In this installment of tithing, I first want to say that this blog post came about becasue of a news article I read that a single women was fined not tithing, The article is titled, Single Mom Fined $1,000 by Church For Not Tithing–Threatens to Remove Her. After reading the article, I shook my head in disbelief and knew I had to write another blog post to address tithing. I guess I will be for the foreseeable furture continue to write tithing blogs until the monetary tithing madness ends. Let me make this clear as day, what you give to your church is your personal business. However no pastor has a right to take scripture out of context as a means to sustain a finanical system the Bible never endorses. So let’s take a magnifying glass to a scripture text to show that tithing in the Bible was not income but edible items. We know pastors love to quote Malachi but I will not start with that verse.
Let’t take a look at Deuteronomy 26:12. I’m going to cite the NET transliteration to show you how droctrinal isegetical bias happens to erroneously mistranslate the word tithe to money. Tithe teachers who mandate monetary tithing use the NET version to buttress their postition by saying, “Here’s proof that tithing money valid because it says, When you finish tithing all you income in the third year (the year of tihiny), you must give it to the Levites, the residents foriegns, the orphans, and the widows so that they may eat to their satisfaction in your villages. They say with confidence that your paycheck is required to be tithed to God. Not so fast with that silver tongue. Look at the verse again. It clearly talks about Levites, foriegners, orphans and widows eating something. Notice this is not the same tithe that is spoken about in Malachi chaper 3. Wow! This verse clearly talks about about a different tithe that was paid and notice that it was eaten in the villages and towns where they lived. So in Israel there was more than one tithe based on this verse. As I have always stated that you must be careful with the different translations because many of them superimpose their ideas into the text. So in Deut 26:12 how in the world could the verse say income as if it was money and then end the verse talking about groups of people eating the tithe, which is supposedly money. It makes no sense ladies and gentlemen and it defies all logic, reason and biblical hermanuetics. The translaters inserted the word income to prop up monetary tithing, which means they intended to mislead by incorporating their opinions to influence a different interpreation of the verse out of context. If you study all 42 references of the word tithe in the NET version, the majority of the translaliteration uses the word produce, crops or similar. Why they inserted the word income in Deuteronomy 26:12 indicates to me that they wanted to set up a psychological and religous belief system that tithing money is biblical. It is an epic fail becuase the verse ends with eating food and not eating income. As the tithe is related to increase, I discussed its hebrew word Tbuwah in my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway? So what happens today is that people view the word tithe through the lens of cash and coins based on their world view and their current economic persuation, while ignoring scriptural context.
How to do you prove the text of Deuteronomy 26:12 overwhelmingly speaks of livestock the crops? That’s easy. Pull out your scriptural magnifying class and microscope and let’s compare different Bible versions to see if monetary tithing is a Bible doctrine or mandate.
NET version:When you finish tithing all you income in the third year (the year of tihing), you must give it to the Levites, the residents foriegns, the orphans, and the widows so that they may eat to their satisfaction in your villages.
NIV version:When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
NASB version:When you have finished paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied.
NLT version: Every third year you must offer a special tihe of your crops. You must give these tithes to the Levites, foriegeners, ophans, and widows so that htey will have enough to eat in your town.
CEV version: Every year you are to give ten percent of your harvest to the LORD. But every third year, this ten percent must be given to the poor who live in your town, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. That way, they will have enough to eat.
BBE version: When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thy produce in the third year, the year of tithing, thou shalt give it to the Levited, to the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat in thy gates and be filled.
MSG version: Every third year, the year of the tithe, give a tenth of your produce to the Levite, the foreigner, the orphan, and the widow so that they may eat their fill in your cities.
YLT version: When thou dost complete to tithe all the tithe of thine increase in the third year, the year of the tithe, then thou hast given to the Levite, to the sojourner, to the fatherless, and to the widow, and they have eaten within they gates, and been satisifed
ESV Version: When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled,
NKJV: When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year—the year of tithing—and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled,
As you can see based on the preponderance of tithing evidence, there is no way anyone can conclude that the tithe in Deuteronomy 26:12 is money unless subterfuge is at play. Now this women based on the application of scriputure might fall in the catergory of widow, since she is single and if the verse 12 applied to money, her church was suppose to give her the tithe becuase she could have been poor. Pastors you can just interpret scripture as you see fit to maintain your finanical system. The NET translators took the Hebrew word for increase 08393 in Deuteronomy 26:12 and applied it to money and by doing so they intentionally clouded the original Hebrew langauage and the meaning of the word tithe which only deals with the harvest and not income. So when her church sent a letter with a fine of $1,000 for not paying tithes and by insinuating she robbed God is foolishness and I would tell her that she can ignore the words, Will a Man Rob God and know that she can eat her tithes and never have to pay tithes becuase her money is not what God wants as tithes.
Often you hear in church that God requires a tenth of your increase and that is true if your are talking about livestock and crops, but it is not true in the case of money. Now I know that’s a hard pill to swallow if you’ve been taught that all of your life. But that’s why I write blogs to explain what certain words mean in the scriptures. The word increase is one of those biblical words that has church members discombobulted. So I think is important to share with you what increase mean. In my book, Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway I give details on what increase really means and whether it applies to erroneous concept of monetary tithing. Here’s an excerpt from chapter 7 of my book, The tithe in Israel that should get you started on your research way so that you will not be fooled by scriptural shell games on what God considers increase. The ebook is now available at Amazon.
Every time the Bible mentions, it must always be linked with increases in livestock and produce rather than money. Only farmers, shepherds, cattle herders (of the 11 tribes), and Levites tithed in the land of Canaan. It is a scriptural fact that people ate the tithes, and nowhere does the Bible command a tithe from income as a substitute. It may be a good idea to explain what the word increase means as it relates to tithing. For non-Hebrew people unfamiliar with the intricacies of tithing, the system is basically non-intuitive for those not astute in Hebrew culture, practices, literature, and language.
In Canaan, they understood the tithing law applied to the land. Furthermore, only the people who lived in the Promised Land were required to tithe from the inherited land. Though the natural inclination of people is to accept teaching from the pulpit as unadulterated truth, churches have no biblical authority to receive tithes in the New Testament. The tithe law was only applicable to the Levites; Hebrews 7:5 is explicit in its instructions. As no pastor or minister holds the Levitical priesthood office, tithes are not applicable, as the tithe is passed down through the bloodline to the Levites.
When people use the word increase regarding tithes, they think it refers to money, crops and cattle. Increase in the text is not a command for people to pay 10 percent of their income. The word has numerous meanings in Hebrew. When a Scripture uses the word increase, the Hebrew meaning of the word must coincide with the context of the verse and chapter. For example, when you look up the word increase in Strong’s you will notice it says increase means income, i.e., produce (literally or figuratively). You will also see that the Hebrew word for increase means produce, i.e., crop or (fig) wealth. The problem is, people zoom in on income or wealth and assume tithing included money and forget the context of the verse and run theologically amok. For example, can you assume increase is money in Deuteronomy 14:28, which says, “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” (KJV). This verse actually refers to the tithe that is kept in towns for the people to use for food and has no connection to money.
When you read the verse in the NKJV, money is not a part of the context because even with the Hebrew word, the context drives the meaning of the word increase. Here’s how Deuteronomy 14:28 reads in the NKJV; “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce [increase] of that year and store it up within your gates.” While I will not delve deeper into what increase means, you must do word study to understand that the word increase has no connection to paying tithes in money. When God said he wanted the Hebrew people to tithe against the increase in cattle, crops and flocks (animal births and crop growth); it was from an agricultural perspective. Yahweh’s increase in the yield applies in this formula: Gross yield less input or costs equals actual increase. That means, if you planted ten bushels of corn and only harvested ten bushels of corn, there was no increase, thus no tithe. If you harvested 20 bushels of corn, your increase was ten bushels and you would tithe 1 bushel of corn. When the word increase is used with tithing, God only expected a tithe based on the laws of agriculture and His labor. For example, He gave Israel abundant increase in food sources and expected a tithe from what grew from the ground and every tenth animal. God did not give the tithe to the Levites because they had no income. In fact, blessings from income in the Bible were not a result of people tithing money. People received income based on their hard work, including the Levites who worked when they were not on temple duty. The income from the work people performed belonged to the worker and the work God performed through increases in crops and cattle belonged to God. Therefore, the tithe came from the land through God’s efforts. The 11 tribes tithed from the land as a payment to God. The tithe was from something Yahweh created [the land] not from what man labors for as in income.
It is important that you avoid becoming a piece of merchandise in God’s Kingdom and the Bible makes this clear in 2 Peter chapter 2 verse 3, which says, “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” It is important to state that this single woman could not give from the heart as the Bible teaches, but she became a piece of merchandise to her church who wanted to fine her money for not tithing monetarily. Making merchandise of God’s people is the idea of selling something for money. The monetary tithe is being sold to members like snake oil and it is done by merchandising the the authentic biblical livestock and crop tithe based on greed. So I would advise that no believer should allow themselves to become a merchandise sidepiece in God’s kingdm by feeding the institutional church’s endless, insatiable deire for cash. That single woman should have taken that letter she got from her church and mailed it back stamped insufficient funds.
In the scriptures, Paul addressed the issue merchandising God’s people in several different places in the scriptures. He says that he would never practice merchandising or peddling the Word of God when he wrote, “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ.” So the montetary tithe doctrine perpetrated acrosss the pulpit is peddling and trading of the word in an effort to gain finances from unsucpecting congregants who most likely do not study the Bible for themselves. And Paul continues his argument against merchandising in Acts 20:33-34 when he writes, “I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or apparel. Yes, you yourselves know that these hands have provided for my necessities, and for those who were with me.” Paul would never offer the word for money and in his mind preaching the word for money was different from accepting and receiving gifts from believers which he made clear in 1 Cor. 9:14, “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” This passage has nothing to do with tithing but everything do with receiving gifts from believers as a means of support. When Paul says he coveted no man’s money, he made it clear that he worked and supported those who journeyed with him on his preaching endeavors. Paul worked so that his traveling companions would not become a public and financial charge to the congregations they visited. Paul often foregoes his right of support as the higher calling rather than insisting on people paying him to preach. Now that is a true Apostle.
If you look at the context of Deuteronomy 26:12 then read verse 14, it is clear th subject is not money but food and here is the butter on the bread in verse 14,
I have not eaten any of it when in mourning, nor have I removed any of it for an unclean use, nor given any of it for the dead. I have obeyed the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that You have commanded me.
The tithe was not eaten in verse 14, it was given to the poor, the widows, the orphans, and the stranger. So it is certain that the tithe context in Dueteronomy is about food and not money. Paul did not mence words in his dialouge with the Corinthians and tells them in no uncertain terms that he did not live like a mega church millionaire preacher. He said he worked hard with his own hands in 1 Cor. 4:11-13. “11 Even today we go hungry and thirsty and don’t have anything to wear except rags. We are mistreated and don’t have a place to live. 12 We work hard with our own hands, and when people abuse us, we wish them well. When we suffer, we are patient. 13 When someone curses us, we answer with kind words. Until now we are thought of as nothing more than the trash and garbage of this world” (CEV). Paul was a strict Pharisee (Act 26:4-5); he knew the law intimately and he knew that the law of tithing did not apply during the gospel dispinsation of salvation, which is why he never mentions tithing in any of the letters he wrote to the churches or to individuals.
So for the all the ladies out there who have been fined for not paying tithes, this post is for you. And in the spirit of Paul, let me say it is better to obey God in your giving rather than man-made dogma that you owe God a tenth of your income. Now to make it clear, if you do perticipate in the IRS 501c3 tax return giving plan where you give a ten of your income as a tax deductible gift to the church, that is certainly OK becuase you get to file that tax deductible gift on your return, which is perfectly legal. But know this, a tenth of your income is not an authentic biblical tithe, it is payment of a temple tax to support the institutional church, which is a part of the IRS code as a 501c3 for tax exempt churches. In the end, paying ten percent of your income to church and filing it on your income tax return, does that mean you tithed to the IRS and at the end of tax season, the IRS acting as God sends you a blessing refund check, which comes from the windows IRS heaven? I’m being facetious, but you get the point. When your pay ten percent to the church and file it on your tax returns, the IRS sends you a refund check in the mail. That has nothing to do with the Bible, tithes or curses from God. I’m not against charitible giving to any instution and that includes the church as well, but it important to state that because some people’s income levels are so high, it will necessitate that they give a tenth or more away, to avoid a huge tax bill from the IRS. So here’s the hard truth and facts ladies and gentlemen, we give in churh not only to support churches but we also give to lower our taxable income to get a refund. That’s not tithing, that’s simply accounting 101. A tenth of income cannot be called a biblical tithe because the empirical definiton of the tithe is the Hebrew word Ma’aser, which means everything editable that comes from livestock and crops. According to leviticus 27:30-33, the Bible says:
30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree [crops], is the LORD’s. It is holy to the LORD. 31 If a man wants at all to redeem any of his tithes, he shall add one-fifth to it. 32 And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, [livestock] of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD. 33 He shall not inquire whether it is good or bad, nor shall he exchange it; and if he exchanges it at all, then both it and the one exchanged for it shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.’ ”
I hope this blog helps many people in search for truth about the tithe of the Bible. And I hope the lady who was sent a fine for not paying tithe one day discovers my book and know that she is not required to tithe to God, now, in the future becuase of grace and Christ sacrifice on the cross. And if need be I hope she read the New Testament givig slides below so she can be equipped to deal with modern tithe teaching that are not in the Bible. Kleptomaniac: Who’s Really Robbing God Anyway is an ebook from Amazon and in PDF, iPad and Kindle from Book Baby.
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