Russ Kelly Rebuts Gary Linton on His Tithing Doctrine
Gary: Nehemiah 13:10-11a NKJV says, “I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to the field.
Russ: Every single statement in your article is erroneous because it is out of context. Read all of Nehemiah 13:5-11! (1) HOLY tithes were always only food from inside Israel. (2) The high priest, Eliashib (not the rulers) had removed the tithe out of the temple storeroom (13:5) (3) He must have kept the priests’ portion because only the Levites left to get something to eat. (4) Priests and Levites also worked as herdsmen (of tithed animals) and farmers in their loaned fields (Numbers 35; Joshua 20, 21) and had many other provisions (2nd Chronicles 23 to 26; Num 3).
Gary: So I contended with the rulers, and said why is the house of God forsaken?”
Russ: Eliashib the high priest was clearly responsible. He had stolen the Levites’ portion of the tithes. This is also the real context of Malachi 1:6-14; 2:1-2 and 3:8-10).
Gary: Nehemiah had discovered that the house of God had been forsaken.
Russ: Only by the Levite servants to the priests. The priests are not included among the Levites who left. Priests had removed the tithes. Read your own quote of Neh 13:10-11; the Levites (not the priests) did the dirty heavy work of the temple).
Gary: The Levites had to go back to working in the fields to provide for themselves.
Russ: These are their own fields in their own Levitical cities. These are mentioned many times in the Old Testament – especially Numbers 35 and Joshua 20, 21.
Gary: They had quit because the tithe wasn’t being given to the house of the Lord.
Russ: No. The tithe had been given to the Levites and priests per Neh 10:37-38 but the priests under Eliashib had stolen them. The room in 13:5 had previously been full of tithes. Compare 1 Kings 6:6 for its small size.
Gary: Nehemiah rebuked the rulers for their negligence,
Russ: To the extent they had allowed Eliashib to remove the tithes per Neh 13:5.
Gary: the tithe was restored,
Russ: This was an emergency re-stocking of the small room in the temple designed to hold tithes for those Levites and priests serving a one week rotation. Again, see Neh 10:37-38.
Gary: the Levites left the fields and went back to work in the house of God as God had ordained.
Russ: Only about 2% of the Levites and priests served in the temple at any normal time. Since they rotated 24 courses (families), the vast majority stayed in their Levitical cities – 23 of 24 courses, all women, all girls, all men under 20.
Gary: It is never God’s intention that men and women of God should have to work secular jobs and the ministry (bi-vocational).
Russ: You are so very wrong here. This is not taught or seen in either the Old or New Covenants. Read 2 Chronicles 23 to 26. Although Levites and priests were not allowed to own or inherit land in exchange for the tithe, they worked many trades essential for the temple such as guards, woodworkers, masons, metal-workers, cooks, fabric makers, sculptors, janitors, etc., etc., etc. See also Numbers 3. After Calvary Paul boasted of working to support both himself and his associates (Acts 20:29-34) and urged others to follow his example.
Gary: They are to be provided for by means of the tithe (Numbers 18:21).
Russ: Numbers 18:21-24 and Neh 10:37b prove that the whole first tithe only supported the Levite servants to the priests who did not minister the blood. Next, Numbers 18:25-28 and Neh 10:38 prove that the priests who ministered the blood only received one tenth of the tithe (that is, one percent of the total). Why did you ignore these texts? In Numbers 18:1-20 the priests also received from many other sources. Any reputable church history book will tell you that all priests and Levites were required to learn and work other trades. They merely could not own property because they received the tithe.
Gary: The house of God is inevitably neglected when the ones He has called cannot devote all their time to the ministry.
Russ: Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.
Gary: If the truth was known, we do not use the tithe today as God originally intended.
Russ: The truth is that modern Christians have re-defined the HOLY tithe from “only food from inside God’s HOLY land” to “income from all sources.” You have changed the Word of God.
Gary: We give our tithes to pay for all the expenses of the church when in actuality the tithe was to be given to support the ministry or ministers.
Russ: Close, but still wrong. Those Levites who received the whole tithe were only servants to the priests (Num 18:21-24; Neh 10:37b).
Gary: Their tithe and additional offerings was what was used for general expenses.
Russ: OT priests were not commanded to tithe. The OT temple was not supported by tithes at all. Only freewill offering and spoils of war (which could pass through the fire) paid for temple building expenses.
Gary: Can you imagine all that could be done for God if His tithe was set apart for those called to minister full time?
Russ: Can you imagine how churches would grow if the OT stewardship Law was replaced by New Covenant principles of grace and faith? The Reformation would finally be completed.
Gary: Tithing is a Principle Set Forth by God
Russ: In order for something to be a “principle,” it must apply equally to everybody. “Holy tithing” always only applied to OT Hebrews who lived inside God’s HOLY land as food producers. There is no other “tithing principle” in the Bible.
Gary: The tithe was instituted by God through Abraham before the Law ever existed.
Russ: No. Most pagans around Canaan tithed before Abram’s time. God did not institute pagan tithing.
Gary: Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek while the law was still in his loins (Genesis 14:20 and Hebrews 7:5-10).
Russ: Uncircumcised Abram’s tithe was not “holy” under the law. It consisted of pagan spoils of war from Sodom. We are not told why Abram tithed of if he ever tithed again. It was probably in obedience to the pagan custom of giving tithes of spoils of war to one’s local king-priest.
Gary: If the principle of tithing existed prior to the giving of the law it stands to reason that it would continue after the law is abolished.
Russ: Hebrews 7:5, 12 and 18 are extremely important. Since 7:5 is the first use of “commandment,” “tithe” and “law” in Hebrews, then that which was “of necessity changed” in 7:12 must refer to tithes from 7:5. How was it “changed”? The answer is in 7:18; the “commandment to take tithes” was “abolished, annulled.”
Gary: The law merely picked up the principle that God had already setup before the law existed.
Russ: No. The Law completely re-defined the pagan concept in terms of the HOLY tithe of the Law.
Gary: The Tithe Belongs to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30)
Russ: Read the entire context of 27:30-34! It is the HOLY tithe of only food from inside HOLY Israel which God had miraculously increased. Period! Perform a search of “money” in Genesis and you will find it very often. Although money was common, money is never included in any description of holy tithes.
Gary: It is God’s not ours.
Russ: It was only God’s for those OT Hebrews who lived inside His HOLY land as food producers. It was never required from Gentiles, the Church, non-food producing Hebrews or Hebrews who lived outside HOLY Israel. Tithes could no come from defiled pagan lands. That is clear.
Gary: That is why Malachi said we were robbing God when we withhold the tithe (Malachi 3:8).
Russ: The “we” of Malachi 3:8-10 refers to “we-priests –every priest in the nation” who had stolen the tithes from the Levites. Beginning at Malachi 1:6, “you” refers only to the dishonest priests of Judah who had stolen the tithe as described in Nehemiah 10:5-10 and Mal 1:13-14; 2:1-2.
Gary: Actually, if the truth be known, all we have belongs to God.
Russ: This was also true in the O.T. times. Yet, even then the HOLY tithe was always only food from inside HOLY Israel.
Gary: Tithes Are the Firstfruits of What Is to Come (Proverbs 3:9)
Russ: Wrong. Compare Deuteronomy 26:1-4 and Nehemiah 10:35-38. Tithes were tenth-fruits reckoned after the full harvest. “Firstfruits” were only very small token gifts of HOLY food first harvested.
Gary: Israel was to bring God the firstfruits (tithe) of the harvest.
Russ: Firstfruits are never called tithes in God’s Holy Word. Please stop your lie.
Gary: Therefore, tithing is a principle of faith and not law.
Russ: No. Tithes were required whether or not faith was present. Tithes were commanded by law only to OT Hebrews. Gentiles were not even allowed to bring tithes to the temple.
Gary: Notice, it is the firstfruits and not what we may have left after we have paid everything else.
Russ: You just contradicted your own text of Leviticus 27:30. One cannot tithe a harvest-crop until the full harvest has been received; it is impossible to calculate ten per cent before the harvest is complete.
Gary: The Tithe Should Go to the Storehouse (Malachi 3:10)
Russ: See Should the Church Teach Tithing? Read my chapters on Nehemiah and Malachi and the discussion of the Levitical cities. The temple of 2nd Chronicles 31 (Hezekiah) was still that of Solomon and it had no facilities for storing the whole tithe of the whole nation – that is why they dumped it on the streets!!! According to Nehemiah 10:37b-38, the whole tithe went to the Levitical cities where it was needed as food for 98% of the Levites and priests. In turn, they then brought what they needed to the temple storeroom (Neh 13:5) in Jerusalem for food for one week at a time. Study the course rotations.
Gary: We are to bring the tithe to the storehouse that there may be food (provision) in God’s house.
Russ: Food to eat. Since Christianity was an illegal religion until after AD 312, church buildings were illegal and there was no “storehouse” concept.
Gary: We give our tithe so that the priest (pastor/minister) is able to adequately prepare food (spiritual food) for your dinning pleasure.
Russ: OT priests only received one tenth of the whole tithe (1% total) per Numbers 18:21-28 and Neh 10:37-38. Today all believers are priests before God.
Gary: The tithe goes to the priest enabling him to have time to prepare properly for your spiritual diet.
Russ: Gospel workers are not priestly mediators between God and man (2 Tim 2:5). The Apostle Paul taught exactly the opposite of what you write in 1 Cor 9:1-14 and Acts 20:29-34. Why would he boast about disobeying a direct command of tithing was for gospel workers?
Gary: Tithing Releases God’s Blessing (Malachi 3:10)
Russ: The whole Law was a test, not merely tithing (Deut 27-30). Please read Galatians 3:10-14, especially 3:10. In order to be blessed from law-keeping, one must perfectly obey all 600 + commands of that law. God did not bless OT Hebrews who tithed and transgressed other commands.
Gary: There is something about His children stepping out in faith and trusting God by their commitment to tithing that releases God’s favor and blessing. It is not law or a works thing but faith.
Russ: We express faith even more by giving freely, sacrificially, generously and not by commandment (2 Cor 9:7). Our faith is in purely post-Calvary New Covenant principles of giving.
Gary: … until there’s no longer room to receive it.
Russ: If the author of this article was himself “tithing,” then he should have personally experienced these overflowing blessings with no room to store them. And, if every church member who claims to have tithed also received such overflowing blessings, then the whole world would know it and copy their example. This is a demonstrable farce!!! New Covenant Christians are not under the Old Covenant law!
Gary: Tithing Releases Spiritual Revelation. Luke 16:11
Russ: This text is not about tithing. It relates more to principles of grace and faith.
I challenge any and every tithe-advocate to a public (open) dialog on this subject. It has been treated as a taboo subject long enough.
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
316 Aonia Rd
Washington, GA 30673