Tithing. An oft talked about topic. An extensive topic. So much so that many preachers won’t talk about it, and even more people don’t want to hear any more about it. It’s funny that most of the “Old Testament” law is ignored (as either having been done away with or ‘fulfilled’), but tithing receives a huge amount of attention. So I ask, is tithing being done properly (Biblically)?
Well, yes and no. God does want us to give. But give to what and for what purpose?
“…you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wine, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.” (ESV) Deut. 14:23
“And if the way is too long for you [the way to Jerusalem where the tithe was to be given], so that you are not able to carry the tithe, when the LORD your God blesses you, … , then you shall turn it into money and … go to the place that the LORD your God chooses and spend the money for whatever you desire – oxen or sheep or wine or strong drink, whatever your appetite craves. And you shall eat there before the LORD your God and rejoice, you and your household. And you shall not neglect the Levite who is within your towns…” (ESV) Deut. 14:24-27
“…you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce … And the Levite, …, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” (ESV) Deut. 14:28-29.
There is more within those verses then just what I quoted, but I want to point out a couple interesting facts about the tithe.
First, part of it was to be used on one’s own little party. And apologies to the teetotalers out there, but wine and strong drink were allowed! (Note: I personally don’t drink for personal reasons, but using scripture to claim that one shouldn’t drink isn’t treating scripture correctly.) Yep, a party before the LORD!
Granted that the ‘party’ was to take place at the “place of God’s choosing,” which became the Temple, but I still find it interesting that one’s own family was to share in the tithe.
Next, note the two reasons for tithing given in these passages: “that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always,” and, “that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.” To fear Him always and to enable blessing. Two great reasons.
I also find it interesting that the tithe is not only for the Levites (for Christianity, this would probably be understood as pastors, priests, and teachers of ‘religion’), but also for those truly in need of sustenance – the foreigners, widows, orphans, and such!.
There is much more about tithing in scripture. This post, however, is just to show that there is more to tithing then one learns in Sunday school (presumably). It also shows a couple very good reasons to tithe. And lastly, it shows that following God’s commands can be fun – even a party! A party rejoicing for all that YHVH (the LORD) has given us! So remember that the next time you are tithing.
Perhaps one of the reasons God asks us to ‘party’ before Him is in memory of one, in my opinion, of the oddest occurrences in scripture. Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and 70 of the elders went up to Mount Sinai (nearby), and “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (ESV) Exodus 24:9-11. They saw God, heard the thundering and saw the lightnings, and what did they then do? Ate and drank! To me, that seems an odd response to an astounding event. So, perhaps, we are to remember that, and the giving of the Law, when partying at the Temple with some of the tithe money.