About the author

Ken Mafli

Ken Mafli

is passionate about Theological Anthropology and has been studying the Bible, humanity, and how we relate to God for over 20 years.

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    How about more food for thought? (I am acullaty flutemom’s husband) Before one can understand Old Testament Tithing one must understand the religious, political, and social climate in which it was given. Israel’s existence was established as a Theocracy. All three areas were under the direct rule of God. (as it will be in the Millennium and in the new Jerusalem)As has been pointed out, the tithe was more than 10% and each tithe was used for different purposes. Some for political, some for religious, and some for social. If one were to insist on the tithe being for today then one would have to conclude that the giving of our taxes is part of our tithe. The giving of money for social reasons, both in the political and non-church settings would also be considered as part of our tithe.In all three areas of Israel’s tithe, religious, political, and social, the tithe was used for the needs of other people. As I see it, about the only correlation one can make between OT tithing and the church today is that we have an obligation to provide for one another’s needs. This can be done through many avenues a collection plate, social programs to feed the poor,spontaneous giving as needs are brought to our attention, and even government programs.Just because the Apostle Paul CHOSE to work does not mean that everyone who serves God full time HAS to work. Paul even stated he was working so as not to be a burden to the ones he was ministering to. Therefore, his working was out of expediency and not of compulsion. Yet Paul also took gifts($$$) from another church. Each situation was dealt with on an individual basis. So to say one method of providing for each others needs is right while another is wrong is inconsistent with both Paul’s, and Christ’s, example. (Jesus healed several people with the same diseases yet did so in different ways.)One more thing Both the laws’ in the OT and the free giving’ (or Grace) of the NT were for the revealing of what is going on inside our hearts, not our heads. So whether we feel we are forced to give by tithing in the local church or whether we give all our money elsewhere, God has always, and still is, looking at our hearts condition. If our hearts are not right with respect to money, all methods by which we feel we have to give are of no value to us. Each one of us will give an account to God for we do with our money in providing for one another. We also have no right to criticize (Judge) another’s decision on how they choose to give. We are all SERVANTS and my instructions come from my MASTER and not another servant. If I keep this in mind then I will be able to praise God for what He has called me to do AND praise Him for what He has called you to do. MAYO

    1. 1.1
      Ken Mafli

      Ken Mafli

      Thanks for your reply. While I agree that God was instituting a Theocracy in the Law of Moses, I try not to draw any straight lines from OT tithing to today’s governmental social programs. You make the correct point that the tithing laws are something that should be used as principles to live by, not rigid rules by which we are judged. As such, I view the principles of the tithe as something not given out of obligation like a tax, but something given out of gratitude to the Kingdom. The main reason: God’s Theocracy is very much alive and well. So I give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Thanks for stopping by!

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        Just a bit on the heavy side these comments I made on tithe money and tthriy pieces of silver. I was reading Hebews on the priesthood of Christ. The writer said that Jesus was a priest after the order of Melchisedek. It also said that as a priest he had something to offer. Does anyone want to venture a guess what it was that Jesus offered? Well, never mind then, we should give him ten percent to offer to the Father just in case his offering wasn’t enough. How long does blood last anyway. Maybe God forgot and needs to see some cash to really appreciate something of value.Tithe money equaling tthriy pieces of silver, posh!! hum bug!!

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    Ken I have one question for you.

    Is there anywhere in the New Testament that talks about countinuine the tithes and ofering system? If so, please provide me with a few scriptures.

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      Ken Mafli

      Ken Mafli

      TCage – Great question and a thorny one at that. Let me start with a quick thought and then I will jump into the Scriptures:
      Most people ask that question because they want to know if Christians should tithe today as well. So looking for a New Testament precedent for tithing would create a clear path for Christians to tithe/not tithe. But I do not think it is a cut and dry as that. I will explain a little further after the verses:

      Matthew 23:23
      Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.

      Luke 11:42
      Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.

      Luke 18:12
      I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.

      Hebrews 7:5-6,8-9
      Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. … In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham,

      As you can see, there are verses in the New Testament that talk specifically about the tithe. But in the Gospels Jesus is speaking to those under the covenant. So that would not directly apply to the New Testament Christian. Also, in Hebrews the writer is making that case that Abraham paid a tithe to Melchizedek and therefore showed his priesthood to be paramount of that of Levi. So again, not direct command to the Christian to tithe.

      Now before we say that the Christian should not tithe, let’s consider Galatians 4, starting in verse 1. Here Paul is talking about the role of the Law. He tells us that it was set up to instruct us and teach us so that when we “came of age” as it were, we would know how to properly take our place as sons and daughters of the Most High:

      “What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.”

      While we as Christians are not bound to the formalities of the Law, the principles that we were taught are still important to the Christian. And if the Law taught us to support our local clergy, give to the needy, and give so that we and others can enjoy ourselves – then that is what we should continue to do. To me, a percentage like 10% is entirely appropriate for the modern Christian. Since Paul commands us to give “according to your means.” (2 Cor 8:11) And a percentage of your earnings would mean that you give only of what you have.

      Hope that helps. I truncated my response because I have already gone long and I still have a lot more to say…

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        Wow, it was for me to open up the computer and find you. I arose from a nap, after reading about The Birth of Christ, (Matt 1st chapter). Lying there my mind wondered on Tithing, why I don’t know. I read others, but yours stood out.

        Thank you so very much for your study, your knowledge and faithfulness to The Most High God. I will continue to read more about whom Our Father was addressing, and how He would have myself, as well as others I find myself talking too, to know more about Tithing.

        Tithing is very important to me. Reading the Old Testament talk about the Storehouse, the Church is suppose to take care of the widows, the motherless, the fatherless, the poor and much more. That is the reason for giving. Its not to make a ministry reach its goal in finances, God will take care of that. Some ministries are so focused on cursing their lay members about NOT paying tithes, until they have lost focus as to what they are suppose to be doing. The Church need to be taught on what I’ve just read. How can you disclose this information to the Ministry for them to understand about Tithing? They really need to know!!!!

        This information has opened my eyes, as well as soothed my Spirit, because for some apparent reason, I felt as if I’ve known this, yet don’t know how to put all the pieces together, so thank you, again. I have NO problem giving to God, especially for Him giving and doing one of The Greatest things, no man can compare to doing. They may think in their minds, but to endure the pain, no.

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        I tithe and I give the 10% because it was what God said. I tithe for obedience and for gratitude, besides makes me feel good knowing that by tithing I am helping someone.

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    Great response!

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    Hi Ken,

    I was searching for information specific to tithing spices when I came upon your blog and it was refreshing to read what I had read and known myself from scripture, but always seemed to fall on deaf ears when I spoke about it–namely the complex cycle of tithes and their connection to social justice, the priestly system and the celebration of life (to include the imbibing of wine and strong drink, if that was your thing (Deut. 14:26), However, what led me to write was not this, but your later reference in your comment section to the book of Galatians where Paul writes on the Law being a schoolmaster that leads us to Christ. Your comments, forgive me if I am misreading them, seem to suggest that the Law is still applicable to the Christian and I do not agree and I don’t think that New Testament scripture agrees, either. Paul is stating that PRIOR to the coming and sacrifice of Christ, the Law was set up to show us our need for such a sacrifice; however, once we accept that sacrifice for ourselves, we are under a NEW covenant, namely, grace. When James and the council at Jerusalem are debating which “laws” the Gentiles should follow (Acts 15) they push away from a legalistic perspective and suggest that the Gentiles should abstain for four things–abstain! –but they add no additional burden from Jewish law onto them. There are no “principles of the law” given to the Gentiles. What the Law teaches is death (Paul doesn’t call it “the Law of sin and death” without good reason–it is meant to show us our utter inability to please God through our own actions, no matter how severe. See Romans 7)Living under grace means living beyond the Law–our entire lives (which include our time and our money) are to be offered up as living sacrifices. In this sense, we don’t merely give a tithe, we ARE the tithe. In his book, The Spiritual Disciplines, Richard Foster writes that grace frees us from tithing, and this could mean one of two things depending on where you are in your walk: for some, it could mean that tithing is but a shadow measure of giving and they should think outside the rule, or for others who have been so abused by this law, it could mean that you need to stop tithing, to rest and heal in order be set free from these external standards in order to apprehend grace. I understand that many folks depend upon the tithe for their living, but the machine as it has been set up (and I’ve heard countless people say countless times, “well brother, the tithe is the ONLY part of the law you still need to follow”) clearly means that in following this one, tiny law, one is bound now to the WHOLE law. (See Gal 3:10, 5:3) Again, if I misread your words, forgive me and forget this missive, but if not, consider this my response.

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      The Bible says that the Law is holy, just and good. There were several categories of laws just as we have today. We must be careful of the context that we use when we refer to “Law”.

      There is a law of sacrifices and oblations which involve priests and believers performing certain actions at the wilderness sanctuary/temple and well described in the first seven chapters of the book of Leviticus. These laws governed what was to be done when sacrifices and offerings were brought to God including for believers (including the priests) who broke other laws – say the ten commandments for example.

      These sacrifices and oblations were types of Christ and His ministry. Paul says that the blood of bulls and goats (sacrifice and oblation practices) could not take away the penalty of sin but the blood of Jesus could do that. The blood of the bulls and goats was therefore “imperfect” and only put in place until the fullness of time when Jesus would let his own perfect blood be shed and become the perfect sacrifice and oblation that we could offer to the Father to receive forgiveness as well as to show our gratitude.

      The new testament gets rid of the sacrificial system. It maintains the “royal law” which we commonly call the ten commandments which are based on love – love of God and love of neighbor.

      Tithing is about giving and sharing. Never was it abut money. The items God said he wanted tithed were specific and did not include herbs etc. Those were added by the religious leaders and “sages” over time. Biblical tithing models cannot be applied today in reality. In fact they are not. Modern day tithing cannot be said to be of the Lord. However, the principle of giving to assist those in need, celebrating our blessings and supporting those who minister to us is expected to be continued. Let every man be persuaded on this matter in his own mind. Remember it starts at the House of God first (your immediate family first must have their needs met, followed by the members of the body of Christ then the “unbelievers”). Pastors are not Levis. In fact in God’s setup there is no clergy and laity distinction. All who labour for the cause of God – layman or clergy can lay claim for support as they do the work.

      God bless us all as we continue to discover the abundant life He promised through Jesus Christ.

  5. Pingback: Infographic: Tithing in the Old Testament | JimErwin.com

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