Type Here to Get Search Results !

Christians And The Tithe - Part 5

This is the fifth installment in the series on Tithing in the manner in which it is taught in many churches today. You must first read Part 1Part 2, and Part 3, and Part 4 for better clarity on this subject. Today we will look at how tithing was a law during the times of Nehemiah and Amos.

tithe-grain-wine-image


While many readers will want to jump right to Malachi and evaluate my comments on Malachi 3:8-10, I have attempted to structure this in such a way that any layman reader will first become familiar with its context in the book of Nehemiah and Amos. While Malachi contains the word tithe only once, Nehemiah contains it seven times in three chapters.

SEVEN TIMES

Nehemiah 10:37 -- And that we should bring the first fruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground to the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.

Nehemiah 10:38 -- And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.

Nehemiah 12:44 -- And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the first fruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.

Nehemiah 12:47 -- And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things to the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them to the children of Aaron.

Nehemiah 13:5 -- And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.

Nehemiah 13:10 -- And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.

Nehemiah 13:12 -- Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil to the treasuries.

NEHEMIAH

Nehemiah arrived around 445 BC. It was approximately 435-430 BC, about one hundred and fifty years after Judah's captivity in Babylon. He was a contemporary of Malachi, who also mentioned the rebuilt temple.

He allowed them to reconstruct their temple and reintroduce the sacrificial system. Nehemiah was a key figure in reminding the people of the law's moral code. The people reacted to Ezra the scribe's reading of the Law of Moses by fasting, confession, and loud repentance.

Thus, tithing in Nehemiah should be required reading in order to understand the context of tithing in Malachi. Please read my entire post from Nehemiah to Malachi before drawing any conclusions about Malachi 3:8-10.

Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi span the time period from 536 B.C. to approximately 400 B.C. and should be read in sequence. Captivity lasted seventy years, from 606 to 536 B.C. 

By 519 B.C., the temple had been rebuilt by Zerubbabel and the prophet Haggai, and by 445 B.C., Nehemiah had completed the wall of Jerusalem, bringing us to chapter ten, where tithing is first mentioned.

Except for those who chose to remain amid the ruins of Jerusalem and one of ten who was compelled to live there by lot in Nehemiah chapter eleven, no priest or Levite was ever intended to reside permanently in Jerusalem.

LEVITICAL CITIES AND PRIESTLY COURSES

They were introduced in the previous chapter in Second Chronicles 31. When studying Nehemiah, keep in mind the context of the Levitical cities and the 24 priestly and Levite courses. Why are these two themes essential in a tithing study? The answer will surprise many devout Christians. The command in Malachi 3:10 to "bring all the tithes into the storehouse," cannot reasonably imply what most tithing instructors believe it implies.

A curse and an oath were made by them and their noble brothers to follow God's LAW as given by Moses-God's servant and to obey all the LORD our Lord's commandments, judgments, and laws.

This chapter is extremely important in regards to tithe and the Law. This group of individuals "entered into a curse and oath to live in God's Law, which was given by Moses, the servant of God." This language and terminology should be well-known.

While the Israelites were in the desert, Moses detailed the law which God gave him. 

Deuteronomy 27:26 -- ‘Cursed is the one who refuses to keep the words of this law.’ Then all the people will say, ‘Amen!’

Deuteronomy 28:15-68 explains the curses in detail. They heard the law again, replied "Amen," and confirmed that they were bound to follow all of God's commandments, or face a curse. This curse will be mentioned again in Malachi's message and in the New Testament.

First-fruits and tithes were restored. The Levites were to receive tithes “in [their] agricultural communities.” A priest was to be present when they received the tithes.

Nehemiah 10:29 -- They joined to their brothers, their nobles, and entered into a curse, and into an oath, to walk in God's law, which was given by Moses the servant of God, and to observe and do all the commandments of the LORD our Lord, and his judgments and his statutes;

It is the same folks as Nehemiah. The four curses of Malachi are the Old Agreement or the Old Covenant, or Mosaic Law, self-imposed curses when they reaffirmed the covenant with an oath.

Nehemiah 10:32-33 -- Also we made ordinances for us, to charge ourselves yearly with the third part of a shekel for the service of the house of our God; For the show bread, and for the continual meat offering, and for the continual burnt offering, of the sabbaths, of the new moons, for the set feasts, and for the holy things, and for the sin offerings to make an atonement for Israel, and for all the work of the house of our God.

Edersheim claimed that the Temple shekel, not the tithe, was the temple's main source of revenue. It was obligatory of every Hebrew, circumcised servant, and proselyte. There was enough money left over after buying the sacred animals for all the feasts, new moons, and sabbaths to rebuild walls and roads. In other words, the people agreed to pay a tax to support the Temple.

Nehemiah 10:34 -- And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn on the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law:

This short inscription shows that the priests and Levites helped carry wood to the temple. Their "courses" were allocated by lot. For the priests and Levites, this meant one week out of every twenty-four.

2 Chronicles 23:8 -- So the Levites and all Judah did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest had commanded, and took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that were to go out on the sabbath: for Jehoiada the priest dismissed not the courses.

WHO RECEIVES WHAT?

Nehemiah 10:35-37 -- And to bring the first fruits of our ground, and the first fruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, to the house of the LORD: Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstborn of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, to the priests that minister in the house of our God: And that we should bring the first fruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, to the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground to the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.

This list matches the ordinance of Numbers 18. Aside from the tithe, the priests on their one-week cycle had enough to eat from the first-fruits and firstborn offerings sent to the Temple in Jerusalem. More food from sacrifices and free-will offerings was added to this list. But none of these things were to be offered to their Levite assistants, temple guards, singers, etc.

Nehemiah 10:37 -- "...and the tithes of our ground to the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage."

If you think all tithes should be delivered to the temple storehouse which modern preachers declare to be the Church, this may be the most destructive passage in the Bible. This single phrase clarifies Malachi 3:10"bring all the tithe into the storehouse." So either Nehemiah 10:37 or Malachi 3:10 has been put "out of context."

However, although verses 35-37 state that the firstfruits and firstborn were taken to "the priests," verse 37 plainly states that the TITHE was given to the Levites in their fields. So, following the Law, the Jews in Nehemiah's day brought first-fruits. 

However, the actual "storehouse tithing" was previously talked of in Nehemiah 10:37-39. There was grain, fresh wine, and oil in the storage for the temple workers.

The Levites lived on borrowed land in agricultural communities. Few Levites worked in the temple at any one time. They brought the Levitical tithe to the temple. Only 1% of the people's harvests and animals were brought there to be eaten by the priests and Levites. The remaining 9% stayed in agricultural areas.

In other words, 90% of the tithes delivered to the Levites stayed in the towns where the Levites lived. No "festival tithe" or "poor tithe" made it to the temple storehouse. 

Numbers 18:21-24 tells the people to tithe to the Levites, and this mandate is reiterated in Nehemiah 10:37. It is stated in Numbers 18:25-28 that the Levites must pay a tenth of this sum to the priests.

Nehemiah 12:44 -- On that day men were appointed over the storerooms for the contributions, first fruits, and tithes, to gather into them from the fields of the cities the portions prescribed by the law for the priests and the Levites, for the people of Judah took delight in the priests and Levites who were ministering.

The tithes, sacrifices, and first-fruits were carried into the temple storehouse from the fields. These tithes were for the priests and Levites. Workers supervised the warehouse.

Nehemiah 13:4-13 -- Previously, Eliashib the priest, in charge of the temple's storerooms, had sided with Tobiah. And he prepared for him a spacious chamber where they had previously kept the grain offerings, frankincense, articles, tithes of grain, new wine and oil, and the priestly sacrifices. But I wasn't in Jerusalem, since in the 32nd year of Artaxerxes the Babylonian, I returned to the king. Then I got permission from the king to go to Jerusalem and found out what Eliashib had done to Tobiah by arranging a chamber for him in the temple courts. It saddened me so much that I threw Tobiah's furniture away. When they had cleaned the chambers, I returned the temple items, together with the grain offering and the frankincense. I also noticed that the Levites' shares had not been distributed; each Levite and singer had returned to his field. So I argued with the authorities, “Why is God's home abandoned?” And I collected them and placed them. Then all Judah brought the tithe of grain, new wine, and oil. I appointed Shelemiah the priest, Zadok the scribe, and Pedaiah the Levite as treasurers over the storeroom, followed by Hanan the son of Zaccur, son of Mattaniah, who was to distribute to their brothers.

Nehemiah's reforms failed quickly. On his return to Jerusalem, Tobiah had entered the temple while he was gone. Tobiah slept in a big storeroom. Previously, tithes of grain, fresh wine, and oil were stored here for the Levites, singers, gatekeepers, and priests. 

The temple Levites were not getting their share. The Levites and singers returned to their farms. Rather than being chased away, they may have fled before Tobiah arrived.

When Nehemiah returned, he was saddened and inquired why the temple of God had been abandoned. He threw away Tobiah's stuff, cleaned and restocked the storerooms, and appointed new treasurers. The people started to give their tithes of grain, new wine, and oil again.

The prophet Malachi reproved the Jews in Judah for the same sins Nehemiah described in this chapter, and conservative scholars usually date his prophecies about 432-431 B.C. So Nehemiah may have returned to Jerusalem about 431 B.C.

RECAP

In Nehemiah, there are several differences that can be clearly seen between Old Covenant and what is presented as the New Covenant tithe.

The Old Covenant system cannot function in our culture. Many small churches do not have enough employees to collect 90% of the tithe, and a full-time pastor would not be able to live on a tenth of the tithe. So, instead of ten percent of the tithe, the pastor gets up to a hundred percent of the tithe today.

Nehemiah appears at least twelve hundred years after the tithe was first mentioned in Numbers 18 and Leviticus 27. Despite the fact that hundreds of other professions existed, the tithe was only required of farmers and herders. 

It is still only a tithe of the grain, wine, and oil. The Pharisees extended this formula to include tiny garden spices, but the biblical tithe never refers to goods and money earned through crafts and non-land-use professions.

Most tithe-teachers must keep their congregations uninformed of the background of the Old Covenant tithe recipients. How can one explain tithing for people who lived in rural fields as farmers and herders for just two weeks out of forty-eight? They did not all reside in Jerusalem and work in the temple and this is a lie we may be led to believe today.

PROPHET AMOS

Amos 4:1-5 -- Listen to this message, you cows of Bashan who live on Mount Samaria! You oppress the poor; you crush the needy. You say to your husbands, “Bring us more to drink!” The Sovereign LORD confirms this oath by his own holy character: “Certainly the time is approaching when you will be carried away in baskets, every last one of you in fishermen’s pots. Each of you will go straight through the gaps in the walls; you will be thrown out toward Harmon.” The LORD is speaking! “Go to Bethel and rebel! At Gilgal rebel some more! Bring your sacrifices in the morning, your tithes on the third day! Burn a thank offering of bread made with yeast! Make a public display of your voluntary offerings! For you love to do this, you Israelites.” The Sovereign LORD is speaking!

Amos was written 300 years before Nehemiah. It was aimed against people who mistreated and crushed the underprivileged while living in luxury in Samaria, northern Israel.

Amos 4:1 -- Listen to this message, you cows of Bashan who live on Mount Samaria! You oppress the poor; you crush the needy. You say to your husbands, “Bring us more to drink!”

God vowed to judge them.

Amos 4:2-3 -- The Sovereign LORD confirms this oath by his own holy character: “Certainly the time is approaching when you will be carried away in baskets, every last one of you in fishermen’s pots. Each of you will go straight through the gaps in the walls; you will be thrown out toward Harmon.” The LORD is speaking!

To worship at Bethel and Gilgal, he employed sarcasm to entice others to transgress. Then He sarcastically ordered them to bring their tithes and sacrifices to Him.

Amos 4:4 -- “Come to Bethel, and transgress; to Gilgal, and multiply transgression; bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days..."

"Days" in verse four may also be translated as “years,” remembering the requirement in Deuteronomy 14:28 to set aside a tithe every third year for Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. The KJV, NIV,  and YLT all interpret this as "years."

In any case, it is odd that God would instruct people to bring their sacrifices, tithes, and freewill offerings. God has always prioritised the poor since Moses. They were "majoring in minors and minoring in majors." 

All of this was secondary to what God wanted, love for Him and compassion for their neighbours, particularly the impoverished. According to Jesus the whole Law and Prophets depend on these two commandments, and some things of the Law were “weightier” than others.

Matthew 22:34-40 -- But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.  On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matthew 23:23 -- “Woe to you, experts in the law and you Pharisees, hypocrites! You give a tenth (tithe) of mint, dill, and cumin, yet you neglect what is more important in the law – justice, mercy, and faithfulness! You should have done these things without neglecting the others.

I hope you are being built on a good and clear foundation to understand tithes. 

Feel free to comment or email me. I will try and reply as soon as possible.

Stay safe, healthy, and growing in Christ.

Blessings,

Godwin.



Post a Comment

2 Comments
* Please Don't Spam Here. All the Comments are Reviewed by Admin.
Unknown said…
So this was the last part.
Godwin Sequeira said…
There are new posts coming up. This is the latest one. Part 6. https://bit.ly/3hVHisH
Stay tuned as I will publish new posts as time permits.

Below Post Ad

Ads