THE LORD’S PORTION
BY ROY L. MOSS JR.
“Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him'(Deuteronomy 10:9).
“The priests, he Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no par, not inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance. Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them” (Deuteronomy 18:1-2. (See also Numbers 18:20; 26:62, Deuteronomy 12:12; 14:27; Joshua 13:14; 14:3 18:7; Ezekiel 44:28.)
The Bible clearly teaches that the tribe of Levi was not to have an inheritance in the Promised Land with their brethren. Some have, in times gone by, found in this a basis to question the church furnishing a place for its pastor to live- parsonage. But such persons are evidently unaware of other provisions which Jehovah God made for His ministers, the Levites.
God has, throughout the past and on into the future, provided a place for the Levites to live.
In the Wilderness
“The families of the Gershonites shall pitch behind the tabernacle westward.. The families of the sons of Kobath shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle southward…and the chief of the house of the father of the families of Merari was Zuriel the son of Abihail: these shall pitch on the side of the tabernacle northward … But those that encamp before the tabernacle toward the east, even before the tabernacle toward the congregation east-ward, shall be Moses, and Aaron and his sons….” (Number 3:23, 29, 35. 38).
In the midst of God’s organizing of the camp! we find that he provided living space for the Levites. They still were not numbered among the rest of the tribes and they received no inheritance with the rest, but
God knew their needs (Luke 12:29-30′ and provided for them.
And for those who doubt that this example has anything to do with today, let us remember that Stephen called this group the “church in the wilderness” (Acts 7 38). What was shadow then is substance now and
the symbol has been made the actual. So from the wilderness we trace the minister’s right to a place to live.
In the Promised Land
“And the LORD Spake unto Moses in the plains of Moab by Jordan near Jericho, sayin., Command the children of Israel that they give unto the Levites of the inheritance of their possession cities to dwell in; and
ye shall give also unto the Levites suburbs for the cities round about them. And she cities shall they have to dwell in, and the suburbs of them shall be for their cattle, and for their goods, and for all their beasts. And the suburbs of the cities, which ye shall give unto the Levites, shall reach from the wall of the city and outward a thousand cubits round about. And ye shall measure front without the city and the east side two thousand cubits, and on the south side two thousand cubits, and on the west side two thousand cubits, and on the north side two thousand cubits: and the city shall be in the midst; this shall be to them the suburbs of the cities. And among the cities which ye shall give unto the Levites there shall be six cities for refuge, which ye shall appoint for the manslayer, that he may flee thither and to them ye shall add forty and two cities. So all the cities which ye shall give to the Levites shall be forty and eight cities, them shall ye give
with their suburbs And the cities which ye shall give shall he of the possession of the children of Israel; from them that have many ye shall give many; but from them that have, few ye shall give few every one
shall give of his cities unto the Levites according to his inheritance which he inheriteth” (Numbers 35:1-8).
Before his death, Moses, by the commandment of God, left direction concerning possession for the Levites. Forty-eight cities- with there suburbs were to be set aside for the families of Levi to live in. These cities were not considered an inheritance among the children of Israel. There might be some difficulty today in understanding such a distinction, but let it be sufficient to say that the land received by tee various tribes was an inheritance. The cities of the Levites were not.
After the children of Israel had taken the land of Cannan, Joshua made a distribution of the cities among the Levitical families as follows; Aaron 13 cities, Kohath-l0 cities; Gershon-13 cities, Merari-17 cities
(Joshua 21:l -42). This distribution was made in obedience to the command which Moses had given in Numbers 35.
Many years later a listing of genealogies and history was made in Chronicles, and these cities are again noted as having been given to the Levites (I Chronicles 6:55-8l).
An interesting footnote to history is given by Jeremiah when that priest and prophet gave as his address Anathoth, one of the cities given to the priests by Joshua (Jeremiah 1:1)
In The Future
In the age yet to come, when the twelve tri tees receive their portions of the land of Canaan and the Temple shall again be rebuilt the priests and Levites shall again receive a portion for living In the forty- eighth chapter of Ezekiel, this prophet foresaw the restoration which is yet to come. In this he described a section of land around the new temple as being set aside for the priests and Levites (Ezekiel 48:8- 22).
So we can see from these few verses of Scripture that God has in the past and for tit’ future provided a place to live for those who minister before Him. Is it, then, to be thought out of the will of God for a minister to be provided a residence in this present day? When the parsonage is owned by the church, it will alleviate man: problems of property exchange when there is c change of pastors.
Buying and Selling
And I bought the field of Hanameel my uncle’s son, that was in Anathoth and weighed him the money, even seventeen shekels of silver. And I subscribed the evidence, and sealed it, and took winess, and weighed
him the money in the balances (Jeremiah 32:9-10).
With these proofs of God’s provision of a dwelling place for his ministry, the idea might arise that the ministry was thus forbidden to own other property of any kind. Once again these is scriptural record
which helps to set the matter straight.
In the days before the fall of Babylon, Jeremiah found himself in prison. While there, he was presented with the opportunity to redeem of by a certain piece of property in Anathoth, his home town At the
direction of God, he purchased the property and took legal possession of it.
Though the lesson being taught was that the Hebrews would eventually return from Babylonian captivity another message comes through. That message is that member of the ministering community may buy property, if he otherwise abides by the law of the nation. Thus we can see that God’s provision of a place to live does not preclude his ministers from purchasing other property.
OLD TESTAMENT TITHING
Many in our day do not believe in tithing or giving ten percent of their increases to God, separate from any offerings. Some of these who so believe base their opinion on their feeling that tithing was only in effect or force under the Mosaic Law. One man has reported that his group asks only two percent instead of ten, because they feel the latter would be too heavy a burden.
Others feel that the tithe, rather than going for the support of the ministry, should be used for the poor, orphans and widows, or building projects.
Besides these there are many less serious and even frivolous ideas concerning the tithe and its use.
But let us go to the Bool: of books and see what the Creator of all things has to say about this matter, both by illustration and command.
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And
blessed be the most high God, which bath delivered their enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 4:1 8-20).
The “Father of the Faithful” set for his children the pattern of paling tithes (Hebrew 7:9). And it would be well to bear in mind that this instance of tithe-paying took place in the neighborhood of 420 years before the Law was given to Moses on Sinai.
Tithing was thus specifically instituted nearly half a millennium before Moses, who was a descendant of Abraham, ascended the mountain slope. The tithe was specifically named and identified in the account
of Abraham for the first time in Scripture, although there may have been types of the tithe in such things as the tree in the Garden and the Sacrifices of Cain and Abel.
This record of Abraham giving tithes effectively destroys the unscriptural idea that tithing was only under the Law. But there are still other scriptural evidence, which we shall consider later in the chapter entitled “Gospel and Law,” that support the doctrine that tithes was not a product of or limited to the period of the Law.
Please bear in mind also that the tithe was paid to Melchizedek as the priest of God. This is the pattern. This is the proper way.
“And Jacob vowed a vow, saying If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall
the LORD be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (Genesis 28:20-22).
The experience of Jacob at Bethel is a second instance of tithing many years before the Law. It is interesting to note that in this first recorded Bible vow, made in a time of closeness to God, tithing again
makes an appearance. Could it be that many have lost much of their spiritual contact with God because they have rebelled against God’s financial system? People who are right with God find obedience and
giving a pleasure.
In what manner or to whom Jacob paid this vowed tenth is not reported. But suffice it to say that the vow of the tenth was made-and that some 280 years before the law was given.
“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. And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add there to the fifth part thereof. And concerning the offering of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD” (Leviticus 27;30-32).
In discussing the tithe, it would be well to consider whose money or possession we are talking about. Many people are under the mistaken impression that the paycheck is theirs totally. But this is just not so.
We are all very familiar with taxes. the government demands a part of our earnings for the services it renders. Likewise, God has a claim to one-tenth of our increase for the support of His work on earth. We can understand the “why” of taxes, but we often stumble over the “why” of tithes.
The “why” is this: without God we could make or do nothing. We would not even be. God allows us to make the one hundred percent and then only claims one-tenth of what is rightfully His. To withhold the tithe
is to be a robber of God. It belongs to Him and it is criminal for us to keep it. THE TITHE IS THE LORD’S.
The Three Tithes of Moses
When tithing is mentioned, some people immediately complain loudly about the ministry being greedy and covetous and that tithes are too heavy of a burden for modern people to bear. But there were actually three different tithes involved in the Mosaic Law. Much of the confusion over the appropriation and used of the tithe today could be cleared up by understanding these different tithes. The first tithe was the Levitical tithe or that tithes which went to the Levites and through the Levites to the priests. The second tithes
was a feast tithe to be eaten at the sanctuary by the one who produced it. The third tithe was for the poor and the stranger. Let us consider each tithe separately.
THE LEVITICAL TITHE
“And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any party among them; I am thy part and shine inheritance among the children of Israel. And behold I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service of the tabernacle of the congregation. Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come night the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. But the Levites shall do the bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generation that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. But the tithes of the children of Israel which they of 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’,
This first tithe is the most well-known of the three. By this tithe God provided for the sustenance of those who ministered in the service of his house. This left his ministers free from outside employment so that
they might be able to give themselves wholly to the Lord during their period of labor.
Tithing was to be universal in Israel. The people tithed to the Levites, and the Levites in turn tithed of what they received to the priests (Numbers 18:24-32). Thus even those who received tithes gave an amount in proportion to what they received.
As we shall see in other passages of Scripture, this tithe is still in force today. But instead of going to Levites, is now scripturally goes to the ministers, who become responsible for its distribution to the needs of the work of God.
THE FEAST TITHE
“Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 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 shine oil, and the frstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always. 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; Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in shine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose 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 shine household, And the Levite that is within thy gates, thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee’ (Deuteronomy 14:22-27). (See also Deuteronomy 12:519).
This second tithe was a feast tithe. It consisted of a tenth of corn, wine, oil, and the firstlings of the flocks and herds. This tithe was different from the first (Levitical) tithe in that it was to he eaten as a feast by the tither and his family.
The tithe was taken to the place which Jehovah God chose, and was there eaten that they might learn to “fear the LORD”. This commandment to tithe was given to the people by God to help them be constantly
reminded that it was God who had blessed and strengthen them. This particular tithe was also advantageous to the people. If the people obeyed God’s commandments concerning this tithe, they would
automatically be provided with the means of attending the great worship gatherings and festivals of Israel.
It is interesting to note that the Levites were to share in this feast tithe also. They received the first tithe on all increase and still had a part of the second tithe each year. Their receiving a part of the second tithe in no way disqualified them from receiving the first tithe. Though the tribe of Levi had no land or political inheritance, yet God provided well for them.
THE POOR TITHE
“At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of shine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: and the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee) and the stranger, and the father less, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and he satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of shine hand which thou doest” (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)
This passage has caused many to stumble through their own lack of understanding. How often has a mistaken layman declared or snidely implied that the minister is a greedy money-grabber for taking the
tithe, because it belongs to the poor? Such reasoning is unscriptural and a perversion of facts.
True, a tithe was used for the poor but this was a tithe separate from the first or Levitical tithe. This third or “Poor Tithe” was given every third year. It is interesting to note that the Levites shared in this tithe also. Thus we see the Levites receiving all of the first tithe and a part of both the second and third tithes.
If a person wishes for his tithe to the Levites (ministry) and then set aside another tithe for the poor. To take the tithe that belongs to the ministry and dispense it to finance other project is like trading billfolds before taking the offering. It is very easy to be liberal with another man’s money.
THE END OF TITHING
“When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithe of shine increase the third year, which is the year tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they many eat
within thy gates, and be filled; Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God 1 have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the
fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou best commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them” (Deuteronomy 26:12-13).
At the end of every three-year tithing cycle, each man was to be sure that he had removed all three tithes from his house. He was to pay what he owed in the way of tithes and make a declaration of such before the
If he had withheld any tithe and used it for another purpose than that which God had commanded, he was to “add the fifth part thereto” and distribute it properly (Leviticus 27:30-31). Thus if a tithe goes unpaid or is used for something else, it is charged interest in the amount of twenty percent.
Some Jewish scholars have interpreted the term “fifth part” to mean that the penalty must be a fifth part of the final total, which would include the fifth part. This would place the cost of disobedience even higher. Under this system of reckoning, the interest would be twenty- five percent of the original tithe, for example, if the original tithe was one hundred dollars, the “Fifth part” would be twenty-five dollars- a fifth of the original one hundred dollars combined with the penalty ($100 + $25 = $125 divided by 5 = $25).
Besides the penalty there is disobedience and rebellion involved in not paying tithes properly. The Bible admonished us to “let all things be done decently and in order,” lest haply a person finds himself fighting
Another of the things about which people are often confused in relation to tithing is the “STOREHOUSE”. Malachi 3:10 is often quoted as evidence against the ministry receiving, or having responsibility of
the tithe. But &oaf does not contradict Himself. Malachi 3:10 teaches the same thing we have studied in the previous chapter.
The Hebrew word translated storehouse in Malachi also appears many other places in Scripture. This Hebrew word is variously translated as treasure, treasures, treasures, and treasury in relation to the place
of safe-keeping of the Lord’s portion. It is also given as store, storehouses, cellar, and gerner in relation to other deposits.
The history of the storehouse, or treasury, is firmly established in biblical narration. The storehouse of the Lord’s portion was not used to provide for indigents, building projects, or a noose around the necks of the Levites. Many erroneous ideas can be corrected by a study of the history of the storehouse.
Joshua and Achan
“But all [he silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated undo the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. And they burnt the city with firs’ and all that was therein: only the silver, and the gold, and the vessels of brass and of on they put into the treasury of the house of the LORD’ (Joshua 6; 19, 24).
One of the first references to the storehouse (treasury) is at the battle of Jericho. Before the people were allowed to realize any gain from their conquest of the land, the firstfruits had to go to God.
The pile of rocks over Achan is ample warning of God’s attitude toward those who would seek to use the treasures of the storehouse for some purpose other than that which God had directed. Death and dishonor
awaited the man of Judah who touched that which was rightfully under the jurisdiction of the Levite.
This incident should be a strong message about what will wait in eternity for the one who wrongfully touches the goods of the storehouse.
David The Preparation
“And of the Levites, Ahijah was over the treasures of the house of God, and over the treasures of the dedicated things… The sons of Jehieli; Zetham, and Joel his brother, which were over the treasures of the
house of the LORD…. And Shebuel the son of Gerstom, the son of Moses, was ruler of the treasures.. Which Shelomith and his brethren were over all the treasures of king, and the chief fathers, the captains over
thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the host, had dedicated” (1 Chronicles 26: 20, 22, 24, 26).
Toward the end of his life, David took care of the assignments for duty about the Temple which Solomon was to build (I Chronicles 23:1). Given in the Scripture passage above is the assignment. Of those who were to have charge of the treasures of the house of God. This was the storehouse, or rather, that which was to be put into the storehouse when it was built in the Temple. Over this treasure the Levites had control.
The treasures of the dedicated things (also under the hand of the Levites) consisted of the great supply of money and materials which had been set aside for the construction of the Temple. So here, again, we
find a distinction between that by which the Levites were sustained and that which was used for building.
Both the wilderness Tabernacle and the great Temple were built, not by tithes, but by freewill offering (Galatians 36:17, I Chronicles 28:14- 18).
David – The Commission
“Then David gave to solomon his son the pattern of the porch, and of the houses thereof, and of the treasuries there of, and of the upper chambers thereof, and of the inner parlours thereof, and of the place
of the mercy seat, And the pattern of all that he had by the spirit, of the courts of the house of the LORD, and of all the chambers round about, of the treasuries of the hause of God, and of the treasuries of the dedicated things” (I Chronicles 28:11-12)
Having made preparations to the best of his ability, David turned the construction of the Temple to Solomon. Once again we find the mention of the storehouse in the original pattern of the Temple.
That there was a treasury for the support of the Levites separate from the building fund is abundantly clear. That both the tithes and the building fund were under the hand of the Levites is also evident. We
find the storehouse as the depository of the tithe in the first Temple.
“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 LORD. 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. And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cites 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 heap`, In the third month they began to lay foundation of the heap, and finished them in the seventh month. And when Hezekiah and the priests and the Levites concerning the beeps, 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. Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them, And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things
faithfully; over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimel his brother was the next” (II Chronicles 31:4-12).
The great revival and restoration under King Hezekiah brought many changes in Judah. Idols and groves were destroyed; Temple worship was restored. Back tithes were paid during a period from the third to the
seventh month. These tithes were much more than God’s appointed ministry could consume during this time, so Hezekiah commanded that chamber be prepared at the Temple to receive this excess supply. These
“Chambers” were the reinstitution of the treasuries of David and Solomon. This was the reappearance of the storehouse.
The storehouse thus recommissioned was like a food bank account from which the ministry could draw for their needs. It was for the retention of that portion of the tithe above their immediate needs. Sometimes
people withhold tithes on the rounds that the minister does not need them or that he has plenty of support already. However, this reasoning is unscriptural and the motive behind the reasoning is subject to question. We should note that the people paid the tithes without regard to the needs of the Levites. When the tithes surpassed the immediate needs of the Levites, the tithes were not returned, nor were the people
requested not to pay tithes. On the contrary, the surplus tithes were placed in the temple storehouse under the care of the Levites to provide for any need they may have later.
A person does not determine whether he will pay a debt on the basis of the need of the one to whom he owes the debt. The doctor may drive a luxury car and live in a spacious home with an indoor swimming pool. But no matter what his financial status, a person still owes him for every office call and shot. This is also true of other professions and occupations. Lawyers. plumbers, teachers, and secretaries are paid set
fees or salaries for hours worked or services rendered. Therefore, This same principal should be applied in consideration of the remuneration to those whom God has called to lead his work on earth. The storehouse was constructed in the first Temple. The tithes were placed there. The Levites supervised or were over, the storehouse. No lay-man ventured near to touch this store. The Levites were responsible for it the tithe and no layman should attempt to exercise control over this portion that belongs to the Lord.
“For these Levites the four chief porters, were in their set office, and were over the chambers and treasuries of the house of God” (I Chronicles 9:26).
Babylon invaded, and for decades the Temple area lay waste. Then the Jews began to make their way back to the land of promise where they started over again.
In the distribution of duties, the Levites were chosen and given charge over the treasuries and the storehouse entered the holy record again. Repeatedly the Word brings forth the elements of this great Bible truth – “here a little and there a little” (Isaiah 28:10).
“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: Also the first – born 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: 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 Village. And the priest the Eon 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. For 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” (Nehemiah 10:35-39).
“And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, together into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited (Nehemiah 12:44).
Where the second Temple was built, the Law was revived as a guide of Living and worship once again. The people paid tithes of the Levites. The Levites paid a tithe of the tithe to the priests. And in the second
Temple, as there had been ID the first, was a storehouse-chambers for the tithe. It was still under the power and supervision of the Levites. This was the Temple which stood when hlalachi prophesied.
Scripturally the storehouse has nothing to do with the feast tithe or the poor tithe. The chambers (storehouse) were prepared to receive the Levitical tithe, all considerations of the storehouse keep this in
“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 tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. But
in al! 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. Then commanded, and they cleansed the chambers and thither brought l again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense. And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field. Then contended I with the relers, and said, why is the house of God forsaken And I gathered them together, and set them in their place. Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries” (Nehemiah 13:4-12).
Tobiah might have been a good businessman, but he had no right to be in the tithe chamber. His presence greatly hindered the work of God. For those who feel that some “more modern” method of finances might work better, the empty Temple stands as a silent, but ominous warning. The house of God was forsaken by the Levites, the laity ceased their support and the work of the Lord ground to a halt. What a price to pay
for having their own way rather than God’s way.
Several years ago I visited a congregation of a religious group which once stood for holiness and had the power of God in their midst. Worldliness had not only made inroads, but as far as dress and ornamentation were concerned, it had taken over. The half-million dollar building was very nice, but little praise was heard within its walls. Moreover, the congregation had experienced no numerical increase for quite some time.
The treasurer of the congregation lamented that the people had wanted to increase the pastor’s salary for “Several years”. But the budget just would not stand it. They had let the janitor go. They had held their advertising expenses to under twenty dollars for the past year. It was reported that neither the treasurer nor the pastor knew who paid tithes and who did not. They did not even look at those record. The congregation was told that the pastor was resigning with no real reason giver, for his departure. Could it be that them matter of tithes was the source of the problem?
When the Levites had to leave the temple, it was time to get Tobiah out of the tithe chamber. In modern times, as in days gone by, God’s plan of tithing worlds best. It is the only one of which he fully approves.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the store house, that there may be meat in mind house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, is 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” (Malachi 3:10).
By now we should have a fairly clear understanding of what Malachi was talking about when he mentioned the storehouse. If an honest-hearted person would but read the next phrase after the word storehouse, it
will confirm what has been said previously in this chapter.
“That there may be meat in mine house…. In this phrase lies a major key to the understanding of the storehouse. The tithes were to be brought in that the Levites and priests might have their necessary
support. The storehouse, when thus properly understood, stands as a lighthouse of truth leading us through the murky waters of tradition to the plan of God. Malachi equated the withholding of tithes from the ministry with robbery.
WILL YOU ROB GOD?
“Sirneon and Levi are brethern: instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slow
a man, and in their self-will they digged down a wall. Cursed by their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel” (Genesis 49:5-7).
It might be good at this point to familiarize ourselves with the recipients of the tithes the tribe of Leave. The prophecy of Genesis 49 refers to the slaughter of the Levites in Genesis 34. These hot headed
brothers were indeed scattered in the land. But while Simeon faded into relative obscurity among the tribes, Levi rose to prominence.
It seems that the tribe of Levi redeemed itself somewhat during the incident of the golden calf in the wilderness. When Moses gave a call for all who were on the Lord’s side to joint him, all the sons of Levi
committed themselves on the side of righteousness (Exodus 32:26-29).
And I, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine; Because all the firstborn are mine; for on the day that I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me al] the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be: I am the LORD” (Numbers 3:12- l3).
Prior to the giving of the Law, the priesthood had been the duty and honor of the head of the family. This leadership devolved to the firstborn in the normal course of events. However, God had often shown in Genesis that he reserved the right to change this. For example, Isaac replaced Ishmael; Jacob supplanted Esau, and Reuben lost the birthright to Joseph (Genesis 49:22-26), and (Genesis 48), his place of
leadership to Judah (Numbers 23, Genesis 49:10), and the priesthood to Levi (Numbers 3:40-51).
While the children of Israel were in the wilderness, God let it be known that He had chosen the Levites to minister before Him. He chose them instead of the first-born. This choice was a continuing thing. The
ministerial duties were thus confined to successive generations of the same family. In order to minister, a man had to be able to prove his membership in the family.
“And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle” (Numbers 3:7).
In the wilderness, the various branches of the family of Levi were given specific duties relative to the service of the Tabernacle. The family of Gershon was responsible for the Tabernacle, the tent, the court and the attendant coverings and door hangings (Numbers 3:25-26).
The descendants of Kohath were given charge of the sanctuary itself Their duties included the care and transportation of the vessels, furniture, and hangings of the sanctuary. The ark was under the care of
this family. The children of Merari were to have custody of the boards, bars, pillars and sockets, pins and cords of the sanctuary and the court. These had the hardest, physical labor since they transported the
heaviest parts of this portable place of worship.
All of these families shared in the tithe. It did not matter whether a Levite cared for the altar of incense or a brass socket, he received his living from the tithe. In the wilderness the Levites ministered to Aaron and the other priests. They helped them in whatever capacity they were assigned. The Levites also did all the work of disassembling, transporting, and then once again erecting the Tabernacle (Numbers 4)
SERVICE TO ISRAEL
“And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses” (Leviticus 10:10-11).
The Levites, including the priests, had several ways in which they served the nation of Israel besides transporting the Tabernacle and conducting the services and sacrifices thereof. Into the hands of the
men was committed the duty of instructing or teaching the people the way of the Lord (II Kings 17:27-28; II Chronicles 17:7; Ezra 7:10; Jeremiah 32:33; Ezekiel 44:23-24) The fact that the Levites were dispersed to cities scattered throughout the land made them close enough to where the people were to be effective as teachers.
By the time the Temple was built, there I were enough priests and Levites to share the work of the Temple. The family of Levi was divided by David into courses or shifts which later ministered at the Temple for a period of time and then returned to their homes to await their turn again. This procedure was still in operation in early New Testament times when Zecharias, husband of Elisa teeth, “executed the priest’s office before God in order of his course’ (Luke 18).
When the Levites were not needed in Jerusalem, they could return to their homes in the Levitical cities and continue their teaching and ministering in those areas. While at home, they could also have cattle and work in other ways. Though they continued to receive support from the tithes while away from Jerusalem, God allowed them space around their cities for other pursuits (Numbers 35;3)
Besides serving as teachers and officiating at the Temple services, the Levites wore in charge of, or responsible for, many other tasks. The Levites also served as judges, porters, herdsman over the Temple flocks and herds, and singers and musicians. All of these Levites, whatever their duties, received support from the tithes of Israel.
Since the purpose of this book is to study what the Bible teaches concerning tithing and to show how this teaching is relevant to today, let us look at the application of the above facts.
In small churches usually the only one who receives support from the church is the pastor. However, as the size of the congregation increases, the need for other non-volunteer workers increases. While it is obvious that the ministry of the Word is more vital and important than such activities as singing, janitoring, or secretarial work, if these duties become extensive enough to require financial remuneration for those who perform them, it would he proper for such payment to be made from the tithe.
These workers in a local church may pay their tithes to the pastor. However, to compensate for the fact that such payment would be coming from the local tithes, those to foreign or home missions. Thus they
would be paying tithes and advancing the work of God without merely underwriting their own or each other’s salaries. In this matters, the local pastor should decide what is most appropriate for his church.
“But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak: then I will be an enemy unto shine enemies, and an adversary unto shine adversaries And ye shall serve the LORD your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee” (Exodus 23:22,25).
It is not my aim to give a multitude of examples showing that if a person tithes he will get a cheque in the mail the next day, or any such financial reward. While incidents such as this do happen, a person should tithe, not in hope for financial gain, but because it is the plan of God.
However, there are principles and promises of God relating to blessing for those who are obedient. It is not always that the blessings God pours out are primarily financial in nature. The above verses of Scripture notes some areas of blessing which do not always equal a cheque coming unexpectedly.
“As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that, is with child: even so thou knowest not the works of maketh all” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).
It is not always possible to see a direct connection between cause and effect. Often laws are at work which the human eye cannot detect in their actual operation.
For instance, there are laws of aerodynamics which govern flight. In designing the size and shape of an airplane, an engineer must take these laws and formulae into consideration. One such formula is L-CLQS.
This formula is an expression of the lift (L) or pressure on a wing in relation to dynamic pressure (Q.) and the wing surface (S) where (CL) is the lift coefficient. This formula, or one similar to it, is in effect each time a plane takes off, flies, or lands. But as a passenger looks out the cabin window, he cannot see this law working. He does not see the various letters streaming down the runway, changing and hurrying over the wing and piling up underneath it. He does not see the formula working, but he does see the result of it as the plane leaves the ground, flies through the air, arid finally settles to earth without a crash.
“There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth, and there is that withholdeth more than is meet but it tendeth to poverty, The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself”(proverbs 11:4-2,5),
The devil tempted Jesus to throw Himself down from the Temple for a spectacular start to His ministry. Our Lord’s answer to the tempter was, “Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God” (Matthew 4:6-8). Jesus let
Satan know that in such matters it is forbidden to put God to the test or put him on trial. He is not our servant and is not obligated to satisfy our whims or come running every time we snap our fingers.
But there is an area where God specifically directed us to prove Him. In the matter of tithes and offerings, we may put him to the test (Malachi 310). In a time when people were selfishly putting themselves first and letting the work of God go undone, He chided them to consider their ways.
“Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough, ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink, ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes” Haggai 1:6).
God let them know there was a direct correlation between their troubles and the fact that they were not putting Him first. They had by their selfishness cut themselves off from the blessing of God. In minding
their own ways and in “looking out for number one,” they had actually hurt their own cause. (Haggai 1:5-11).
The story is told of a successful British businessman who, when called before the queen, was directed to sail to the American colonies to oversee her interests there. When he protested that his many business
involvements required his continued presence in England, the queen overruled his protest. She told him, “You go to America and see after my business. I will stay here and see that yours prospers.”
If we will put God first in our finances and do our part in seeing that His business prospers (Luke 2:49), our King will see that our needs are still met from His bountiful store (Philippians 4:l9).
‘But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you’, (Matthew 6:33).
Having dived into the Old Testament back ground and teaching concerning tithing, let us now consider the financial teachings of Jesus while He was on earth.
The Limited Ministry
“These twelve, Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, (Jo not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as
ye go preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Ilea; the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils freely ye have received, freely give. Provide neither gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, Nor scrip for your journey, neither two cars, neither shoes, nor yet staves: for the workman is worthy of his meat. And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy; and these abide till ye go thence” (Matthew 10:5-11; Mark (6:7- 11, Luke 10:1-12.)
Our Lord instituted some rules relative to finance and the ministry. Some might wish to use the instance in the passage of Scripture given in an effort to nullify the Old Testament teachings we have studied. However, a closer look will disclose that the rules given by Jesus to His twelve disciples were only temporary.
First of all, this commission was not worldwide in scope It was restricted and limited to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” and then only to “every place, whither he himself would come.” For such a small area and for this short-term mission, they would not need elaborate preparations. They would be sojourning among kinsmen’ and that for only a short while, so these directions I would not put a heavy burden on anyone.
These directions were not the final means of New Testament ministerial support, as we shall see.
“And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye anything? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his
scrip: and he that hath no sword let him sell his garment, and boy one” (Luke 22:35-36).
As the shadow of Calvary loomed over nearer, Jesus delivered many important instructions to His chosen twelve-now eleven. Reminding them of the way they were provided for on their previous mission, the great
teacher let them know how they were to conduct themselves financially for the great task ahead. Be prepared this time. Take your money and carry extra food. The journey will be long and hard and dangerous.
The former instructions were good for their time, but a wider ministry was now committed into the hands of men. Thus Jesus specifically tore down the former pattern, set aside living in the saint’s homes, and
instituted more permanent rules.
JESUS AND TITHING
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgement, mercy, and faith these ought ye to have done, and
not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23).
“These ye ought to have done”. Yes, Jesus endorsed tithing While we recognize his emphasis on another matter in this passage, we should not ignore the fact that our Savior said that tithing is something we
“ought” to do. Just as the Apostle Peter told the house of Cornelius what they “Ought” to do, so Jesus said that we sought” to tithe.
“They say unto him, Caesar’s Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s (Matthew 22:21).
Should we pay taxes? Do we owe allegiance to the government? Riot provoking questions such as these could sound the trumpet of doom for one who would be a leader in ancient Palestine. They were meant as
trick questions to trap our Redeemer. But in avoiding the trap, our Lord also re-emphasized a point relating to tithes. “Render unto God the things which are God’s rings loudly and the echo comes back from
the years of wilderness wandering: The tithe is the LORD’S” (Leviticus 27:30). It should be rendered or given to Him.
“They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father: Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abrabam’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham” (John 8:39).
Some take great pride in their religious affiliation, the history of their church group, or their family background. When Jesus began to uncover the sins of the Jews, they tried to take refuge in their ancestors. This occasion gave an opportunity to point out who were the true, God recognized children of Abraham.
Only those who do the works of Abraham are counted as this spiritual children. And among Abraham’s works of faith and obedience stands the work of paying tithes. If a person does not pay his tithe, he is not a
child of Abraham, no matter what profession he makes.
So we can see that in many different ways Jesus put his seal of approval on tithing. While some might try to annul the force of such endorsements by assigning them to “Pre-Cross Law,” let us all be reminded that the Cross did not do away with the teachings of the Sermon on the Mount. The cessation of the symbolic ceremonial law at Calvary could not abrogate what it did not begin. Such stopping of the ritual law did not end that which was not part of that section of law in the first place. Tithing began before the Law of Moses and continues after it. The rainbow of tithing is continuous from the far side of Sinai to this side of Golgotha. Tithing is still in God’s plan.
SACRED AND SECULAR
Many times in small churches the pastor will be employed in a secular job, either part-time or full-time. In such a situation, some would question the minister’s right to the tithe. Some in time past have even felt that holding a secular job disqualified a man from the ministry.
Job and Tithe
Concerning the finances, we could mane the comparison of person working on two secular jobs, a practice very common in our society. Would one employer be right in withholding another job and receiving, in his
estimation, an adequate salary? Never would such a thing be proper, especially to the person doing the work. Pay is given in accordance with established rates for service rendered, not according to him.
But such reasoning is sometimes left at home when it comes to church matters. Some have even gone so far as to declare that the pastor does not “need” the tithes because he has a secular job. Now let this grab
you by the scruff of the neck have you ever thought that the pastor might not “need” that job if everyone would pay his tithe properly?
Tithes are God’s appointed fee for services rendered-not for “need”.
Job and Ministry
Concerning a preacher working and remaining a preacher-with all the responsibilities and privileges due that office-let us look at one of the greatest of preachers’ the Apostle Paul.
We find that both Paul and Barnabas laboured with their hands, probably on the first missionary journey (I Corinthians 9:6). This fact was well enough known that Paul could feel safe using it in defense of his
apostleship and his right of financial support from the churches.
“Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought, but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you” (II Thessalonians 3.8).
“After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, for by their occupation they were tentmakers” (Acts 18:1Ä3).
“Yea, ye yourselves know, that these hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me. l have showed you all things, how that so lobouring ye ought to support the weak, and to
remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:34Ä35).
From the preceding verses we can easily see that Paul engaged in secular labour in at least three different places after the first missionary journey. None today would doubt the ministry of Paul, but at least one church of his day challenged his apostleship.
The Corinthian Challenge
The Corinthian church, in the midst of its condoning of incest and wildfire treatment of the gifts of the Spirit, found time: to question the ministerial call of Paul- the man who had brought them the gospel.
From the record of this controversy which we have today it seems that some had maneuvered their way into places of leadership and were fighting against Paul. Their taunts against Paul seem to he these:
1. Paul, by working with his hands, admitted that he was not a minister;
2. By not accepting or demanding the tithes of the people of Corinth for his maintenance, Paul was telling the people that he was not entitled to support, and therefore not an apostle.
These charges could not be allowed to go unanswered, for gospel truth, ministerial authority, and indeed, the very salvation of souls were at stake. And so with these false charges echoing through the land, Paul
undertook to write the financial portions of First and Second Corinthians.
Defining the Conflict
“Am I hot an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord? If I be not an apostle undo others, yet doubtless 1 am to you: for the seal of mine apostleship are
ye in the Lord” (I Corinthians 9:1-2).
‘For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (II Corinthians 11:5).
“I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though 1 be nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds” (I Corinthians 12:11-12).
The theme of these passages is easily seen. Personal or ministerial financial considerations were not what prompted Paul to write these verses (I Corinthians 9:15). The apostleship is the focus of consideration involved. As we shall see in the next chapter, some very profound financial teachings are included, but they are not what brought forth these comments by Paul. By the time he completed his epistles to the Corinthians, Paul firmly established his own claim of being an apostle and, a byproduct, he left some guidelines and historic light on finance in the New Testament Church.
GOSPEL AND LAW
‘Mine answer to them that do examine me is this, Have we not power to eat and to drink? Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas? Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to for bear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? Or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? (I Corinthians 9:3-7).
The battle had been joined and the controversy raged. Paul had to defend his ministry, and he was forced to do so in the field of finance. Verses three through six are an amplification of Paul’s rights as an apostle. The answer to his questions must be in the affirmative: he did have the rights and powers mentioned.
Verse seven enters into the realm of labour and pay. A soldier is paid by the country he defends. A former is supported by the produce he cares for. A herdsman would feel definitely cheated if he risked his life defending a flock against wild animals and then was not allowed to even refresh himself with the milk of that flock.
“For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is
written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?” (I Corinthians 9:9-11).
Forever Paul destroyed tee argument that what was done under the Law has no effect on us under grace. In fact, in his writings Paul makes reference to over 240 Old Testament verses of Scripture-beside the
references to over one hundred Old Testament verses in the Book of Hebrews, if be indeed was the author of this bock.
The Law has something to say to us. It says that God has appointed certain rules for the support of those who labour. Whether it be an ox, or a farmer, or a preacher, God has something to say about their support. The ox is to eat. The farm labourer is to be supported. The preacher is to be rewarded for his labour.
In view of verse eleven, it is amazing that any would doubt that it is anything but right for a preacher to receive temporal compensation (money or goods) for his work. He has delivered to others an opportunity to partake of that which is everlasting He has pointed and guided the way toward that which is priceless.
The greedy money-grabber is not the preacher but the layman who withholds that portion of his increase which God has declared to be His for the support of the ministry (James 5:1,4).
“Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the alter are partakers with the alter? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach
the gospel should live of the gospel” (I Corinthians 9:13-14).
The capsonte of issue of New Testament tithing can be found in this passage. Paul referred to the way in which the priests and Levites were supported and applied it to New Testament ministry, EVEN SO the same is in effect today for the support of the New Testament ministry.
This passage lets us know that to find the method which God has for New Testament ministers to be supported we must find the system used in the Old Testament. That system was tithing, and by this method the ministry is to be financially supported.
Tithing in Timothy
“Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour ID the word and doctrine. For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And,
The labourer is worthy of his reward” (I Timothy 5:17-18).
We find in the above passage of Scripture that when Paul discussed ministerial support, he found his foundation in the Law.
Mention is made of those elders (pastors) who are “worthy of double honour,- which apparently means “doubly worthy of the money paid them.” Another interpretation might possibly be that they are worth twice as much as they get, But such an elder would not be greedy enough to demand twenty percent instead of ten. At the very least, this passage could mean no less than that the elders are worthy of double respect
for their offices and full financial compensation for their labours.
The justifications which Paul gave for their receiving remuneration for their labours are found recorded in several places.
“Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn” (Deuteronomy 25.4).
“Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning” (Leviticus 19:13).
“Thou shall not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates: At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it, for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee” (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).
God counts the paying of the preacher just as important as the paying of anyone else. Justice did not stop at Calvary. Neither did tithing. Both are still in effect today. The moral and judicial laws are just as
much required by God today as ever. Those who would say that the Old Testament is passed away and useless, should be reminded that “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable (II Timothy
SALARY AND PERCENTAGE
“Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong: that useth his neighhour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work” (Jeremiah 22-13).
When affluence overtakes a people, someone soon begins to worry about the preacher making too much money. This is usually the one, of course, who never worried about whether that same preacher had food for the family in leaner days.
Seldom do we hear anyone worrying about whether the preacher is making too little. It is almost always a worry about too much. And when the “too-much-worry’ comes, a layman may be tempted to propose a salary or a limited percentage of the tithes for the pastor. Such temptation, if not resisted, can involve the layman in matters that do rot concern him and could lead to rebellion against the ministry and against God.
It is scriptural for the preacher not to keep or use all the tithe. But it is entirely unscriptural for the layman not to make all of his tithe available for the e preacher to use in the work of God.
“Have I committed an offence in abasing myself that ye might be exalted. because I have preached to you the gospel of God freely? I robbed other churches, taking wages of them, to do you service. And when I was present with you, and wanted, I was chargeable to no man: for that which was lacking to me the brethren which come from Macedonia supplied: and in all things I have kept myself from being burdensome unto you, and so will I keep myself” (II Corinthians 11:7-9).
“For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you; Forgive me this wrong. Behold, the third time I am ready to come to you; and I will nor be burdensome to you: for I seek not yours, but you: for the parents, but the parents for the children” (‘I Corinthians 12:13-14).
It is easily seen that Paul did not take the tithes in Corinth for his PERSONAL use. But he did this that he might not be so much of a burden to them as to destroy the work he was trying to build. Even after all
these attacks which had been directed against him, he still would not be a burden. This is still the attitude of the God-called, God-anointed ministry. Eternity alone will tell of the men who have provided for
their own support and turned the tithe, or a large part of the tithe, into the work of God.
There has been some question as to how giving could be a burden in view of Jesus’ teaching that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). To understand this, it is needful to remember the setting
with which we are dealing. Paul, while training the people to give, did not depend upon their giving for his personal support. For this wrong he asked forgiveness, but he was still determined that he would not
force them to support him.
The financial situation in Corinth was unusual. The false teachers were bleeding the people and accusing Paul of being a mercenary. For further information on this particular situation, which is somewhat outside the scope of this study, it would be beneficial to consult a good commentary.
A man who has begun a home missions church can well understand the problem of giving being a blessing and full support of the minister being a potential burden. Often every penny which comes in from any
source is needed just to keep the doors open. This is when a man with a passion to see souls saved will forego his own rights and comforts to do as Paul did.
There is a danger, however, which the man of God must be very careful to avoid. For the sake of the work and of the pastor who follows him, he should. as quickly as possible set the church on a proper financial
footing. In my opinion, the tithe should not be allowed to become a part of the normal operating budget of the church. Offerings should be used to pay the bills and maintain the facilities. The tithe is the Lords, and He has placed tee responsibility of it in the hand of His ministers.
If a pastor wishes not to receive ail the tithes’ that is well and good. However, he would be doing the local assembly and the work in general a great harm if he did so at the expense of teaching the people their obligation to give. It is a grave disservice to a church to so underwrite the program of the congregation that they never have opportunity to learn sacrifice and the joy of giving.
“If others be partake of this power over you, are not we rather? Nevertheless we have not used this power; but suffer all things, lest we should hinder the gospel of Christ” (I Corinthians 9:12).
Although Paul had not taken the tithe for his personal gain, Tithing was practiced in Corinth. When the false apostles gained control, tithing had already been taught and they partook of its benefits. WHOSE CHOICE?
Some implications from Corinth are clear; It is permissible for a minister not to take all the tithe for his personal use, but the tithe is his responsibility, God gave it to him. If he chooses to use the tithe in some other area of the work of God, he should be free to do so.
The individual or church board that arbitrarily determines how much the minister shall receive is usurping a prerogative that is not his. God calls his ministers, and He has provided for their support through the
tithe. The minister is responsible for the tithe. “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm” (Psalm 105:15) can have financial as well as social or physical applications. To act upon the principle
of, “Lord, You keep the preacher humble, and we’ll keep him poor,” is entirely inconsistent with a Christian profession
“But he that is an hireling, arid not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not seeth the wolf coming and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth there, and scattereth the sheep The hireling fleeth,
because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep” John. 10:1:2- 13).
When the wolf is at the door and trouble is on every hand, we should beware of the hireling. The man who is just after the money, who can be bought by the high bidder, may soon find greener pastures and a higher
salary or a greater percentage. If we can buy a preacher, then when trouble comes someone else may buy him out from under us (Judges 17:7,18:2).
If we can pay enough to get someone to lead us into an unequal yoke with worldliness, then we should look for the plague which came upon Israel because of Moab (Numbers 25). The man has run “greedily after
the error of Balaam for coward” (Jude 11).
We must not hire a preacher, but we should abide by God s plan. His works so much hefter in the long run. The limit and muzzle the financial plan of God leaves us open to the promise of Proverbs 17 13 “Whose rewardeth evil for good, evil shall not depart from his house”.
This world being w hat it is, and the temptations of this carnal body we yet wear being still with us, it would not be good to leave this subject without a few words relative to control of the dispersal of the tithe, which is the responsibility of the ministry and not of the laity.
The answer of course lies in applying scriptural guidelines and self- discipline. As self-government without self-control leads to national collapse, so self-set finance without self-control can lead to the collapse of the foundation of righteousness and sacrifice upon which a ministry must be built.
Since a minister must remain subject to the will of God regarding his field of labour, he would be wise not to allow himself to become accustomed to a high standard of living. Any minister might find himself in a relative short time on the thing lee n, cutting edge of home missions.
If it is improper for the laity to control the minister’s personal finances, the minister needs to be very careful not to invite their oversight. They can he lost, from touching in innocent sincerity, what concerns them not. Uzzah died from steadying’ the improperly transported ark. But the fault lay with David and the Levitical priesthood. Had they done as they should have, there would have been no reason for Uzzah to reach out to something so I holy that he was forbidden to touch it.
What, then! is the minister to use as a guide for setting what might be a fair and just compensation? Are there objective yardsticks which’ can be used’ in lieu of relying on subjective and possibly selfish judgment? What every yardstick is used should also take into account that many times the ministry has unique financial burdens above and beyond those demanded of the lefty.
One suggestion which h s b en followed fairly frequently is for the pastor to take the average of the ten financially leading families of his church. Thus he would not be making more than some in the church,
while still his congregation.
There is another, possibly more scriptural, method of determining a minister’s standard for income. This method would be based on the fact that twelve tribes in Israel supported one tribe. For example, in
modern dollars, the average income within each tribe might vary from 1,500 dollar. If all’ of these’ amounts were averaged, it might possibly range around 1,000 dollar. If that were so, and for conjecture and example we will assume this, then the average tithe from all the tribes would be l00 dollar. The actual inter-tribal average would range from 50 dollar to 150 dollar under these circumstances.
In this situation the total average income to the tribe of Levi would be 1,20() dollar. Thus the Levites received an income of 20% over the average of the income of the other twelve tribes. In this way God
provided for the Levites to have an income somewhat above the average of those to whom they ministered. But still they would not become as wealthy from the tithes as to get completely out of touch: with the
financial situation of the rest of Israel.
For his own soul’s sake, a minister needs to control his finances. A man who has access to a relatively limitless supply of money will without self-discipline, soon fired himself spending beyond the amount
available. Finance is one of the areas where great reproach can be brought upon the man of God and the work of God if it is not handled properly.
God knows the minister has needs and has provided for them. Satan knows that he can cause a great amount of trouble with God’s provision if the minister is not careful to restrain his desires.
That even the trouble can be a built-in check and balance. The minister who receive, beyond what is proper and appropriate in personal financial matters will – find himself eventually out off. However, we need to be careful that God’s scalpel does the cutting and not our own switchblade.
THE SHARING PRINCIPLE
“but to good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased” (Hebrews 13-16).
Tithing is taught in this verse, A quick look at the Greek meaning of the word “communicate means “to share ” It’s financial connection is plainly shown by- Philippians 4:15 “Now ye Philippians know also, that
in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church communicated with me as concerning giving and receiving; but ye only”
The picture presented in Hebrews 13 is the New Testament interpretation of types from the Tabernacle and Temple. Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, receives our offerings of praise in lieu of certain Temple.
sacrifices (Verses 13-15). The ministry as successors to the Levites, receives the tithe (Verse 16). We know that this sharing is the tithe, for what other portion did God allot to the Levites? That he is Indeed speaking of the ministry is borne out by his description of them in verse 17. (See also [Corinthians 9:13Ä14).
The Book of Hebrews teaches tithing.
The Rich and Tithing
“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor crust in uncertain riches, but in the living Cod, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to willing to communicate” (I Timothy–1:17-18).
Some who make rather large amounts money may feel that it would be somehow improper for them to tithe. Paul specifically left direction for them to take special heed to their spirits development and he did
not leave out communicating-sharing-tithing. The rich should also he willing to tithe. Not only should they be willing; they should do it.
The human logic against the paying of tithe by the person of wealth may run something like this: Since I make a lot Or money, my tithe is rather large Actually it is too much to give is the preacher. That is just too much money to put in his hands”.
But if we apply the same kind of logic to the man who makes the money, we would come out with something like this “If the tithe is too much to put in the hands of one man, then surely the ninety percent remaining would be too much to leave in one man s hands. In fact it would be NINE TIMES as bad and if a person does not pay tithes, it is even worse.”
“But I worked for that ” a person complains. So did the preacher work for his part, He had to pray for those who study to feed their souls; counsel those with problems; and try to get everyone reedy for heaven. An employer would not withhold the wages of his office boy or field hand. Withholding the tithe of the ministry is stealing another man’s paycheck. A person does not want to stand before God with that on his
THE HARVEST OF TITHES
“Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things” (Galatians 6:6).
Tithes should be given to the local ministry. The pastor is the one who teaches the congregation. Tithes are not to go to some radio preacher across the country. In fact, if a “radio pastor” is all a person has or want’s, he is out of God’s will. This is so because the Bible specifically lets us knows that we should congregate together (Hebrews 10:25).
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption: but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit
reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:7-9).
The law of sowing and reaping has bee applied from this passage to nearly everything under the sun. But we should notice that Paul gave this law in relation to tithing.
If we so of our lives and possessions in the work of God, we shall of that sowing of carnal things to the spirit reap spiritual reward But if that which rightfully belongs to God is withheld to be sown in carnality, death shall be our harvest. As the wise man has said, “The good man’s earnings advance the cause of righteousness. The evil man squanders his on sin: (Proverbs 10: 1 6, Paraphrased). What we do with
our money shows where our hearts are.
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
While we yet breathe and can still determine our actions, let us do that which is right and proper. Let us not rob secular laborers of the pay which they deserve. And let us especially not rob the preacher of that which is scripturally his. Let us do good to them that are of the household of faith-and that does include the preacher.
“Honour the LORD with they sub stance, and wit the firstfruits of all shine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine” (Proverbs 3:9Ä10).
THE TITHE IS THE LORD’S PORTION.
Application of These Principles in India
by Stanley Scism
The United Pentecostal Church in all regions of the nation of India have been, as of this writing, lax in tithe-paying, and do not meet Biblical obligations. This became obvious during discussions at Scism
Christian Institute when Roy Moss taught there.
For example, let us say that a given district contains one thousand U.P.C. families. If each family tithes, the church in that district can support one hundred full-time workers. If this district has fifty churches, each church can have a fulltime pastor who, since he pastors locally, does not need to travel widely and hence can live on the same e income that local people receive.
The remaining fifty full-time salaries of the district can be divided thus: ten as tithe to the general headquarters, perhaps fifteen for district administration, and the remaining twenty-five as missionaries
to new areas where no saints have yet been won to support a new work.
Quite plainly, since the U.P.C. has, as of this writing, almost 100,000 people in India, someone is not doing his job. If only a third of the families in the organization tithes, the districts suffer and, instead of paying their tithes to the general headquarters as they should, they try to get away with paying about a hundredth rather than a tenth. This failure to tithe to the center leaves the district liable to the same punishment it would mete out to individual saints or ministers who failed to tithe to the district. As we son, so shall we also weep.
Any district official who says, “We can’t pay our tithes because, by the time we pay district expenses, we have no money left to send to general headquarters,” should not be surprised if saints in his district say the same thing– “Our family’s expenses are so high that we can’t pay our tithes.” Our tithes–individual or district–are our obligation, and we should substract tithes from our income before, not after we pay our bills. If we seek first God’s kingdom and righteousness, all our things will be added to us, for God can supply all our needs according to His riches in glory.
We have heard. As wise men, we must obey. Perhaps some legislation would encourage tithing if we said that nontithers–whether local saints or district officials, would lose their voting rights until their back tithes were either paid or forgiven by those to whom they are owed. Local members who pay tithes would be able to vote in local church meetings and elections. District officials who tithed and whose districts tithed to the center properly would be able to vote in business meetings and in elections Districts failing to tithe would lose their electoral votes in the next election. This may seem strong, but how can a man who steals the Lord’s portion claim to have the Lord’s interests at heart?
Let us add to our self sufficiency a love and concern for those lost people who have not yet died without Christ. If we act now and obey our Savior immediately with excellent stewardship of those resources which
He has placed in our care, we can still win many people Let us remember the talents he lets us manage still belong to him. Let us not forget who gives us the strength to live, work, earn, enjoy life, trust Him and fulfill His good pleasure.
THE ABOVE MATERIAL WAS PUBLISHED BY WONDERFUL WORDS, 1994, PAGES 1-56. THIS MATERIAL IS COPYRIGHTES AND MAY BE USED FOR STUDY & RESEARCH PURPOSES ONLY.