The Bible is direct in addressing the subject of tithing. The most quoted reference, in fact, is found in Malachi 3:9-10 (ESV).
“You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you. Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.
And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.”
Today’s pastors often use this verse to teach about tithing, but before we argue whether it commands modern-day Christians to tithe or not, let’s take a closer look at the context.
Diving deeper to discover tithing
In his blog, Redeeming God, author Jeremy Myers says,
“With Malachi, this question is easily answered, for Malachi refers to them directly several times. In several places, Malachi reveals that he is addressing the priests of Israel (1:6; 2:1), and the sons of Levi (3:3).
So it appears that the section on tithing in Malachi 3:8-10 is not so much addressed to the people of Israel, who apparently was doing a good job of bringing their tithes and offerings to the storehouse, but to the wicked and wayward priests, specifically, Eliashib. He was removing the tithes and offerings from the storehouse for his own personal gain. Maybe he was selling them or hoarding them for himself.”
The e-book, Wrestling with the Tithe, published by the GenerousChurch, affirms this too:
“Consider the rest of the book of Malachi. Up to this point in the book, God has been using the prophet Malachi to chastise the priests of Israel. Doesn’t it make sense that He is doing the same here?
When Malachi refers to the ‘storehouse,’ he is speaking of the storage room at the temple which was used to house the tithe from the land. While priests were serving on their rotation of ‘temple duty,’ they would eat these tithes from the storehouse. (Only 10% of the total tithe was ever brought to the storehouse. The other 90% stayed with the families of the Levites)
Israelites were never commanded to bring their tithe to the storehouse. They gave their tithe to the Levites and the Levites brought 10% of the total tithe to the temple storehouse.”
As we can see, these 2 passages are a rebuke to the priests for stealing the tithe from the storehouse rather than a rebuke to the people of Israel for failing to tithe.
Tithing for the modern Christians
It would appear that the verse does not support the contention that members of the congregations should give 10% of what they earn to the Lord, in obedience to that law on tithing.
If we were then to apply Malachi 3:8-10 today, it would be to speak to modern-day priests and pastors, rather than to the people in the pews. The purpose would be to ask how they are spending the tithes and offerings of the people, and whether these offerings are being used for their intended purpose: such as to take care of the pastor’s needs (equivalent to a Levitical priest), and to feed the hungry in the community and look after orphans and widows in need (Deut 26:12).
This verse affirms that Old Testament Jews were to give a tithe as part of the temple worship, but it does not teach that Christians are to give to churches. Malachi was written more than 400 years before the start of the first church in Jerusalem. Applying its command of giving to the local church takes these verses out of their original context.
What we do glean from these passages is that we serve a good God that provides for all our needs, and pours out His blessing so that we might bless others. God’s generosity is unquestionable. He dares us to test this!
If we want to be blessed and to live under an open heaven, then we must honour God with our money.
It’s that simple.
(for more articles regarding tithing, please click this link. )
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