year (of each three year cycle) for family feasts at the appointed place (Tabernacle or Temple).

They were to forsake these family feasts the third year of the three year cycle, and instead leave their tithes (at the storehouses) within their tribal land, from where the Levites and the poor would take the portion to meet their needs.


There are many preachers, ministries and churches that teach that the law of tithing is applicable to the believers today, trying to say that by that law believers are required to give one tenth (ten percent) of their income to the church. If they 'believe in tithing' then there is only one law of tithing, and that is the one presented by God's commandments in the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. There is no New Testament law of tithing, neither is there any other. So, if these preachers 'believe in tithing' this is what they should teach believers to do:

Spend ten percent of their monthly income of the two consecutive months on a feast, a holiday or some other fun with their families, or deposit it into an account for that purpose.

Give ten percent of their income of the third month to their church (ministry), for the support of those who are called to minister to the believers and those who are in need.

Keep repeating the three month cycle as described above.

Insist that the tithes are used for the support of all those who minister in the church and that a portion is used for the support of the poor.

Teach that those who are on social benefits should not tithe, and that they are actually entitled to the assistance from the churches that collect tithes, if in need.


There are numerous verses that I could quote in order to convey the message of the New Testament, however I have chosen the words of Jesus and the words of the apostle Paul to Romans, the Romans being Gentile converts as most of us are.

Matthew 22:37-40 (Jesus answering a question on commandments)

[37] "...You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind."
[38] This is the first and great commandment.
[39] And the second is like it: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
[40] On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.

Romans 13:8-10

[8] Owe no one anything except to love one another, for he who loves another has fulfilled the law.
[9] For the commandments, "You shall not commit adultery." "You shall not murder." "You shall not steal." "You shall not bear false witness." "You shall not covet." And if there is any other commandment, are all summed up in this saying, namely, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
[10] Love does no harm to a neighbor: therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

"And if there is any other commandment..." includes the commandment on tithing, or any giving for that matter, and all of them are summed up in, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself."
If I could teach love, I would begin with myself, however neither I, nor any other human can teach that. It is only God who can pour His love into us through His Holy Spirit, and when He does it there is no law against it.
In other words, once you attain the level of maturity in your Christian walk, where love for God and love for others are your governing commandments, you do not need anyone to teach you when, to whom and how much to give. It is between God and you alone.

While traveling through your spiritual journey - and we all have to do it - you need a guardian, not to incite you or to restrain you by a set of dos and don'ts, but to protect you from those who are after your soul. To put it bluntly, when it comes to tithing and giving, it will protect you from those who are after your wallet.
I have shown you briefly, and will show you in more detail from the Scripture, the way God provided for the Levites, the tribe that He chose to minister to His people, the Israelites. If you wish, and many teach that it is appropriate, a parallel can be drawn between the Levites of the Old Testament and the preachers of the gospel today, and the Israelites then and the believers today. So I suppose, what was good and equitable for them then, should be good and equitable for us today.
This is the end of the summary section. For more details on the above scriptures, plus many more, please read the detailed study in Part Two.The exposition of scriptures about Abraham's tithe, Malachi's prophecy and the 2Corinthians chapters eight and nine are of special importance. They will expose some rather gross misrepresentations of the messages of these scriptures.



1. Introduction
2. The Letter of the Law
3. Some Historical Records
4. Malachi
5. Setting the Captives Free
6. Abraham, Melchizedek and Jacob
7. The Early Church
8. The Contemporary Church
9. Giving to the Poor
10. Church Expenses
11. Church Building
12. The Money Changers


[Note: Some Scripture quotes are abbreviated to save space, and are taken from the NKJ version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson Inc. Emphases in CAPITALS are mine.]
I will not say much by the way of introduction to this twelfth edition, except that some four years after the early editions appeared on the net, I have not received a single serious argument to what I have written. Actually I have received an overwhelming support from a large number of people. It is not to say that everything I wrote is a perfect truth, but I can assure you that it is as honest as I could make it.
I would also like to inform the readers that now I speak with an added authority, since I have been officially 'ordained' a Heretic by my ex church - The Potters House - on the account of my teaching on tithing. To me, this is a great honor, since it comes from the Potters House: it shows me that I am on the right track. [This Potters House is not to be confused with any other church by that name. This particular one is often known as The Door or Victory Chapel, and is ruled by its founder, Wayman Mitchell, from the headquarters in Prescott, Arizona.]
In order to clarify the points that I made in the Part One of the study, I will go into a great detail in the following pages, so that no stone is left unturned, lest the full truth be hidden from us. I will also attempt to answer many questions asked by the readers of the earlier editions. So, help me God!
[Back to Top]    [Back to Part Two Contents]


Before I proceed with the exposition of the scriptures dealing with tithing I'd like to give this grim reminder to those who teach us the Law of Moses.

Deuteronomy 12:32

[32] Whatever I command you, be careful to observe it: YOU SHALL NOT ADD TO IT NOR TAKE AWAY FROM IT.

That is the essence of the Law: Teach it and do it EXACTLY as commanded, or else...

Deuteronomy 27:26

[26] Cursed is the one who does not confirm ALL THE WORDS of this law... [Also Deu. 28:58-68]

The verse below is quite interesting when it comes to commandments on tithing, as we will see later on, and anyone who collects tithes and does not give of them to the needy should be aware of it.

Deuteronomy 27:19

[19] Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. [Refer Deu. 14:27-29 and Deu. 26:12-14]


Deuteronomy 12:5-7 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[5] But you shall seek the place where the Lord your God chooses, out of all your tribes...
[6] There you shall take... your tithes ... 
[7] And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.

Deuteronomy 12:10-12 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[10] But when you cross over the Jordan and dwell in the land...
[11] then there will be the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring... your tithes...
[12] And you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you.

Deuteronomy 12:17-19 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[17] You may not eat within your gates the TITHE of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock...
[18] But YOU MUST EAT THEM before the Lord your God... you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God...
[19] Take heed to yourself that you do not forsake the Levite...

Deuteronomy 14:22-23 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[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.

Deuteronomy 14:24-26 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[24] But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the TITHE...
[25] Then you shall exchange it for money...
[26] And YOU SHALL SPEND THAT MONEY for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; YOU SHALL EAT there before the Lord your God and you shall rejoice, YOU AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD.

The above quotes are COMMANDMENTS OF GOD concerning tithing: He instructed the Israelites to EAT THEIR TITHES, rejoicing before the Lord (at the appointed place; Deu.12:5). We have to bear in mind that these commandments were given to Moses, to pass them on to the Israelites, while they were still in the wilderness, and they were to be observed after the Israelites crossed the River Jordan and possessed the Promised Land (Ref. Deu.12:5-9).
The Israelites were supposed to take their tithes to the appointed place and EAT THEM there before the Lord, rejoicing, TOGETHER with their families, their servants and their local Levites. In other words, God has commanded them to come into His presence from time to time and at the occasion have some fun!

One thing is important to remember: the Israelites WERE NOT REQUIRED TO LEAVE ANY PORTION OF TITHES at the appointed place of worship - all tithes were supposed to be consumed in an atmosphere of celebration, sharing and communion with God.
I have read some Bible commentaries expressing the view that the above commandments should not be taken literally. The reason these commentaries cite, is that it would be too much for any Israelite family to consume such an amount of food. They then proceed to conclude that the commandment must have meant that the Israelites consume only a token portion of the tithe, and give the rest to the Levites and/or the priests. As we will see later on, when talking about the numbers of people in various tribes, we will see that it would be absolutely ridiculous for the Levites, and even more so for the priests to consume all that food.
The truth is that the Israelite living off the land could not produce much more food than it was required for their families and their servants to survive from one crop to the next. There was not that much surplus. Even if we assume that they would produce enough food yearly to last them, say 450 days rather than only 365, one tenth of that would need some 45 days of normal eating to consume all tithes. Tithing ceremony was a time of great feast, where not only the Israelite and his family would participate, but also his servants with their families, and the local Levites with their families. Therefore it would be quite reasonable to assume that all the tithes could be consumed in about 10 to 15 days of feasting each year - a mere two weeks!
This leaves us with another question: where would the Levites get their food for the remaining 350 to 355 days of the year, since they were not supposed to get any farming land as their inheritance?
The answer is in the following commandment.

Deuteronomy 14:27-29 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[27] You shall not forsake the Levite...
[28] At the end of EVERY THIRD YEAR you shall bring the TITHE of your produce of THAT YEAR and store it up WITHIN YOUR GATES.
[29] And the LEVITE... and the FATHERLESS and the WIDOW... may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.

The portion for the Levites is one tenth (ten percent) of all Israelites' produce of EVERY THIRD YEAR. And this tithe, that is given to the Levites, is not to be taken to the appointed place of worship but rather stored up "within your gates" - into storehouses within each tribal land.
The Levites were to be given cities within each tribal land ("within your gates" - forty eight cities in total) in which they were to live with their families and apart from houses they were given the "pastureland" surrounding those cities (Ref. Numbers 35 and Joshua 14). This pastureland was for the upkeep of the Levites' livestock that they possessed. Quite possibly this pastureland was a part of the storehouses in which the tithes were deposited. Some tithes were in the form of grain, seed, wine, oil and other farm produce, and some could have been live domestic animals, even though they were not explicitly mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:27-29. If these animals were received as a part of the tithe, they would remain on the pastureland until they were taken and killed for food for the Levites themselves, or for those in need.
God mentions the third year - "the year of tithing" again.

Deuteronomy 26:12-14 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[12] When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase IN THE THIRD YEAR - THE YEAR OF TITHING - and have given it to the LEVITE, the STRANGER, the FATHERLESS and the WIDOW, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled.
[13] Then you shall say before the Lord your God: 'I have removed the holy tithes from my house, and have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, ACCORDING TO ALL YOUR COMMANDMENTS which You have commanded me...
[14] I have not eaten any when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use... I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done ACCORDING TO ALL THAT YOU HAVE COMMANDED ME.

The Israelites were commanded that at the end of giving away their tithes of every third year they declare that they have done all according to the commandments, and have not taken of the tithes for any other purpose than for the one commanded by God.


Leviticus 27:30-33 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[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. IT IS HOLY TO THE LORD.
[31] If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one fifth to it.
[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.
[33] He shall not inquire whether it is GOOD OR BAD, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.

A very important point to remember: the tithes were HOLY TO THE LORD! It simply means that they were to be used STRICTLY according to God's instructions, and not for any other purpose, no matter how 'godly' that purpose may appear. 
Now, we should put Deuteronomy 12:32, 27:19 and 27:26 into perspective. Another point worth remembering is the fact that the tithe of the flock and herd was SELECTED AT RANDOM, "whether it is good or bad".
The actual method of selection is also quite important and worth remembering, as I will refer to it later on. Every tenth one that passes under the rod is to be taken as a part of the tithe. From the above Scripture it is not clear how individual heads of flock and herd were to be selected from among which the tithe is to be separated by counting every tenth one that passes under the rod. However, Deuteronomy 12:17 refers to "the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, OF THE FIRSTBORN OF YOUR HERD OR YOUR FLOCK". The tithes were to be taken from all the agricultural crop of that particular year, probably by taking out a tenth portion at random. It is not clear if the tithes were to be taken from the gross harvest of the grain, or after the seed for the following season is taken out. Either way, the difference would be insignificant, since the seeds of grain return thirty, sixty or hundredfold. The tithes of the herd and flock were to be taken from all the firstborn in that year, by selecting every tenth one as it passes under the rod. This may not be exactly one tenth of the Israelite's income from the flock and herd, but rather an approximation: one out of ten firstlings of that year. A firstling is the first youngster (born in that year) that its mother has ever born, rather than every young animal born in that year.


There are three particular sets of verses in the book of Numbers that are directly or indirectly relevant to the overall understanding of the Old Testament concept of tithing.

Numbers 18:21 (God speaking to Aaron)

[21] Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.

God is informing Aaron here, that He has given to the Levites "all the tithes in Israel". God is not commanding here anything to anybody, that is, He is not requesting anyone to take any action. God's way of giving commandments was through Moses. All God is saying here is that He has made a decision about something that will surely take place. What is it? The Levites would be receiving the tithes from the Israelites as their inheritance for the work they were to perform in the place of worship. How much were they to receive? At the first glance it appears every bit of the Israelites' tithes.
However, the word "all" in the phrase "all the tithes" is a Hebrew word that sounds like "kol" [Strong Ref. 3605], which is used elsewhere in the Old Testament and most often but not always interpreted as "all". One of the meanings of the word is "(in) all (manner)". So, our text in Num.18:21 may mean that the Levites were to receive a portion of all manner of tithes. The meaning of this being, every kind of tithe: of the fruits of the tree, of the crop of the land and of the increase of the flock and herd, as mentioned earlier in Leviticus 27:30-33.

This definitely does not contradict the commandments quoted from Deuteronomy chapters 12, 14 and 26, for if all the tithes indeed were to be given to the Levites, the commandments from these chapters would be null and void, for they stipulate that the tithes of the two years out of three be spent by the Israelites on their feasts. Also, if we examine EVERY commandment concerning tithing, we will not find a single one that instructs Israelites to give one tenth of their produce of every year to the Levites.

Numbers 18:24 (God speaking to Aaron)

[24] For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, 'Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.'

The text refers to the tithes "which they [Israelites] offer up as a heave offering", that is to those tithes which are lifted up [Strong's Ref. 8641] out of all the tithes - the tithes of every third year, as we have concluded from Deuteronomy chapters 14 and 26.
Now, God continues with giving commandments to Moses to pass them onto Levites.

Numbers 18:25-28 (God's commandments to Levites)

[25] Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
[26] "Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: 'When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering of it to the Lord, a tenth of the tithe.
[27] And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress.
[28] Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the Lord from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord's heave offering from it to Aaron the priest'..."

Here God gives instructions to the Levites, through Moses, of what to do with the tithes that they receive from the children of Israel. They should treat the tithes that they receive as if it were their income of the land, "... as though it were the grain of the threshing floor..."
Levites were instructed to give the tithe out of their tithes - a heave offering to Aaron the priest. It is not clear from the above commandments how the Levites were to deliver their tithes to the priest or where the tithes would be stored. It also appears that the tithes were to be used for the support of the priests and their families. Let it suffice to say that the tithes that the Levites give out of their tithes were to be used not only for the support of the priests but also for the support of all the Levites who served in the place of worship. The proof will be presented later on. It is also most likely that these tithes were to be stored at or near the place of worship, for that's the location where those serving in it lived.
Another point worth mentioning is that the priests would be receiving some tithes from the Levites every year, since the Levites would be receiving them from some Israelites every year. A young Israelite who marries and leaves his mother and father, would use the first two years' tithes for his family celebration, and give the tithes of the third year to the Levites. There would be a number of them every year that are starting their independent lives, therefore the three year tithing cycle will differ from family to family.
One may also wonder what will happen when the third year of the tithing cycle for an Israelite happens to be the Sabbath year. It makes no difference: the flock and herd do not observe the Sabbath year law, therefore, there will be firstlings from among which the Israelite will select his tithes. Also, even though the Israelites do not plant and sow in the Sabbath year, they do harvest what grows of itself. If it is OK that the Sabbath year affects the Israelites' income, it must be OK that it affects the Levites' and the priests' income.
God continues with His commandments to the Levites by speaking to Moses:

Numbers 18:29-32 (God's commandments to Levites)

[29] Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave offering due to the Lord, from all the best of them, the consecrated part of them.
[30] Therefore you shall say to them, "When you have lifted up the best of it, then the rest shall be accounted to the Levites as the produce of the threshing floor and as the produce of the winepress;
[31] You may eat it in any place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your work in the tabernacle of meeting.
[32] And you shall bear no sin because of it, when you have lifted up the best of it. But you shall not profane the holy gifts of the children of Israel, lest you die".

There is a difference between the tithe of the Israelites, that is selected at random (whether it is good or bad) and the tithe (heave offering) of the Levites, which has to be the best portion. Why was it that the Levites had to give the best portion of the tithes (and gifts) they receive, as their heave offering? The reason is that these tithes and gifts that they were to receive from the Israelites have become holy and dedicated to the Lord (all the tithes are holy: Leviticus 27). So anyone who wants to use them must give the best portion to God (in this case through the priest), lest he dies. (Ref. Leviticus 22)
It is interesting to note that the above verses (Numbers 18:29-32) are seldom if ever mentioned by the modern day preachers who 'believe in tithing'. I wonder why...
Another few passages from the book of Numbers are quite interesting even though they do not deal directly with tithing.

Numbers 1:44-47

[44] These are the ones who were numbered, whom Moses and Aaron numbered, with the leaders of Israel, twelve men, each one representing his father's house.
[45] So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers' houses from twenty years old and above,
[46] all who were able to go to war in Israel - all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty.
[47] But the Levites were not numbered among them by their fathers' tribe.

Numbers 3:39

[39] All who were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses and Aaron numbered at the commandment of the Lord, by their families, all the males from a month old and above, were twenty two thousand.

Numbers 4:46-48

[46] All who were numbered of the Levites, whom Moses, Aaron and the leaders of Israel numbered, by their families and by their fathers' houses,
[47] from thirty years old and above, even to fifty years old, everyone who came to do the work of service and the work of bearing burdens in the tabernacle of meeting
[48] those who were numbered were eight thousand five hundred and eighty.

If a graph is drawn showing the age distribution of the Levites' population based on the above census, we can conclude that there where somewhere between 18,000 and 19,000 Levite males in the age group 20 years and older. This allows us to compare this Levites' age group to the equivalent age group of the Israelites' males (603,550 as per census above), giving us a ratio of about 32 Israelites to each Levite. The figure will be used later, to prove some of the conclusions about the tithe of every third year.


There is a teaching that claims that God instituted three tithes:

Ten percent every year for the Israelites themselves,
Ten percent every third year for the Levites and/or the poor,
Full ten percent every year for the Levites.
There is NO SUCH COMMANDMENT in the Bible that instructs the Israelites to give away ten percent of their income of every year to the Levites.


Proof No. 1

Here is, so to speak, mathematical proof: from the census of Israelites and Levites reviewed earlier, we concluded that there were approximately 32 Israelites to one Levite. Now, assume 32 Israelites with an 'increase' of 100 sheep a year each. If each Israelite would give his tithe of 10 sheep to the Levite, the Levite's total income would be 320 sheep in that year. The Levite would have to give 32 sheep to the priests as his tithe for that year, as per Numbers 18:26. Each Israelite would then be left with 90 sheep out of his increase, while each Levite would end up with 288 sheep (320 minus 32). And this is in the years one and two of the three year cycle. In the third year - the year of tithing - according to this false interpretation, the Israelites would have to give one additional tithe, ending up with 80 sheep only, while each Levite would end up with twice 288, that is 576 sheep in that year. So, in a three year cycle an Israelite would be left with about 260 sheep while a Levite would end up with about 1,152 sheep - about four times as many!
What would the Levite do with all these surplus sheep? If he would use the whole lot to feed his family, the tribe of Levy would diminish in a few generations: they would be dying (from overeating) at a much higher rate than the Israelites.
The second possibility would be that there were so many poor people and strangers in Israel, who would consume most of tithes. In that case, those who teach this 'doctrine' should teach that the churches collecting tithes in this way should give most of the collections to the poor - actually, about seventy-five percent of the total collection.
The third possibility could be that the Levite would consume about 90 sheep a year (as an ordinary Israelite would), give some to the poor, and be left with a healthy surplus. This surplus sheep would breed and very soon the Levites would have income of their own. By continuing with collection of tithes they would very soon run out of the pastureland and would be forced to exchange some flock for land. Continuing with this practice for forty-nine years would probably result in Levites owning most of the land in Israel! And then the Jubilee year would come and they would have to return the land to their original owners - back to square one! This would not make sense either.
And, of course, there is a fourth possibility: the Levites would consume as much of the tithes as they needed, give some to the poor and the strangers, and sell the rest, get the money into their hands and go and proselyte (evangelize) the world - a real possibility. However, the Word of God makes no mention of it, nor is there any scriptural or historical record of this taking place. The conclusion is obvious: tithes were not supposed to be used to proselyte (evangelize) the world.
Now imagine, as I concluded from the Scripture, that the Israelites give ten percent of their income to the Levites every third year only. Thirty-two Israelites with an annual increase of 100 sheep each would have 300 sheep of increase each over a three year period. Each one would give 10 sheep (a tithe of the third year) to the Levite, and be left with 290 sheep (for three years) as his increase. The Levite would receive 320 sheep, of which he would have to give his tithe of 32 sheep to the priests. Then he would be left with 288 sheep as his after-tithe income over three years - nearly an EXACT number with which each Israelite would be left. THIS does make sense - it is the principle of equality!
One may conclude that the Levite would be left with less than the above figures suggest, because he is to allow the strangers and the poor to partake of the tithes. We must remember that the other two years, while the Israelites were using their tithes for the celebration, they were to invite their local Levites to the feasts, thus the Levites could make up for the shortfall.
Now, if we review the above figures, we can draw some conclusions that were not clear from the commandments on Levites' tithes. As we concluded from the assumptions made above, an average family (Israelite's or Levite's) would be left with about 290 sheep as an 'increase' over a period of three years, Levites having to give 32 sheep to the priest. Now, if we say that there were about 18,000 to 19,000 Levite males twenty years or older, that is, about the same number of the Levites' families, they would be able to support about 1,800 to 1,900 (TEN PERCENT OF THEIR OWN NUMBER) other families from their tithes, rather than a handful of priests only. The commandment to the Levites in Numbers 18:28 to give their tithes to Aaron the priest, was meant that the Levites were to give their tithes to the priests for their own use and for the distribution to all those Levites who serve in the place of worship.
This conclusion is quite significant and will be referred to when examining the word of God given to the prophet Malachi.

Proof No. 2

Let's (falsely) assume again that there were really three tithes. When we look back to Leviticus 27:30-33 we will find that the tithe from the flock and herd was selected by counting every tenth animal that passes under the rod. Assume that an Israelite had one hundred head of sheep as his increase. If he is to select the 'first' tithe, according to God's commandment he will count every tenth one that passes under the rod, take ten of them aside, and be left with ninety animals only. Now, how is he going to select the 'second' tithe? If he obeys God's commandment on the method of selection, and again selects every tenth one that passes under the rod, he will select only nine animals, and this is not one tenth of his increase (one tenth is ten), therefore it is not a tithe. It is even worse with the so-called 'third' tithe: he will take only eight animals. So, if the Israelite was to take more than one tithe from his flock or herd, he would default either on the commandment on the selection of the tithe or on the very amount: the tithe would no longer be one tenth, therefore not a tithe at all. And mind you, the tithes were holy, therefore had to be handled EXACTLY as commanded by God!

Proof No. 3

Deu.14:29 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[29] And the Levite, and the fatherless and the widow... may come and eat and be SATISFIED...

Deu.26:12 (God's commandment to the Israelites)

[12] When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in THE THIRD YEAR - the year of tithing - and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates AND BE FILLED...

It is quite clear from the above scriptures that the tithe of the third year - the year of tithing - was quite sufficient to FULLY provide for the Levites AND the poor AND the stranger. No need for another tithe.

In conclusion: there is no such thing as the 'second' or the 'third' tithe - period. There is only one tithe - ten percent of the Israelite's income - that he spends on feasting, fellowship and celebration, in the presence of the Lord, two years out of three. He gives it to the Levites, the poor and the stranger every third year.


So far I have presented, so to speak, the letter of the Law concerning tithing. As we can see, God has instituted tithing not as a burden to His people but rather as a blessing: "...that it may go well with you and your children after you forever..." [Deu.12:28]; "...that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always..." [Deu.14:23]; "...that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do." [Deu.14:29]. However, there is one condition: that they do it according to His commandments, not according to some other definition.
Apart from the above promises of God to those who obey His commandments, what else can we see in the ordinances concerning tithing? What is the spirit of the Law of tithing?
First of all it is obedience to God's commandments: there is no need to elaborate on this any further; we all know what a blessing it is to be obedient to God. The second important point is that through tithing Israelites expressed their thankfulness to God who provided for them all those earthly goods that they needed to sustain their lives. Tithe was a token of that appreciation.
The third and an important point is that tithing was an act of sharing. This sharing was demonstrated at two levels. Firstly, sharing between the Israelites who received their inheritance from God (the life sustaining land) and those who did not posses such inheritance: the Levites, the strangers and the poor. If we examine the figures, the number of Israelites versus the number of Levites and the percentage that the Israelites were to give to the Levites (one third of ten percent) we will find that each would end up with an equal share. This is the principle that was observed in the distribution of manna: one who gathered much had nothing left over, and the one who gathered little had no lack.
The second level of sharing was the community sharing, where people would come together with their families, neighbors and the local Levites, and share in the atmosphere of joy and celebration before the Lord.
Also, a very important point is that through the institution of tithing, God provided an opportunity for people to come into His presence and celebrate, expressing their appreciation of His goodness and His provision towards them.
It is worth observing that tithing was not an act of 'building the kingdom' or 'saving the souls' or supporting some other 'godly' project.
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At this point it would be worth looking at a couple of instances in the history of Israel where tithing practice was mentioned in the Scripture.


2Chronicles 31:4-5

[4] Moreover he [king Hezekiah] commanded the people who dwelt in Jerusalem to contribute support for the priests and the Levites, that they might devote themselves to the Law of the Lord.
[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.

The people of Jerusalem responded to Hezekiah's decree and contributed liberally, also bringing in their tithes. It appears that by this time in the history of Israel many of the ordinances originally handed down by Moses were abandoned. There were no priests or Levites in the Temple since Hezekiah's father, king Ahaz closed the doors of the Temple. Tithes were no longer being collected. It is not clear how the Levites and the priests lived: they probably had to work for their living.
As Hezekiah reopened the Temple doors, he also restored support to those serving in the Temple. However, it does not appear that he restored the original two-tier system of tithing. By the two-tier system, as commanded by Moses, people would give tithes (of every third year) to those Levites that are not serving in the Temple. In turn these Levites would give the tenth of their tithes to the priests for their support and the support of those Levites who served in the Temple. This system appears to be abandoned only shortly before Hezekiah became the king of Judah. Some sixty or seventy years earlier the tithes of the third year (tithes to the Levites) were being practiced even by the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Samaria), as written by prophet Amos (who lived in the days of Uzziah, king of Judah).

Amos 4:4

[4] Come to Bethel and transgress, at Gilgal multiply transgression; Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days [years].

Instead of asking for the two-tier tithes, Hezekiah asked all residents of Jerusalem to give their contribution directly to the priests and those Levites serving in the Temple. It is interesting to note that the above scriptures mention only tithes of the produce of the field, and do not specifically mention the tithes of the flock and herd.

2Chronicles 31:6-7

[6] And the children of Israel and Judah, who dwelt in the cities of Judah, brought the tithe of oxen and sheep; also the tithe of holy things which were consecrated to the Lord their God they laid in heaps.
[7] In the third month they began laying them in heaps, and they finished in the seventh month.

Residents of other cities of Judah followed the example of the people of Jerusalem, and also brought in their support, including their tithes. The "tithe of oxen and sheep" is mentioned here, but it is not clear if the animals were brought in alive, or smoked or in some other way preserved meat was "laid in heaps". This influx of support went on for four or five months. And the chief priest Azariah reported to the king Hezekiah:

2Chronicles 31:10-12

[10] "...Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the Lord, we have had enough to eat and have plenty left, for the Lord has blessed His people; and what is left is this great abundance."
[11] Now Hezekiah commanded them to prepare rooms in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them.
[12] And they faithfully brought in the offerings, the tithes, and the dedicated things...

The decree of Hezekiah and the response of the people of Israel represented an emergency measure to provide immediate support for those priests and Levites who have just been dedicated to the newly restored Temple service. It was not strictly a restoration of the law of tithing as commanded by Moses, however it provided for those who were called to minister to the people of God.


As most of you readers know, the teaching on tithing by the modern day preachers is inseparable from the message of Malachi. In order to understand the most often quoted passage from Malachi chapter three, we must understand the time in which Malachi lived when he delivered God's message. From the books of Ezra and Nehemiah we will be able to glean some information that will shed light on Malachi's message. Therefore it is important to pay attention to this section of the study.
The book of Ezra begins with the description of the events that lead to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem. It began with the decree of the Persian King Cyrus that caused some 50,000 Jews (mainly from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin) to return to Judea under the leadership of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel became the Governor and Jeshua was the High Priest. Almost immediately upon their return they began the preparation for the building of the Temple, and soon the foundations were laid. No sooner had the work begun, when some of the local people began to oppose it, eventually persuading king Artaxerxes (I) (who succeeded king Ahasuerus, who succeeded Cyrus) to command the Jews to stop all the work on the Temple.
At this time the prophets Haggai and Zechariah came to the scene, and amidst their ministry to the people of Israel, Zerubbabel and the rest of the returnees eventually resumed the building of the Temple. This happened in the second year of the reign of king Darius, who approved the resumption of the building work. The rebuilding of the Temple was completed in the sixth year of the reign of king Darius: forty six years after its foundations were laid (Ref. John 2:20).
A number of Levites and those of the priestly families returned with Zerubbabel, and many from among those who could prove their genealogy were ordained for various Levitical or priestly duties, as commanded by Moses. However, it does not appear that by this time the law of tithing was restored. Also, there was no mention of the prophet Malachi at this time. Only Haggai and Zechariah were mentioned. It appears that Malachi came to the scene after Zerubbabel, and most probably towards the end of Ezra's and Nehemiah's lives.
King Artaxerxes (II) succeeded king Darius, and in the seventh year of his reign Ezra the priest, who was a "ready scribe in the law of Moses" returned to Jerusalem together with some 2,000 other Jews, including many priests and Levites. Ezra was ready to restore the whole Law of Moses and to teach the people of Israel to live by that law. Ezra's task was made easier by king Artaxerxes' decree that all those who refuse to observe the law should be executed or banished. This is the state that Israel probably was in in the early years of the period in which the prophet Malachi ministered - a state of 'revival by decree'.
Some thirteen years after Ezra's arrival another zealous Jew returned to Jerusalem in order to rebuild the walls of that city. His name was Nehemiah. He came in the twentieth year of the reign of king Artaxerxes (II) and became a governor of the province 'beyond Euphrates'. He was more than the restorer of the walls of Jerusalem: he and his followers renewed the covenant with the Lord to restore all the ordinances as they were written in the law, including the law of tithing. Nehemiah chapter ten describes the restoration of various offerings for the support of those serving in the Temple, and then continues with the restoration of tithing.

Nehemiah 10:37-39

[37] ...and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities.
[38] And the priests, the descendants of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse,
[39] For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering... to the storerooms where the articles of the sanctuary are... and we will not neglect the house of our God.

It is quite clear that Nehemiah restored the two-tier system of tithing as commanded in the book of Deuteronomy: Israelites give tithes to the Levites, and the Levites give tithes of their tithes for the support of those who serve in the Temple. There is no specific mention here by Nehemiah that the Israelites would give the tithes of the third year only, but it does say that the restoration of all of these offerings was "as it is written in the Law" (vs. 36).
It is interesting to note that when the Levites were receiving the tithes from the Israelites the priests were to be present to witness the event, and to supervise their portion (the tithe of the tithe) being taken to the storerooms in the Temple. Was this for the reason that the Levites were not trusted to deal honestly? It is quite possible, because there is no mention in the commandments on tithing (in Deuteronomy) that the priests should supervise Levites when they were receiving their tithes. This also opened the way for dishonest dealing with tithes: instead of allowing the Levites to bring the tithes of the tithes to the Temple, or making a deal with the Levites, the priests could have taken them over from the Levites before they reach the Temple. These tithes were supposed to go for the support of not only priests, but also of all the Levites who were in the Temple service (refer Nehemiah 12:47). Having control of the tithes enabled the priests to distribute them as they wished, and perhaps take for themselves more than they should, at the expense of the rest of those who served in the Temple.
Here is an interesting event that took place while Nehemiah was absent from Jerusalem on a short visit to king Artaxerxes (II).

Nehemiah 13:4-13

[4] Now before this, Eliashib the priest, having authority over the storerooms of the house of our God, was allied with Tobiah.
[5] And he had prepared for him a large room, where previously they had stored the grain offerings, the frankincense, the articles, the TITHES of grain, the new wine and oil, WHICH WERE COMMANDED TO BE GIVEN TO THE LEVITES [who served in the Temple], AND SINGERS AND GATEKEEPERS, AND THE OFFERINGS OF THE PRIESTS.
[6] But during all this time I was not in Jerusalem for in the thirty-second year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had returned to the king. Then after certain days I obtained leave from the king,
[7] and I came to Jerusalem...
[8] ...I threw all the household goods of Tobiah out of the room...
[9] Then I commanded them to cleanse the rooms...
[11] So I contended with the [spiritual] rulers... and set them in their place.
[12] Then all Judah brought the tithe of the grain and the new wine and the oil to the storehouse.
[13] And I appointed as treasurers over the storehouse... and THEIR TASK WAS TO DISTRIBUTE TO THEIR BRETHREN... [to ALL those serving in the Temple].

What happened in the above incident? The priest who was appointed to take care of the Temple storehouse and the distribution of tithes and offerings to those who ministered in the Temple, has dealt treacherously. Looks like he has claimed all the goods from the storehouse for himself (and perhaps for his 'buddies'), and turned the rooms to his friend Tobiah. He neglected those who were supposed to be looked after with the goods that were kept in the storehouse, so that they had to leave their duties in the Temple and return to their 'secular' jobs. When Nehemiah returned and "set them in their place", who was to come to rescue with tithes and offerings? The people of Judah, the 'ordinary' Israelites. Judging by the proximity of the above passage to the end of the book of Nehemiah, it is quite likely that Nehemiah didn't live much longer. It is also quite likely that the priests returned to their wicked ways, as soon as Nehemiah departed to be with the Lord.
Such was the state of the Israel's spiritual leadership at the time of the life and ministry of the prophet Malachi. Now, with this understanding, it is appropriate to have a closer look at the message of the book of Malachi.
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Here is the favorite book of so many preachers that 'believe in tithing'. Dear reader, I hope that by the end of this section you will be able to understand the meaning of Malachi's message. When the next time your preacher pulls Malachi chapter three at you, you will be able to chuck it straight back into his face. Let's see what and to whom the message of Malachi is.

Malachi 1:1-2

[1] The burden of the word of the Lord to Israel by Malachi.
[2] "I have loved you", says the Lord. "Yet you say, 'In what way have you loved us?' Was not Esau Jacob's brother?" Says the Lord. "Yet Jacob I have loved."

It is clear from the above that the Lord was addressing the whole nation of Israel: the Israelites (non-Levite tribes), the Levites and the priests. However, in verse six of chapter one the message turns to the priests and clearly continues through till verse ten. From there on it is not clear whether the message is to all Israel or to the priests alone, except the last verse of chapter one, verse fourteen, that appears to be addressed to the Israelites.
Chapter two starts with the address to the priests.

Malachi 2:1-2

[1] "And now, O priests, this commandment is for you.
[2] If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name," says the Lord of hosts. "I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart."

A heavy indictment against the priests: their blessings that they pronounce over the whole nation of Israel God has cursed. 

Most of the chapter two continues in a similar tone, and all the way until verses five and six of chapter three.

Malachi 3:5-6

[5] "And I will come near you for judgment: I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers, against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, and against those who turn away an alien - because they do not fear Me," says the Lord of hosts.
[6] "For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob."

It appears that the address to the priests that began with verse one of chapter two has come to a conclusion, and the Lord returned to addressing all Israel. Shortly after that change, comes the favorite passage of those preachers that 'believe in tithing'. There is only one verse that is an introduction to the tithing passage.

Malachi 3:7

[7] "Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from MY ORDINANCES and have not kept them..."

The above verse is the key to understanding the passage that follows. God is referring to His commandments concerning tithing, from which some people have turned away. Since the passage deals with tithing, it is clear that the above reference to the ordinances is the reference to the commandments on tithing, as discussed in the earlier sections of this study (Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy). I will attempt to answer the question, to which particular commandments and to which particular group of people the following passage applies.

Malachi 3:8-12

[8] "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings.
[9] You are cursed with a curse for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation.
[10] Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house and try Me now in this... If I will open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing...
[11] And I will rebuke the devourer for your sake...
[12] And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land..."

It is quite clear from the above passage that the Lord is addressing the whole nation of Israel (including Levites and priests). The curses and blessings depend on the observances of the law of tithing by each of the three groups of people: non-Levite Israelites, the Levites and the priests. By examining the reasons why a curse or a judgment can come upon a nation, we may find the clue to what went wrong in Israel that prompted the words of the above prophecy.
According to the Scripture, a curse to or a judgment of a whole nation, don't come as a result of God being bored and deciding to curse somebody just to break His boredom. Neither do they come as a result of an individual or a group of people deciding to place a curse on a nation, without a cause.Having this in mind, let us have another look at the above passage from Malachi.
In verse seven the Lord warns the whole nation of Israel that they have gone away from His commandments, even from the days of their fathers, that is, even their ancestors have done so. That could have been the cause of the curse mentioned in verse nine. However, the beginning of verse ten implies that some people of Israel did not bring all the tithes into a storehouse, and as a result, the whole nation is cursed.
Now it remains to determine three things: which tithes were supposed to go to a storehouse, which storehouse the Lord had in mind, and who were the offenders causing the nation of Israel to be cursed (Malachi 3:9).

One thing is clear: the tithes of the two years that the Israelites were commanded to use for their feasts were not to be deposited into any storehouse, therefore these tithes were not the subject of Malachi's message in chapter three.
The Israelites' tithes of every third year were supposed to be stored within their tribal land for the support of the local Levites, the strangers and the poor within that tribe. This storehouse could have been the storehouse of Malachi three. Now, what could have gone wrong here?
Firstly, it is possible that the Israelites were cheating by not bringing the full ten percent of their income of the third year. A possibility; however there was no mention of this in the book of Nehemiah. On the contrary, when Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem after his short absence and found out that all the food has gone from the Temple storerooms, it was the ordinary Israelites who contributed liberally. The storehouses were originally filled by the ordinary people, the Israelites, by giving their tithes to the Levites and the Levites giving them to the priests who deposited them into the storerooms of the Temple. That was done under Nehemiah's leadership. As soon as Nehemiah went on his trip to Persia, the priest in charge (Eliashib) squandered the tithes. When Nehemiah returned he ordered that the storerooms be filled again, and the ordinary Israelites (the people of Judah) did it, even though it was not their fault.

The people were generous, so it is quite unlikely that the cause of curses pronounced by Malachi was the nonobservance of the law of tithing (the tithe of the third year) by the ordinary people of Israel.
Another possibility is that the local Levites, when they received the tithes from the Israelites kept them for themselves, without allowing the strangers and the poor to take their portion. Indeed, Malachi 3:5 talks about the judgment of those who oppress the widow and the orphan, and of those who turn away the stranger.

It is a distinct possibility that the storehouse spoken of in Malachi three, was the storehouse where the Israelites' tithes of the third year - the year of tithing - were kept, and the offenders were the local Levites who did not allow the strangers and the poor of the land to partake of these tithes.
From the tithes that the local Levites received from the Israelites every third year, they were supposed to give tithes of those tithes to the priests for their own use and for the support of all those ministering in the place of worship (the Temple). The local Levites could have cheated by not giving to the priests the full (and the best) ten percent of their tithes, as per commandments in Numbers chapter eighteen. From the original commandment it is not clear if the Levites were to take their tithes to the place of worship, or the priests were supposed to come and collect them. If the Levites were to select these tithes unsupervised and take them to the priests, it is quite possible that that's where the offence took place. This could have been the reason why the priests in the time of Nehemiah were to witness the collection of tithes by the Levites.

It is another distinct possibility that the storehouse of Malachi three was the storehouse in the Temple where the Levites' tithes were kept, and the offenders were the local Levites who did not give the full and the best portion of their tithes to be stored in the Temple.
Based on the conclusions from the book of Numbers, the Levites' tithes were supposed to be used for the support of the priests and all those Levites ministering in the place of worship. These tithes were to be stored in the storerooms in or near the place of worship. As was the practice in the time of Nehemiah, they were stored in the storerooms of the Temple. It's quite possible that the tithes intended for the support of those ministering in the Temple, were not given to them in full but rather the best portion kept by priests for themselves. Indeed that was the case as described in Nehemiah chapter thirteen, where the offender was the priest in charge of these tithes, namely Eliashib.

Yet another distinct possibility: the storehouse of Malachi chapter three was the storehouse in the Temple, and the offenders were the priests who dealt treacherously by not allowing the full portion due to all those ministering in the Temple.
The above conclusions are quite important, and will be used in the following section, which the readers are urged to make an effort to fully understand.
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I hope that I will not offend anyone if I make the following statement: Many of you who are reading this, are in bondage to the modern day teaching on 'tithing', whether you are the one teaching it or the one being taught. I hope that the exposition of the Scripture in this study, and the words in this particular section, will help you get set free from that bondage.

Firstly, you must understand that the curses from Malachi chapter three were not caused by the (non-Levite) Israelites' breach of the law. They were caused by the dishonest dealings of either Levites or the priests, or most probably both, as I concluded in the study of Malachi.

Now, turning to the present day 'teachers', who try to draw your attention to Malachi chapter three, you must understand that the curses of Malachi three have absolutely nothing to do with you and your giving or not giving to your church. First of all you don't live under the Law, and that alone is sufficient reason that those curses do not apply to you. Your curses have been nailed to the cross with Jesus.

Even if a parallel is drawn between the Israelites and their spiritual leaders (Levites and priests) on one hand, and the believers and our spiritual leaders on the other, the parallel to the curses of Malachi three, would then be the treacherous dealing of our spiritual leaders. 

"Where have we sinned?" they may ask. My reply to them would be, "In tithes and offerings."

Firstly, they teach falsely on tithing, presenting it as the word of God. The Lord commanded neither to add to His word nor to take away from it. They do both.

Secondly, they collect tithes and don't give of them to the poor and the stranger, which is clearly contrary to God's commandments.

Thirdly, they act as the priests "of the order of Eliashib". They don't give of the tithes for the support of those serving in their church: the singers (worship team), the porters (deacons), the home group leaders, and others who are doing the work of the ministry.

Now, you may ask, "How come that there are so many believers led astray and fallen into the bondage to tithing?" I'll try to answer that question.
When I was a teenager I attended a show with a few friends. The guy conducting the show was a hypnotist. In one particular act he called a number of people to the stage and spoke to them for ten minutes or so, causing them to act as if they had a toothache. Shortly after he sent them back to their seats, apparently all behaving in a normal manner. One of the guys was from my group of friends. He could not explain to us why he was acting as he did. The show went on for another 30 to 45 minutes, when the showman spoke the word, "toothache". This friend that sat with us, got hold of his face and ran to the platform, behaving as if he was in agony because of a bad toothache. Later on he could not explain to us why he did it.
Now, one may say that the man conducting the show was a skilled hypnotist and that it is not easy, for instance, for a preacher to cause his audience to act in a way he wanted them to. I can assure you that it does not take much skill to be able to do it. I'll give you another example.
For many years, before my conversion, I was a very heavy smoker. I tried to quit a number of times in many ways but each time I failed. One day somebody told me that there was a doctor, a general practitioner, who allegedly was able to help people break their smoking habit. I made an appointment and went to see him. He spoke to me about things that had absolutely nothing to do with smoking, but kept inserting an occasional statement about the bad effects of smoking on my health, of which I was already aware anyway. This session went on for some 30 to 40 minutes, with me being fully awake and fully aware of what was taking place all that time. It was sixteen years ago. I have not taken a cigarette into my mouth ever since! I had no problem quitting - and I still cannot explain why.
The above was the positive example of the power of suggestion. Could this technique be used for some other purpose? For instance, to cause people to bring one tenth of their income to their churches? Of course it could! And that's exactly what is happening in many of those churches that 'believe in tithing'. The people come, day in day out, to hear the word of God. They most often hear it, but it is laced with the 'tithing teaching', with the promises of blessings to those who bring in their 'tithes' and the threats of curses to those who don't. Of course, they will hear carefully selected 'testimonies' (or outright lies) of the effects on people's lives of 'tithing' or not 'tithing'. The people become conditioned: on the hearing of the word 'tithe', they reach for their wallets. It is quite significant that these 'teachers' will quote only scriptures that support their 'teaching', avoiding like plague the most relevant ones, because these contradict what they want us to 'know'.

If you suspect that you are a victim to this conditioning, which is actually a form of a spiritual bondage or an addiction, you can test yourself. Try for a couple of months to abstain from giving any money at all to your church. If you are in bondage you will get a feeling of guilt and condemnation. You will feel very uncomfortable and insecure. Do not think for a moment that it is the prompting of the Holy Spirit, as some preachers would suggest to you. Those are the withdrawal symptoms caused by breaking your addiction to 'giving to the kingdom'.
How to get set free from this bondage?

The most important thing is that you must know the truth, and the truth will set you free. 
This study is only a guide to the scriptures that will lead you to the knowledge of the truth.

The second thing that would help you to speed the process along, is that you isolate yourself from the false teaching that brought you into that state in the first place. Avoid coming to the services where the false teaching or practice of tithing is conducted. 
If you still feel that you want to remain in that church, simply skip the part of the service when the 'tithes' are being collected.

However, be alert to the side remarks often made by the preachers during their sermon. 
They will often slip in the message that they want you to hear, irrespective of what is the main theme of their preaching in that session.

The third thing that you should do, is to get together with the members of your family and your friends, and share with them the truth that you have discovered about tithing. 
However, be prepared for some rather pointed remarks from the pulpit, or even a direct confrontation from your pastor. He may become too concerned for 'your well-being', due to the lack of your 'commitment to God'. Or you may become a 'leaven' that can permeate the whole lump, and therefore be shown the door.
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In Genesis chapter fourteen we read about a skirmish between the king of Sodom and four of his allies on one side, and four kings on the other side. The four kings won the battle and took the plunder from the losers, including men women and children. One of captives was Abraham's nephew Lot. And this is what happened next.

Genesis 14:14-23

[14] Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he... went in pursuit...
[15] He divided his forces... and pursued them as far as Hobah...
[16] So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.
[17] And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh...
[18] Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine: he was the priest of God Most High.
[19] And he blessed him [Abram] and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
[20] And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he [Abram] gave him [Melchizedek] a TITHE OF ALL.
[21] Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, "Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself."
[22] But Abram said to the king of Sodom, "I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth,
[23] That I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you say, 'I have made Abram rich'-

Many proponents of tithing use verse twenty to 'prove' that tithing is valid (as some 'eternal principle') for the church today, because Abraham, the father of our faith, established the principle.
I don't know about you, but I cannot see how anyone can honestly find a 'principle' in what Abraham did, and apply it to yours and my giving. We know that Abraham was already rich before this incident took place, so his riches have nothing to do with the 'sowing and reaping' theology that we hear so often.

Abraham didn't even have the smallest of his possessions with him when he was intercepted by Melchizedek at the Valley of Shaveh. 

Abraham gave to Melchizedek one tenth of the spoils that never belonged to him but rather to those captive Sodomites. And he returned the rest of the goods to those to whom they belonged in the first place.

Also we know that, according to the scriptural record, Abraham never again did anything that even resembles this 'tithing principle.'

Now compare you and me to Abraham: we go to work day after day, trying to make living. When pay day comes we get only a portion of what we actually earn, that is, of what rightly belongs to us. The rest goes into the company profits and the government taxes. And our preachers are telling us that we should give from our every pay cheque to them, in order to emulate Abraham - our father of faith. Can you see the plot?

What Abraham did has absolutely nothing to do with you and I today.

Melchizedek is another person that many preachers latch onto, trying to convince (or rather convict) us that we should give to 'Jesus'. Their explanation is that Melchizedek was a 'type of Jesus', or even Jesus Himself, so if our father of faith gave to him, so should we. However, since neither Melchizedek nor Jesus are here with us in flesh, the church (or the pastor) will take care of the tithes - or so they reason.
In Psalm 110:4 king David, speaking prophetically about the coming Messiah says, "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek." The authors of the book of Hebrews expand on this theme.

Hebrews 7:1-4

[1] For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God...
[2] To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all...
[3] without father, without mother, without genealogy... made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.
[4] Now consider how great this man was, to whom even patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils.

Some scholars interpret the above to mean that Melchizedek was Jesus. To me, the phrase "made like the Son of God" actually means that he was not the Son of God. As we may recall, soon after Melchizedek met Abraham and blessed him, after Abraham rescued those Sodomites, the Son of Man (as an angel of God) visited Abraham and went on to destroy those very Sodomites, saving only Abraham's nephew Lot and his family (Genesis chapters 18 and 19).

Hebrews 7:9-10

[9] Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak,
[10] for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

So did the people of other Israelite tribes pay their tithes, so to speak: the eleven brothers of Levi were also in Abraham's loins. If we are children of Abraham by faith, we were in his loins by faith, and we also have paid tithes to Melchizedek - by faith.

I cannot see how the above verses may mean in any way that we are still obligated to pay tithes. Even if we were, then it would be either to Jesus or to some other priest in the order of Melchizedek. It definitely cannot be a church or a pastor.

It would be appropriate now to mention a similar incident to Abraham's example. The Israelites attacked the Midianites as commanded by God, and captured a great spoil.

Numbers 31:25-30

[25] Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
[26] "Count up the plunder that was taken - of the man and beast...
[27] and divide plunder into two parts, between those who took part in the war... and all congregation.
[28] And levy a TRIBUTE FOR THE LORD on the men of war... one of every five hundred of the persons, the cattle, the donkeys and the sheep;
[29] take it from their half and give it to Eleazar the priest as a heave offering to the Lord.
[30] And from the children of Israel's half you shall take one of every fifty... and give them to the Levites who keep charge of the tabernacle of the Lord."

In other words: one in a hundred of the total spoil to the Levites and one in a thousand to the priest. Now, if the commandment was to give one in ten, I am sure we would hear this passage read in the churches that 'believe in tithing' as often as Genesis 14:20 and Malachi 3:8-12. However, since the Levites' portion was only one in a hundred, we never hear this passage of Scripture.
But look who was the initiator of this sharing of the spoils: the Lord Himself. Then how much more attention we should pay to these scriptures than to Abraham's example? Jesus said, "Before Abraham was, I am." Abraham was a great man - no doubt about that - but he is not a match for Jesus. Still, Jesus was with the Father when the above commandment was given to Moses.
While talking about the 'eternal tithing principle', it would be worth referring to the vow made by Abraham's grandson Jacob.

Genesis 28:20-22

[20] Then Jacob made a vow, saying: "If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on,
[21] so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God.
[22] And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You."

One doesn't need to be a Bible scholar to see that the above is totally opposite to the 'sowing and reaping principle' preached in many churches today.
It is also interesting to note that Jacob spoke about tithing and God's house in the same sentence. For him, God's house was a pillar that he set there in Bethel where he met with God. I have no doubt that when Jacob spoke of his giving tithes to God, he had in mind some feast or a ceremony that he intended to perform at that particular place.
It was quite unlikely that Jacob had in mind giving away of his wealth to anyone as an act of tithing. There is no record in the Scripture that at that time, there was an organized religion among Hebrews, nor were there recognized priestly families.
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Since the purpose of this study is not to discuss the issue of whether tithing is valid for the New Testament church or not, but rather to examine the Old Testament law of tithing, only a brief mention of some of the New Testament teaching will be made. There is ample literature on the argument of whether the tithing should or should not be practiced in the New Testament church. That argument will probably continue until the Rapture, and I will try to avoid getting involved in it - lest I miss the Rapture.


2Corinthians 8:13-15

[13] For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened;
[14] but by an EQUALITY, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack - that there may be equality.
[15] As it is written: 'He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack'.

In 2Corinthians chapters eight and nine, apostle Paul is talking about sharing among the Christians: if one group of them is in need, the others who are better off should help them out. He is referring to a particular point in time, when a famine came over the land of Judea, as prophesied by the prophet Agabus. The people from Achaia and Macedonia collected their donations and sent them to Jerusalem church for the distribution among the saints who were affected by the famine.

Acts 11:27-30

[27] And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch.
[28] Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar.
[29] Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea.
[30] This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Soul.

It is worth commenting on the verse 30 above: they haven't sent the gift to the 'pastor', or the 'senior pastor' of the church in Jerusalem, but to the elders for the DISTRIBUTION TO the SAINTS IN NEED.
This instance of collection, or a similar incident, is mentioned another couple of times.

Romans 15:26

[26] For it pleased those from Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are in Jerusalem.

1Corinthians 16:1-3

[1] Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also:
[2] On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.
[3] And when I come, whoever you approve by your letters I will send to bear your gift to Jerusalem.

It is quite clear that the collections on the first day of the week were for the help to those saints who were in need. 

And it was in preparation for Paul's arrival, a little bit every week, so that there is no big rush when he comes.

It was not for the local church or for the support of those preaching the gospel, but rather for the fellow believers in need. 

Yet these chapters are very often used as an example of giving to the church for the 'building of the kingdom' - a teaching that has very little to do with truth.
Yet another couple of confirmations:

2Corinthians 9:9

[9] As it is written: 'He has dispersed abroad, He has given TO THE POOR; His righteousness endures forever.'

2Corinthians 9:12

[12] For the administration of this service not only supplies the NEEDS OF THE SAINTS, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God.

It is in connection with this GIVING TO THOSE IN NEED that Paul wrote:

2Corinthians 9:6-7

[6] But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
[7] So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

Let me say it again: 2Corinthians chapters eight and nine have nothing to do with giving to the church - and even less with tithing.


It is practically the whole chapter nine of 1Corinthians (not of 2Corinthians!), where the apostle Paul argues the case that those who are called to preach the gospel ought to live by the gospel.

1Corinthians 9:14

[14] Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.

Paul was probably referring to the words of Jesus when He was sending His disciples out to preach the Kingdom: He commanded them not to take any money with them, and to rely for their provision on those to whom they were sent to preach to.

Luke 10:7

[7] And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages...

Apostle Paul refers to the Old Testament in order to support his argument that those who sow spiritual things should reap the material things (v.11) but he does not mention tithing.
It is interesting that this particular chapter is not mentioned that often by the modern day preachers. The reason might be the following verses.

1Corinthians 9:15-19

[15] But I have used none of these things, nor have I written these things that it should be done so to me, for it would be better for me to die than that anyone should make my boasting void.
[16] For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!
[17] For if I do this willingly, I have a reward, but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship.
[18] What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel.
[19] For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more.

There is another interesting and relevant passage that is seldom mentioned by the preachers who 'believe in tithing'. On his journey to Jerusalem, apostle Paul made a brief stop-over at Miletus where he called the elders from Ephesus to join him. Here is an extract from his address to them:

Acts 20:33-35

[33] "I have coveted no one's silver or gold or apparel.
[34] Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.
[35] I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, "It is more blessed to give than to receive."

It should be noted that the above words were given to the ELDERS, not as a tip for their sermons, but rather as a call to them to lead by an EXAMPLE; not only by their personal example but also by the example of their ministry.
Jesus mentioned tithing only once, and it has been recorded in two gospels only (Mat.23:23, Luke 11:42), where He approved of it. It must be born in mind that He referred to the tithing practice of the religious Jews (who followed the commandments of Deuteronomy chapters 12, 14 and 26, and their tradition), and that at that time the New Testament was not in force as yet.
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Dear reader, if you have ever set your foot into one of those churches that either 'believe in tithing' or just collect 'tithes and offerings', after reading what I have written, and checking the scriptures that I have drawn your attention to, you must start wondering about the real motives for the existence of some of those ministries. They claim to be, and are supposed to represent, the New Testament church. However, when you hear them, you cannot shake off a feeling that there is no such thing as salvation by grace alone: you walk out with a feeling that you have to perform some act of 'faithfulness' in order to demonstrate to God that you are worthy of receiving blessings and the very salvation itself. The message is that the 'faithfulness with your finances' is the way to that blessed state of your life, both temporal and spiritual. You wonder if the cross, whether visibly displayed or only spoken of in that church, is the symbol that these ministries stand for, because the offering basket would express much more appropriately what the true motive for their existence is.
When it comes to teaching on giving and the support of those who supposedly preach the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come up with an abominable mixture of the Old Testament, the New Testament, all kinds of man's ideas, and an outright witchcraft, in order to manipulate people into giving to their 'ministry'.
Many readers of the previous editions of this teaching have asked me for advice of what they should do concerning their desire to support those who are called to preach the gospel. I will attempt to answer some of those questions.


I know that you expect me to quote 1John 4:1-3, however, I will not. There is no way that I can teach you how to test the spirit. For that you need the spiritual gift of discerning of spirits, and it comes only from God. We cannot discern the spirit by our knowledge of the Scripture, and we cannot test the spirits behind those who proclaim with their mouths that Jesus has come in flesh.
However, we can test the preachers by questioning their motives for teaching or not teaching certain things. I have come up with, what I call, an 'acid test' for the preachers. They may confess with their mouths whatever they want, but when it comes to this test, many of them will fail rather miserably.
If your preacher is one of those who 'believe in tithing', teaching you that you need to bring your tithes into the storehouse, that is his church, and does not mention what you have read about it in the book of Deuteronomy, he is hiding the truth from you. Ask him why is it so, since 2Timothy 3:16-17 says that ALL Scripture is good and profitable for teaching. Judging by his response, you will find out whether he is a genuine shepherd or a hireling. You don't need a detailed explanation of how you will recognize if he is genuine or not. Just observe his response and you will be able to judge. But I must warn you: be prepared to look for another 'place of worship', because your preacher's wrath might be too much for you to bear. Also, before you approach him, secure the backing of your family members who are in the same church with you. Don't say that I haven't warned you!


I know that you have heard those numerous sermons on giving to God, and that you desire to do it. It is your motive that counts to God, and I am sure that you understand that your giving will not earn you a (better) place in heaven, neither can you bribe God. So if it is your genuine desire to give to God, I'll show you a couple of ways from which you may consider one, and model your giving on it.

8.2.1. The New Testament Way

If your preacher passes the 'acid test', then your church is a good candidate to be on the receiving end of your giving to God. And it is up to you, not up to your preacher, to decide how much to give. If you follow the teaching of the New Testament you will give as much as it is on your heart, and is affordable to you and your family. Never succumb to any pressure or to the 'needs' of the ministry. Your giving is between God and you alone.
Also, do not neglect your personal help to those unfortunate people in need, be they in your community or your country or not. However, also be careful in this area: not everyone who asks on behalf of the needy is genuinely concerned for the needy. Often only a small portion of what is collected ends up there where it is supposed to go.
Lastly, even though you don't follow the teaching of the Old Testament, I would suggest to you not to neglect yourself and your own family. If it was a blessing under the Law, why not under the grace? Set aside one or a few special occasions during the year, when you will spend lavishly on yourself and your family, especially if you have children, telling them that it is the gift from yours and their heavenly Father. It will do you all good to know that God is not a collector (as the 'church' tends to present Him), but rather a generous and graceful giver.

8.2.2. The Old Testament Way

In all the maze of this teaching or that teaching on giving (or tithing), I am not surprised that there are so many sincere believers who would like to see some concrete, specific guidelines, rather than wonder daily what and to whom to give next. If you are one of them, and you have chosen to follow the Old Testament pattern of tithing, I believe that the Lord will honor your sincere desire to do what is right in His sight. I will attempt to translate God's commandments on tithing to the Israelites, into the modern day equivalent, but I suggest that you don't adopt these as some absolute set of rules, and that you don't turn them into a mere ritual.
I assume you can easily determine, or at least estimate, your monthly gross and net income. If that is so, then I suggest the following:

The First and the Second Month

Set aside one tenth (ten percent) of your net income in the first and the second month, counted from whenever you decide to start this method. Deposit this money into an account from which you will draw whenever you decide to have that special time of celebration with your family. The celebration may take a form of a feast, as was the instruction to the Israelites, however it should not be limited to it. It can be a holiday for you and your family, or some other special desire which you normally wouldn't spend money for. God's commandment to the Israelites was to "spend that money for whatever your heart desires".
In the Old Testament, the commandment to the Israelites was to come to an appointed place where the Lord's presence was. Now under grace, the Lord's presence is wherever two or three believers come together (Matthew 18:20), or even wherever one single believer is, for his body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. So, geographically speaking, you can do it anywhere you want. Do not neglect to occasionally invite your preacher and his family, if he has passed the 'acid test', to the celebration, or to buy him or the members of his family a gift from this portion of your tithe. Israelites were commanded to invite their local Levite to those family feasts. If you have not found a preacher that qualifies, then invite someone who is poor, or give a gift to such. Also, do not neglect to give glory to God and to declare that you have done all that you sincerely believe that you should have done according to God's commandments.
For the Israelites, the reason for this type of tithing was to "learn to fear the Lord your God" [Deuteronomy 14:23], and there is no reason that it would not be good for us. Even though we live under grace, we should still learn to fear the Lord in the way the saints of old did.

Acts 9:31

[31] Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking IN THE FEAR OF THE LORD and the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.

The Third Month

If you have found a preacher that passed the 'acid test' then take one tenth (ten percent) of your income of the third month and give it to the support of that preacher and of all those in the church who serve together with him. If you have not found such a preacher then give your money to those in need.
Whether you give one tenth of your gross income or of your net income depends on whether you can claim it as a tax allowance. If you can claim it then you give of your gross income, but if you cannot claim it as a tax allowance then you give of your net (after tax) income.
The forth and the fifth month will follow the pattern shown for the first and the second month, and the sixth month will be as the third month, and so on. If you wish, you may save the first and the second's months' tithes over a period of time, and then spend them on, say, a big holiday with your family.
One more point worth mentioning: If you are on social benefits of any kind (unemployment, sickness, pension), according to God's commandments on tithing, you are on the receiving end and are not supposed to tithe. Actually, if you are in a church that collects tithes, and if you are in need, you are entitled to some help from that church.
I'd like to stress again that these are only my guidelines based on the interpretation of the Scripture. If you understand it differently you should follow your understanding without fear of breaking the commandments. You must remember: the motives of your heart are more important to God than your actions, and also that we serve a merciful God whose mercies endure forever.
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I examined numerous references in the Scripture, in order to find out to which kind of giving God gives most prominence. One does not have to be a skilled statistician to quickly conclude that God speaks about giving to the needy more often than about all other giving put together. And He stated, in the Old Testament and the New Testament, that the poor will always be among us.

Deuteronomy 15:11 (God speaking)

[11] For the poor will NEVER cease from the land...

Mark 14:7 (Jesus speaking)

[7] For you have the poor with you ALWAYS, and whenever you wish, you may do them good...

Now, let's see first what the Old Testament says about giving to the poor.

Psalms 41:1

[1] Blessed is he who considers the poor; the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble.

Proverbs 19:17

[17] He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.

Proverbs 22:19

[19] He who has a generous eye will be blessed, for he gives of his bread to the poor.

Those who give to the poor can expect only blessing; not from those to whom they give, but from God Himself. Even if the needy do not happen to be in your denomination, or your country, or even if he is your enemy, do not let it worry you.

Proverbs 25:21-22

[21] If your enemy is hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he is thirsty give him water to drink;
[22] for so you will heap coals of fire on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

Let's consider some more Bible teaching on giving (or lack of it) to the poor:

Proverbs 28:27

[27] He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.

Proverbs 21:13

[13] Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.

The above two verses are worthy of a long hard look. In Deuteronomy chapters 14 and 26, God speaks specifically of the portion of the tithes that go to the storehouse, not only to feed the Levites but also the poor.
Here is another verse which will clearly demonstrate what God thinks about those who do not allow the poor their portion:

Deuteronomy 27:19

[19] Cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow.

The following verse is very interesting:

Proverbs 22:16

[16] He who oppresses the poor to increase his riches, and he who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.

Who is the one who robs the poor? If someone is poor there is nothing to rob him of - you may say. Not so! Poor have their inheritance from God: they stand side-by-side with the Levite to get THEIR portion from the storehouse where TITHES are stored. Whoever denies them access to that storehouse, is oppressing the poor. And what is his destiny? He will come to poverty, says the Lord [Refer Malachi 3:5 as mentioned earlier].
We all know about God's judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, and think of the "sodomites" as the cause of this judgment. But, let's see what the Word says about it.

Ezekiel 16:49

[49] Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; NEITHER DID SHE STRENGTHEN THE HAND OF THE POOR AND NEEDY.

Another passage from the Old Testament is worth mentioning in connection with taking care of the poor and needy.

Isaiah 58:6-9

[6] Is this not the fast that I have chosen: ...
[7] Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out; when you see the naked, that you cover him...
[8] then your light will break forth like the morning... your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.
[9] Then you shall call and the Lord shall answer...

Right here is the "formula" to get God's attention to our prayers. We don't need to starve ourselves for days on end, expecting God's pity and His answer to our prayers. His method is much easier and His burden much lighter.
Now, let's see what the New Testament teaches on this subject. I would not think that the God of the New Testament is less concerned with the well-being of the poor, than the God of the Old Testament - He is one and the same God, He changes not!

Matthew 19:21 (Jesus speaking)

[21] If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give TO THE POOR, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. [also Mark 10:21 and Luke 18:22]

Luke 12:33-34 (Jesus speaking)

[33] Sell what you have and GIVE ALMS [to the poor]; provide yourselves a treasure in heaven...
[34] for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

One may say that Jesus contradicts Himself with the statement that the costly perfume which Mary used to anoint Him should not be sold and given to the poor, but rather used to anoint Him for His burial (Mark 14:3-9). There is no contradiction here: Jesus was about to be buried on that particular occasion, and to rise - and to never be buried again!
Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Galatian church, recalls the commission given to him and Barnabas by the elders and apostles in Jerusalem when they were sent out to preach to the Gentiles.

Galatians 2:10

[10] They desired ONLY that we should remember the poor, THE VERY THING which I also was eager to do.

Jesus' parable in Matthew 25 deserves careful consideration. He talks about two groups of people being judged: those on the right (the sheep) were those who took care of the poor, and those on the left (the goats) were those who ignored the poor. What happened to those on the left? They were thrown into the lake of fire! Who were they? The unbelievers (the "world")? We should consider it carefully. Jesus said that the world was already judged, therefore there is no need for it to come for the judgment. Consider Matthew 25:44, they (the "goats") said, "Lord, when did we see You hungry..?". They addressed Him as the "Lord". Were they really "the world"?
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Leviticus 24:1-2

[1] Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying:
[2] "Command the children of Israel that they bring to you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to make the lamps burn continually.

The above commandment to the Israelites is a clear indication that God expected them to meet some running costs of the place of worship. He mentioned oil only. What were the other expenses? I cannot think of any except the wood for the fire on the altar of burnt offering. The offerings themselves came from the Israelites, according to the commandments relating to the offerings.

Nehemiah 10:34

[34] We cast lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for bringing the wood offering into the house of our God...

We see here how Nehemiah and the elders solved the problem of the wood supply. It was a matter of putting in some work required to cut and bring the wood in. All of the people participated in the "draw", including the Levites and the priests.

Nehemiah 10:32

[32] Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God...

Nehemiah and the elders decided to meet the running cost of the Temple in a prescribed manner - each family giving a flat rate. Please note: one-third of a shekel (of silver) is not much by any standard. They were very modest.
In conclusion, according to the word of God, the church running costs should be met by the believers according to the decision of the elders, with everybody participating.
Should the church finances be separated into two funds: one for the support of those in the ministry and the help to the poor, and one for covering the running costs of the church? According to the Old Testament, yes. The tithes were holy to the Lord and were not to be profaned in any way. When it comes to the New Testament it is not so clear, for there was no mention of the church running costs.
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Exodus 25:1

[1] Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 'Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering'.

As we know, God commanded Moses to build Him a tent (Tabernacle) and He gave detailed plans to Moses. How were the Israelites to meet the building costs? They were on their way from slavery: they would not be expected to have much to give. But as we read on, we find that the Israelites not only met the needs, but had to be told to stop giving, for there was too much in the offering (Ex.36:5-7). I would like to make a couple of observations here:

If the giving is truly to God's purpose, His people are willing to give even above the requirements, and...

If the giving is for God's purpose, leaders will acknowledge when the requirements have been met, and ask God's people to cease giving.

Exodus 35:21

[21] Then everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord's offering for work of the tabernacle of the meeting, for all its service, and for the holy garments.

Where did all these riches come from? If we read Ex.11:2-3 we will see that God planned the whole thing perfectly Himself. He told the Israelites, while still in Egypt, to go to their Egyptian neighbors and ask for gold and silver. God gave them favor in the eyes of the Egyptians. What I am driving at is this: It was God's idea to build, He gave the plan and He organized the funding, the source of funds being the people outside His kingdom, i.e. the unbelievers.


1Chronicles 29:2-3 (king David speaking)

[2] Now for the house of my God I have prepared with all my might...
[3] I have given... my own special treasure of gold and silver...

We know that it was king David's desire to build the Temple, but the Scripture does not say whether this desire was inspired by God or not. It does say though that God provided the building plan (1Chr.28:12, 19), thus approving the idea. And where did the funds come from? In the above verse we see that king David himself provided a large portion of the funds, and we know where these riches came from: from the conquest of the ungodly nations in the Promised Land. In king David's own words:

1Chronicles 29:16

[16] O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have prepared to build You a house for Your holy name is from Your hand, and is all Your own...

1Chronicles 29:6

[6] Then the leaders... the captains... the officers... offered willingly.

1Chronicles 29:9

[9] Then the people rejoiced...

The nobles and the rich of the land followed the example of their king. And what did the people do? They rejoiced! When it came to the actual building work, who did it?

2Chronicles 2:17-18

[17] Then Solomon numbered all the aliens who were in the land...
[18] and he made... them bearers of the burden... stonecutters.

As we know, the aliens were the slaves made up of the population of conquered nations. No ordinary Israelite was asked to bear this burden. The only time the Israelites were asked to do something, was when they were sent to Tyre to bring the cedar wood, and I believe they were paid for that work. The slaves could not be sent out of the land for fear that they would not return.
What do we see in the above example? God provided the building plans (it was His project) and He made sure that the resources were available, coming mainly from the "outsiders".


Ezra 1:1-2

[1] Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia... [king] made proclamation...
[2] 'He [God] has commanded me to build Him a house at Jerusalem...'

Again, it was God's idea or rather, it was His commandment to build. Ezra 1:6-7; 2:67-68; 3:7 talk about king Cyrus giving "articles of the house of the Lord" and offerings of the leaders of Israel and the free will offerings of the people. Where did the resources for the building of the temple come from? Again, mainly from the "outsiders"!
When it comes to the building of the places of worship, there is no direct "perpetual" commandment in the Old Testament and not even an example of any building project in the New Testament. So, what is my advice?
If there is a clear indication that it is God's idea to build a place of worship, you will find that (most of) the finances will come from those outside of the church. That will be a clear sign that it is God's plan. Then, if need be, get involved! Otherwise, think twice before you subscribe to any building fund. Why? I have seen some extravagant spending on church buildings that borders on lunacy. People were drained of their resources, so they were unable to meet other expectations toward their God. A big question is: to whom do the buildings belong? The church? What happens when the "church" folds, as is so sometimes the case?
Please, do not misunderstand me. If it is economically more sound to build than to rent, fine. Let the elders and the financial experts work out what is the best solution, and if it is to build, then build. But to be fair to each contributor, in case he/she decides to leave the church, let each one who contributes holds shares in the building ownership.
If the decision is that it is better to build, once the church occupies its own building, it would be fair to advise the believers that the church running costs have been reduced (remember: it was an economic decision to build) so that they can adjust their level of contribution to the church's running costs.
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Luke 19:45-46

[45] Then He [Jesus] went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in it,
[46] saying to them, "It is written, 'My house is a house of prayer' and you have made it a 'den of thieves' ".

I have heard and read numerous examples where so-called ministers of the Word teach the most stupid and the most ridiculous 'giving principles' which, astonishingly, many, even 'the elect' believers, fall for. As we have seen from the Biblical teaching on the subject of tithing and giving, there is definitely a blessing for the giver - God ordained it so. But also, if a believer is not careful with his giving, he will end up with curses rather than with blessings, or at best with some wasted money.
It is the ignorance of the people of God that causes excesses in the church, as much as false teaching. If believers would pay more attention to the Biblical truth, there would be less room for these 'teachers' to propagate their self-centered 'doctrines'.
Some so-called Christian ministries have accumulated great wealth, not by preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, but by teaching the 'prosperity doctrine'. There are books and circular letters written about how to become 'prosperous' and, of course, each ending with an invitation to give to that particular ministry, which will in turn pray for you, and you will get blessed. They talk about 'faith', about 'mixing giving with prayers', about them 'agreeing with you' on your requests, about all kinds of superstition and outright witchcraft, which many believers fall for.
The most commonly used technique by some unscrupulous 'teachers', is to quote an isolated event from the Bible and then turn it into a 'principle' which we, if we are 'godly', should follow. These 'principles' have as much weight as the 'principle' that if a man grows long hair he will posses a supernatural strength, as Samson did. We can quite easily construe another principle: the great revival that began with the ministry of Jesus was due to His throwing the money changers out of the Temple. Why couldn't we turn that particular event into a principle?
There is one principle that we have to bear in mind:

Deuteronomy 28:1-2

[1] Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe CAREFULLY ALL His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.
[2] And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, BECAUSE YOU OBSERVE THE VOICE OF THE LORD YOUR GOD.

John 14:15 (Jesus speaking)

[15] If you love Me, keep My commandments.

John 15:7 (Jesus speaking)

[7] If you abide in Me, AND MY WORDS abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.

John 15:10 (Jesus speaking)

[10] If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love.

An often quoted example is the account of the prophet Elijah and the poor widow whose son was raised from the dead, supposedly, as a result of her giving to the man of God. So, if you give to the 'man of God' you may expect a miracle in your life. Few of them mention that, in this particular instance, God actually commanded the widow to give food to the prophet, so she did, she obeyed God's specific instruction. Therefore, the principle is: "Obey God's commandment", rather than "give to (any who claim to be) a man of God".

1Kings 17:8-9

[8] Then the word of the Lord came to him [Elijah], saying,
[9] 'Arise, go to Zarephat, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I HAVE COMMANDED a widow there to provide for you'.

There is another verse that is often quoted by some preachers, which I would like to mention:

Psalm 24:1

[24] The Earth is the Lord's, and all its fullness, the world and all those who dwell in it.

I don't think that any of you will disagree with the above. However, some of the preachers use this verse to tell you that all YOUR possessions belong to the Lord, so what's a big deal if you give back a tenth of it to Him, that is, to your church. They forget that the above verse says that ALL earth belongs to the Lord. That includes not only your bank account, but also your preacher's bank account and your church's bank account. Why then waste it on the account transfer fees, by shifting some of that wealth from one sub-account to another?
Another threat occasionally used by some preachers, is God's commandment to Adam and Eve not to eat of a particular tree, the tree of knowledge (Genesis 2:16-17), lest they die. This threat is translated into tithes being holy, therefore we should not touch them, lest we die. These preachers should know that God's commandment to the Israelites was to spend their tithes of the first and second year on their family feasts. Therefore, if they want to apply the Genesis commandment to us today, they are the ones who should not claim those tithes for themselves or their ministry - lest they die!
I will now quote a couple of passages from the early church fathers' writings, who lived and ministered just after the departure of the last of the original apostles. The quotes are from Didache (Teaching of the Apostles).

Didache 11:6

[6] And when he departeth let the apostle receive nothing save bread, until he findeth shelter; but if he ask money, he is a false prophet.

Didache 11:12

[12] And whosoever shall say in the Spirit, Give me silver or anything else, ye shall not listen to him; but if he tell you to give on behalf of others that are in want, let no man judge him.

Is this to say that there should not be mention of giving in the church? No! On the contrary, the TRUTH about giving should be taught as any other truth - no more, no less, and of course, ACCORDING TO THE WORD OF GOD.
I need to mention here a teaching that is taking place in the church lately: the teaching on the 'Spirit of Poverty'. I personally haven't been exposed to that teaching, and haven't read any of the books that deal with that subject. However, knowing them by their fruits, I can guess what is the main thrust of that teaching: give and keep giving (to the church) - that's the only way to be kept safe from the 'spirit of poverty'. I am also sure that the 'evidence' of the existence of this 'spirit' is not the complaints of those 'afflicted' by it, but rather it is a circumstantial evidence gathered from the level of collection by the church's fund raising programs.
I understand that all churches are not well off financially, yet it should not be an excuse for the preachers to resort to dishonest teaching in order to get extra funds. Can you imagine a person in a secular job resorting to a dishonest method for getting some extra money to feed his family? He would end up on the wrong side of the law. Yet, in our Christian world, it appears that dishonest gain is OK, as long as it is used for the 'advancement of the kingdom of God'. I believe that an offering to God gained in a dishonest way is considered unclean and an abomination and not acceptable to Him. With Him, the end does not justify the means.


I apologize to all those sincere preachers who might be caught in the 'cross-fire', who are not a willing partner in this great deception of the Body of Christ. Some of them are there by an honest mistake, and they should consider distancing themselves from all those who are 'wolves in sheep's clothing'. All I have done in this article is what many of these preachers preach:

Luke 6:38

[38] Give and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.


This twelfth edition is the result of feedback by many believers around the world, that read the earlier editions. My sincere thanks to each one of them, and to all those who posted the message to their web pages. My love and my thanks to my children, Jacob, Esther and Daniel for their love and support towards me in these trying times. Jacob has given me an invaluable help in editing the text for the correct composition of the sentence structures. Esther has given to it the final 'woman's touch'. Special thanks to Teri Lee and Bob Earl, and all those that are a part of the HarvestNET Ministries, for their continuous support and prayers during the times of my 'great tribulation'.


I urge every sincere believer, who agrees with what has been written in this message, to pass it freely to whomever possible. Please feel free to add it to your web pages. It would be appreciated that the contents of this message are not altered in any way, and if any portion is quoted, it should not be in a way that the original message is distorted.
May God bless you all.

PO Box W123
West Pennant Hills
NSW 2125

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