The process of giving in the early Christian church was not like it was under the law of Judaism. In Jesus Christ the people had been set free from the confines of the Old Testament law, but this did not take place until the New Covenant came into effect at the death of Jesus.
The early Christian church did not tithe, but they gave according to their means. Whatever they had that was excess to their needs they offered to The Lord and as we see in this section of the scripture, they had all things in common so that no one was lacking in anything that was necessary for the sustenance of life. The difference between old and new covenants is that tithing was a requirement of the law. Under the law the Jews had to tithe as it was a commandment. But in Christ, under grace, giving was a free choice and not a commandment.
The early Christians recognised that the things of this earth are temporary and transitory and that the real possessions and inheritance were to come from The Lord through the gospel of salvation. They were awaiting salvation unto eternal life and entry into the kingdom of God that can only come through the knowledge of Jesus and walking in His ways.
So they counted the things of this world as nothing and meaningless by comparison and they gave freely to help others out who had little or nothing. But they did not tithe, which raises the question as to why tithing is such a big issue in the church today? Why do so many churches insist on taking tithes from the people and teaching that it is necessary? And more importantly, tithing as practiced today is a big problem to the modern Christian church.
What is Tithing?
I have written an extensive and emailed paper on the subject of the problems of tithing in the Christian church which you can find here.
Briefly though, tithing was a law under the old covenant that provided an inheritance for the tribe of Levi who did not get any land in the dividing up of the land of Israel when Joshua dispossessed the nations. And if they did not have land they could not make an income, given that they needed land to grow crops and sustain livestock and so on.
The tithe was given to the tribe of Levi as a perpetual due. (Numbers 18:21-24) The tithe belongs to Levi in perpetuity until the end of time. No one else has a right to the tithe and if anyone else other than Levi takes a tithe they are breaking Gods law and doing it under false pretences. If anyone but a Levite takes a tithe, they are sinning for they do not have the right to take the tithe.
The Temple Worship
The tithe was taken from the other eleven tribes by the Levites, but then the Levite tribe had to offer a tithe of the tithe to the temple in Jerusalem for the purpose of the administration of the temple by the priesthood. (Numbers 18:26) The Levites were the tribe from which the priests were named and no one other than a descendant of the tribe of Levi could become a priest and serve in the temple in Jerusalem.
If anyone else from one of the other eleven tribes were to attempt to stand as a priest they would be rejected. It is only a Levite who can serve in Gods temple and a descendant of the Levite tribe who can become a priest. (Numbers 18:22)
So in terms of the amount of the original tithes that were taken from the eleven tribes, only one tenth of one tenth actually came into the temple, that is, 1%. Keep that figure in mind when you think about the way churches tithe today and also who it is that takes tithes.
What is Tithed?
As for the nature of the tithe itself, God did not make it onerous for the people of Israel. They did not tithe money at all. They could give money as a gift to the temple but they did not tithe money.
The tithes that were given were from the produce of the flocks and the ground. (Leviticus 27:30-33) They gave of their grain, herb, vegetable and fruit crops, and they gave of the increase of their herds and flocks. It was only agricultural products that were tithed and thus not everyone tithed. A scholar, carpenter, labourer, tent maker, soldier and so on who received wages did not tithe their wages for their work was not agricultural. But if these people had a vegetable garden on a patch of land, then they would tithe any output from that.
Why was the tithe only agricultural products? Because these were gifts from God. It is God who gives the rain and sun that allows the grains, fruit and vegetables to grow and also the increase in the stocks of farm animals. Thus the tithe is a gift of the works of God given back to God for the purpose of enabling his chosen priesthood, the Levites, to do their work.
But money is the creation of man. When Jesus was asked about whether He paid taxes he asked whose likeness was on the coin. He was told Caesar. Then Jesus said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesars and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21) In this statement He showed that money is the invention of the world and the government and that we pay taxes to the governments as required under state laws. But we do not offer the things of this world to God. We offer God the things of the Spirit…praise, worship, prayer and so on.
The Problem with Tithing Today
Now keeping in mind the points above, you may see that there are problems in the taking of tithes by the church today. But it is even more dangerous than you may suspect for tithing will stunt your growth as a Christian.
Tithing is not part of the New Covenant for a very good reason. It blocks the work of the Holy Spirit and will prevent you finding the fullness of the truth of the New Covenant. Also, tithing in the modern Christian church is built on lies and false doctrine.
You may find this difficult to believe, but it is the truth. Consider these things.
Nowhere in the bible are the priests instructed to take money from the people as a tithe. And yet what is the nature of the tithe taken in the modern church…money! Thus the nature of what is tithed today is not part of scripture and is false. Tithing money is the first lie.
Nowhere in the bible is anyone but the tribe of Levi permitted to take a tithe for it was given to them in perpetuity. (Yes, Melchizedek received a tithe from Abraham, but the law that gave tithes to Levi came after Abraham and then they were given to Levi forever). I ask, can those people in the church today who take money tithes prove their bodily descent from the tribe of Levi? And if not they are taking it under false pretences. The second lie.
The modern church takes 10% of people’s incomes as a tithe today, but in the bible only 1% of the tithe actually went to the temple. The other 9% was distributed to the Levite peoples who had no land inheritance in the lands of Israel. Thus, even if it were correct to tithe today, those who are taking tithes are robbing the people by taking too much. The third lie.
Finally I have heard some of those who take tithes in the church today say that they do so because they are the “modern Levites” and that they fill the role that the Levite priests did under the Old Covenant. Well the Levites were instructed to teach and maintain the laws of Moses as delivered under the Old Covenant, complete with sacrifices and so on. In essence what these “modern Levites” are doing when they say this, is they are re-establishing the temple worship under the old covenant law. They are rebuilding the temple, sewing up the temple curtain that was torn in two at the death of Jesus and stepping away from the truth of the New Covenant. They have set themselves up, falsely I should add, as priests of Levi. The fourth and most dangerous lie of all.
And yet Jesus was not a priest of Levi and we do not worship God under the priesthood of Levi but under the priesthood of Melchizedek. And as it says in Hebrews 7:12, “For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.” The law under the Old Covenant is gone, including tithing, for we serve God not under the priesthood of the old covenant law, that is Levi, but in the priesthood of Melchizedek in Jesus Christ who took away the law, took away sin and set us free to worship God in spirit and truth.
These modern Levites are turning away from the truth of Jesus Christ and corrupting it because they mix the law of the old covenant with some of the new teachings and create a hodge podge religion that is part law, part works, part faith, part fabrication by misquoting scripture and as a result, based on falsehood. Lies upon lies.
And insisting on tithing as part of the New Covenant is at the root of it. They insist on tithing in the church and call anyone who does not tithe a thief who is robbing from God. And yet in their own actions they are being false to God.
In summary, they tithe the wrong things (money). They take too much for the church (10% rather than 1%). They do not have the right to take tithes as they are not descendants of Levi. They are re-establishing the system and forms of worship that Jesus came to take us away from (the old covenant law). So I ask, who is really doing the right or wrong thing?
My concern is not about the money, it is about the bondage that tithing brings to a Christian for Jesus came to set us free (“The truth will make you free.” John 8:31-32) it is only when we stand in the freedom from sin and freedom from law that the Holy Spirit is able to work in us to bring us into the image of Jesus Christ. When a person is subject to one law, they are bound to keep all of it. (Galatians 5:3) And when the veil of the law lays over a person’s mind they are unable to see the truth of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit is prevented from doing His work. It is only with an unveiled face, free from the law, that we are able to be changed by the Holy Spirit into the image of Jesus Christ from one degree of glory to another. (1 Corinthians 3:15-18)
Christian giving on the other hand is based upon the generosity of the people of Christ. It is based upon the understanding that whatever we have today is a gift from God that we can employ in His service if we so choose. We do not have to give as there is no compulsion and we do not have to go without or to give to the point of pain as some churches teach. That is NOT the way of God and as we see in this section of Acts 4, no one was in need.
Christian giving is a gift of love. Tithing is a compulsion required by law. Tithing is a tax but Christian giving is a gift. There is no binding in Christian giving and no law that says you must give. It is entirely free will and there is a blessing to those who do give for, “God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
All of the principles of Christian giving are covered in 2 Corinthians 9 and none of it mentions tithing but the free will offering of goods according to your means. The church would do better to listen to these words than the extortion of tithing that is falsely practiced under the veil of lies of what they falsely call Christianity.
Strong words? Yes! But this is one of the most dangerous practices in the modern church because it negates the truth of the freedom of the new covenant that Jeus dies for and brings His people into the bondage of the law that His death freed them from.
(Image sourced from http://truthforfree.com/html/tithing-related/tithing.html )
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