The New Covenant encourages giving; generosity is a good thing. However, it is important to look at giving in the proper context of what the bible actually says about it.
Malachi 3:10 is preached and church members are taught to bring 10% of their income (tithe) into the storehouse (church). So the Old Covenant storehouse has become the church so that the pastors and church expenses can be paid for. Nothing wrong with paying pastors and meeting church expenses if the church decided to do that. However, the context of the original tithe has nothing to do with the church, and nothing to do with paying bills in a church, and nothing to do with pastor’s salaries. The original tithe was about feeding Levites.
Malachi 3 was God rebuking Israel for having failed to bring their tithes to the storehouse, food to the storehouse so the Levites could eat. A tithe simply means one-tenth. Set aside one-tenth of something. It does not mean to give 10% of all your income or a tenth of every single thing you have because tithes have virtually nothing to do with money.
Credit to the above picture goes to Brother Derrick Day, follow him on https://www.facebook.com/bishopday?hc_location=ufi
Malachi 3 is not a teaching of how to tithe. Tithing was taught much earlier in Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, etc. and there are plenty of teachings there about tithing; how to do it and what to do it. The people would share the tithes with the priests at a place designated by God. If they were unable to carry their tithes or the place they had to travel was too far away, they could exchange their tithes for money and then they would take their money to the chosen place and spend it on “whatever their hearts desired”. And they would eat there before the Lord. They were allowed to share in the tithes but they were reminded not to neglect the Levites who had no inheritance. Not all the tithes were brought to the temple but would be designated for certain Levitical cities, to the places where the people lived. There is also something at the end of every 3rd year called the Year of Tithing where the full tithe of all their produce, all their food would be brought to be stored within the gates or dwelling places of the Levites.
In the Bible, in every single instance of the word tithe or tithes or tenth, the context always has to do with God commanding the Jewish people to tithe for the sake of the Levites. There is also another time when the tithes were also extended to the widows, orphans, and strangers to help them so they won’t be hungry. Tithing always had to do with eating and nothing to do with money. There was money in the Jewish economy but God never told them to tithe of their money. So tithing was never about money, it was always about food, always about feeding people. God commanded that so that people would not be hungry. These references can be found in Deuteronomy, Leviticus, 2 Chronicles 31.
Malachi was sent by God to rebuke a certain group of people from Israel for forsaking their tithing. At around the same time, Nehemiah, another prophet was also sent to another part of Israel to do likewise in Nehemiah 13.
Church members are taught that they would be financially and spiritually blessed when they tithe because God will “open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” However, the truth is there is no modern tither who has received more than he could contain. There is no tither’s account overflow where he had no more room for any more money.
The “windows of heaven” opened up can be found in the Old Testament and it is in the form of rain. So the rain that God brought would cause the fruit of the ground to increase. The food which was grown on the ground would increase and the overflow would be in the storehouse which contained the food.
It is an error to spiritualize and fit the tithes to mean money when all God was saying to the people of Israel was there was no need to withhold their food for the Levites because He was going to provide for them. God was going to make it rain, open the windows of heaven, to cause the abundance of crops to grow leading to the storehouses overflowing. That’s a good thing and has nothing to do with what the tithes have been made to be about money and receiving all kinds of blessings particularly financial blessings. It is the cross of Jesus which accomplished blessings for us and our blessings do not come because we give our income to our church. It is the finished work of Jesus that has redeemed us from the curse of The Law and not tithing.
Abraham’s tithe was a voluntary 10% of his spoils from war and not his total income. Abraham slaughtered people, took their stuff, and gave a tithe on that. And how many times did he do it? Weekly? Monthly? Annually? This was a one-time thing that was recorded. Abraham didn’t go to war regularly. His tithe was not from his own income but from the spoils of war. If we want to tithe like Abraham, we have to go to war, kill people, take their stuff and tithe on it.
In Hebrews, the writer from the beginning of the book to the end is trying to show that Jesus is greater than the Old Covenant Jesus Himself is the Way. To show Jesus is better than the Old Covenant, the writer of Hebrews brings in Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek. The fact that Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, shows that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham. That’s really the point the writer was making and it is important because Hebrews talks about Jesus is High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek. Since Melchizedek is greater than Abraham, it means Jesus is greater than Abraham. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek while the Levites were still in Abraham; the Levites haven’t been borne yet. So the writer points out here, therefore, Melchizedek is greater than the Levites. Since Melchizedek is greater than the Levites, so Jesus is greater than the Levites. Jesus couldn’t be our High Priest unless He was greater than the Levites because the Law said the priest would have to come from Aaron and the Levites. But Jesus came from Judah, so Jesus couldn’t be our High Priest unless He was greater than the Levites. Hebrews 7 was to show Jesus’ superiority to the Old Covenant.
With the new priesthood of Jesus comes the doing away of the old one which was the Old Covenant, the Law. We have been redeemed from the curse of the Law including curses for not tithing. We are now free to give in our new identity in Christ.
In Hebrews 7:8, “mortal men receive tithes” has been taught to be the pastors today, but when Hebrews was written, the “mortal men” were the Levites and “he receives them” was talking about Melchizedek. It has nothing to do with us tithing. Hebrews 7 is not teaching tithing, it is showing the superiority of Jesus over the Old Covenant.
Giving is definitely encouraged. We are free from the curse. We are not obligated to give a certain amount or a certain percent of our money. We can be free to look into our own hearts and decide freely how much of our money, our time, our resources, we want to give and where we want to give it to. It doesn’t have to be a church. It most certainly can be a church but it doesn’t have to be. The point is you are free to give however you want, however much you want, to whomever you want or don’t want to. You are free, you are free from a system of rules that tells you how much and what you have to give and you are freed into a system in which you live freely from the heart. Welcome to the New Covenant and enjoy your freedom in Christ.
If we want to bring tithing out of Heb 7 or any other verse we need to:
1) Recognize that Heb calls tithe a law.
2) Recognize that Jesus called tithe a law.
3) Understand what tithe law is in Lev and Deut etc. Was it money or farm produce. Was it for everyone or only those who grew grains, crops, flocks.
4) Realize that Jesus, Paul, Peter and other apostles never referred to tithing as a recommended practice neither a gateway to blessings, neither a method of protecting one’s finances, neither a law of the New Covenant Church.
Then we’d realize how complex a teaching tithe is and that it’s impossible to implement today because:
1) The tithe was never money.
2) Had to be exchanged by paying extra, if we wanted to make it cash. (12,5% cash instead of 10% crops & flocks)
3) There were 4 tithes amounting to +/-23,5% of a farmer’s produce.
4) The Levitical tithe was only allowed to be:
a) from the PROMISED LAND,
b) grown by ISRAELITE FARMERS,
c) given only to those from the tribe of LEVITES,
d) Levites were to OWN NO LAND IN ISRAEL,
e) only allowed to be grain, flocks, herds, wine, olive oil etc.
5) We are all priests in the New Covenant: But Old Testament Priests were never required to tithe.
That’s why we’ll end up denying Christ if we turn to one practice of the law because if you practice one thing, it is connected to another thing and another thing and eventually we’ll be keeping track of 600+ rituals instead of following Christ our righteousness.