Sunday, February 20, 2011

Tithing Dialog: Feb 20, 2011

Pastor: The “you” in Malachi 3:10 is referring to the people of Israel (note Malachi 3:6, “O children/descendants of Jacob”

Kelly: “O children of Kelly” can refer to 2 of my children, 2 Kelly children or all of my Kelly relatives. The biblical phrase can also be used to address part of the whole: Judah was but one of 12 tribes of the nation Israel. The priests of Judah were also “children of Jacob.” Your logic does not prove that God was addressing either all 12 tribes of Israel or even all of Judah.

Pastor: – this is a term that is used in Scripture to refer to the nation/people of Israel; 1 Chronicles 16:13, Psalm 77:15, 105:6, Jeremiah 2:4;

Kelly: Your texts prove my point and disprove your argument. The phrase “sons of Jacob” could refer to any 2 Hebrews, any 2 Judeans or any 2 priests – or more.

Pastor: … also note “the whole NATION of you” in Malachi 3:9),

Kelly: The phrase “of you” is not found in the KJV but is in the NAS, RSV and most other translations because it completes the thought. The controlling word is “you” and, beginning at 1:6, the word “you” always refers to the priests. Please show me where this is not true.

Pastor: whereas the “you” in Malachi 2:1, 2 is clearly referring to the priests. Keep in mind that the book of Malachi is addressed to the people/nation/children of Israel (Jacob) whom the priests are a part of.

Kelly: Keep in mind that the specific addressee narrowed in 1:6 to the priests and was repeated in 2:1 to the priests. You cannot prove that the word “you” is ever changed away from the priests in Malachi.

Pastor: Actually, in the text that you reference [Neh 10:37-38], the Levites were responsible for bringing the tithes to the storehouse, not the priests.

Kelly: In other words you are saying that the priests were careful to count the tithe when the Levites received it but did not care to make sure that their whole share was brought to the Temple. Both Levites and priests rotated to the Temple for one-week periods of service every 24th week according to their courses. Common sense says that they traveled together and the Levites did the carrying.

Pastor: To this point I will just say that if you take the “you” in Malachi 3:10 as referring to the people of Israel (which I do), then the phrase “bring all the tithes into the storehouse” has the idea of “give all the tithes to the Levites so that they can bring them in the storehouse,” which to the Israelites was not something that need be said because it was obviously common knowledge to them who was responsible for that task.

Kelly: Nehemiah 10:38 only mentions the tenth of the tithe which was the priests’ share. Your argument fails because of three false assumptions.

First, you assume that the whole tithe went to the Temple storehouse. Actually, according to Neh 13:5 and 1 Kings 6:6, this was only two rooms combined into one approximately 10’ by 20’ storeroom and that size room could not possibly hold the tithes of the nation. From 2 Chron 31, Hezekiah’s Temple was still the one Solomon built and it had no storerooms for the whole tithe. Hezekiah correctly returned 98% of the tithe to the Levitical cites where 98% of those who needed it for food lived (2 Chron 31:15-19).

Second, your interpretation of “you” from Malachi 3:10 being the people is wrong. You have just admitted from Neh 10:37-38 that only the Levites were normally required to bring tithes to the Temple – and the people were commanded to bring their tithes to the Levitical cities.

Three, you assume that the whole tithe belonged in the Temple. This makes no sense whatsoever because only one family of Levities and priests served at the Temple most of the time. When 23 of 24 courses lived far away in cities like Hebron and Jericho, they did not travel to the Temple when they needed food. When you consider that 96% (23 of 24) plus wives and younger children (2%), then 98% who ate the tithe were not in Jerusalem. The typical interpretation of the whole tithe being stored in the Temple is absurd.

If “you bring the whole tithe into the Temple storehouse” only refers to priests who had removed it in Neh 13:5-10, then it makes sense.

Pastor: The question that must be asked is what does Paul mean by the “curse of the Law”?

Kelly: You need to define the way you use the word “law.” The formal Law from Exodus to Deuteronomy was only commanded to Old Covenant national Israel (Ex 19:4-6). You cannot produce a single text where God commanded the Gentiles (most of us) or the Church to live under the jurisdiction of the law. We never were “under” that Law. “The Law” includes the entire law of commandments, statutes and judgments.

Pastor: In its context, Paul’s point is that those who rely on the works of law for justification before God are cursed (see Galatians 3:10).

Kelly: Read all of Galatians. Paul is speaking of the whole law which was
“added” and that includes the statutes and judgments. Paul was countering Jewish Pharisee Christians (as in Acts 15) who were trying to force Gentile Christians to be circumcised, keep the Sabbath, stop eating unclean foods and tithe to the Temple system (compare Acts 21:20,21). I say “You see Galatians 3:10.” It is quoting Deut 27:26 which introduces the blessings and curses associated with the whole law!!!

Pastor: This does not nullify the fact that we are to keep God’s commandments and principles expressed in those commandments as a loving response to God for justifying us through the person and work of Jesus.

Kelly: “We” are NOT Hebrews and never were under that Law.

Which commandments? The Ten? Do you worship on Saturday at sunset? Do you allow your slaves to rest on the Sabbath? Do your children live long in the land of Israel?

Again, which commandments? Is the moral law found throughout the statutes and judgments? Is not tithing a statute in Numbers 18 and not a moral commandment? You need much clarity here.

Pastor: Is there a principle of honoring the Lord with our money in the Scriptures? Yes.

Kelly: We are New Covenant Christians responsible for obeying New Covenant principles found after Calvary for the Church. Tithing was a cold hard law to support a priesthood which sacrificed animals in a Temple. Today both the priesthood and Temple now dwell in every believer. The new giving principle is sacrificial giving following the example of Christ.

Pastor: Is there a principle of taking care of those who labor in the gospel? Yes (1 Timothy 5:17-18.

Kelly: Read 1 Timothy 1-16 before reading 17-18. The context is DISCIPLINE. When disciplining a pastor-elder believers are to use double-honor or double-caution because of his authority. The text is not speaking of a double salary. Paul boasted in 1 Cor 9:12-19 and Acts 20:29-35 that he was self-sufficient. Why would he now tell Timothy to receive a double salary?

Pastor: I also believe that this principle is given in the Old Testament when we see God telling the people to give in honor of Him and so that those who are responsible for maintaining the tabernacle/temple and are involved in the service of the tabernacle/temple can be taken care of;

Kelly: This kind of logic can be used to argue that the USA should still obey English Law which was declared null and void in 1776.

God did not tell all people to honor him with tithes. God only commanded food producers who lived inside Israel to support the Levites and priests because they could not own land. You have changed God’s definition of the biblical tithe. As the double-inheritance-to-firstborn went into effect, many left farm ownership and either worked for relatives or moved to the cities to learn trades. These did not tithe. Jesus, Peter and Paul did not qualify as tithe payers.

Pastor: Paul – although he didn’t make use of this right with the Corinthian church - indirectly states a principle, which he says the Lord commanded (vs. 14) - of taking care of those who are called to a full-time vocation in ministry in 1 Corinthians 9:3-14).

Kelly: Your statement is based on several false assumptions:

First, you depict Paul directly disobeying what you call a command from Jesus – that is called sin. If it were a command, Paul would have insisted on being supported by tithing.

Second, you assume that gospel workers are called to a full time ministry. That cannot be demonstrated from Scripture. Even Old Covenant priests spent most of their time (23 of 24 weeks) farming and herding tithed animals and working trades to be proficient in the Temple. Beginning at David, the kings used Levites as politicians: rulers, governors, treasurers per 1 Chron 23 to 26. The Bible is silent about full time workers and Paul personally opposed it.

Third, you refer to 1 Cor 9:3-14. You miss the principle: each vocation has its own rules. Soldiers receive spoils. Herders drink milk from the herd. Grape gatherers drink the wine from the grapes. Temple workers under the law receive from dozens of sources of support. And gospel workers live from gospel principles of grace and faith. 9:13 allows for all types of Temple sustenance and not merely tithes.

Pastor: Here is where I ultimately stand on this issue of tithing. First, it is a secondary issue and should not be seen as one that is foundational to Christianity …

Kelly: Many churches mention this “secondary issue” almost every week. It is foundational because it shows whether or not a church leader understands the gospel correctly and whether he wants to impose Old Covenant giving on the New Covenant church and ignore better New Covenant giving principles based on Christ’s example.

Pastor: … thus one that is not sufficient to determine fellowship status among believers.

Kelly: Churches use tithing to divide their congregation into qualified and unqualified castes and only select leaders from tithers. This is contrary to the qualifications for elders and deacons and it does not use all the gifts of the spirit when gifted-but-poor members cannot tithe.

Pastor: Second, whether one believes in tithing or grace-giving, the principle of honoring the Lord with our first is still something that we should adhere to.

Kelly: You are still at least subconsciously controlled by your incorrect definition of tithing. According to Leviticus 27:30-34, the tithe was neither the first nor the best. According to 1 Timothy 5:8 a Christian’s first income should buy essential medicine, food and shelter. It is sin for a church to expect the first of one’s income.

Pastor: Third, we as believers in America who have been privileged to have buildings, staff, etc., should be willing to give so that those things can continue and those who are responsible for stewarding it should do so in a way that is honoring to Jesus and is above reproach with people.

Kelly: Agreed.

Pastor: There is much more that I can say regarding this topic, but I hope this has been helpful for you.

Kelly: Don’t stop now. We need to exhaust this subject for the glory of God.

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