The very first tithe recorded in Scripture consisted of plunder stolen from the city of Sodom by the Kings of the Plain. Genesis Chapter 14 records how these four Canaanite kings fought the armies of Sodom and neighboring cities in the Valley of Siddim. At the time, Lot, nephew of Abram, lived in Sodom. Sodom was looted of all its valuables. All its citizens, including Lot and his family, were carried away into captivity.
One of the captives escaped, then ran to Abram’s camp and told him what had happened to his nephew. Abram mustered a fighting force, who pursued the enemy northward all the way to Dan. Abram and his men fought the Kings of the Plain at Hobah, just outside of Damascus. Lot was rescued, and all the plundered goods recovered.
Abram encountered the mysterious Melchisedek, King of Salem, who presented him bread and wine. Melchisedek’s title was “priest of the Most High God (verse 18).
VERSE 19: And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth.* * *Notice, God ALREADY possesses everything in heaven and earth. What can we give God that He doesn’t already own?
VERSE 20: And blessed be the Most High God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.* * *Abram voluntarily GAVE tithes, to Melchisedek. Abram did not pay them like a bill he owed. Melchisedek did not ask Abram for those tithes.
What did Abram’s tithes consist of?
Hebrews 7:4: Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham GAVE the tenth of the spoils.* * *Abram did not present to Melchisedek tithes out of his ranch income or his personal assets. Abram shared the SPOILS OF WAR with Melchisedek. Nowhere is it recorded that Abram ever tithes again.
Gen.14:21: And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons (Heb.souls), and take the goods to thyself.
Amazing. The king of Sodom must have been a very wicked man, because he perished in Sodom’s supernatural destruction after Lot and his family escaped the city. But even this seedy character acted less selfish than greedy preachers do. The king of Sodom asked only that his people to be free to return to their homes. He was willing to let someone else keep the other ninety per cent of the plunder.
VERSE 22: And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand (sworn) unto the LORD, the Most High God, the Possessor of Heaven and Earth,
VERSE 23: That I will not take from a thread to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.
Abram did not want the king of Sodom to go around bragging that he had made righteous Abram richer with loot from his wicked city. If Abram’s ONE-TIME act of tithing is to be an example for today’s Christians, ALL aspects of it, not just latching onto the ten per cent figure, must be applied.
1. The tithe must consist of plunder stolen from a wicked city, recovered after fighting a battle with the thieves.
2. The tithe must be VOLUNTARY, and presented to a Melchisedek priest figure. By sheer inference, this person must outrank you in the sight of God and stand as a mediator (go-between) representing you to Christ. This mediator must not first ask for the tithe before he gets it. Covetous preachers are forever asking for tithes and other donations.
3. The priestly figure must present you with sacred bread and wine and utter a blessing over you. Today’s preacher is more likely to holler the curse of Malachi at you when you don’t give him enough of your paycheck.
4. After giving ten per cent of SOMEBODY ELSE’S STUFF to the priest figure, you must refuse to keep any part of the remaining ninety per cent for yourself!
If you feel legally bound to tithe on money to men because Abram gave tithes to Melchisedek, then your goal is to imitate Abram. But who is qualified to play the role of Melchisedek and accept your tithe? The preacher?
Melchisedek was the PRIEST of the Most High God. By definition, a priest is a mediator, or go-between, who stands between another person and God. Abram didn’t hand his VOLUNTARY tithe directly to God in heaven. Melchisedek accepted it on God’s behalf. For a long time, Protestants have castigated the Catholics for having priests in their church, while they just had low-key, laid-back preachers in blue business suits. But is there any real difference? Priests stand in front of their Catholic congregation, handling the sacred elements of their church. Preachers preside over the solemn “Lord’s Supper” ceremony, which bears little resemblance to the practice of the First Century Church. Back then, it was an actual fellowship MEAL centered around the symbolic loaf and cup of wine (see I Cor.11:33).
Catholic Priests deliver sermons. They intone blessings and pray. Protestant preachers do the same thing, as they stand before the congregation, striving to bring people into the Presence of God Who supposedly dwells in the church building, contrary to Scripture (Acts 7:48). God already dwells in each saint as being His Temple (I Cor.3:16), and is spiritually joined to His people (I Cor.6:17). Do pulpit ministers outrank the rest of us, that they should preside as priests over us to take tithes of any kind from our hand on God’s behalf?
I Pet.2:5: Ye also, as lively (living) stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.* * *God is only interested in building His SPIRITUAL house, and Jesus Christ is the ONLY mediator (higher-ranking priest) between us and God (I Tim.2:5). God is well able to provide a gathering place for His saints without the need for preachers to impose a legalistic tithe tax.
I Pet.2:9: But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar (Gk. peripoiesis,(God’s) acquisition) people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.* * *No mention of a higher-ranking “ordained” clergy collecting “tithes” from lower-ranking “laity” priests in God’s Royal Priesthood. Old Testament priests did not tithe, and neither should we.
The king of Sodom can be likened to satan, because he presided over a morally degenerate, unrepentant city. Yet today’s tithe collectors act greedier than the king of Sodom, who didn’t demand the goods as well as the souls. Not only do preachers seek souls, they covet their material wealth. But if a preacher has gained spiritual control over souls under his ministry, their pockets and purses are taken captive along with them.
Any person who pays tithes or offerings because the preacher threatens them with hell fire is being held in spiritual captivity by that preacher. Pensioners who go without food and medicine to “pay their tithe” sometimes do so because there is an implicit threat that they will become social outcasts in the congregation if they don’t pay the money. Old folks are afraid to die and meet their Maker if they quit tithing to preachers who are better fed than they are. Jesus didn’t instill this fear in them, somebody else did! The preacher has so conditioned these people to be dependent upon his religious institution that they can’t find the courage to break free of this spiritual abuse and go fellowship elsewhere.
Something is seriously wrong when pastors of those new-fangled “mega-churches” own fancy cars, multi-million-dollar mansions with swimming pools, take vacations to the Holy Land and Hawaii, and “fare sumptuously every day” while some poor family who can’t even afford to send their kid to the dentist pays tithes to keep these privileged characters up in style.
Especially at Easter or Christmas time, TV preachers love to show off their large families dressed up in their fancy clothes and smiling sweetly. Such sentimental images reflect their strong family values. But the preacher’s wonderful home life is only made possible by big money rolling in. Lots of tithing couples can’t afford to raise such big families, because the woman could never afford the child care while she went out to work to earn money for their upkeep, plus raising tithe money for the preacher. While your friendly TV preacher and his doting wife drive Cadillacs and live in an oceanfront mansion, millions of contributors are struggling to pay off an old car or meet the rent. I’ve read about the art and antique collections of superstar televangelists, their wine cabinets, their designer clothes, their multiple mansions across the country. Do these professed ambassadors of Christ take Him seriously when He asks His people to sell unneeded items to raise money to fight poverty (Luke 12:33)? Why is it that preachers don’t apply this verse to themselves just as consistently as they demand sacrifices of their congregations?
If a preacher truly loves Jesus, he will love Him and His Word more than money. He will not get offended when false doctrines are exposed by the Word of God. When was the last time preachers twisted Scripture to promote polygamy, circumcision and animal sacrifices? Not one of those doctrines brings in the green sheaves, so no preacher puts them on the Body of Christ today. Yet all of those practices pre-dated the Law, like isolated incidents of tithing.
Jesus made a couple of mentions of tithing, but in a negative context where He rebuked the Pharisees for tithing garden herbs (not money), while neglecting the weightier MATTERS OF THE LAW, judgment, mercy, and faith (Matt.23:23). Tithing is part of the Old Law. Jesus’ ministry took place under the dispensation of Law (Gal.4:4). Jesus okayed the Pharisees’ tithing. But in Matthew 8:4 Jesus also told a healed leper to “shew himself to the priest” (let the priest physically inspect his body for signs of the illness) and offer a ceremonial gift (Gk. doron, sacrifice). A complete description of the ritual healed lepers had to undergo is in Leviticus 14:1-32). Jesus does not tell any healed person to go to the preacher to get a head-to-toe checkup today, or take him a couple of pigeons to burn on the altar.
Because the four Gospels are included in the New Testament section of your Bible, people automatically assume that Jesus’ earthly ministry took place during the New Testament (New Covenant). But the New Testament only came into effect after Jesus’ death, in much the same way a person’s “last will and testament” only gets read out to his heirs after he dies (Heb.9:16-17). Before the Cross, only the Levitical Priesthood could directly approach God’s Presence. But during this Dispensation of the Church Age, ALL born-again believers in Christ are part of God’s Holy Priesthood (I Pet.2:5,9). ALL true Christians have received the unction, or anointing, of the Holy Spirit. It is a terrible sin in the sight of God for seminary-trained professional preachers to lay a snare before God’s people to bring them back under a law abolished by the death of Christ. In the days of Paul, circumcision was the thin wedge satan kept using to pry open the door to the Curse of the Law, whereby if you insist on keeping just ONE Mosaic ordinance, you’re a debtor to keep all the rest of the Law perfectly. If you don’t get a perfect score for your law-keeping, you come under its curse (Gal.3:10; 5:3). Today, preachers adore the dollar, so tithing is the tool satan uses to make an opening for the Curse of the Law to enter the lives of God’s people.
Are Christians (and preachers) keeping the tithing law perfectly? Forget about all the other 300-odd ordinances of Mosaic Law (circumcision, animal sacrifice, etc.). What must a worshipper and a preacher/priest do to fulfill (satisfy the requirements of) the Tithing Law?
1. Tithe only on crops you grow or livestock you raise (Lev.27:30-34).The fruit and seed OF THE LAND is mentioned here, not the salary of the laborer. Therefore, it is AGAINST MOSAIC LAW to tithe on wages, even if it IS a “sacrificial” act. God isn’t impressed with sacrifice (Heb.11:4). Obedience is better than sacrifice (I Sam.15:22). Obedience to God’s written Law, not to false traditions of men, is what God wanted under the Old Covenant. The tithe-payer breaks the law by tithing on an item God didn’t include in the list of what He wanted presented as tithes, and preachers sin by forcing God’s people to do this.
2. You must be a male descendant of Levi to take tithes (Num.18:26; Heb.7:5). Descendants of the Romans, Celts, Vikings, Indians, Eskimos, etc. just won’t do. Any non-Levitical preacher collecting tithes today is doing so in disobedience to God’s written Word. His demand for tithe money is unlawful in the sight of God, so it cannot be an act of faith. Whatever is not of faith is sin, and sin brings condemnation before God (Rom.14:23).
3. Preachers who still insist on taking tithes must separate out one-tenth of the tithe collected to present to the High Priest and his family (Num.18:26-28). Notice, the High Priest’s “heave offering” or tithe of the tithe, consisted of corn of the threshing floor or the product of the winepress. His heave offering did NOT come from the floor of the New York Stock Exchange or from the Federal Mint’s printing press! Who is High Priest of the New Covenant, and who is his family? The Lord Jesus Christ is our High Priest, and we are members of His Body on earth (I Cor.12:27; Eph.5:30). Christ even calls us His children (Heb.2:13). The church is also the Bride of Christ (2 Cor.11:2). Under the Old Covenant, it would have been unthinkable to make the children or the bride of the High Priest pay tithes! Since we are members of Christ’s actual body, why don’t preachers present US with ten per cent of their tithes?
4. When the journey to the place of worship was too far to transport the tithe, the tither was instructed to sell the tithe and buy FOR HIMSELF anything he wanted to eat and drink and eat before the Lord, rejoicing (Deut.14:24-27). If the preacher forbids you to help eat the tithe and even buy wine or strong drink with it, he is in flagrant violation of God’s explicit instructions.
5. Every three years the tithe is to be used specifically for the support of poor people (Deut.14:28-29). Period. Unless the preacher lets you use all your tithe to help those in need every three years, HE’S the one sinning against the Lord, not you!
6. Every seventh year NO tithe is to be taken at all! Your land is to lie fallow and no crops are to be harvested from it (Lev.25:4). People and the land were to enjoy a whole year of rest from the cycle of plowing, seedtime, and harvest. Therefore, no tithe is to be paid on your non-existent harvest. Unless the preacher gives you a break from tithing ever seventh year, He is sinning against God.
The Word of God is quite clear that when God gives an order, He shows how He wants it to be carried out. No one is to add to or take from the commandments of God (Deut.12:32). If the early apostles didn’t command the church to tithe on money, no modern preacher has the right to install ATM (automatic tithing machines) in their so-called sanctuaries. A long string of divinity degrees and a backwards collar does not invest authority in some man to override God’s own Word and put His people under bondage.
Yes, greedy preachers have not only taken the goods, they’ve taken the souls unto themselves. Through spiritual intimidation, the souls of men are taken captive. They confuse the Voice of their gentle Good Shepherd with the angry bellowing of tithe teachers threatening them with the fires of hell for not pandering to their endless lusts. These evil men and women have made slaves of God’s own dear children. The very suggestion that you might go to hell for rebelling against old Pharaoh makes the heart of many melt so that they are powerless to set themselves free from the clutches of this Jezebel spirit of control. It isn’t just women who can be controlled by the Jezebel spirit, it’s men in the pulpit. They’ll sulk and cry if they don’t get their own way, like Ahab did. Those under Jezebel’s influence will fully exploit music, lighting, beautiful sets, personal mannerisms, and thundering oratory to manipulate God’s people to give. Such an effort to control people’s minds springs from the spirit of witchcraft. Jezebel manipulated others to persuade them to stone an innocent man to death, so she could seize that man’s vineyard for Ahab. Preachers under the influence of the Jezebel spirit will resort to bullying and intimidation of the saints to serve their Baal god of greed. Worst of all, they’ll cunningly paint this spiritual witchcraft as being “a new thing God is doing in the earth” to legitimize it. Like the followers of Chemosh and Molech, such preachers will happily throw God’s own children into fires of condemnation to get what they want out of them. Preachers don’t care that thousands have tossed and turned all night, feeling guilty because they can’t feed their kids and tithe at the same time. Preachers don’t care that millions have quit serving the Jesus Who had nowhere to lay His head and are now serving the god of prosperity, to their own destruction. Jesus said, “Ye cannot serve both God and mammon, for you will love the one and hate the other” (Matt.6:24). So if one of those panhandling TV preachers flashes diamonds and brags about his earthly possessions, you can bet on which god he’s really serving.
Covetous preachers think more highly of themselves than others, contrary to Philippians 2:3. They think the congregation owes them much more than the basics of life. They feel like masters ruling over slaves who are out there to serve them and sacrifice so they can enjoy the finer things of life. Hireling preachers love material wealth more than God’s truth. They prey on the ignorance and the fearfulness of people who are afraid to “touch God’s anointed”. This prevents too many questions from being asked, and keeps the money flowing into their coffers. Wherever that phrase “touch not God’s anointed” pops up in Scripture, it was a warning not to physically hurt the king or God’s prophets, who had a special anointing to function in their offices (I Sam.24:6; Psalms 105:15). Exposing harmful doctrines and greed is not the same as doing physical violence to a king!
Tithing teachers love to apply “principles” (laws) out of the Old Covenant to people living under the New. When confronted with compulsory tithing being a Mosaic Law no longer applicable under Grace, their defense is that while that might possibly be true, tithing is still an eternal PRINCIPLE. But look up the word “principle”, and you’ll discover it’s just a fancier word for “law”. Preachers know their “prosperity” hinges on maintaining control over people who don’t have the guts to question what they teach. But preachers are exhorted by Peter not to be lords (Gk.: katakurieuo, exercise dominion over) over God’s inheritance (I Pet.5:3).
Predatory preachers would have you think that only THEY are anointed because they went to Bible School and make a living from preaching. But ALL God’s New Covenant children have the Holy Ghost living permanently in their hearts by faith (Eph.3:17; I Cor.6:17). A dramatic change happened after the Cross. Under the Old Covenant, ordinary Israelites were not spiritually regenerated because Christ had not yet died for their sins. They did not have the Holy Ghost dwelling in their hearts by faith. Only certain individuals were anointed, and only to perform certain God-given tasks. The Spirit’s anointing was not a permanent condition such as we enjoy today. The anointing came and went in the lives of certain Old Testament saints, as happened to Samson and King Saul (Judges 14:6; I Sam.10:10).
Preachers commit a gross sin when they deliberately use mental manipulation to control Spirit-indwelt Christians, so they can milk more money out of them. Twisting or adding to Scripture in order to put a spirit of greed or fear upon vulnerable babes in Christ is literally encroaching upon the Holy Spirit’s territory. Many old people have done without their medications and proper food in order to “support” TV preachers who wallow in worldly luxuries. Such wicked thieves who rob the poor with polished oratory will have their reward with the conniving scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day who devoured widows’ houses (Matt.23:14; Mark 13:38-40).
Instead of drawing men unto Christ, these cunning ministers of deceit draw men unto THEMSELVES to exploit them for gain. And once the cows are milked dry, they’re devoured spiritually by these greedy wolves (Acts 20:29-30). Even if the saint has already donated his life savings without getting that hundred-fold return, he is conditioned by these blind leaders of the blind to believe that without a seed, God can’t meet his need! It is then that brainwashed, fearful saints borrow yet more “seed money” and dig a deeper pit for themselves to keep up the giving game. The preacher feels that he literally owns them as he keeps them coming back to his religious casino. That is the spirit of Antichrist (instead of Christ) taking over to rule the vulnerable and the poor. The worst damage done by such charlatans is spiritual. Saints who reap the bitter fruits of warped teaching are left impoverished financially and spiritually broken. Shifty televangelists leave such a bad testimony to the world that men and women are driven away from the real Christ!
There are some wonderful preachers out there whose vision is for saving souls unto the eternal kingdom of God, and have a humble, Christlike attitude. I was privileged to know a few of them in my lifetime, and they made a tremendous impact on me. Listen to preachers who are SOUND in the Word and are willing to “count all things as dung” in order that they may win Christ, and be found perfect before God on the day of judgment (Phil.3:8). But remember that you too are anointed, if you are a true believer in Christ. If you must listen to popular preachers, at least give the Holy Spirit equal time, and He will lead you into all truth (John 14:26; John 16:13).
I John 2:27: But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you; but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth; and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.