Saturday, May 8, 2010

Where the Buck Stops

Another aspect of tithing for today in the church comes from Malachi 3: 8-12. There is hardly an offering taken in the evangelical church that dose not refer to this passage of scripture. The problem that we have is this scripture has been spiritualized to support tithing in the NT church. However, a closer look at Malachi as well as Nehemiah who were of the same time frame will uncover the truth of this passage.

In Nehemiah 10:37-38 we see that the firstfruits, dough, offerings, the fruit, new wine and oil were taken to the temple for the priests, and the tithes were taken to the Levites from the farming communities. This is an indication that only those who grew food and raised animals did indeed tithe. We also see that the Levites were to take a tithe of the tithe given to them to the temple. It is this tithe, the tithe from the Levites that went to the storehouse, not the tithe directly from the people.

Next we see the issue as to why God spoke to Malachi about the people robbing Him. Remember Numbers 18:22-28 shows us that the tithes were paid to the LORD, and the LORD gave the tithes to the Levites as their inheritance and then the Levites would tithe the tithe to Aaron the priest (his decendants also). This is an important key. Nehemiah 13:10 tells us that the Levites were not receiving support (tithes) from the people and had to go to work. Because they had not been receiving the tithe their tithe was not given to the priests to put in the Temple Storehouse. Therefore the people under the Law were robbing God not the people under grace, the church.

Next Malachi tells us that God places a challenge before the people to bring the tithe into the storehouse that there may be food in His house. If they responded to this, God promises to open the windows of heaven and will pour out for them such blessing that they would not have room enough to receive it. Genesis 7:11, 8:1-2 reveals what the windows of heaven means. Opening the windows of heaven is God causing the rains to come which causes crops to grow, which the animals also were fed from. So what were Gods blessings that there would not be room enough to receive? It was the abundance food, that is, crops and animals, God's provision, not man's labors. The tithe is not money, but agruculture produce and food animals. The storehouse is not the local church, but the storehouse in the temple. The food is literal food not spiritual food. Opening the windows of heaven is rain that produces abundance of food to tithe (sell or trade) but not specifically for believers to get rich.

If believers want to call what they give to the church a tithe but not limit God to ten percent, then they will begin to have a biblical understanding of giving cheerfully and bountifully by grace through faith and not out of obligation or through a standard that has no place in the church. Giving should never be an act of Law even if it is a law devised and accepted by the church, but an act of love in which there is no law.

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