2nd Reply to Pastor Mike ThompsonI. Tithing and the LevitesMike: The Levites were assigned to the service of the Lord at all times.
Russ: This is not taught in the Bible. The Bible merely says that, in exchange for their service as servants in the tabernacle, they would not be allowed to own or inherit property. It does not say that they did not have other occupations.
Mike: … so they did not occupy a particular territory in the Promised land like the rest of the tribes. Instead they were scattered out among all the other tribes.
Russ: According to Numbers 35, Joshua 20 and 21 and numerous other texts, they lived in loaned land in 48 cities. They lived in the first area of land which surrounded those cities. After the exile the land contained 13 cites but some cities may have been added.
Mike: Their sole purpose was for service. So they did not work in the fields, or hunt, or do anything outside of that service.
Russ: This is mythology and assumption. Numbers 35 and Joshua 20 and 21 make it clear that they farmed and herded (tithed) animals. (Somebody had to feed them.) Also, from 1 Chronicles 23 to 26 it is clear that they had learned and practiced many trades in order to use them in building and maintaining the Temple. Church historians point out that the Levites, priests and even high priests were found in almost all professions. In fact, they only ministered in the Temple one week out of twenty four, or two weeks per year. For much more on the Levitical cities and 24 courses see my chapter on Nehemiah.
Mike: As a result, the other eleven tribes supported them and provided for them by bringing them a tithe of the produce of the land.
Russ: Do not forget that the Levites were only servants to the priests. They performed all of the dirty and manual work such as woodworkers, metal workers, sculptors, bakers, animal skinners, janitors, guards, treasurers and (during David and Solomon's time) became rulers, judges and politicians. This is found in Numbers 3 and 18 and 1 Chronicles 23 to 26. The Levites, not the priests, received the first whole Levitical tithe and gave the priests one tenth of their portion per Numbers 18:21-28 and Neh 10:37-38.
Mike: I took most of this information from this site.
Russ: It is terribly wrong.
Mike: So the tithe to the Levites was a commandment from God (Numbers 18:8-32).
Russ: And today the Levites have been replaced by UNPAID ushers, deacons, choir, musicians, home bakers and treasurers and PAID politicians. No church follows this pattern.
II. Tithing and Abraham (Abram)Mike: I also referenced Abram's tithe to King Melchizedek in Genesis 14. I stated that the tithe was given to the King from the spoils of war …
Russ: Why? Very old and very common pagan and Canaanite tradition required that a tithe from spoils of war be given to one's local priest-king.
Mike: … and that it was a gesture of respect to the one in authority.
Russ: This is not found in the Bible. Yet it is found in almost every commentary within textual validity.
Mike: Matthew Henry's commentary of the Bible suggests that King Melchizedek was actually Shem or Japhath; meaning he was one of the sons of Moses.
Russ: That does not make it true. According to Genesis 4:26 the worshippers of the true God knew him by the name of Yahweh. Why did Melchizedek not know God by this name?
Mike: In Malachi 3, God scolds those that refuse to give the proper tithes to Him through His priests.
Russ: According to Nehemiah 10:29, Malachi 3:7 and Malachi 4:4, tithing was a small part of whole law. The whole law was a test. Obey ALL to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. Old Covenant tithing in Malachi was not repeated to the Church after Calvary and (fortunately) neither was the commandment in Numbers 18 that the priests should kill anybody who dared to worship God directly.
III. Tithing and JesusMike: I refer back to another link concerning Jesus and His views on tithing. As taken from the link: "for the Church, the point is this: Jesus implies that responsible disciples are expected to contribute to the work of God appropriately. And the standard contribution to the work of God was, and still is, ten-percent."Russ: Mathew Henry taught a double tithe. He was part of the established state-church which collected food tithes from Roman Catholics in Ireland and drove thousands to seek refuge in the USA. The non-state-church Protestants of Matthew Henry's day all opposed tithing until around the 1870s.
IV. Don't Take My Word For It!Mike: For the sake of time, space, and my own energy; I will stop my thoughts on the subject here. And since we have established that I don't know everything, I would advise you to use this as a springboard to launch yourself into research mode. There is a lot of information available and I would have you use some of the links that I referenced as your starting point. I hope that you learned something new from this little survey. I know that I have. And it is my prayer that we would all continue to grow with each other as we continue to grow in the Lord. More lessons to come in the future. Peace and love. Mike
Russ: Thank you for encouraging a deeper study on the subject. May God richly bless you is my prayer.Russell Kelly