Discover the Financial Principles of the Bible

Remembering The Tithes

This is the time of year when people begin to think about filing their income tax returns.  Some people look forward to it because they are going to get money back; others dread it because they will have to pay money.  However, it’s also a good time to look back on the previous year and make sure that you didn’t forget God in your tithes and offerings.  

“Will a man rob God?  Yet ye have robbed me.  But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee?  In tithes and offerings.” (Malachi 3:8) 

Many Christians think that they are tithing because they give 10% of their income to the church. However, the word “tithes” is plural, because there is more than just one.  God was not condemning the children of Israel for not paying their tithe, but rather their tithes (more than one).  In fact, there were actually three different tithes set out in the Law of Moses.  

Levitical Tithe

The first tithe was the Levitical tithe, which is what we most commonly think of when we discuss tithing.  This was to be a 10% tithe of all your increase during the year. 

“And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy unto the Lord.” (Lev. 27:30) 

“Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.” (Deut. 14:22) 

“And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” (Num. 18:21) 

This tithe was designed to support the work of the local ministry/church.  The priests and Levites did not receive a portion of the inheritance, instead God ordained this Levitical tithe to provide for the needs of the priests and for the daily operations of the tabernacle/temple. In this current age, the Levitical tithe is used for the day-to-day operations of the church and salaries of the church staff, etc.  

Poor Tithe

The second tithe was the poor tithe.  Every third year, you were also required to give 10% to help the less fortunate in the land.  

“At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shall lay it up within thy gates: and the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.” (Deut. 14:28-29) 

This tithe goes beyond giving in special offerings to help the poor or the afflicted around the world.  Many people give money to help the poor in third world countries or to assist victims of natural disasters.  That is good and commendable, but that should be in addition to the poor tithe.  The poor tithe was designed to help those in your local area. 

Since it’s often easy to over-look this tithe, I would recommend not waiting to pay it until every third year.  Instead, the easier solution is to give 3.33% every year which would still equate to 10% every third year.  Then you don’t have to worry about remembering is this the year I’m suppose to pay the poor tithe or is that next year.  It’s also easier on your budget since 3% each year is easier to plan for than 10% every third year. 

Rejoicing Tithe

The third tithe was the rejoicing tithe.  This was also to be 10% of your increase every year. 

“Thou mayest not eat within thy gates, the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds …. But thou must eat them before the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose” (Deut. 12:17-18) 

God’s law intended for the children of Israel to spend 10% of their income going up to Jerusalem for the feasts each year.  Under the Mosaic Law, all males in Israel had to appear before the Lord three times a year (Exod. 23:17).  This tithe was to be used to fund those trips.  Today this 10% tithe should be used to cover the costs of going to fellowship meetings.  You aren’t suppose to spend that money to fix up your house, or go out to eat, or buy a new car.  The rejoicing tithe is to be used for a specific purpose.  We cannot neglect the rejoicing tithe either. 

Now some radical proponents of tithing take only the scriptures related to the rejoicing tithe and use it to justify paying tithes to themselves.  That’s not what the scripture says and these people conveniently overlook the scriptures regarding the other two tithes.  God didn’t give the children of Israel three tithing options and just let them pick whichever one best fitted their situation.  None of the tithes were optional! God’s law required all of them to be followed.  “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” (Mal. 3:10) 

So the Law of Moses identified three separate tithes that we are to be following.  Josephus in his writings also mentions the three different tithes of the Mosaic Law.  However, this principle of tithing was established by God long before the Law of Moses (Gen. 14:20).  When Jesus came to this earth, not only did he not do away with it, but he commended its practice (Matt. 23:23).  Paying tithes (plural) is a practice that we all need to be following.  This involves giving more than just 10% each year.  An individual who is bringing “all the tithes into the storehouse” should be giving over 13% each year for the Levitical and poor tithes.  In addition, they should also be setting aside 10% for the rejoicing tithe to attend fellowship meetings.  Only then are you truly following the principle of tithing.

Filed in: Tithing

4 Responses to “Remembering The Tithes”

  1. August 11, 2009 at 6:00 am #

    Who are the Levites of today to whom we are to give the OT tithes? Yes, there are two purposes of our wealth: 1) to fund the Great Commission (Support the spread of the CALL TO THE KINGDOM OF GOD ON EARTH)and 2) to help the poor. We should give more than 10% for these two purposes until it hurts. As for the feast-tithe, we, Catholics, do these during our TOWN FIESTA every year

  2. August 11, 2009 at 12:06 pm #

    Rebuttal of eChristian Finance by Russell Kelly, PHD

    http://www.echristianfinance.com/2009/07/remebering-the-tithes/
    Remembering the Tithes [EDITED]

    EFINANCE: The first tithe was the Levitical tithe, which is what we most commonly think of when we discuss tithing. This was to be a 10% tithe of all your increase during the year.

    Kelly: The Levites who received the first whole tithe were NOT priests. They were the carpenters, weavers, sculptors (Num 3). They were the guards, builders, bakers, treasurers and political leaders (1 Chron 23 to 26). Why don’t you point this out? What are you hiding?

    EFINANCE: “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s; it is holy unto the Lord.” (Lev. 27:30)
    “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.” (Deut. 14:22)

    Kelly: How can you possibly quote these texts and then call the tithe “income” and/or money? Although money was very common even in Genesis and essential for sanctuary worship, money was never included in 16 texts which describe the contents of the tithe.

    EFINANCE: “And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.” (Num. 18:21) [Servants to the priests were not allowed inside the sanctuary tent.]

    Kelly: How can you possibly quote this text and not see that biblical tithes could only come from INSIDE ISREAL. Therefore, if Paul were a food producer in Gentile territory, he could not legally tithe. And neither can anybody else outside Israel.

    EFINANCE: This tithe was designed to support the work of the local ministry/church.

    Kelly: You cannot legitimately include the word “church” because tithing was never commanded to the church after Calvary during the New Covenant.

    EFINANCE: The priests and Levites did not receive a portion of the inheritance, instead God ordained this Levitical tithe to provide for the needs of the priests and for the daily operations of the tabernacle/temple.

    Kelly: Please tell me why so-called “tithe-recipients” in the church are allowed to receive tithes and still own and inherit property. It seems like you pick and choose what is convenient and most profitable.

    EFINANCE: In this current age, the Levitical tithe is used for the day-to-day operations of the church and salaries of the church staff, etc.

    Kelly: This current age has no Temple, no Levites and no Aaronic priests to give tithes of food from inside Israel. Every believer is a priest with direct access to God.

    EFINANCE: Now some radical proponents of tithing take only the scriptures related to the rejoicing tithe and use it to justify paying tithes to themselves. That’s not what the scripture says and these people conveniently overlook the scriptures regarding the other two tithes.

    Kelly: There is only one in thousands who teaches such. He is not part of the larger pro-grace-giving community. (Rick Johnson) Even then he is far more correct than you are.

    EFINANCE: God didn’t give the children of Israel three tithing options and just let them pick whichever one best fitted their situation. None of the tithes were optional! God’s law required all of them to be followed.

    Kelly: Almost all of your pro-tithing community ignores the 2nd festival tithe and the 3rd poor tithe. Preach to them. Add the 10% tithe to the king (Rome) and at lest 10% to Herod (local ruler) and you are up to 43% plus taxes on roads, bridges, etc from Jesus’ day.

    EFINANCE: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse” (Mal. 3:10)

    Kelly: Have you ever read Nehemiah 10:37b? The ordinary people were commanded to bring their tithes, not to the Temple, but to the Levitical cities where 98% of those who needed them for food stayed most of the time. Malachi 3:10 makes no sense unless it only refers to the Levites and priests who had been commanded to bring tithes to the temple per Neh 10:38.

    EFINANCE: So the Law of Moses identified three separate tithes that we are to be following.

    Kelly: “WE” are NOT Old Covenant Israel. “WE” did not ask God to curse us for not tithing like Old Covenant Israel did in Neh 10:29. “WE” are not commanded to keep the whole law of Moses as in Malachi 4:4. “WE” do not kill our disobedient children per Ex 21:15, 17.

    EFINANCE: However, this principle of tithing was established by God long before the Law of Moses (Gen. 14:20).

    Kelly: “THIS” principle of tithing in Malachi and the Law is NOT the same as the principle followed by Abraham. Abraham’s tithe was not a holy tithe from a holy land by a holy people under a holy covenant. Nothing Abraham did concerning tithes was commanded under the Law nor is obeyed by any Christian church today. (1) only pagan spoils of war, (2) only once, (3) not holy tithes, (4) he kept nothing and (5) gave the 90% to the king of Sodom.

    EFINANCE: When Jesus came to this earth, not only did he not do away with it, but he commended its practice (Matt. 23:23).

    Kelly: Jesus could not have abolished tithing without sinning because the Law was still in full force before Calvary. He came under the law in order to redeem those under the law and lived a sinless law-abiding life. He was rebuking tithe-paying hypocrites to adding garden spices to the law and making it a burden. He was discussing “matters of the law.”

    EFINANCE: Paying tithes (plural) is a practice that we all need to be following. This involves giving more than just 10% each year. An individual who is bringing “all the tithes into the storehouse” should be giving over 13% each year for the Levitical and poor tithes. In addition, they should also be setting aside 10% for the rejoicing tithe to attend fellowship meetings. Only then are you truly following the principle of tithing.

    Kelly: O. K. (1) The first tithe of food from inside Israel should be brought to the non-existent Levitical cities to feed the non-existent Levites and priests under the non-existent Old Covenant per Neh 10:37b. The non-existent Levites and priests will bring what they need to the non-existent temple so non-existent animal sacrifices can be performed. (2) The second tithe of food from inside Israel can be brought to the streets of Jerusalem as commanded and eaten in a giant potluck three times a year to celebrate the non-existent Old Covenant festivals. (3) The third tithe of food from inside Israel can be kept in the towns and homes of individual believers for the poor so the government can lower our taxes and stop caring for the poor.

    Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
    http://www.tithing-russkelly.com

  3. Meks
    November 4, 2009 at 10:56 am #

    Thanks for posting the teaching on tithing.
    But it then seems to me that the total tithing is either 23.333..% or 30%
    of ones income every month instead of 10%. The stipulated percentage on tithing is 10% and only 10% the Bible teaches.
    What I think, is that what you call tithe for the poor is just what God instructed the people to do with their tithe (10%) every 3rd year..?
    Does that make sense within the perimeters of the stipulated 10%? As I read the article, I felt like the incertion of “the same year”
    was talking about the year in question..(which was always the 3rd year), If not the Leviths then or the service men in the church today,
    will be getting 30 or 23,333%.. depending on which calculation you make as tithe.
    Did you see that the Levites were also included in what you called the “the Poor tithe”?. What I would like to suggest is that,
    it did not seem to matter which year or where they took the tithe to, to Jerusalen or the place the Lord appointed, the Levites, the widows,
    the stranger, the poor and the temple services were to be taken care of with it……..and that for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd years reapectively.
    The law of tithing and its feasts has a three year cicle.
    I would like to back this up with the fact that it was really heavy for the less rich, family with children, pregnant, old, sick people to attend
    the feast every year in as far as Jerusalem depending on what part of the land they lived in. That made it not heavy for Levites in other parts
    to transport the provisions from Jerusalem back to their areas.
    The discusion today should center on an “honest use of the tithe”, being able to see that The Pastor, his service men, the poor, the stranger,
    the widow are adequately and properly cared for with the tithe that come in.
    Thanks.

  4. Ms Jaxxee
    November 20, 2009 at 1:09 am #

    Thank you, Dr. Kelly. As plain as the text on tithing, people always find a way to twist it to their advantage while causing confusion and guilt. There was a time when I almost gave 40% of my earnings towards Kingdom business but didn’t consider it tithing. I am 66 years of age, was brought up from infancy, in the church, was saved at the age of 8 or 9, but over the age of forty the first time I heard preachers preaching tithing as a law for the New Testament church. I LOVE giving, but hate the guilt preachers lay on people who can’t regularly sacrifice 10% of their income (unemployed people, under-employed people, widows with small pensions, single parents, and now, in this present economy, just ordinary, everyday people who just no longer can afford to give as much as they’d like. What the churches need to do is more community work, working together to assist those who cannot help themselves. There are churches on almost every corner in my home town, but only a VERY, VERY FEW have any kind of regular out-reach programs to help the poor and needy. Even when these few, three or four churches actively appeal to the other (many times larger) churches of this city, their pleas are ignored. It’s the same three or four groups all the time, giving for example, free food, free home repairs to the elderly, having food and clothing drives or fairs, etc. Sorry for rambling, and I’m closing my comments now.