Reply to Brother Dave's Spiritual Reflections
Dave: Firstly we need to understand that the tithe belongs to God. It is not ours, and must be returned to God.
Russ: Although money was common in Genesis the true biblical tithe was always only food from inside Israel which had been miraculously increased by God off His holy land. It belonged to God because it came off his land. God did not accept tithes which did not come from His holy land.
Dave: The tithe is an expression of gratitude to God by His people.
Russ: No. The tithe was cold hard law which must be given by food producers who lived inside Israel whether they were grateful or not.
Dave: Tithing is our acknowledgement of God’s ownership of everything in the earth.
Russ: Even though God owned everything, He did not accept tithes from outside the holy land of Israel.
Dave: The tithe is 10 percent of our total financial income. This includes all of our income before taxes, family support income, child benefits, inheritances or bonuses, and tax returns, monetary gifts, such as Christmas and birthday money, in fact any financial increase which comes into your life.
Russ: This is an incorrect definition of the true biblical tithe. Churches do not obey any of the tithing ordinance found in Numbers 18. It commands tithe-recipients NOT to own or inherit property and it gives the first whole tithe to the servants who functioned as ushers, deacons, choir, musicians and other helpers.
Dave: The tithe is not and offering, it is God’s money and must be returned to Him in full. This must be done weekly or monthly.
Russ: The tithe was never the same as a freewill offering.Dave: If we are not able to return to God His tithe of 10%, how then can we really expect God to return to us the wealth of the sinner? Proverbs 13:22 says: “the sinners wealth is laid up for the righteous.”
Russ: The word "tithe" is not found in Proverbs.
Dave: I want to look briefly at Genesis 4:3-5 Already, early in Genesis we see the foundation for tithing—the FIRST fruits of your labour.
Russ: Tithes are never the same as firstfruits. Firstfruits were very small token offerings per Deu 26:1-4 and Neh 10:35-37.
Dave: The very first person to tithe was Abram. The first act of tithing took place 430 year before the mosaic law was even written. It was then written in the law.
Russ: Abram's tithe was from pagan spoils of war. Abram was required to tithe spoils in obedience to well-documented Arab custom of his time. Abram's tithe would not have been accepted as a holy tithe in the Law. They were very different.
Dave: The law was put into place to hold the church together until Jesus came. When Jesus returned to the God, He left the Holy Spirit with us to guide us. The requirement to tithe is still operational, but now we return the tithe under grace, rather than forcibly under the law.
Russ: Tithing was not taught to the Church under grace after Calvary. Period. The necessary change of the law in Hebrews 7:12 (from 7:5) was the annulment of tithing in 7:18. Both the OT Temple and priesthood have been replaced by the priesthood of every believer. There is no such thing as a New Covenant storehouse.
Dave: Therefore tithing is not only part of the mosaic law it is a timeless covenant of blessings, which makes it not a begrudged legal requirement, but a joyous exercise in faith.
Russ: Then why don't modern tithe-teachers obey any of the tithing law found in Numbers 18?
Dave: Genesis 14:18-20
Russ: Nothing Abraham did concerning tithing is copied by any church today. (1) only pagan spoils of war, (2) none of his pre-existing property, (3) only once, (4) he kept nothing and (5) gave the 90% to the king of Sodom.Dave: This covenant was established 430 years before the law was even written. It is unchanging, it always was, and it always will be.
Russ: Tithing is not part of the Abrahamic covenant. It was legislated to support the Law's priesthood.
Dave: Jesus himself endorsed tithing. Matthew 23:23
Russ: Jesus lived under the full jurisdiction of the law and was teaching "matters of the law." He must teach tithing to his Jewish disciples but he could not teach tithing to his Gentile disciples. Dave: “do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. Matt. 5:17
Russ: Read and obey Matthew 5:19-48 which includes the whole law of commandments, statutes and judgments. Either all of the law still applies as such or none of it applies as written.
Dave: So we can clearly see that the early New Testament church tithed after the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Russ: Acts 21:20 suggests that the Jewish Christians in Judea were still paying tithes to the Temple system over 30 years after Calvary. Recorded church history does not verify that the early church attempted to teach or practice tithing until it became a state church of pagan Rome. It was not a law in the church until AD777.
Dave: The act of tithing crosses the bridge from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The only thing that was “left behind” was the requirement of the law.
Russ: You just quoted Matthew 5:17 to prove that we must still keep all the law. Tithing, along with the Old Covenant, priesthood, the Temple and the system it was designed to support all ended at Calvary.
Dave: Tithing then and now comes under grace, as being our very minimum level of honoring God with our finance. It is very simple — we return the tithe to God because it is His, not ours!
Russ: This is a common error. It assumes that everybody in the Old Covenant was expected to BEGIN their level of giving at a minimum of ten per cent. In reality the tithe only applied to food producers who lived inside Israel.
Dave: Numbers 18:25-26Russ: How can you list Numbers 18:25-26 and completely ignore what is taught in Numbers 18? If you own a house you are breaking the tithing law. If you do not KILL anybody who dares to enter the sanctuary, you are breaking the tithing law.
Dave: I work fulltime outside the church—have a good income, but I still struggle some weeks to meet my tithe.
Russ: You are to be commended for working full-time outside the church as the Apostle Paul did. However, tithing is not working for you because you are not receiving overflowing blessings. God is not operating from Old Covenant principles now.
Dave: Malachi 3:10-11
Russ: The whole law was a test --not merely tithing. Obey all to be blessed; break ONE to be cursed. In order to be blessed from tithing you must obey all 600+ commands of the law. That is why Paul wrote Galatians 3, especially verse 10.
Russell Earl Kelly