The Tithe (A Contextual Study of the Book of Malachi)
The words of Hosea continue to echo to us today, (Hosea 4:6) “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge.” We can safely apply that to today, as Bible knowledge is what many lack, and as such, they are lead to believe anything.
In this study, we will dive into the content of the book of Malachi, in context, to show why the isolation of Malachi 3:8-10 CANNOT be used to justify the unbiblical modern practice of monetary “tithing”. You must seriously ask yourself this: How does the isolation of Malachi 3:8-10 render the rest of the book of Malachi obsolete? Well, it doesn’t. You have to read the ENTIRE BOOK of Malachi for the proper context of chapter 3, verses 8-10. It is noteworthy to mention, that the majority of people who quote the Malachi chapter 3 verse to defend modern monetary “tithing”, never quote the whole book of Malachi in its proper context. Neither do many pastors teach what the tithe truly was and the purpose of the tithe ACCORDING TO SCRIPTURE. The tithe according to Scripture was ALWAYS FOOD, NEVER MONEY. Detailed study of Scripture reveals of how the people of Israel partook of the tithe and ate amongst the people of Israel as a feast, and they were partaking of this meal with the LORD. It is also never mentioned that the children of Israel tithed to the poor. It is also not mentioned that GOD permitted the children of Israel to take the tithe and turn it in for money, “for themselves”, not for God (Deuteronomy 14:24-26).
***This is not meant to convince you NOT to give – it isn’t about not giving; that is patently false. Giving is encouraged. This IS about the correct handling of the Word of God, which should be everyone’s concern in the Body of Christ.***
This is also NOT about the operational costs and expenses of a local church. “How will the church run, how will the lights stay on if people don’t tithe?” This is one of many common examples of cognitive dissonance displayed when people are forced to confront the Scriptural reality of the tithing concept, and how it is not meant for the Christian Church.
Nor was it ever.
If you are reading this right now and you are feeling uneasy, nervous even; it’s a normal reaction. It means that you have been taught incorrectly regarding this topic of tithing. Uneasiness is normal when something in which you have been indoctrinated is challenged. This is one of the major “hot-button” issues in the Body of Christ.
But remember this: God DOES NOT contradict Himself.
Again, this is about the CORRECT HANDLING OF SCRIPTURE. You do not need a degree in divinity for that. The Bereans in the book of Acts (17:11) did not have divinity degrees, and they searched the Scriptures diligently to see if what they were being taught was true. Refuse to be spoon-fed, conditioned, indoctrinated, BRAINWASHED; readily agreeing with anything people tell you. Even pastors; even YOUR pastor. SEARCH THE SCRIPTURES IN CONTEXT for yourself, through prayer, to verify what I am telling you here.
If God’s hand is truly on what a local assembly is doing, if it is God ordained, then it will prosper. Nothing will be able to stop it and it WILL NOT REQUIRE THE EISEGESIS (basically, willfully altering the context) OF GOD’S WORD. It DOES however, require the same measure of faith that is used as a tool against the Saints to guilt them into monetary tithing. Where is the faith of the tithe teachers then? Where is the faith that God will move and bless the work of the Kingdom without having to misrepresent His Holy Word?
“Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
The bottom line: The book of Malachi is not addressing the Christian church, the Body of Christ, the Ecclesia. Tithing was part of the Mosaic Law given to the people of ISRAEL- NOT the Church. Tithing is not the will of God for the New Covenant Believer.
This study is intended to focus on modern tithe teaching pastors’ favorite “go-to” passage of Scripture that they use to “guilt-trip” saints into parting with their money – Malachi 3:8-10. ANYTIME you hear a preacher invoke Malachi 3:8-10, then you should perk up and pay attention, because he is likely going to take it gravely out of context, not teaching it completely and biblically. I have seen it happen more than enough times to be able to confidently make that statement.
Understand that the entire letter of the tithing ordinance from God is found in Numbers 18. Please study to show yourself approved.
Now let’s talk about the tithe, what it is and what it is not.
I will provide information and an in depth study on the matter below.
Let’s ask a few questions……………
WHAT IS THE “STOREHOUSE”?
What the storehouse is NOT, is the local church. Thus, it is also not the bank accounts of pastors, ministers or church employees.
What WAS the storehouse? Well, the storehouse was just that – it was to store FOOD in storerooms within the temple in Jerusalem, to support the Levitical priests who had no inheritance (Deuteronomy 14:27) and whose ministry was essential to the people of Israel.
WHO WAS IN CHARGE OF THE STOREHOUSE?
The Levitical priests were in charge of the storehouse. In Nehemiah, the Levitical priests started to profane the priesthood and actually were robbing the storehouse and, by not giving the Levites their portion of the tithe, they kept it back for themselves.
Now, let’s take a look at Malachi.
Well, for starters it’s very important to understand who God was talking to and why. When we do understand this, we can put things in proper perspective. So who was God talking to? We find out in Malachi chapter 2 (emphasis mine):
1 “And now, O PRIESTS, THIS COMMANDMENT IS FOR YOU. 2 If you will not hear, And if you will not take it to heart, To give glory to My name,” Says the Lord of hosts, “I will send a curse upon you, And I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, Because you do not take it to heart. 3 “Behold, I will rebuke your descendants And spread refuse on your faces, The refuse of your solemn feasts; And one will take you away with it. 4 Then you shall know that I have sent this commandment to you, That My covenant with Levi may continue,” Says the Lord of hosts. 5 “My covenant was with him, one of life and peace, And I gave them to him that he might fear Me; So he feared Me And was reverent before My name. 6 The law of truth was in his mouth, And injustice was not found on his lips. He walked with Me in peace and equity, And turned many away from iniquity. 7 “For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge, And people should seek the law from his mouth; For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. 8 But you have departed from the way; You have caused many to stumble at the law. You have corrupted the covenant of Levi,” Says the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 2:1-8)
Now let’s go to Malachi chapter 3:
“And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against sorcerers, against adulterers, against perjurers,
Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans,
And against those who turn away an alien— because they do not fear Me,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
“For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the Lord of hosts.
“But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’”
(Malachi 3:5-7 NKJV)
Then GOD goes on to say in verse 8: ”Will a man rob God?……..”
Consider the words of JESUS here: “…Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.” (Matthew 25:45)
WHO WERE “THE LEAST OF THESE”?
Well, let’s go up a couple of verses:
“42 for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink; 43 I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’
44 “Then they also will answer Him,[a] saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’” (Matthew 25:42-44 NKJV)
It echoes the righteous anger of the Lord in Malachi. Remember:
“And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the SORCERERS, and against the ADULTERERS, and against FALSE SWEARERS, and against THOSE THAT OPPRESS THE HIRELING IN HIS WAGES, THE WIDOW, and THE FATHERLESS, and that turn aside THE STRANGER from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Malachi 3:5 KJV)
The words of Jesus end the chapter in Matthew 25 by saying, “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (Matthew 25:46)
The hirelings, for the sake of this discussion, are people who work jobs to provide for their families: wage earners. Notice in Malachi chapter 3 verse 5 GOD says “…against THOSE THAT OPPRESS THE HIRELING IN HIS WAGES”
This should be turning on a light right now, something should be clicking…..
Question: In order to be oppressed, you must have someone over you, right? Who was over and/or the ones in charge of the storehouse? Was it not the Levitical priests?? Curiously, modern preachers of the monetary tithe like to consider themselves “the priests of the temple”, yet through manipulation of Scripture, they have no problem “oppressing the hireling in his wages”.
Remember in Malachi 2 verse 8 God says (pay attention closely),
“…ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Now that we have established that God was talking to the priests, let’s examine Malachi 3:8-12:
8 “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. 10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the Lord of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. 11 “And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” Says the Lord of hosts; 12 “And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land,” Says the Lord of hosts.
“MEAT (FOOD) IN MINE HOUSE”
This should be self-explanatory at this point. It was never money according to Scripture. Not then, not now. We will continue to examine this further….
THE WINDOWS OF HEAVEN
Rain. In Malachi, it was rain to water the CROPS – simple. It is not a magic portal that will open up to rain money, cars, houses and all types of material items; contingent upon you paying a legalistic 10% of your income.
The nation of Israel lived by their agriculture and depended upon the rain. God’s blessing in relation to the tithe had to do with his provision of water; no rain and they would starve (Malachi 3:10). If they did not give God their tithes which was part of the conditional blessing in the Mosaic covenant, God would bring a curse upon them, the ground would not yield food because he would not allow it to rain. Tithing was Israel’s moral obligation in order for God to bless the work of their hands.
The windows of heaven were also referred to in Genesis 7:11 at the beginning of the Flood (which was JUDGMENT):
“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep burst forth, and the windows of the heavens were opened.”
And again in Genesis 8:2: “The fountains of the deep and the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was restrained,” – in other words, the rain stopped. This is just like in Malachi, when God withheld the rain from watering the crops – the true titheable item.
You should notice common themes in Scripture regarding the biblical tithe: land, ground, seed, fruit, fields, vines, livestock (the King James version refers to “meat” in Malachi 3 verse 10) and various produce. Fishermen (God did not require fish), carpenters, blacksmiths, people that were not in agriculture were not required to tithe. NO ONE WHO WORKED TO EARN WAGES WAS REQUIRED TO TITHE IN SCRIPTURE. Look up ANY mention of tithing in the Bible – it was always consumable.
“POUR YOU OUT A BLESSING THAT THERE SHALL NOT BE ROOM ENOUGH TO RECEIVE IT”
“Pour”: Again referring to the rain that God will release to water the fields. God promises to bless our needs, not our greeds. People today tithe monetarily with their minds affixed on any number of material possessions “raining down from the windows of heaven”. This is a by-product of the pollution of the “prosperity gospel” in the institutional church. It has created a church full of people only concerned with what God can GIVE them. People tithe because of covetousness. That’s actually the way it’s taught in the institutional church. “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you”, abusing and misapplying Luke 6:38. Luke 6:35 says “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil.” The proper context is found by reading verses 27-38. In these verses, Jesus is generally speaking on how to treat other people. But tithe teachers have turned it into a discourse on paying 10% of your money to their churches.
Insects – locusts or other pests that would eat the CROPS, which again, was the true tithable item. Pay specific attention to Malachi 3:11 for context.
WHAT WAS THE BIBLICAL TITHE?
Leviticus 27:30 NKJV
“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 to the Lord.
Leviticus 27:32 NKJV
“And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord.”
(See also Deuteronomy 14:22-25 and 2 Chronicles 31:5-6)
WHEN DID THE TITHE BECOME MONEY?
In short, biblically, the tithe was NEVER monetary – EVER. True biblical tithing requires Levites, a Levitical priesthood, a temple, and an agricultural sacrificial system DESPITE MONEY BEING WIDELY USED DURING THAT TIME (money is mentioned several times in Genesis).
Nowhere in Scripture was the tithe that God considered holy ever money, yet this unbiblical tradition thrives. Leviticus 27:31 even lays out a PENALTY FOR THOSE THAT WISHED TO BUY BACK THEIR TITHE:
“If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it”. Think about that. God didn’t require money then, He doesn’t require money now.
Now, to completely shut down the argument that money was not in circulation in that time; that they “only bartered and traded with produce, so that means we have to use money today to tithe” – see Deuteronomy 14:24:26 as it clearly illustrates that money was in use at that time, but was not considered the titheable commodity.
Don’t just believe ME – search the Scriptures IN THEIR PROPER BIBLICAL CONTEXT and you will find this to be true.
If you are giving 10% of your income to an institutional church – you are doing just that. It is not considered a biblical tithe. It’s considered a tithe according to the standards of MEN, but it is not a true biblical tithe.
Tithes were reintroduced by the Roman Catholic Church, arrogantly and illegally usurping the authority and context of Scripture.
Tithes were mentioned in councils at Tours in 567 and at Mâcon in 585. They were formally recognized under Pope Adrian I in 787.
The Catholic Encyclopedia (1912 edition only) says, “In the beginning [provision] was supplied by the spontaneous support of the faithful. In the course of time, however, as the Church expanded and various institutions arose, it became necessary to make laws which would insure the proper and permanent support of the clergy. The payment of tithes was adopted from the Old Law, and early writers speak of it as a divine ordinance and an obligation of the conscience. The earliest positive legislation on the subject seems to be contained in the letter of the bishops assembled at Tours in 567 and the Canons of the Council of Macon in 585.”
(The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIV, 1912, s.v. “tithe.”)
Abram’s Tithe to Melchizedek
Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14: 17-20) cannot logically be used as an example to establish a principle for tithing simply because it predates the Mosaic Law.
Abram’s tithe was:
1. Not from his own wealth
2. From possessions captured in war (therefore not from his own increase, not from his property)
3. A one time voluntary act
4. Not for supporting the poor or Levites
5. Not a command from God
Therefore we cannot use this example to establish principle. Extra-biblical study of that time/culture suggests that even pagans gave a mathematical tenth (tithe) to rulers/kings as was the custom of that time. Because tithing was mentioned before the Law does not validate the practice for today.
Similarly, Jacob’s tithe (Genesis 28: 20-22) cannot be used to establish principle, as what he proposed to God was CONDITIONAL. Jacob wanted God to move first, THEN he would give a tenth. Does that sound anything like the tithing ordinance in Numbers 18? Was that a command from God? Was that to support the Levites and the priests at the temple? No.
Scripture does not support the tithe as being monetary, as being anything other than agriculture and livestock, nor as being for the Ecclesia. To even call it tithing is eisegesis, and suggests we are under the law.
The tithe is only MENTIONED in the New Testament, and it only referred to how it was practiced under the old Covenant. If it were principle, Jesus and the Apostles would have taught it, but they did not.
Matthew 23:23 – Jesus Rebukes the Pharisees
Another commonly misapplied verse of Scripture, that many tithe teaching pastors and tithe payers argue was a command for Christians to tithe, is Matthew 23:23:
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone.”
In this passage, Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees. The fact that Jesus was the one speaking should be very revealing in and of itself. This simple fact establishes two major things:
1. Jesus had not gone to the cross, so the Mosaic Law was still in effect.
2. The Pharisees, as Jews, were still under the old Covenant, and were required to tithe as under the law.
Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees, who were so meticulously legalistic about the Law, that in their self-righteousness, they tithed the smallest bit of produce, but as Jesus said, neglected the WEIGHTIER matters. Jesus said they ought to have tithed as they were still under the Law at that time, under the old Covenant. We are not under the Mosaic Law today; none of us were born under the old Covenant. We are in a new and better Covenant through Jesus Christ. Hebrews chapter 7 illustrates this point clearly.
The fact remains that there is no longer a command to tithe, and the way it is taught and practiced today in modern churches is not according to Scripture.
Throughout the history of the Church, many have attempted to apply portions of the Mosaic Law to incorporate it into practice for the Church. The Judaizers did it with circumcision, and other portions of the Law. The Galatians, under duress, listened to the Judaizers, as many listen to the legalistic tithe teachers of our day. The same words apply: “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you” (Galatians 3:1). The law is obsolete (Hebrews 8:13). We are under the law of the Spirit which speaks of liberty, not the Old Testament law, which obligates tithing as well as many other things.
I hope this study helps you and sets you free. PLEASE NOTE THAT I’M NOT SAYING DON’T GIVE OR TO STOP GIVING to your local church. What I am saying is that God is against THIS type of giving: Out of fear of being cursed due to overt compulsion, browbeating and spiritual abuse, or subtle passive-aggressive compulsion – when anyone’s story of any measure of blessing in their life is automatically attributed to them having paid monetary tithes. Out of demanding a set percentage. Out of blatant manipulation, twisting and isolation of only CERTAIN passages of Scripture to fit man-made ideas and doctrine (proof-texting and eisegesis). Out of going back to a matter of the Law that was abolished due to the finished work of Jesus Christ. It is from THIS type of giving you are set free.
PLEASE READ THE BOOK OF GALATIANS as well as the book of HEBREWS FOR A FULL GRIP ON MATTERS OF THE LAW vs. THE GRACE WE ARE FREELY GIVEN THROUGH JESUS CHRIST.
“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us” (Titus 3:5); “for by grace you are saved, through faith…it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast…” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
IN OTHER WORDS, SALVATION IS FREE. You cannot pay for salvation. You cannot buy into it. The Kingdom of God is not a ponzi scheme. God is not an extortionist. You don’t OWE God money.
Allow NO pastor to mentally, emotionally or spiritually browbeat you into tithing, I don’t care HOW good he preaches. Some pastors will preach you into a state of ecstasy and teach you something unbiblical all at the same time if you are not Scripturally insightful. Tithe preachers come up with any number of clever ways to manipulate you into giving them your money – visual aids, demonstrations, twisting of Scripture, slick catch phrases, anything. Manipulation is NOT the spirit of God that they profess, it is actually akin to witchcraft. They will even resort to pre-emptive damage control by telling you things like, “I’m not trying to take your money”, or “your money does not support me”…all the while taking a salary from the church. In other words, that is a LIE.
There are many pastors who know that the modern monetary tithe is a false teaching, yet they won’t tell the congregation, because they benefit greatly from the tithe money. Many of them operate in ignorance because that is what they were (incorrectly) taught. Still, others KNOW what they are doing and monetary gain is more important to them than rightly dividing the Word of God.
It’s astonishing, really. Many of the leaders of this day are the ones actually robbing God by robbing His people, yet these leaders manipulate YOUR mind into thinking that YOU are robbing God by not tithing to THEIR church (in other words, their business, their building, business plan/model or “vision”), which is not a tithe but more like “dues”, similar to a Masonic Lodge. Tithes were NEVER money, always FOOD, fruit trees, crops, oil, wine, garden, livestock….
**GOD is not into compulsory giving, for that becomes a works-based religion and a religion INSIDE a religion, which sucks the life out of one’s spirit.**
Further, as alluded to before, tithing IS NOT A CONDITION OF YOUR SALVATION. That is UNBIBLICAL, it is FALSE DOCTRINE. RUN from anyone that is teaching you that in the Name of JESUS and mark such as a false teacher! To be saved, one needs only to believe the Gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the remission of our sins. There is nothing else that you can do. No church can give you salvation. It is between you and God!
We often hear about “not compartmentalizing God” or “putting God in a box”, but we do JUST THAT when we expect that God can be “activated” by the works of the flesh, by going under the bondage of the Law through the legalistic tradition of “tithing”. Tithing was a matter of the Law, and Christians were never under the Mosaic Law. The Law was fulfilled by Christ’s finished work on the cross. If righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain. (Galatians 2:21)
Again, to reiterate: “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Your giving is not based on a set percentage. Everyone can support the work of their local church some way, with their serving, their money, the gifts or talents they have; ESPECIALLY IF THAT CHURCH IS BUILT ON AND THRIVES ON CORRECT, SOUND BIBLICAL DOCTRINE, and NOT indoctrination.
“Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6:18-19).
Your giving is not MANDATED to go to a local church either. Encouraged, but not mandated (though the tithe-teaching pastor would tell you differently). Consider giving directly to someone that you know is in immediate need. If you ignore someone’s need to give to a tithe teaching preacher first, consider that the money you gave will FIRST go to that church’s overhead expenses and salaries, and any other number of expenses BEFORE it goes to the needy. Surely you know someone struggling that would be immensely blessed by the money you plan to run to a church building with to “tithe”. There is a single mother in your congregation right now that needs your precious tithe money to feed her kids or to keep the lights on. There is a man in your church that has to pick between eating and putting gas in his car to get to work for the week just to make it to payday. Help someone. You can do this and still give to your church if you are so led. But you will NOT be dishonoring or robbing God. That is not biblical.
I have known people that tithed but were sitting in the dark, or even on the verge of losing their home. I have known people that tithed faithfully and still struggled. I have known people that did NOT “tithe” and were blessed because of their giving.
It is way past time for “tithe” teaching preachers to be intellectually and biblically honest on this subject, for the entirety of God’s Word is the truth (Psalm 119:160), not just those proof-texted Scriptures that fit man’s selfish doctrines and traditions. The bottom line: the tithe does not exist today for the Christian Church under the new Covenant, and this can be verified through Scripture.
Below are links to in-depth studies on the topic of the tithe and I pray that they are, along with this writing, received in love. I pray that they will help you in your research. I could post many links on the subject of tithing, but none of them will make sense if you don’t study the subject in its true and complete context in Scripture. I have listened to, read and studied many arguments against tithing, as well as many arguments FOR tithing. The arguments FOR modern, monetary “tithing” are all long on catchy phrases, personal opinion and isolated Scriptures, yet short on true biblical exegesis. Prayerfully study the Word for yourselves. Make a decision today to be the good ground that Jesus spoke of in Luke 8:15, a fruitful believer in the biblical and contextual truth of God’s Word, which is the seed.
May the Grace and Peace of CHRIST JESUS rest upon you at all times. Amen.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)
Other references: http://www.LetUsReason.org