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Christians And The Tithe - Part 3

In the previous post, we saw the mention of the first tithe which was for Levitical support. We continue with the second and third tithes in this post.

2. FESTIVAL TITHES

This post provides instructions for the Israelites to pay a second tithe, known as the "Festival tithe," which was to take effect when they crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. They were to travel to Jerusalem at the appointed times to rejoice throughout that period. 

This second tithe and other contributions covered the costs of these festivities. They were required to consume at least a portion of the tithe, which was believed to consist of grain, wine, and oil. They were also reminded of the need to constantly looking after the Levites.

Please read PART 1 and PART 2 to get a thorough background to this teaching.

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Deuteronomy 12:5-19 -- But you must seek only the place he chooses from all your tribes to establish his name as his place of residence, and you must go there. And there you must take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the personal offerings you have prepared, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. Both you and your families must feast there before the LORD your God and rejoice in all the output of your labor with which he has blessed you. You must not do like we are doing here today, with everyone doing what seems best to him, for you have not yet come to the final stop and inheritance the LORD your God is giving you. When you do go across the Jordan River and settle in the land he is granting you as an inheritance and you find relief from all the enemies who surround you, you will live in safety. Then you must come to the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to reside, bringing everything I am commanding you – your burnt offerings, sacrifices, tithes, the personal offerings you have prepared, and all your choice votive offerings which you devote to him. You shall rejoice in the presence of the LORD your God, along with your sons, daughters, male and female servants, and the Levites in your villages (since they have no allotment or inheritance with you). Make sure you do not offer burnt offerings in any place you wish, for you may do so only in the place the LORD chooses in one of your tribal areas – there you may do everything I am commanding you. On the other hand, you may slaughter and eat meat as you please when the LORD your God blesses you in all your villages. Both the ritually pure and impure may eat it, whether it is a gazelle or an ibex. However, you must not eat blood – pour it out on the ground like water. You will not be allowed to eat in your villages your tithe of grain, new wine, olive oil, the firstborn of your herd and flock, any votive offerings you have vowed, or your freewill and personal offerings. Only in the presence of the LORD your God may you eat these, in the place he chooses. This applies to you, your son, your daughter, your male and female servants, and the Levites in your villages. In that place you will rejoice before the LORD your God in all the output of your labor. Be careful not to overlook the Levites as long as you live in the land.

This was a moment of celebration at God's chosen location. The tithe had to be eaten there, not at home. They were to accompany their families, slaves, and any Levites living inside their walls. The ones who raised animals and grew vegetables were presumably the wealthier people of the day since the Bible states all who were in their gates.

According to Deuteronomy twelve, another ten percent was to be donated for a yearly celebration-feasting with one's family, friends, and servants. The aim of this second tithe was to create religious festivity and mutual fellowship among God's people.

We can associate it with Jerusalem's three yearly feasts, the Feasts of Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles.

Exodus 23:14-19 -- "Three times in the year you must make a pilgrim feast to me. You are to observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread; seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you, at the appointed time of the month of Abib, for at that time you came out of Egypt. No one may appear before me empty-handed. You are also to observe the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors that you have sown in the field, and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year when you have gathered in your harvest out of the field. At three times in the year all your males will appear before the Sovereign LORD. You must not offer the blood of my sacrifice with bread containing yeast; the fat of my festal sacrifice must not remain until morning. The first of the firstfruits of your soil you must bring to the house of the LORD your God. You must not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk."

Deuteronomy 16:1-17 -- Observe the month Abib and keep the Passover to the LORD your God, for in that month he brought you out of Egypt by night. You must sacrifice the Passover animal (from the flock or the herd) to the LORD your God in the place where he chooses to locate his name. You must not eat any yeast with it; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, as symbolic of affliction, for you came out of Egypt hurriedly. You must do this so you will remember for the rest of your life the day you came out of the land of Egypt. There must not be a scrap of yeast within your land for seven days, nor can any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until the next morning. You may not sacrifice the Passover in just any of your villages that the LORD your God is giving you, but you must sacrifice it in the evening in the place where he chooses to locate his name, at sunset, the time of day you came out of Egypt. You must cook and eat it in the place the LORD your God chooses; you may return the next morning to your tents. You must eat bread made without yeast for six days. The seventh day you are to hold an assembly for the LORD your God; you must not do any work on that day. You must count seven weeks; you must begin to count them from the time you begin to harvest the standing grain. Then you are to celebrate the Feast of Weeks before the LORD your God with the voluntary offering that you will bring, in proportion to how he has blessed you. You shall rejoice before him – you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites in your villages, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows among you – in the place where the LORD chooses to locate his name. Furthermore, remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and so be careful to observe these statutes. You must celebrate the Feast of Shelters for seven days, at the time of the grain and grape harvest. You are to rejoice in your festival, you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows who are in your villages. You are to celebrate the festival seven days before the LORD your God in the place he chooses, for he will bless you in all your productivity and in whatever you do; so you will indeed rejoice! Three times a year all your males must appear before the LORD your God in the place he chooses for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Shelters; and they must not appear before him empty-handed. Every one of you must give as you are able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God that he has given you.

The second religious tribute, known as the feast/festival tithe, was eaten by worshippers in the streets of Jerusalem during the three annual festivals according to Deuteronomy 12 and 14.

Deuteronomy 14:22-27 -- You must be certain to tithe all the produce of your seed that comes from the field year after year. In the presence of the LORD your God you must eat from the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the place he chooses to locate his name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always. When he blesses you, if the place where he chooses to locate his name is distant, you may convert the tithe into money, secure the money, and travel to the place the LORD your God chooses for himself. Then you may spend the money however you wish for cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or whatever you desire. You and your household may eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and enjoy it. As for the Levites in your villages, you must not ignore them, for they have no allotment or inheritance along with you.

The verse above repeats the second tithe specified in Deuteronomy twelve. The firstborn of their herds and flocks were included in the tithe. In the event that long-distance travel was required, their tithe might be sold for money. 

This freed them of the burden of transporting huge quantities of animals and products. The money would then be spent on meals for each household to eat in the location where God put His name. Money was not given to the Levites as a gift.

3. TITHE WITH A BLESSING

Deuteronomy 14:28-29 -- At the end of every three years you must bring all the tithe of your produce, in that very year, and you must store it up in your villages. Then the Levites (because they have no allotment or inheritance with you), the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows of your villages may come and eat their fill so that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work you do.

The third tithe was to be put aside every third year for foreigners, fatherless, widows, and Levites residing within the Israelites' borders. This tithing came with a blessing. This tithe averaged out to 3.3 percent annually, thus increasing the total to nearly twenty-three percent per year in tithes demanded from the Israelites.

Strong's Concordance indicates that this tithe, like previous tithes, was made up of agricultural products rather than money and not everyone was obligated to tithe. 

Alfred Edersheim, a renowned expert on Judaism, as stating that tithe was not widespread in Israel "because it did not extend to crafts and trades."

Deuteronomy 26:12-15 -- When you finish tithing all your income in the third year (the year of tithing), you must give it to the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows so that they may eat to their satisfaction in your villages. Then you shall say before the LORD your God, “I have removed the sacred offering from my house and given it to the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows just as you have commanded me. I have not violated or forgotten your commandments. I have not eaten anything when I was in mourning, or removed any of it while ceremonially unclean, or offered any of it to the dead; I have obeyed you and have done everything you have commanded me. Look down from your holy dwelling place in heaven and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us, just as you promised our ancestors – a land flowing with milk and honey.”

This order was also issued before the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land and it repeats the third tithe provided previously. 

Deuteronomy 26:1 -- When you enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you occupy it and live in it.

It is referred to as "the year of tithing" in this context, and the beneficiaries are again the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. The individual tithing needs to be able to claim that he did so correctly. He may then pray for his people and country to be blessed.

It is wrong to claim that the impoverished in Israel were compelled to pay tithes. In reality, they got tithes. The impoverished received a large portion of the second festival tithe and the whole of a special third-year tithe. 

In reality, many rules protected the poor from exploitation and costly sacrifices that they could not afford. Erroneous assumptions about tithing would be reduced if we did not disregard the very clear definition of tithe as food from farm increase or herd growth.

SUMMARY 

A thorough examination of the tithes provided in the Law of Moses reveals three distinct tithes:

The first tithe is divided into two portions, as stated in Numbers 18:21-32. The first section in Numbers 18:21-24 describes the tithes paid to the Levites as their inheritance since they had no land ownership. It amounted to ten percent of one's income. The second section in Numbers 18:25-32 depicts the Levites' tithing from this sum to Aaron for the priesthood.

The second tithe is mentioned in Deuteronomy 12:5-19 and is repeated in Deuteronomy 14:22-27. This tithe went towards the yearly feasts. It was to be brought to Jerusalem and eaten there. The Levites only received a tiny part of this tithe, which accounted for an extra ten percent of one's income.

The third tithe is described in Deuteronomy 14:28-29 and is repeated in Deuteronomy 26:11-13. It was given to the poor rather than the Levites. It was distributed every three years during the "year of the tithe," and it was intended for foreigners, orphans, widows, and Levites who could not care for themselves. It amounted to 3.3 percent of one's yearly earnings.

As a result, individuals who were entitled to tithe had to put aside an average of 23.3 percent of their income each year simply to pay the tithes for the Levites, feasts, and the poor. The Israelites were obliged to pay three tithes. All these tithes comprised of crops and animals.

Tithes were only food, from farms and animals owned by Israelites who lived inside God's Holy Land which is the national border of Israel, and the growth could only come from God's hand.

Consequently, non-food goods, clean wild game animals and fish, non-Israelites, food from beyond Israel, legal tithing, and tithes from hunting and fishing were not permitted.

To tithe according to the Old Testament, you must quit your work and farm to produce animals and crops. You'd need to locate Levitical priests to tithe to. You must observe the Old Testament feasts and eat your tithe before the Lord.

You would have to give God twenty percent of your herds and harvests for two years and then another ten percent to the needy for the third year, for a total of thirty percent tithes that year. So long as you accomplish all of this, you are tithing perfectly.

INSTRUCTION

Whenever you read and study the posts, please sit with a bible and book and mark the scripture verses given, read them so you can have a better understanding of what is written in context to the Old and New Covenants.

I trust this series is blessing you. Do write a comment or email me.

Blessings,

Godwin.



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