Dear Brethren,

How can we make God our business and financial partner in everything we do?  Early in the Proverbs, Solomon instructs his children in a vital lesson for a productive life.  Carried through to their higher intent, we see in these verses God's promise of, not only physical blessings, but more importantly, spiritual blessings leading to our part in the Plan of God.

"Honor the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:  So shall thy barns be filled with plenty."  (Proverbs 3:9-10)

In recent years, we have witnessed an assault on many of God's doctrines.  Among those doctrines, tithing to God in particular, is being questioned in this end-time.  Many of the Biblical details of the tithing issue can be answered with comparative ease once we recognize the fundamental reason God established tithing.

Abraham tithed before there was a written commandment to do so.  Some, seeking to do away with tithing, have pointed out that the example of Abraham tithing to Melchisedec can be explained in ways other than Abraham obeying God's command to tithe.

"Then Melchisedec king of Salem brought out bread and wine; He was the priest of God Most High. And He blessed him and said: Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand. And he gave Him a tithe of all."  (Genesis 14:18-20)

It is true that from this passage alone, it cannot be incontrovertibly asserted that Abraham tithed in obedience to a command from God.  Some have concluded that Abraham was simply expressing his gratitude for God's help in rescuing Lot by making an offering to Melchisedec.  However, this observation hardly settles the fundamental question we face today about tithing.  It is clear - Abraham honored the Lord with a tithe of his substance.

Paul demonstrated the far-reaching principle of tithing when he explained that by extension - even Levi was paying tithes to God through Abraham!   Remember, Levi was born three generations after Abraham.  The point is this - the tithes went to Melchisedec.

"Now consider how great this man [Melchisedec] was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils...  Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchisedec met him." (Hebrews 7:4,9-10 )

It is interesting to note that Paul compares Abraham's tithing to Melchisedec, to Israel's paying tithes to the tribe of Levi.  The tribes of Israel were commanded by God to pay tithes to the Levites using the additional income they received on increased lands - lands the Levites would have received had they had a share in the original land inheritance distribution.  (Numbers 18:20)

"Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting."  (Numbers 18:21)  

The Levites, in turn, tithed as do true ministers of Jesus Christ today.  More than anyone, they looked to God, and relied on God - the source of their sustenance.  The law applies to everyone.

"Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up a heave offering of it for the LORD, >even a tenth part of the tithe." (Num 18:26)

God owns everything - when we use His earth, we return ten percent of the substance we obtain from it to Him.  In this way, we recognize God's ownership of His creation, and we acknowledge God as the source of all our increase.

"... I am God, even thy God: for the world is mine, and the fullness thereof."  (Psa 50:7,12,  Job 41:11,  1Co 10:26,  Exodus 19:5)

Melchisedec, King of Salem, is Jesus Christ our High Priest.  He was High Priest during the time of all of the patriarchs, even Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Jacob understood that all sustenance originated with God.

"And this... shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."  (Gen 28:22)

In Hebrews 7, Paul is demonstrating that, as the Israelites paid their tithes to the priesthood of the Levites - the Brethren of the Church of God also pay their tithes to Jesus Christ - "for the work which they perform." (Numbers 18:21)  Paul added:

"Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?"   (1Co 9:13)

In Hebrews 7:5,12, Paul explained that the priesthood is now of Jesus Christ.   The Levites had a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, and the Levites "paid" tithes to Melchisedec via Abraham.  The Melchisedec priesthood is the ultimate priesthood - now the priesthood of Jesus Christ.

"For the priesthood [of Levites] being changed [not abolished], there is made of necessity a change also of the law."

Perfection did not come by way of the Levitical priesthood - it was necessary that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec - the High Priest Jesus Christ. (Heb 7:11)

What is the reason we must tithe?  We need to nail down, so to speak, the formal legal basis for the actual requirement for paying tithes.  God commands us to tithe in His law, the formal statutory law He gave Israel.  We have been commanded to tithe!

"Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year."  (Deuteronomy 14:22)

We need to remember that, when we read the books of Moses, we typically are reading what God intended to be the formal statutes and judgments for the nation of the Israelites. In the most real sense possible, we are reading a Body of Law — laws that include what we have understood as three separate tithes, each with its own conditions and purpose. Notice the simple command establishing what we have called first tithe in Leviticus 27:30.

"And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's.  It is holy to the Lord."

Similarly, the commands regarding what we have called second tithe and third tithe can be found in Deuteronomy 14:22-29.

"You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year. And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always."  (Deuteronomy 14:22-23) 

"At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do." (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)

As we should remember, God is so serious about obedience to His law, including tithing, that He rebuked and indicted the ancient Israelites (and in principle, their modern descendants) for failing to tithe. God considers failing to tithe to be robbing Him.

"Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation."  (Mal 3:8-9)

God recognizes the human tendency to deny wrongdoing and to ask, "what did we do wrong?"  Unfortunately, a similar heresy of denial has surfaced today.  Some men, looking for an excuse not to tithe, are looking at the commands, as written to a primarily agricultural people over 3000 years ago, as explicit statements of the entire breadth of God's will on tithing for all time.  Their attitude can be expressed, "Well, God only mentions livestock and produce, so that's all that is needed to be tithed on.  We don't have to tithe today on our wages and our salaries."

Let's put that heresy in perspective.  Surely we are not so naive as to believe that God would give us a monetary salary and then not expect us to tithe anything because we were paid in dollars instead of grain or livestock!   Money can buy food!  Increase is increase!  Abraham tithed on his portion of the goods he garnered while rescuing Lot - and it wasn't cabbages or tomato plants that he gave to Melchisedec!  So, we should tithe on whatever increase we receive from our labors — whether that increase is money, goods, produce, livestock, or whatever!

"And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly."  (2Chronicles 31:5)

Jesus Christ made an interesting observation about the Jews of His day and how they practiced tithing.

"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone." (Matthew 23:23)

The command to tithe was well known and practiced in Jesus' day.  He confirmed that tithing was to be done.  We should note that Christ acknowledged that the Jews were correct in tithing even the smallest of seeds, in spite of their having neglected "the weightier matters of the law." The Jews wanted to make sure they did not rob God! 

In this final time before Christ's return, let us hold fast to all of the Truth we have been given.  Humanly, we are too prone to look for an excuse to forget or a reason to let down. Let us remember to keep God's law — ALL of His commands.

Most of the very elderly Brethren are on Social Security or a pension plan.  God does not require that they tithe on that income.  It is the same with Workman's Compensation, disability income, insurance payments, savings plans and unemployment income.  The principle is - those are not "increase" - those are revenue from plans that have already been subject to the tithe.  God only asks for a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee.

Brethren, it is very easy to prove these things - God says for us prove it this way:

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."  (Malachi 3:10)

An interesting sidelight:  The USA and Canada along with the other English speaking nations are the modern descendants of Israel.  In some parts of Canada, the tithe is recognized by civil law, and the Fourth Council of Quebec (1868) declared that its payment is "binding in conscience on the faithful"!


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