Rebuttal of Bishop Elijah Hankerson on Tithing
By Russell Earl Kelly, PHD; January 29, 2019
Elijah: Opens by quoting Malachi 3:10
Russell Kelly: (1) Malachi 3:10 is addressed to national Israel under the Old Covenant. God forbade Israel from sharing that covenant with Gentiles and tithing was never repeated to the Church after Calvary. (2) True holy tithes were always only food beginning in Leviticus 27:30-34, 1000 years later in Malachi 3:10 and another 400 years later by Jesus in Mt 23:23.
RK: Not necessarily. Jesus was born, lived, taught and died in the context of the Old Covenant which was only commanded to national Israel.
EH: The apparent principle [from Job] … is that we should give God the best when it comes to offerings.
RK: Not always true. First-fruits were “first” “fruits” and not necessarily the “best.” Also, the Levitical tithes were specifically NOT the “best,” but the “tenth” (Lev 27:30-34). Only the “tenth of the tenth” (1%) given by Levites to the priests were specifically the “best” (Num 18:21-28).
EH: Quotes Gen 14:17-20 and Heb 7:1-2.
RK: (1) Gen 14:17-20 is not an example of “holy” tithing! The Bible does not tell us WHY uncircumcised Abram tithed. Many conclude it was in obedience to the Semitic spoils-of-war custom. (2) Abram’s tithe is never used as an example of holy tithing by any Bible writer. (2) Hebrews 7 uses tithing as a literary vehicle to prove the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ.
EH: Quotes Gen 47:20-26. [Pharaoh’s 20% tax]
on Egypt … was a pattern for Israel to later follow.
RK: No. The average for 14 years was still only 10%. Pharaoh then used that food to own all the land in Egypt. God did not such thing.
EH: Quotes Num 18:21 and Deut 26:12.
The clergy was to respect God's offerings.
RK: EH missed the truth behind these texts. (1) As a whole, Numbers 18:20-28, teaches that the first whole Levitical tithe went (not to the clergy) but to their servants. It also teaches that the clergy (the priests) only received a tenth of the tithe. (2) EH omits the fact that, by receiving tithes, both Levites and priests were forbidden from owning and inheriting land in Israel or amassing wealth (no part with them). (3) Deut 26:12 teaches that the second festival tithe was to be eaten by all and not stored up. The clergy were to stay poor and be first in line.
EH: Quotes Prov 3:9-10.
RK: Like the holy tithe, first-fruits were limited to food from inside the holy land of Israel.
EH: Quotes Acts 20:35.
RK: The surrounding texts teach the very opposit of tithing. Paul refused to allow the Ephesians to support himself or those with him! Speaking only to prechers (the elders of surrounding churches), Paul commanded them to follow Jesus‘ examle and give to the needy.
EH: Quotes 1 Cor 9:7.
K: Again, this teaches the opposite of a commanded percentage of tithe. Post-Calvary, Spirit-taught giving is to be from the heart, not reluctantly not by any compulsion and cheerfully.
EH: Who was Malachi talking to? Quotes Malachi 1:6.
RK: The text says Malachi began speaking to the dishonest (thieiving) priests in 1:6 and 2:1. Commentaries totally miss the fact that YOU remains the pirests throughout Malachi.
EH: Quotes Mal 1:7-10 and 2:11-17.
RK: EH does not point out that 1:7-10 descibes dishonest pirests (not the general population) have stolen from God. He ignores the fact 2:11-12 is a short digression and 2:13 reverts to the dishonest priests.
EH: Quotes 2:17.
RK: He does not point out the fact that the dishonest priests are accusing God of indifferemce.
EH: What was God saying through Malachi?
RK: EH omits 3:1-5 where God promises to cleanse the dishonest priesthood.
EH: The text infers that Jesus paid tithes and taxes.
RK: No. No. No. Jesus was a carpenter, not a food producer. God did not accept the product of man’s craft as tithes. Jesus did not tithe and neither did Paul.
EH: Quotes Mt 23:23.
RK: Mt 23:23 is not about the New Covenant or the Church. Jesus was placing woes upon the Pharisees for exaggerating the Law and for making it a burden.
EH: Quotes Mark 12:17. When correctly interpeted literally, Jesus said that money with man’s images and man’s writing cannot be given to God.
EH: While many people have valid arguments against Gentile Christians paying tithes (for example: there is no more temple, there is no more Levitical priesthood, we are not under the Mosaic law) I am going to err on the side of caution because --- You can never lose following Jesus' example.
RK: That makes no sense. As a Jew under the jurisdiction of the Law, Jesus must teach in accordance to that Law before Calvary.
EH: 2. No one has come up with a better solution to finance the work of the Church.
RK: The Holy Spirit has come up with the commandment to give (as Christ did) freely, sacrificially, generously, out of the heart, not grudgingly, not by commandment and cheerfully --- plus with a burden for lost souls and missions. Rom 8:2 “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.”