Scope: This Bible study is not to convince people that we should be giving to God. We should give our money, our time, our talents and resources to God and that is not up-to-debate, we should do that. The goal of this Bible study is to show that the law of tithing passed away (along with the Temple ordinances), and that it has no bearing in the Christian Church today. The goal is to show that we are not required to give 10% of our salaries to God or else we fall into a curse. The goal is to show that those that do not give 10% of their salaries to the church are not robbing God of anything. That is the goal of this Bible study.
Background: How the Law of Tithing Law Began
It all started in Genesis 34:2 when Shechem defiled the daughter of Jacob (Dinah) and two of her brothers got very angry (Gen 34:7). The two brothers (Simeon and Levi) murdered all the males in the town of Shechem (Gen 34:25). Jacob told his sons that what they did was wrong but they did not repent (Gen 34:30-31). In Gen 49:5-7 Jacob cursed these two men (Simeon and Levi) and their descendants, scattering them throughout the land of Israel. This came to pass when Israel took over the promised-land and the land was divided among the tribes of Israel. As prophesied, every one of the sons of Jacob had land appointed to them except Simeon and Levi. In Jos 19:1-9 we read that the tribe of Simeon was scattered within Judah’s territory. In Deu 10:9, Deu 18:1-2 and Josh 13:14,33 we see that there was no land given to the Levites (the descendants of Levi) and because of that, God commanded the other brothers to provide the Levites with part of their products from the land (since the Levites had no land to grow crops or raise cattle). The Lord told them to give a tenth of the agricultural products OF THE LAND to the Levites and the poor and needy because the Levites (and the poor) had no land as an inheritance. The Lord referred to this arrangement as:
a. The tithe of the land (Lev 27:30)
b. The tithe of the ground (Neh 10:37)
c. The tithe of the field (Deu 14:22; 2Chr 31:4-6; Neh 12:44)
It was never referred to as the tithe of the ocean or the sea. It was never referred to as the tithe of the furniture manufactured in Israel or the tithe of the building materials. The tithe had to be agricultural products that had to be eaten. Nothing is said about forbidding the Levites from fishing or not having bodies of water. As such, Israel did not have to give the Levites 10% of their fish. That is how the tithe got started. It was all about agricultural products that had to be eaten (produce and clean animals from the herds raised in the land of Israel). The reason is because the Levites could not own land to grow crops or raise cattle.
The Law of Tithing (as given to Moses)
1. Only land owners (farmers) that were growing crops or raising cattle had to tithe. People that did not own land could not tithe. The only thing acceptable as a tithing offering were agricultural products like corn, wine, strong drinks, oil, tithe of the herd or of the flock like lambs, sheep, goats, etc.. (see Deu 14:23,26; 2Chr 31:6; Neh 10:37; Neh 13:5,12). The poor people that did not own any land could not tithe. When Peter caught 153 fishes (John 21:11), he owed nothing as tithe offering because it is the tithe of the land, not the sea.
The Lord referred to this arrangement as:
d. The tithe of the land (Lev 27:30)
e. The tithe of the ground (Neh 10:37)
f. The tithe of the field (Deu 14:22; 2Chr 31:4-6; Neh 12:44)
2. Carpenters were not required to tithe 10% of their income. According to the law of Moses, money was not accepted by God as a tithe offering.
3. The Israelites had to give 10 % of their land products to the Levites because they did not have land as an inheritance. They had the Lord as their inheritance.
4. Tithing was also given to the poor and needy (widows, orphans, newcomers to the land). Tithing was part of God’s welfare program. (Deu 12:29; Deu 14:28-29; Deu 26:12-13). The poor did not give tithe, the poor received the tithe (Deu 14:28-29; Deu 26:12-13). To ask the poor to tithe is exactly the opposite of what God established in His Word.
5. The tithing for the poor had to be placed at the entrance of the cities in Israel where the Levites and the poor will come to collect it (Deu 14:28-29). The Levites will then bring the tithes to the Temple in Jerusalem.
6. The tithing offering for the Levite was only acceptable by God when it was presented to the Levites in the Temple of God in Jerusalem (Deu 12:5-6,11,18; Deu 14:23). God repeated that every time he mentioned the law of tithing.
7. God gave warnings to the people of not changing the law of tithing based on human reasoning, not to change it into something that made sense or was right in the eyes of the people, not to add or subtract from it, but to teach it exactly the way the commanded it (Dec 12:8,32).
8. If the Jews lived too far from Jerusalem, they were allowed to turn their agricultural products (their tithe) into money (to eliminate traveling with produce and animals). But once they arrived at Jerusalem, they had to turn the money into agricultural products before bringing the offering to God because God did not accept money as a tithing offering. The reason was so that the tithing offering could be eaten before the Lord in his Temple. (Deu 14:24-26).
9. Because they had to bring their tithes to the Temple in Jerusalem, God did not make it a burden to those living far away from Jerusalem, to travel every week or every month to bring the tithe. Instead, he told the Israelites that they had to bring their tithes once every 3 years. That year was called the year of tithing (see Deu 14:28; Deu 26:12; Amos 4:4).
10. If the people failed to bring in their tithes in the year of tithing, they were commanded by the law to bring them back the next year of tithing (3 years later) with 20 percent interest. To be financially accurate, twenty percent interest every 3 years translates to 6.3 % interest per year or 0.12 % interest per week. It is not 20% interest added the next Sunday after someone missed the offering. See Lev 27:31.
11. The tithe or the 10th part of the agricultural products in Israel belonged to the Lord. It really belonged to him because man put the seed on the ground, but it was the Lord that made it grow. The Lord did most of the work. That is why he considered it robbery not to give Him his part. He had earned it. The Lord in turn, gave what belonged to him to the Levite and the poor. (Lev 27:30; Num 18:24; Deu 26:12; Neh 13:5; Mal 3:8-10).
12. The tithe was defined as the tenth part (the last 10th, not the first 10th). If a man had 39 sheep born in his farm, he owed 3 sheep as his tithes, not 4 (see Lev 27:32).
13. The Law of God required the Levites to give a tenth of the tithes that they received back unto the Lord. (Num 18:26). This had to be the best of the tithe and the Levite had to give it to the priests that ministered in the Temple (for their consumption).
14. People did not GIVE tithes to God, they PAID tithes to God because it belonged to God. To not do it, was robbing God. Because the tithe did not belong to the people, they could not give it, they had to pay it. We cannot give what does not belong to us. In the NT we are called to GIVE 2Cor 9:7) because it really belongs to us (Acts 5:4).
Because the Temple is no longer in place in Jerusalem and there are no Levites running a priesthood anymore, the laws connected with the Levitical priesthood and the Temple are no longer in effect. That is why the Jews do not kill a lamb during Passover, no one offers animals for sin offerings, there are no more animal sacrifices. Those laws are gone with the Temple and the priesthood. The law of tithing is part of that group. Rom 4:15; Rom 5:13 and 1 Jo 3:4 say that where there is no law, there is no transgression, and sin cannot be inputted where there is no law. Because of that, since the Temple was destroyed and the Levitical priesthood disappeared, no one is robbing God of anything when people fail to bring their tithes (their agricultural products to the Levites in the Temple).
Furthermore, Colossians 2:14 and Eph 2:15 reiterate that Jesus removed those laws when he was nailed to the cross.
Col 2:14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
Eph 2:15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments; for to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace.
The current law of tithing preached in today’s protestant churches (requiring that 10% of our gross salaries belong to God and that we are robbing him if we do not do that) is not in the Bible. That is a commandment of man. God said that our heart is far from God and our worship is in vain when we teach as doctrines commandments of men.
P.S. God is into cheerful GIVERS. The tithe of the Old Testament had to be PAID, not given. God is not into PAYERS, but GIVERS. We can only GIVE what belongs to us. Rom 4:4 and Acts 5:4 tells me, my salary belongs 100% to me and that is why I can GIVE IT AWAY as I please.