I did not write this article in order to provoke rallying arguments about religious requirements some hold to, I merely read the Bible and am asking questions about what I read (or what I didn’t actually read…). You can go read the scriptures and come to your own conclusion on this apparently over-sensitive topic.
Abram and Melchizedek:
Gen 14:14-24 Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 So he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people. 17 And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. 18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. 19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. 21 Now the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.” 22 But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’ — 24 except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” (NKJV)
- Did Abram tithe of his own possessions too or only from the spoils of war/increase? Only the spoils of war is mentioned.
- Abram gave 10% to Melchizedek and 90% to the king of SODOM. So if somebody teaches tithing based on how Abram did it, does that mean we have to give 90% of our increase to some ungodly person? I mean, that’s what Abram did.
- And if we are to follow Abram’s example, why do we never again read about him tithing ever again? Seems like this was a onetime event.
- If Abram didn’t tithe of his own personal possessions, why is this onetime never again to be repeated occurrence used to teach Christians that they should tithe 10% of their own income month after month, year after year?
Gen 28:20-22 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, 21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God. 22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (NKJV)
- Jacob vowed to tithe of everything that God would give him. So did Jacob tithe in order to receive or did he wait to receive before he tithed? Looks like he waited…
- If he waited to receive, as it says, then why are Christians taught that they should tithe before God can provide increase? Doesn’t it seem like we have it the wrong way around? Jacob used tithing to say thanks. The modern church uses it to buy blessings. Seems very different to me.
- Since there was at this point no temple or no priests, how did Jacob tithe? Where did he take it and who received the tithe on behalf of God? How did God intend the tithe to be received?
From these two examples in scripture we see something other than the principles of tithing we are often taught. Abram didn’t tithe of his own possessions and there is only this one example of him tithing. He also gave 100% of his increase away. Jacob refused to tithe unless God first provided the increase. He also didn’t have Melchizedek or any other priest to tithe too. If I had to guess as to how he gave the tithe, I would say he either burned it as a burnt offering, of held some feast in honour of God with whoever was in his family. (This is a principle we will cover next time.) I really love Jacob’s heart in his approach to tithing. When you sacrifice something, you are giving something up that you DO NOT expect to get back. If you are expecting to receive something back, you didn’t make a sacrifice, you made an investment. Big difference! The one is an act of worship; the other a means to an end. So whether you tithe or not, what is your heart’s motive? Do you do it in order to get something back or are you merely giving thanks? If you are doing it in order to be more blessed, your tithe is not a sacrifice but a selfish application of sowing and reaping. Sure the act of parting with your income might seem sacrificial, but the motive is not true worship. God’s favour and blessings cannot be bought. It is given freely. Rather keep your money then make God out to be respecter of bank balances.
In Part 2 I will look at some of the Mosaic Laws regarding tithing. Very interesting stuff…
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