The real meaning of tithing

Matthew 23:23 is an intriguing verse. It says “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint, dill and cumin, yet you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faith”.

What I found intriguing was that they tithed things that flavour or season food – rather than money or silver and gold.

Investigating this further leads to three important discoveries!

Firstly, instructions given to the Israelites on tithing in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 12 and 14) shows that the Israelites tithed only food (crops, animals, fruit, oil) and juice (wine). There is no mention of tithing money. It is interesting to note that although the people built cities (suggesting builders, masons, designers), had clothes, weapons, could make a bronze snake, had golden dishes and silver plates, the Old Testament only talks about tithing food and drink.

My second interesting discovery was how often they tithed. There were two types of tithes. One was to be brought once a year and the other once every three years (Deuteronomy 14:22, 28). I would have expected this to be once a week/month or once every pay cheque! Harvesting crops happened once a year, reinforcing that it was actually food that was tithed. Every three years the food was to be used in a different way.

Thirdly, what they did with the tithe. Contrary to popular teaching, I read in Deuteronomy that the annual tithe was for the giver to eat along with their whole household and the Levites (priests) in the place of God’s choosing. Every third year the tithe was to be stored for the Levites, aliens, fatherless and widows to eat. A blessing from God was pronounced on this (14:29).

I began to understand what the verses in Malachi 3:8-10 were all about! The nation of Israel was not giving every third year’s tithe to the Levites, aliens, fatherless and widows and as a result were robbing God and were thus under a curse.

The tithe of food was not brought into the storehouses and there was no food to feed those who needed it. I had always spiritualised this and saw food as material wealth and a storehouse as a church organisation – therefore giving financially to the church organisation. But taken literally, it means actual food and actual storehouses.

These same verses tell us that if we test God and tithe our food and drink, then He will open the floodgates/windows of heaven and send rain on our crops and vines. Rain is sometimes spiritualised, incorrectly, to mean financial blessings.

Tithing is under the Old Testament. Under the New Testament, Jesus Christ is after a living relationship with His body. He wants to know us and for us to know Him. There is a freedom in Christ that sets us free from the bondages of law. As the Head of the body we listen to Him, relate to Him and obey Him.

He is our loving Lord and Master. We are no longer subject to laws and demands put on us by others, we submit to Jesus Christ in everything. We are led by the Spirit of God not by needs, emotions or organised church wants.

In the matter of giving, whether financial or other, we flow with Him, give where, how much and when He tells us to give. That way we grow in listening to Him, obeying Him and getting to know Him better. – Faith Matters Editorial team. Please feel free to message us on cell 0779 117 645

Post published in: Faith
  2. Doris
  3. renrick hall

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