Let’s begin with tithing.
Preachers find a GOLDMINE in Malachi…that is, if they zoom on up to Malachi 3:10 and ignore the following verses which clearly explain who God addresses them to.
Just like in the Sound of Music, let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start. To be fair, I’ve heard these few verses preached on to illustrate how slipshod Christians are in carrying out their duties toward God. But I’ve never heard any preacher admit that if part of Malachi is addressed to the people specifically named by God, then ALL of it must be addressed just to them!
Malachi 1:1: The burden of the word of the LORD TO ISRAEL by Malachi.
2 I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob's brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,
3 And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
4 Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.
5 And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.
6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O PRIESTS, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name? 7 Ye (OLD TESTAMENT PRIESTS OF ISRAEL) offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.
8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.
How on earth can the above passage apply to New Testament Christians who don’t even offer animal sacrifices? Can you offer a lame or sick twenty-dollar bill? Give me a break! Verse 6 clearly states that God is ticked off at the PRIESTS, not the everyday worshipper. Oddly enough even though I Peter 2:5,9 states that Christians are Christ’s Royal Priesthood under the New Covenant, preachers apply the honor strictly to themselves, when they aren’t busting themselves down to Levites, who were actually servants of the OT priesthood! So if they’re going to be consistent in saying that THEY’RE the priesthood of the church, God is rebuking THEM, not the ordinary pew Christian! Also, it states that God has indignation against a particular ethnic group (the children of Esau). Things have changed in this dispensation, in that God no longer condemns you for belonging to a certain ethnic group. Instead, people of ALL nations everywhere have the opportunity to repent and be saved (Acts 10:34-35; 2 Peter 3:9). This flies in the face of modern evangelists who tend to demonize all Arabs and exalt all Jews as being better in the sight of God on the basis of ethnicity.
Another place where God identifies those this Book of Malachi is addressed to:
Malachi 3:6 (just 4 verses before the admonition to tithe). For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye SONS OF JACOB are not consumed.
Are YOU a “son of Jacob” (a genetic Jew of the OT period?)? If not, stop taking somebody else’s prescription medicine, ‘cause it don’t have your name on the bottle, and you swallow it, you can poison yourself spiritually, irregardless of what some preacher says! Now if God is addressing this passage to Old Testament Jews, then why on earth should He suddenly change His mind and say it’s for the Arabs, the Eskimos, the Japanese, the Ethnic Albanians, etc? NOT ONE verse in Malachi points to God changing His mind and deciding to address its message to Gentiles as well as sons of Jacob and the OT priesthood.
The Law of Moses (including tithing regulations) was given (prescribed by Dr. Moses) specifically to the CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (Lev.27:30-34). I’ll bet most of you reading this are no more Jewish than I am. The Old Law is NOT part of our New Covenant of Grace (see Rom.6:14; Gal.2:21; 5:18). The Law is NOT of faith (Gal.3:12). Since tithing is part of the Law, as Jesus stated in Matt. 23:23, it’s not of faith, either! So there goes the preacher’s assertion that you show your faith by tithing your money!
Applying this scripture to 21st-century Gentile Christians makes about as much sense as applying your neighbor’s PAST DUE water bill to yourself! The preacher can’t take a magic wand and PRESTO! turn you into a genetic Jew, anymore than he can shake all the horse thieves out of your family tree.
Deuteronomy 14:26: And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household.
The following verse refers to money gained from the sale of tithed agricultural goods too difficult to transport over a long journey to the Israelites’ place of worship. This is the ONLY context in all of holy scripture where tithing is ever associated with money. The Israelites were to buy what THEY wanted to eat and drink with their own tithe money, even wine or strong drink! The preacher who hollers that ALL scripture is profitable for godliness and instruction in righteousness (Tim.3:16) and so all scripture is LITERALLY applicable to Christians today should obey Deuteronomy 14:26 and let his people buy a six-pack of Bud with their so-called tithe. If he doesn’t let them do this, and hold a thanksgiving party with their tithe money, he’s sinning against God’s written instructions in the Old Testament. This verse clearly contradicts the unscriptural tradition of Don’t Eat the Tithe!
Now let’s go down a couple of verses to find out what else the tithe was used for:
Deut.14:28: At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
Verse 29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
Does your pastor devote ALL the tithe every three years to feeding hungry widows, strangers, poor servants of God and widows? If not, he’s breaking God’s tithing law! The sad truth is this: Instead of being GIVEN TO the poor, tithes are TAKEN FROM the poor to fund things the Biblical tithe was NEVER used for (a new car for the pastor, new church carpets, etc.) Many Christians have had to take a second job just to be able to tithe on the first paycheck.
I believe this is also worth mentioning: In Deuteronomy 14 you’ll see OTHER regulations for living besides paying tithes. Here’s another law BBQ-eating preachers forget to preach on today:
14:8 And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it [is] unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.
Verse 9:These ye shall eat of all that [are] in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: Verse 10: And whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it [is] unclean unto you.
I’d get in big trouble there, because I absolutely love catfish, fried squid and scallops, fish and seafood without scales.
But the nagging question is: Why literally enforce the OT tithing law and neglect to teach God’s people that eating pork is an abomination? (Jesus had a different view in Mark 7:15 where He states that NOTHING going in from the outside defiles a man. That would also apply to cases where some absent-minded faster accidentally ate a jelly bean and wondered if he’d unsanctified his prayer time by doing so!
If the OT tithing law is to be literally applied today, are Christians supposed to work like donkeys year in and year out to keep the “tithes” and offerings rolling in?
Leviticus 25: 1: And the LORD spake unto Moses in mount Sinai, saying,
Verse 2: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give you, then shall the land keep a sabbath unto the LORD.
Verse 3: Six years thou shalt sow thy field, and six years thou shalt prune thy vineyard, and gather in the fruit thereof;
Verse 4: But in the seventh year shall be a sabbath of rest unto the land, a sabbath for the LORD: thou shalt neither sow thy field, nor prune thy vineyard.
Verse 5: That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a year of rest unto the land.
So much for the Protestant work ethic! There was actually one year out of every seven when fruit and vegetable farmers stopped work and lived off whatever they found growing wild on the land! NO tithes would be collected from their land at all because nothing was sown. Some experts believe that livestock was still tithed in the seventh year, but think of it. Those who grew grain, fruit or vegetables would pay no tithes at all on the seventh year! Preachers who insist on literal application of the principles (laws) contained in this passage should encourage Christians to take one year out of seven off work and stop paying tithes that year. Instead, Christians would get food by going back to nature (picking berries and fishing, etc.). Any Christian who lived this way today for a solid year would be called an irresponsible bum or a no-good hippie.
Proverbs 22:16: He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want (deep poverty).
Consider your friendly TV preacher who asks you to make “vows of faith” and “faith pledges”, contrary to Christ’s clear command in Matt.5:34 not to swear (vow) AT ALL. Ever notice the expensive apparel and jewelry worn by rich church leaders and televangelists? It’s a documented fact that some of them own several mansions apiece, along with private jets and horse ranches. One televangelist lady who cries on TV a lot used her sweetest voice recently to plead with little grandmas out there to go look for that precious grocery money stashed away and send it in, then Jesus would bless them and their families real good. But MY Bible teaches it brings deeper poverty to give to the rich, not bumper crop blessings. Sadly, I know from experience that’s true!
NOT ONCE have I ever heard this little gem from any pulpit. I wonder why.
3 John 7: Because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.
As they ministered Christ to unsaved Gentiles (non-Jews) John and his fellow Gospel laborers did not take financial support from their own mission fields! Down in Mexico and other Latin American countries, you’ll see fancy cathedrals built on the donations of poor peasants trying to buy their dead relatives into heaven. This, despite the fact that the Catholic Church has untold riches hoarded away in it Vatican City. How many “mega-church” (beg-a-church) pastors can truthfully say they don’t accept offerings from poor lost people?
Now we’ll touch on another touchy subject: Does God hate the wicked? Preachers like to present God as Someone Who never gets angry, or if He does, it blows over quickly, and deep down He can’t help but love EVERYONE.
Psalms 5:5: The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
Verse 6: Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the LORD will abhor (strongly hate) the bloody and deceitful man.
Psalms 11:5: The LORD trieth the righteous: but the wicked and him that loveth violence his soul hateth.
Rom.2:9: Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile
2 Thes.1:6: Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you
I don’t remember the last time these verses were preached on. They’re out of place in today’s bend-over-backwards, compromising churches. They belong in Jonathan Edwards’ day. Now here was one preacher who could make hair curl with his hellfire and damnation sermons, and he scared plenty of people into the Kingdom of God! These verses show that you can’t tamper with the mercy of God and presume on His patience with evil.
Some Christians judge each other in matters of food and drink, contrary to Col.2:16 and I Cor.8:8. Some judge the spirituality of other believers by their dietary habits. Was Jesus a frequent faster, or even a teetotaler?
Matt.11:19: The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.
Some preachers hold that you have to fast to stay sanctified, or at least abstain from wine, but there you have it. Jesus came eating and drinking. Only one period of fasting is attributed to Jesus in Scripture, His forty-day abstinence in the Wilderness. The epistles, written AFTER the Cross brought in the New Covenant, are strangely silent on the subject.
Just for fun, we’ll explore one other area: personal appearance for men of God.
Leviticus 19:27: Ye shall not round the corners of your heads, neither shalt thou mar the corners of thy beard.
I remember when I first got filled with the Spirit back in 1970 that the church I went to had certain unspoken standards: short hair and NO facial hair for men. I was shocked the first time I saw this godly missionary who actually had a moustache! Everybody else thought it was odd too. But according to this scripture, the missionary wasn’t hairy enough! He had no beard, and he failed to let the hair on the sides of his head grow uncut. Today Orthodox Jews wear sidelocks, uncut hair on the sides of their heads, in keeping with this old ordinance.
Matt.3:4: And the same John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.
How did John the Baptist manage to draw big crowds without his suit and tie? And I still can’t find those phantom verses which tell us whether Jesus and John used round plates or velvet bags for their offertory collections!
Here’s the REAL stinger for rich preachers everywhere:
Matt.19:21: Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.
Matt.6:19: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:
21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
One televangelist gave us a glimpse of where his heart was when he said:
“I don’t need streets of gold in glory, I gotta have gold NOW!”
Preachers hope you’ll miss all those unpopular scriptures which only prove that their cherished TRADITIONS OF MEN are cultural prejudices or half-baked religious falsehoods.
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Again, Amen and Amen Sister! Keep screaming it from the roof tops, and pray for God to open the eyes of His church!