This spring, Rudy and I were talking about tithe, and I mentioned that I’d heard that Scripture says we are to use tithe for celebrating the feasts of the LORD.
“WHAT?! I’d have to see that!” He rather vehemently replied.
So began my search … blueletterbible.com: tithe. Read all the entries, in context.. Here is the summary of what I found. If you followed my thread on FB, this is familiar to you…
“I’m doing a little study on “Tithe”. The most quoted verse that I heard as a child was: Mal 3:10 – “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse” and was used for encouraging stewardship and the support of local and world church efforts.
I believe supporting those ministries or churches that you attend is a good thing to do. I know there are some of my friends who will say Tithe is not for the NT believer.
However, today’s study wasn’t looking at either of those things. I wasn’t really looking at the question of DO we or DON’T we tithe as believers or is it right to support “the” church?
I was looking at “What was/is the INTENT of the tithe?”
What can we learn for us today? How can we apply it? How does the tithe point to Jesus, for he said that if they had believed Moses, they would have believed HIM. It was from these Scriptures beginning “in Moses” that Jesus expounded upon, on the Feast of First Fruits (which He had *Just* fulfilled earlier that morning before His Father), to the two men on the road to Emmaus, how all the things which had happened in the last few days must happen, and how He had walked out & lived much of what the law was pointing to. So my thought was – How does “Tithing” point to Jesus??
First, I looked at Mal 3:10 in context –
“7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
10 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.”
It’s obvious, from verse 7 that there are ordinances which describe the “tithe” and which the people had gone away from.
So, my next question is, What were those ordinances?? As I understand it, “ordinances” refers to the written law contained in the books of Moses or the Torah (Torah actually means instructions, not law… Kinda like “Owner’s manual” instructions)
On the subject of Tithe, The Torah builds upon itself, starting in Lev, then Numbers which both deal with the Levitical use of their portion of the tithe, but this passage from Duet 14 sums the giver’s responsibilities up most succinctly:
“22 People of Israel, every year you must set aside ten percent of your grain harvest. 23 Also set aside ten percent of your wine and olive oil, and the first-born of every cow, sheep, and goat. Take these to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped, and eat them there. This will teach you to always respect the LORD your God.
24 But suppose you can’t carry that ten percent of your harvest to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. If you live too far away, or if the LORD gives you a big harvest, 25 then sell this part and take the money there instead. 26 When you and your family arrive, spend the money on food for a big celebration. Buy cattle, sheep, goats, wine, strong drink, and if there are any other kinds of food that you want, buy those too. 27 And since people of the Levi tribe won’t own any land for growing crops, remember to ask the Levites to celebrate with you.
28 Every third year, instead of using the ten percent of your harvest for a big celebration, bring it into town and put it in a community storehouse. 29 The Levites have no land of their own, so you must give them food from the storehouse. You must also give food to the poor who live in your town, including orphans, widows, and foreigners. If they have enough to eat, then the LORD your God will be pleased and make you successful in everything you do.”
Before expounding on this, I should say in other previous Torah tithe texts in Leviticus & Numbers, the underlying principle seems to say that the Priests are to take a 10th of the people’s animal sacrifice tithe (a 10th of the 10th) as their portion, but the rest of the sacrifices are to be eaten by the giver. I believe we have been mistakenly taught that the tithe was “for the support of the Levites and the temple”. When I actually read all the verses containing the word tithe, I see that the Levites in Jerusalem, and the Temple received a 10th of the yearly 10th of the sacrifices & offerings brought to the temple, (plus what came into the Jerusalem storehouse to be divided to the Levites and poor) and those living away from Jerusalem were provided for out of the every third year 10th, and were asked to join the non Levites in their family celebrations. I was, frankly surprised by this. I’ve always been taught that tithe – in that day, or this was for the support of the church and church leadership. And while that was true to an extent – the Priests and Levites did receive “some” of the tithe, the idea that it all goes to the church is not what scripture clearly says…
Notice also, the store houses are to be replenished every 3rd year (I’m sure this was rotated by clan so that there was new grain and meat each year, but none the less) and this to go for the Levites (Pastors, ministers, ministries) and for the poor – orphans, widows, foreigners. In the verses 28,29, we see that store houses were neither the temple nor churches persay, but specifically store houses from which the Levites & Poor were taken care of. It might be argued that the local synagogue took care of the dividing of what was in the storehouses, but it was a local situation, a local taking care of those who had been called and set aside for ministry, as well as the poor – widowed, orphaned, sojourners, etc. AND Again – that portion was actually a 1/3 of the tithe. Every third Year a family was to bring their tithes into the storehouse for the provision of the Levi and poor!
The other two years tithe is to provide for the people to go up to Jerusalem during the 3 commanded feasts, Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentacost or Shavuot, and Feast of Tabernacles – two of them 8 days in length, and all coming at a crucial time in the harvest. Passover just at the beginning of the Barley harvest, Shavuot at the end of the Barley harvest, and Tabernacles at what should be the end of the fall harvest, if the farmer was on his toes, and diligent.
Imagine what it would be like without the instructions to set aside a tithe, as an Israelite: times are tough, no money has been set aside and here comes the feast of Passover and Unleavened bread. But, the Barley is ready to harvest!
“If we harvest it now, we can have food and will be doing better financially! I can’t afford to take it off.”
How many of us have said that about various things, events, service opportunities, even celebrations that the Lord might have been calling us to do, but we “couldn’t” afford to take the time off??!!??
But here, by asking the people to set aside a 10th for the celebrations, YHWH was providing a way for the people to attend the feasts, to celebrate & worship the Lord, to meet and rejoice with other Hebrews. Perhaps the principle behind tithing is that 2/3rds of our giving should be set aside to do the bidding of the Lord in worship & celebration – even if that means attending a Bible conference, or a women’s/men’s/couple’s retreat that is for “us”, and that 1/3rd should go to take care of the poor and the ministers in our lives??? And, certainly, if you are so inclined to keep Yah’s feasts, then spend some of your tithe on making it a celebration!!
This is a totally different perspective than those who will tell you the entire tithe is to line the church coffers. Than those who thump Mal 3:10, but forget 3:7…
How much of a difference would it make for us if we had that 2/3rds set aside, and when the Lord called us to take a few days off to go here, do this, we had the money in hand to afford the time taken off?!?!?! Imagine if 2/3rds of the tithes were spent on worship filled Celebrations, complete with food, wine and lots of fellowship!?!?!
I think the other thing interesting about this is that the sacrifices, some being a thank offering, but many being for the sins of the people, and therefore a shadow picture of Christ and his sacrifice were given back to the people to eat. The Priest sacrificed/killed the lamb, let it’s blood, which was poured out on the altar, he cut off a tenth of the meat for his portion, and then the sacrifice, the meat – the sustaining nutrients went back to the individual to take home, roast and eat. In the same way, Yahshua, died on the cross for our sins, not as an offering for the Priests and Levites only, Not to be consumed by fire (as a few of the offerings were) but to be eaten, partaken in by the people. Yahshua – the Sacrifice, the Tithe & Provision for the people!!!!
HalleluYah!! The Lord has provided a sacrifice!!!! and not just a sacrifice, but a complete provision for our lives of walking in service and obedience to Him, so that when He calls, we are equipped – Spiritually, emotionally, physically, financially, to answer!!!
Added this morning… the original thread had something similar to the following, but got lost along the way…
I was pretty surprised by that little caveat about using tithe for “Strong Drink”… It is the Hebrew word “shekar”. Same word used in Proverbs to encourage temperance (shekar/strong drink is raging, and give strong drink to the one who is perishing) and, is known to be potentially a sweet fermented beverage made from barley, honey, dates or raisins. I’ve heard from those who read Hebrew and have lived in Israel, that it might be compared to the Brandy of today.
I’ve learned that tradition stated that the rabbi presiding over an event where wine and strong drink were to be had was the one to ensure temperance, and when/if the crowd was close to thoroughly drunken, he’d smash his cup, and that was the END of all alcohol consumption for that day…
So, the other thing that really just hits me is that God is after a party here. A CELEBRATION!!!! Is wine and strong drink necessary for a good time? No, and for an alcoholic, or child of an alcoholic, it might spell big trouble. Is He saying have a glass of wine with every meal? or even once a day? No.
But, but – when He adds the directive to buy wine, strong drink and “whatever your soul desireth” (KJV) it’s really CLEAR that He is suggesting, looking for, and laying plans for a PARTY!! This is His PROSCRIBED Worship!! What if we did this 3 times a year? What if we had a party, complete with living drama (that’s what the feasts were – shadow picture dramas of good things to come) that told the redemption story, complete with food, wine, dancing … a Celebration?! How would that change Christianity today?!