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The Tithe Issue Part Seven
by Richard D Kloosman
Not For Sale
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The Tithe Issue: Part Seven
Tithing In the History Of Israel 2

We ended off last time with Nehemiah repairing the wall of Jerusalem and instituting the worship of God in His temple again. It became also apparent that Israel had the tendency to neglect the worship of God by not doing the requirements of the law. When they did decide to come back to God there was a process of getting the priesthood in place, renovating or rebuilding the temple, cleansing the temple and then starting with the requirements of the law concerning the temple, which was the giving of tithes and offerings for the upkeep of the temple and priesthood.

We will go further with the book of Nehemiah where we left off last time.

Scripture one
(Neh 12v41-47 KJV) “And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather 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. And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son. For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God. And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.”

The context here is that in the time of Nehemiah, they managed to finish their goal of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. When they were finished though they immediately began plans to dedicate the wall they built to the Lord. We already discussed how they instituted the regulations of the Law where they started to bring in the tithe and the offerings the last time we spoke. Here the tithe is brought up again because in the time they dedicated the wall, they also set people in charge of managing the inflow of the tithes and offerings that was brought into the storehouse. This is also what happened in the time of Hezekiah. We also read that the singers and porters received payment out of what was brought to the storehouse.

Scripture Two
(Neh 13:4-19 KJV) “And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah: And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests. But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king: And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God. And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I 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 rulers, 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. And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren”

Here we have a good example of what happens to people who has no root in themselves to serve God, if the leader is not around, they wonder away from what the leader started. In the quotation above we can also see that the Israelites did not really had an understanding of the Law and why they had to give the tithes and offerings to God and the priesthood. Even the leaders who was left behind to carry on what Nehemiah did, like Eliashib, rather started to look out for himself and his friends rather than to do what the Law required. This seems to have had the effect that the Israelites stopped the giving of the tithes and offerings, which had the knock on effect that the priesthood did not have anything to live of and then had to go and work for themselves. When Nehemiah came back from Babylon he had to start all over again and then had to put the priesthood back to work and the people had to start giving what God required again. What is obvious here is that the Israelites did not appreciate that God wanted them to support the priesthood so that His Law could be taught in Israel and that He may live among them in His temple and bless their lives. Again we read that the singers and porters also received wages from the tithes and offerings.

Scripture Three
(Ezek 44:27-45:5 KJV) “And in the day that he goeth into the sanctuary, unto the inner court, to minister in the sanctuary, he shall offer his sin offering, saith the Lord GOD. And it shall be unto them for an inheritance: I am their inheritance: and ye shall give them no possession in Israel: I am their possession. They shall eat the meat offering, and the sin offering, and the trespass offering: and every dedicated thing in Israel shall be theirs. And the first of all the firstfruits of all things, and every oblation of all, of every sort of your oblations, shall be the priest's: ye shall also give unto the priest the first of your dough, that he may cause the blessing to rest in thine house. The priests shall not eat of any thing that is dead of itself, or torn, whether it be fowl or beast.

Here we move away from Nehemiah and going on to the time of Ezekiel. Here in Ezekiel God reaffirm what was the inheritance of the Levites. And although the tithe is not mentioned here we see that that God says again that He was their inheritance and we know that everything that God received which included the tithe was given to the Levites. The context of this particular quotation was unfortunately again that Israel had no regard for God and His holiness, because they apparently let uncircumcised people and strangers (non Israelites) into the house of God and the Lord through Ezekiel had to strongly reprimand them for the careless way they treated the Lord and His statutes.

Scripture Four
(Amos 4:4-10 KJV) “Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD. And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. I have sent among you the pestilence after the manner of Egypt: your young men have I slain with the sword, and have taken away your horses; and I have made the stink of your camps to come up unto your nostrils: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.”

In the above quoted scripture God is surely very angry at Israel. If you would read further it will become more apparent. It seems that although Israel was remembering to tithe and gave offerings yet their hearts were not in their worship. The Lord even calls their worship songs and music to Him, noise and that He does not accept what they call worship, Amos 5v 23. Here Israel served God with their substance and lips, but the relationship that God wanted was lacking.

Israel found out that God is not a God who is appeased by gifts and ritual like many other gods of the surrounding nations and even though they seemed to have done what the Law required they were still missing the point of how God wanted to be worshiped, that is He is pleased by faith in Him and not the giving of tithes and offerings if it is not accompanied by the faith He requires of the giver.

Scripture Five
(Hag 1:2-12 KJV) “Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, this people say, the time is not come, the time that the LORD'S house should be built. Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your ceiled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your 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. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Go up to the mountain, and bring wood, and build the house; and I will take pleasure in it, and I will be glorified, saith the LORD. Ye looked for much, and, lo, it came to little; and when ye brought it home, I did blow upon it. Why? saith the LORD of hosts. Because of mine house that is waste, and ye run every man unto his own house. Therefore the heaven over you is stayed from dew, and the earth is stayed from her fruit. And I called for a drought upon the land, and upon the mountains, and upon the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon that which the ground bringeth forth, and upon men, and upon cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands. Then Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest, with all the remnant of the people, obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, and the words of Haggai the prophet, as the LORD their God had sent him, and the people did fear before the LORD.”

Yet again we have a place where Israel neglected the house of the Lord. But in this case it was apparently their opinion that the restoration of God’s house could wait. Why it is not said. In other words the time for God to be worshipped properly could wait. Now for those who insist that the tithe should be in the context like me, we should just think about what we have learnt over the past few months, and that was everything that the Israelites wanted to or had to give to God had to come to His temple. It was God’s commandment that there should be a central place where everything had to be brought to, and that was His temple. The tithe, although not part of every day worship like the ritual offerings was, was an integral part of the worshipping and celebration at the temple of God. And if it were the opinion of the Israelites to say that it was not time to repair God’s house, it also meant that there was no worshipping and therefore no tithing taking place at the temple like God commanded. God did not think it was proper protocol for His house to lie in ruin while everybody else’s house was fitted out properly. This is why the Israelites were living in poverty or under a curse as many would like to put it, the fact that the house of the Lord was neglected, meant that the Israelite’s welfare was neglected. It is clear in this verse of scripture that if God’s house was neglected and no worshipping was taking place, that it had a direct effect on the giving of the tithes and offerings, and then the Levites would not have been cared for and therefore God did not prosper Israel.

Scripture Six
(Mal 3:8-15 KJV) “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee? Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance”

Will a man rob God? The question could also be asked can a man rob God? The answer is; of course not, at least in a manner like a criminal robbing people. So what does God mean when He said the Israelites were robbing Him?

Well the word in the original language is, ‘qaba’ kaw-bah' primitive root; to cover, that is, (figuratively) defraud: - rob, spoil. So the word would mean more accurately defraud. Something I learnt in my recent studies of the Greek and Hebrew language is that to properly translate from these languages, you have to take words to their absolute bare basis or root to gain a proper understanding of the actual word that was being used. In Proverbs 22, the word is translated as spoil where the Lord says that He will plead the case of the poor and spoil “qaba” the soul of those who oppress the poor. That is a scary statement don’t you think?
This is the context of the verse alluded to above, (Prov 22v 22-23) “Rob not the poor, because he is poor: neither oppress the afflicted in the gate: For the LORD will plead their cause, and spoil the soul of those that spoiled them.” The word for rob in this verse here means actually robbing and not defraud “gazal” ‘gaw-zal’ A primitive root; to pluck off; specifically to flay, strip or rob: - catch, consume, exercise [robbery], pluck (off), rob, spoil, take away (by force, violence), tear.” This was not what Israel was doing; they were actually defrauding God of the tithe. We must remember at Mount Sinai this is what Israel promised, (Ex 19v 3-11 KJV) “And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him. And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.
What Israel did was to pull back from their undertaking to keep God’s covenant, which included the giving of the tithe.
In an earlier message, this is what we noted: {The Tithe Issue Part Four}
“Something interesting; the famous Malachi 3 v8-10 says bring the entire tithe into the ‘storehouse’, the word “owtsar” for storehouse is literally depository, this means the word does not mean God’s house or temple, but it means storehouse. Now when God uses the phrase, ‘so that there may be food in My house’, we must decide did God say bring the tithe to His house or the storehouse? Of course He said bring the tithe to the storehouse, not His house. So what did He mean by His house?

The word “bayith” used for house in Malachi 3v 10 refers most of the time to a family or a household than to a building, when the building of God is referred to, you will find the word “beyth-'el” in the original language. If “beyth-'el” sounds familiar to you, it is because you have read it translated as Beth-El before, and that means literally house of God.

Now we know that God said bring the tithe to the storehouse, “owtsar”. His house was not a storehouse, if you would study out the architecture of the temple place, or even the tabernacle, which was actually a tent. The word temple means sacred or holy place, not storehouse. This means God said literally in Malachi 3 , bring the whole tithe so that it can be stored, that there may be food for my family.

God did not say bring the tithe to the Priesthood so that there may be food for the priesthood, He meant so that there may be food for His whole family. When Israel tithed, there was enough food etc. for everybody to eat before the Lord as He commanded, including the Levites and Priesthood who received the tithe as their wages.

We will later find out that the poor etc. was fed out of the tithe, not that the tithe was the only way the poor was cared for in Israel. What I want to point out here is that Malachi 3v 8-10 proves that the tithe was for the whole Israel to benefit from, in other words, the whole family. God actually refer to Himself as a father in Malachi 1v 6.”

One thing I have to add concerning the comments made above is that although Israel brought the tithe to the storehouse and not the house of God, we will find out that eventually in the time of Hezekiah a storehouse was built near or on the grounds where God’s temple was.

The defrauding of God meant that Israel was defrauding God of the tithes, they were also defrauding themselves, the priests and Levites, the poor and as we found out in; (Neh 13:5) “the singers, and the porters”.

Because of their fraud, God says they are cursed with a curse. Was God cursing them? The word of God says that nothing He blesses can be cursed and Israel was indeed a blessed nation, and if you would remember when the king of Moab asked Balim to curse the Israelites, God caused the curse to be turned into a blessing. So did God change His mind about Israel? No, but what they did caused blessing that was assigned to the action of tithing to be withheld. What we did not realize before was that in just the previous quoted scripture, scripture five of this message and indeed many other places we quoted from where the Israelites did not care for God’s temple, the blessing that was associated with caring for the temple was withheld, and indeed it was the same ‘curse’ as in withholding the tithe.

We get bogged down with not giving the tithe, but what we should realize is that God must be worshipped in the manner He prescribes, and His way is in a package deal. What we can deduce from what we studied up to now is that nowhere except in Malachi is blessing and cursing directly associated with tithing. In fact you will find that Israel was suffering more when we see them neglecting the temple than when they were not tithing, which in any case, would not have taken place if the temple were neglected.

Another problem with an overemphasizing of the tithe is that the offering is seen as an inferior gift to the tithe. I have heard it taught that you couldn’t give an offering until you have first tithed, which is nonsense in the extreme. There is no scripture to back that up, in fact the tithe and the offering has nothing to do with each other, because the principle idea behind each action is totally different. The tithe is a tool for payment, caring and feasting amongst other things, but the offering is to cover sin and it shows to the work Jesus Christ would do for Israel and for the whole world indeed. I would say that Israel would have experienced more cursing with the withholding of the offering than with the withholding of the tithe, because without the offering, their sins will not have been atoned for, and they would have to carry the consequences of their sin if they did not offer up an offering for sin. But alas, God wanted His whole Law to be adhered to and that will include the giving of the tithe.

This message brings us to the end of tithing in the history of Israel and tithing in the Old Testament. We will go on to the New Testament with this teaching and see if we can gage something from the New Testament which was specifically written to us, because as it stands the Old Testament was specifically written by Israelites for Israel, not that we can discard the Old Testament, because JESUS quoted only from that Old Testament if you think about it, when He taught His disciples.

© 2007 Richard D Kloosman, All Rights Reserved.

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