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Oh No! Not Money Again!
Jeff Dull

This is an article about the tithe. Specifically, I want to address the way it seems to me most ministers interpret, preach, and teach tithing according to the Book of Malachi. What I am about to write goes against about 99.9% of everybody else who has anything to say about this subject. Please bear with me, and read the whole article before passing judgment. Of course no matter what I or anyone writes or says, always check it out against God's Word the Bible, and the Holy Spirit. I would like to start with an overview of the tithing issue. According to my research, the first recorded tithe in the Bible was when Abraham (really Abram, before God changed his name to Abraham) gave a tenth of his increase, or of his winnings to Melchezidek. (Gen.14:20) The second recorded tithe, was when Israel (Jacob) was returning home after his years with his father-in-law Laban, then he pledged and gave a tenth of all he had to the Lord. (Gen. 28:22) Both of these events, one a tenth of increase, and one a tenth of everything, were prior to the law given to Moses. So tithing, which literally translated means a tenth, predates the law. Now, before going on read Exodus chapters, 22:21-25, 30:11-16, 35:1 through 36:7; Leviticus 27:30-34; Numbers 18:26-30; Deuteronomy chapters, 14:22-29, 15:9-11, and finally chapter 26 all of it, with close attention to verses 11-19. What you find in these chapters and verses are the commands, and attitudes the God has, and we should have, to aliens, widows, orphans, and the poor. You will also note, that the half-shekel was given for atonement and ransom of the individual, and was to be used for the service of the tent of meeting so that each individual could participate in the service of the temple and receive its blessings. As you continued to read, you find that the tabernacle, and the temple were both constructed on freewill offerings over and above the half shekel and the tithe. Finally, if you read all of the chapters and verses I indicated above, you found out that the tithe, and the tithe of the tithe of the Levite, was used for party money and the Levitical salary; with every third year to include the alien, sojourner, widow, and orphan. It must also be noted that God's promises for obedience and His punishment for disobedience are pretty self-explanatory. So, what does this mean to me? When a minister uses the Book of Malachi to preach about tithing, and wants the church to give a tithe in accordance with the Book of Malachi, then that minister is preaching the law and denying grace. In addition the money must be used according to the previously read scriptures, which means the money must be used to pay ministerial salaries and festival type celebrations. The minister who preaches tithing according to the Book of Malachi is also in my opinion condemning his congregation, because the Bible is very explicit on the requirements of doing and obeying the whole law, not just what the minister wants to pick and choose. Now the most amazing thing occurs when I bring this subject up to any and everyone. All, including ministers have said, "Well maybe we should bring back the half shekel tax". Instead of more grace, I hear more law. I even heard an Archbishop declare from the pulpit that no minister worth his salt would ever preach against tithing according to the Book of Malachi, and cut his own throat. In my opinion, Pharisaism is alive and well in the Bride of Christ. I also believe Pharisaism should be identified and cleansed from the church at all levels. There is a difference between the gentile and the Jew. Whenever Christ dealt with and healed or delivered a Jew, He always had the Jew go and perform and complete the law. When Christ dealt with a gentile, He said in effect, have a nice day and don't sin any more. Acts, chapter 15:1-33 deals with this difference and summarily absolves us from the requirements of Judaism. You might well ask the question, how do ministers then justify their position. Empirical evidence has shown me that ministers always try and associate an Old Testament verse(s) to a New Testament verse(s). In this case, I usually hear about the incidents of Paul collecting gifts from the different churches to relieve the misfortune of another church, specifically the Church of Jerusalem. These collections of gifts had both a beginning and an end, and were over a short time period. They had nothing to do with tithing. The other, is that when a minister can get the individuals of the congregation to commit to tithing as in the Book of Malachi and the law, they bring up and apply the story of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts, 5) to put the fear of God into those same individuals to make them fork over money forever out of obligation to the law, and not out of a joyful freewill and grace filled spirit. It should be obvious to you by now, that if tithing is performed according to the Book of Malachi, then the money must be used to party and feed the ministers, a half shekel tax equivalent will have to be gotten to maintain the church services, and free will offerings will have to be taken to undertake any and all building contracts. If this is not done, then condemnation from God can be expected as well as death. SO WHAT'S THE POINT! Law verses grace. Gentiles are saved by God's grace. All our giving is to be an offering to the Lord. Christians don't give money to the church or a pastor. We lay our offerings on God's altar for Him to use. The church is to spiritually discern how to properly dole out God's provisions and practice good stewardship. If a person chooses to give ten percent (a tithe) of their gross income to the Lord out of love and remembrance of what God has done in their life, it remains an freewill offering, not an obligation of Mosaic law. The question can and should be asked, should a gentile give ten percent of his or her gross income. Yes! Yes! Yes!

Just as Abraham gave ten percent to Melchizedek out of reverence to the Lord, and Jacob gave ten percent of all he had and his increases, we should give ten percent to the Lord for he is a priest after the order of Melchizedek as it says in Hebrews, chapter 7. Read Hebrews Chapters 6 and 7 to get a full understanding. This giving is outside the law, and is performed in the joyful and freewill style that God really wants from His people. Whatever a person gives under grace must be given in a joyful and freewill manner, and not under obligation of the law. Ultimately, the amount or percentage of money, goods, time, and or services, that a person gives is between God and the believer. I do think, that just as Abraham and Jacob gave out of reverence and respect for what God did and would do for them, that the ten percent figure is a scriptural one, and should be used as the first standard of formulating how much to give to the Lord. Remember, the believers described in the Book of Acts joyfully gave 100% of all they were and had. A second question then, is how are the offerings of the saints to be used. Remember, God's Word and His promises are eternal. He always remembers the poor, orphan, widows, and sojourners. Most of the churches I have been to spend most of their income on salaries, buildings, programs, and building maintenance. That is to say that when I checked the financial statement at the annual business meeting, I found that over 65% of the funds went to fulfilling religion versus spirituality. This is due to two reasons as I see it. One the church spends its money unwisely, and two, the congregation does not give enough. The question is good vs. bad stewardship on both sides of the pulpit. Individually and corporately we must seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to find the right answer. To me God's promises never become null and void. The promises God makes to Israel about what He will bestow on Israel if they fill the storehouse of the Lord will apply to us as well, as long as the money is wisely and properly spent according to the Lord's will. I have also noticed that a lot of God's commands and covenants take on higher and higher spiritual meanings as the ages pass. In my opinion, I feel that the law of tithing does have a higher spiritual corollary in the New Testament.

Think about it. What act in the New Testament requires the same attitude of heart and mind that is to be achieved before its performance? What act is to attest to the sovereignty and blessings of God and of God's relationship to man? What act when properly performed according to scripture is done as a celebration and in a party atmosphere, and done as an act of pure religion as described in James, chapter 1:27? Answer: The Lord's Supper. The Lord's Supper, combined with the offering makes a complete celebration, which includes the half shekel tax, the tithe, and the freewill offering. Read again Genesis 14:18, where Melchizedek brought out bread and wine and blessed Abraham. Christ is a priest in the order of Melchizedek and He instituted the wine and bread as an ordinance to be performed in remembrance of Him until He comes again. Christ is also our ransom and the atonement for our sins as the half shekel tax was to Israel. Abraham gives a freewill offering of ten percent (a tithe) to Melchizedek after receiving a blessing, thus completing the ceremony. God always refreshes man on all levels, spiritually, emotionally, and physically at the same time. When I read about the church in Acts I envision a group of believers in small groups throughout the city who come together at set intervals in one large group to celebrate and party together remembering their Lord and their redemption and forgiveness of sins through Him. They do this by everyone bringing what food, money, and goods they can, sing songs to the Lord, sit down at tables, break the bread, have a feast, share testimonies, take care of old and new business, offer prayers to God, then drink the wine, close in song, and dole out the leftovers to the poor, widows, and orphans. Now that is celebrating the Lord's Supper the way it was designed originally. For me, when I compare this type of celebration of the Lord's Supper to the tithing celebration in Deuteronomy, I see a great similarity. This begs the question why don't we do it this way today. That is a whole other article, but ask your minister anyway. When you hear the next sermon on tithing from Malachi, ask if the money taken in will be used according to Mosaic Law too. I think the answers to both questions will surprise you.

Footnote: This was originally linked to Christian Underground Journal, which was suddenly taken off-line sometime in November 1998. This article is reprinted here with permission by the author, Jeff Dull.

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