Home > Collateral Studies, Dispensationalism, Grace > Tithes and Offerings in the Bible

Tithes and Offerings in the Bible

Dr. Mike Johnston

The English word tithe comes from the Hebrew “asar” and “ma’aser” and literally means (one) tenth. If you consider yourself a tither, you faithfully give God ten percent of all your gross income.

Now, as simple as it sounds, over the past 4 decades of Christian ministry I’ve found certain men arguing that tithing [1] is NOT applicable in this dispensation so we shouldn’t do it. Believe me when I tell you the spirit I’ve witnessed manifesting itself against tithing is both vigorous and vitriolic. Several years ago I was victimized by the wrath of a Jezebel spirited woman who didn’t tithe and became enraged at my teaching it. Under cover of darkness, she orchestrated a smear campaign involving phone calls and visits to successfully seduce half the members of our small soul winning church into not only believing her lies, but who willingly left with her. [2]

So where does this disagreement over tithing originate?

The main allegation against tithing is a half-truth masked in Biblical legitimacy. It argues that the tithe was included in the OT Mosaic Law, which disqualifies it under grace. While this sounds good to tightfisted brethren, it’s disingenuous at the core.

To begin with, our opponents don’t mention that tithing existed some 400 years BEFORE the Law. Nor do they acknowledge that both tithing and offerings existed under the Law so if you exclude one, you must exclude the other (Deut. 12:6; Mal. 3:8).

First Mention of Tithing

“And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20). The First Mention Principle of hermeneutics, teaches us that the initial appearance of a subject in Scripture tells us how it stands connected in God’s mind throughout the remainder of the Bible. The first mention of tithing occurs when Abraham returned from battle enriched with goods captured from God’s enemies (Gen. 14:1-16) and was met by Melchizedek – a type of Christ.

“And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20).

Keep in mind Abraham was a man of faith, which God imputed to him as righteousness (Gen. 15:6). He didn’t respond like so many do today by asking, “Do I HAVE to tithe?” He instinctively knew God blessed him and he couldn’t wait to give ten percent to God’s man to use for God’s ministry.

Make no mistake friend, Abraham’s faith set priorities for his finances and provided a great example for all of his family as witnessed by his grandson Jacob (aka Israel) who continued the practice of giving ten percent (Gen 28:22).

The Tithe is Holy and it belongs to the Lord

“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 unto the LORD” (Leviticus 27:30).

The Mosaic Law incorporated 613 commandments, judgments, and ordinances regulating every aspect of Israel’s existence. Tithes were paid on all income which included the produce of the land (Lev. 27:30), and all cattle in the fields (Lev. 27:32). Tithes paid the salaries of the Levitical priesthood (Num. 18:21; Num. 18:24; Neh. 10:37) who represented Israel before God.

Hear this inconvenient truth before you oppose tithing.

Moses taught that the tithe belonged to the Lord, and thus it was holy (Leviticus 27:30). If both of these are true – that the tithe is holy and belongs to the Lord – then by keeping that which is supposed to be set apart for Him because it belongs to Him – what does that make you?

It makes you a THIEF!

“Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).

May I remind you that the dispensation of grace does not provide us with an enticement to sin nor does it remove accountability from believers in Christ for our actions. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10).

We are stewards of God’s gifts. Tithing provides faithful stewards a prescribed accountability and accommodation for returning to God a portion of His so great blessing. Therefore, since Abraham demonstrated 400 years before the Law that tithing is the revealed will of God regarding giving, the question is not, “should we tithe?” but rather are we going to obey the will of God as revealed in the Word of God regarding it? Under Moses God’s people were mandated by Law to tithe; under grace we are motivated by Love to tithe. Woe unto those in any dispensation promoting disobedience regarding the holiness and ownership of the tithe.

“Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. 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 3:9-10).

In closing, God’s Word is forever settled in Heaven (Psalm 119:89). That means that when Abraham gave his tithes, Malachi’s warning to those who weren’t tithing already existed in the eternal chambers of God’s mind. Read it again carefully because tithing isn’t under scrutiny here friend, obedience is.

[1] Most of the enemies of tithing I’ve known- and there have been a few- are stoic, stubborn and stingy; they generally don’t give anything to the Lord’s work except headaches and a hard time which they are lavish in bestowing.

[2] I give this as a warning to you. Be careful around people. It is uncanny how slick Satan is when plotting subversive activities. Unbeknownst to me, a sinister team was assembled and phone calls along with personal visits were made to our members trying to convince them I was a crook for teaching tithing. NO ONE receiving calls or visits ever warned me!

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