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?

 

Jacob’s Tithe:

 

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…

 

God bless.

 

Cornel

 

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25 Responses to Questions and Ponderings about Tithing… Part 1: Abram’s Tithe

  • David says:

    Interesting thoughts. I’m thankful this isn’t delivered with the bitter anger that it often is. If I read you aright, it seems that you’re declaring, “The way tithing is preached is unbiblical,” more than “Do away with giving to the church!”

    I’ve heard these points declared as something of a Boston Tea Party, angrily rejecting any claim by God (or congregation) on any portion of our income. I don’t hear you going that direction.

    I’m interested to see where you take this.

  • Tom says:

    I love the Melchizedek business. People often argue out of Hebrews 7 that since Abraham tithed to Melchizedek 400 years before the advent of the Mosaic law, tithing is outside and above the law and therefore Christians are still under it.
    Well, even if it wasn’t a one-off event, the point Hebrews 7 makes is that Jesus is a High Priest of the order of Melchizedek and in Him we are a ‘royal priesthood’ (1 Pet 2:9) of the same order – so really we should be RECEIVING tithes! Woohoo!

  • Adam Howell says:

    Someone actually reads their bible properly!!!

    I have often wondered about that. It’s so good to hear you put voice to it so clearly.

    Thanks :-)

  • Cornel says:

    Thanks for the awesome comment David. You are right, I am not saying do away with giving in the church. I am saying take the law off people so they can start giving without compulsion, guilt and condemnation. I don’t give to be blessed, I give because I am blessed!

    Bless you!

    Cornel

  • Joshua says:

    to the comment of “tithing is outside and above the law and therefore Christians are still under it.” My thought was always, might of not been under the law, but it was still under the curse. Jesus has redeemed the curse, prior to adams fall is a reality we should live in, did adam tithe?

  • Gordon says:

    Often, anecdotal examples are given to support tithing, but for every story of someone who was financially blessed by tithing, there are many more who have tithed religiously for years and have never been financially blessed with prosperity beyond their income; and there are tons of people who are financially blessed who have never tithed.

    Furthermore, your excellent article scripturally disarms the argument that to tithe is to obey God’s command, regardless of expected benefits.

    In any case, too much of modern Christianity is modeled after the Old Covenant in many areas.

  • Ralph says:

    Looking at the Genesis 14, it strikes me that Abraham did not actually GIVE THE 90% to the King of Sodom. He actually came and restored back that which was stolen of the King of Sodom by Chedorlaomer King of Elam, and the other Kings (vs.5).

    Also, in vs.11, “Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way.” . 12 They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

    Notice that the King of Sodom apparently still had a right to determine the distributing of these goods, or he would not have said to Abraham in vs.21, “Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.”

    Regardless of who actually had the right to determine the distribution of the restored goods; the overall premise appears to be in this scripture, and in the Jacob scripture, that of a declaration of worship to God IF they were delivered or provided by God. It also seems like this mind-set was one of deal making with God, rather than a proper covenantal understanding. It appears that both of these incidents cited above are not necessarily the proper model for the Christian today; but rather just a part of their journey that led both of them to a place where their reliance in God had to come out of a proper response from knowing God and obedience. Remember that Abraham had to come to the place that he knew that God would provide for himself the burnt offering (Gen 22:8), rather than trying to help God in seeing the fulfillment of a promise (Ishmael). And was it not a deceitful and manipulative Jacob that had to learn to rely on the Lord. Did not this enablement come out of a cleaving process in the wrestling with the Angel of Lord to the point where his own ability to escape his brother was removed. Was it not then that Jacob finally could learn to stop HELPING God in the fulfillment of the prophecy over his life that was given prior to his birth ( Gen 25:23; Romans 9:11).

  • Trumpet of Grace says:

    I think it’s interesting that it’s not Abraham’s tithe but Abram’s tithe … is it Jacob’s tithe or Israel’s tithe … so far as I can see every mention of tithing is before we become new creatures (or the OT’s closest equivalent) … Paul never told the gentiles to tithe (so how would they know?) and only 1 church even supported him after the Macedonian call … you would have thought that he would have at some point mentioned it … maybe it was just more practical … like God I want to give … and God starts with a round number rather than 11.5% … very good brother Cornel!

  • Travis Young says:

    Wow i love this. I have been looking at this tithing thing recently and am planning on writing an article about it cause its such a wide topic that i think has undergone a lot of being twisted in some places to bring in income. I love how you delivered this as we in the church have been taught give in order to receive instead of giving because we have received. Thanks so much for this article Cornel its such a blessing

    Travis

  • Darrell Meeks says:

    If I may, I’d like to suggest the inclusion of Numbers 31 in your writings. If Abraham’s tithe was intended by God an example to be followed by Israel, then the Lord certainly had a strage way of expressing such an alleged model to be followed in this other case because the soldiers mentioned in Numbers 31, those who fought in the battles, were commanded to hand over to the priests only 1/500 of what they received of the spoils, and those who didn’t go to war handed over to the priests only 1/50 of what they received of the spoils.

    Both figures, as you can see, are a FAR cry from 1/10. I’ve never seen this mentioned by any of the pro-required-tithe from their pulpits, Sunday school lessens, et al.

    One other thing of grave concern to me is the traditional practice of religious people handing over to organized religion the primary, largest portion of their “giving” on the basis of false teachings. In most cases, the majority of all that so-called “giving” is absorbed into what actually is given the highest budgetary priority, which is the building, its expenditures and its upkeep, as well as the professional staffing and programs, with only the small remainder used for benevolent purposes, such as to meet the needs of fellow believers and others in the local community, and missions.

    Additionally, the “givers” are essentially lavishing their own so-called “giving” back upon themselves by way of direct benefit they reap from the institutionalized “church” model they support. That isn’t “giving” at all when the “givers” reap direct benefit from what they “give”.

    The giving of “alms” to the poor never provided direct, physical benefit to the giver, but “tithing” to organized religion does.

    Can you imagine those first century believers laying their giving at the feet of the apostles, and demanding return benefits by way of luxuries here on earth from what they gave? If people would guage what they do by applying it to what can be gleaned from within scripture, the glaring deficiencies would become much more aparent to the casual observer.

    I’m not opposed to a religious group having a communal building and a staff of professional hirelings so long as their support of such a luxury is secondary to our primary responsibility toward fellow believer’s needs and the needs of the needy in our local communities. Instead, most people place the cart before the horse by lavishing their “giving” BACK upon themselves and each other in grandiose fassion that is utterly obscene when observed through the eyes of the Spirit.

    Believe it or not, many institutionalists have actually whined to me that if they gave only secondarily to their “church”, then they’d have to settle for a much smaller facility with fewer services. I sometimes have to do a double-take on what people say. I’ve often wondered why they can’t see how derpaved they are, as betrayed by the words they speak.

    They even assume that every one of those men who land a job as “pastor” within institutionalized religion are automatically leaders of biblical stature, and therefore sanctioned by God. It never seems to occur to most that organized religion is not representative of the Church. Unbelievers darken the doorsteps of institutional “churches” every week. The Church, however, has not one unebeliever in its ranks.

    That alone gives us insight into the vast difference between the TRUE local Church, and all those things anyone can walk into, join as members, and even plop some support into the passing plate under the watchful, warm gazes of approval from the blind leaders.

    BTW

  • Chuck Hawes says:

    Financial Discipline has it’s own reward. You can argue for or against the tithe. For me it has been a good starting place — but making good decisions with my finances is much bigger than this, and giving is the most important discipline I have — second only to saving/investing.

    If you don’t have enough, you may have a long road ahead of you, but being faithful to whatever God’s conviction on your heart is is ESSENTIAL to gaining ground. I think paying your debts is a vital piece as well.

  • Chuck Hawes says:

    Ah, it’s early. I meant to say Saving and Investing is second to giving. :)

    I am a Certified Financial Planner and have many clients who tithe/give. One thing I have noticed is that these clients are people who live within their means — once again, the Financial Discipline of giving is in many ways its own reward.Y2

  • Caleb says:

    Maybe someone can help me with this one. Where did it say, “Abram gave 10% to Melchizedek and 90% to the king of SODOM” in the Bible… I missed that one.
    Thanks

      • Mel says:

        Gen 14:22-24 “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, 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)

        Thanks for the teaching, but I am more puzzled now. Where did the portion of the men come from then, if it is neither part of the 10% tithes given to Melchizedek nor the 90% given to the King of Sodom? Or was the portion given to the men, and the one eaten more important than the tithe Abram gave to Melchizedek that he failed to mention it?
        Shalom brother!

        • Cornel says:

          Yes, it technically came out of the 90% so the King of Sodom didn’t get the full 90% and we don’t know how much they took. But it doesn’t change the fact that Abram took nothing.

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