15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

Paul’s instruction to the young evangelist Timothy was wisely given. God’s children should study the Word often. In it, one can find nuggets of wisdom and understanding.

Many of God’s people today open their Bibles only when their Sunday School teacher begins teaching, or when the preacher starts preaching. The rest of the week, the Bible remains unopened on the coffee table, on a desk, or sometimes in the back seat of the family car. They then read the passage being delivered by the speaker and listen to approximately forty minutes of the speaker’s interpretation of that passage of Scripture.

As the speaker delivers his interpretation, the complacent hearer puts the Word of God in the background so they can concentrate on what the speaker is saying, believing what is being spoken is truly “A message sent from God.”

But is this what we are to do? Believe every word that is being spoken from the sacred desk? Or are we to test the spirits behind the message to see if it is from God?

As the opening paragraph states, we are to “rightly divide the Word of Truth.”

Rightly dividing the Word involves diligent study. Many pastors and laymen are remiss when it comes to diligent study. Oh, they may read the Bible. But then they form an outline based on tradition or what they have been taught in seminaries or Churches over the years, when, what they have heard or have been taught by previous leaders may not line up with the Word of God.

One such example of improper study can be found in practically every denomination in the teaching or preaching of Malachi 3:8-10. There, we read:

8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.

9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.

The above passage is one of the most used passages of Scripture in our Churches today. Sadly, it is also one of the most misused as well.

In the opening of his address to the people, Malachi states:

The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.

So we learn that the book of Malachi was written to a specific people… , the children of Israel.

So, any time a pastor or spiritual leader in any other geographical location other than Israel takes the admonishment of Malachi 3:8-10 and tells his congregation that they are robbing God if they do not tithe, that preacher or spiritual leader is guilty of not rightly dividing the Word of Truth.

Leviticus 27:30 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.

31 And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.

32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.

33 He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.

34 These are the commandments, which the LORD commanded Moses for the children of Israel in mount Sinai.

In the above four verses, we learn that
God’s Holy tithe was from crops and livestock only. God said, ‘all the tithe of the land,’ and then proceeded to define what He meant by ‘all’.

‘Whether of the seed of the land, (vegetables, spices, herbs, berries, etc.) or of the fruit of the trees (figs, apples, olives, etc.) … and concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock…

God’s Holy tithe, according to the above passage, is food and livestock only. Any time a pastor or spiritual leader in any other geographical location other than Israel tells his congregation that God expects a tithe of their monetary income, he is guilty of not rightly dividing the Word of Truth. God’s Holy Word does not have an amendment of the Mosaic Tithe Law from crops and livestock to a tithe of money.

Leviticus 27:34 reveals that the tithe was for the children of Israel. God required them to give a tenth of their increase in three different manners:

1) The Levitical tithe – (Lev. 27:30-33) This tithe was an annual tithe that the children of Israel were to take to the Levites living in Israel. The Levitical Tithe was to be observed the first six years in a seven year cycle.

Numbers 18:20 And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.

21 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.

22 Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die.

23 But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.

24 But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.

25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.

27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.

28 Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’S heave offering to Aaron the priest.

29 Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it.

30 Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress.

31 And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation.

32 And ye shall bear no sin by reason of it, when ye have heaved from it the best of it: neither shall ye pollute the holy things of the children of Israel, lest ye die.

Numbers 18 declares that the tithe that the Levites received of the children of Israel was food. It was to be eaten. We also glean from the text that of the tithe the children of Israel took to the Levite, the Levite was to give a tithe to Aaron the Priest as a heave offering. The heave offering, (1% of Israel’s total agricultural produce) represented all of that which was grown in Israel.

Later, because of an abundance of tithes that lay rotting in the streets of the Levitical cities, king Hezekiah ordered storehouses erected in certain locations in Israel to store, preserve, and manage the food supply.

2 Chronicles 31:1 Now when all this was finished, all Israel that were present went out to the cities of Judah, and brake the images in pieces, and cut down the groves, and threw down the high places and the altars out of all Judah and Benjamin, in Ephraim also and Manasseh, until they had utterly destroyed them all. Then all the children of Israel returned, every man to his possession, into their own cities.
2 And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the LORD.
3 He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.
4 Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD.
5 And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the field; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.
6 And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps.
7 In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month.
8 And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel.
9 Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps.
10 And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.
Nehemiah 10:34 And we cast the lots among the priests, the Levites, and the people, for the wood offering, to bring it into the house of our God, after the houses of our fathers, at times appointed year by year, to burn upon the altar of the LORD our God, as it is written in the law:

35 And to bring the firstfruits of our ground, and the firstfruits of all fruit of all trees, year by year, unto the house of the LORD:
36 Also the firstborn of our sons, and of our cattle, as it is written in the law, and the firstlings of our herds and of our flocks, to bring to the house of our God, unto the priests that minister in the house of our God:
37 And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
38 And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
39 For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.

Storehouses were set up in Israel for food storage. The children of Israel were to bring the first fruits into the storehouses, but the tithes of the land they were to take to the Levites, who, in turn, would take a tithe of the tithe (1% of Israel’s total garden produce) into the Storehouse. The children of Israel were not to take their tithe into the storehouse, the Levites were responsible for taking a tithe of what they received in tithes into the storehouse! This is important, as we will see later in this article.

2) The Second Tithe, also called the Festival tithe, was a tithe that was eaten by the farmer, his family, and the Levites. The Festival Tithe was observed the first six years in a seven year cycle. There were three feasts each year during the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons.

22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:
26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.

For the Second Tithe, also known as the Festival Tithe, the Israelite farmer and herder would take his family to the place God chose and there eat the tithe during the festivities. If the journey to the festivities was too long, or the tithes too heavy to carry the distance, the farmer could sell the tithe, then buy it back for its consumption at the festivities.

The fact that the tithe could be sold for silver and the tithes were to be eaten prove that the festival tithes did not consist of money. Many pastors fail to expound on this truth when delivering their sermon on tithing. If they did, no doubt it would raise the eyebrows of those who have ears to hear. It did mine the first time I read this passage with the mind of the Spirit rather than the eyes of man.
Deuteronomy 14:28-29 KJV

[28] At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: [29] 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.

3) The Third Tithe, also known as the Poor tithe or Charity Tithe was to be kept on the tither’s property to be given to the widows, the orphans, the Levites living on the tither’s property, and the foreigners who were taking refuge in the cities of Israel. The Poor Tithe was observed the 3rd & 6th years in a seven year cycle.

The seventh year, it was forbidden to plant seed or harvest crops. The land was to rest. There could be no tithe the seventh year.

These three tithes are the only tithes God authorized in His Holy Word. The tithes added up to 20% of the farmer’s or herders total increase for six years, with the exception of 30% the 3rd & 6th years.

Earlier in the article, I mentioned the fact that the children of Israel were not responsible for bringing the tithes into the storehouse,and said this was important to remember.

The command in Malachi 3, to bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse could not have been speaking to the farmers and herders, for they were to take their tithes to the Levites (Numbers 18; Nehemiah 10). The Levites were responsible for taking the tithe from their Levitical cities to the storehouse. But they were not to bring in the whole tithe they received from the children of Israel, they were to bring in a tithe of the tithe. Ten percent of ten percent.

In Nehemiah 13:1-5, we learn that Eliashib the Priest had cleared out the storehouse and moved Tobiah the Ammonite into the chambers.

Nehemiah 13:4-8 And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king: And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.

This sheds light on the oft misused passage in the book of Malachi. Malachi was speaking to the Priests. They had been withholding the food tithe, not the children of Israel. The Priest brought on the curse upon the land, and God was chastising them.

If the Priest would bring the tithe of the tithe back into the storehouse, God would cause the rain to fall once again and the crops would grow. He would also rebuke the locust so that it would not eat the farmers crops. There would be abundance of food for all.

The Church can learn from Israel’s history, but the blessings and curses pronounced upon Israel were Israel’s alone. They cannot be claimed, nor invoked, by the Church today. The tithe, with all of its blessings and curses, needs to stay where God intended it to stay… in ancient Israel.

The Church has its own blessings.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 KJV
[6] But this I say , He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. [7] Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give ; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

Today, the child of God is not to be yoked to the Law. Cast out the bond woman and walk in the liberty that Christ has called you to walk in. The tithe was never for the Church. God tells the Church member instead to give as he purposes in his heart to give. Choose for youself the amount you feel is best to give, and God will be pleased with your offering.

 

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