Jesus our Tithe

jesus-sign

Many of the laws and traditions of the Old Testament are shadows that are fulfilled in Christ. For instance, the circumcision of Jewish boys points to a spiritual circumcision “not performed by human hands” (Col 2:11). Your old self has been cut off by Christ, which is why some refer to Christ as our circumcision.

But what about tithing? How is this old covenant practice a shadow of a new covenant reality?

Tithing and circumcision have a lot in common. Both were practiced by Abraham, both were subsequently encoded into Moses’ Law, and both have led to controversies that divide the church. The early church fought over the issue of circumcision (Eph 2:11), while the modern church argues about tithing.

But we wouldn’t argue over an old covenant shadow if we understood the new covenant reality. So what is it? How does tithing point to Jesus? To answer this question let’s look at the most dogmatic Biblical teaching on tithing:

“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you! Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes,” says the Lord of hosts. “All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts. (Mal 3:8-12, NASB)

This scripture is sometimes used as a big stick to manipulate people into giving. “If you don’t give ten percent of your gross income, you’re robbing God and opening the door to the devourer.” Usually the people preaching this derive their income from such giving, which is an amazing coincidence.

Obviously you should not fall for this law-based teaching, for we are under grace not law. If you believe you must give a tenth of your income to be blessed, then you are obligated to keep the whole law, which includes circumcision, animal sacrifices, and no bacon cheeseburgers while watching Friday night football. How much better to “serve in the newness of the spirit and not in the oldness of the letter” (Rom 7:6).

The law is the shadow; Christ is the reality

Here is a key question: Is Malachi preaching law or is he prophesying? Is he pointing the finger at law-breakers, or pointing ahead to the Law Keeper? He is doing both, but we have only understood the former. We’ve seen the law and missed the prophecy. Never mind that the first two words of Malachi are “an oracle” or “a prophecy.”

So let’s take off our law glasses and put on our Jesus lenses and reread the words of the prophet. Doing this we might see how the old covenant shadow signals a new covenant reality, and how the lesser (the tithe) points to the greater (Jesus):

– Under the old covenant, you were cursed if you had no tithe (Mal 3:8-9), but in the new you are cursed if you don’t have Jesus (Matt 25:41).

– Under the old covenant, you dared not approach God without your tithe (see Luke 18:12), but in the new we have access into the throne room through Jesus (John 14:6).

– Under the old covenant no tithe meant no meat in the storehouse (Mal 3:10), which meant the priestly-tribe went hungry, but in the new covenant Jesus is the meat who sustains his priestly people (John 6:55-56). The old covenant tithe was the priest’s inheritance (Num 18:26), but our greater inheritance is in Christ (Eph 1:11).

– Under the old covenant, God required a tenth (Mal 3:8), but Jesus asks for more. “To whom much has been given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). The Much that God demands is the Much that has been given which is his Son.

– Under the old covenant you were blessed if you tithed (Mal 3:10-12), but in the new we are blessed with every blessing on account of Jesus (Eph 1:3).

– Under the old covenant, one nation was blessed on account of the tithe (Mal 3:12), but under the new covenant all nations are blessed on account of Jesus (Gen 22:18).

Read Malachi’s words through the lens of the law and you will find curses and blessings for your law-keeping performance, but read his words through the lens of grace, and you will see Jesus who fulfills the law of the tithe on your behalf and who is indeed greater than the tithe.

A person, a place, a party

One more thing. Under the law-keeping covenant, the tithe reminded the Israelites of a person, a place, and a party. The person was Melchizedek who received the first tithe and whose name means King of Righteousness. Hmm, who does that remind you of?

Melchizedek was the king of Salem which became Jerusalem, the city of peace. This was where the Israelites’ brought their tithes. Specifically, they brought their tithes to the temple which was an old covenant shadow of Christ himself (see John 2:19-21).

Finally, the Israelites used their tithes to throw parties (Deu 14:26-29), which is not a very old covenant thing to do. But parties are common in the new covenant, for they happen whenever the King of Righteousness brings his peace into our troubled lives.

Tithing was a shadow; Christ is the reality. If the Israelites had been a prophetic people, and if we are to be a prophetic people, we will see that the ancient tithe points to Jesus who is the Person, the Place, and the reason for our Party.

Why was God angry in Malachi 3? Was he upset because the Israelites had neglected to tithe their veggies? Or was he angry because they had knocked down a signpost that points to Jesus who is our tithe and much more besides?

55 Comments on Jesus our Tithe

  1. Jesus/Grace/Mercy (New Cocenant)=Love
    Law/Sin/works (Old Covenant) =Death

  2. Gord beaudin // July 21, 2016 at 1:03 am // Reply

    I don’t want to be under the law and the tithe is the law. I give but unfortunately the church calls it a tithe. It’s pounded into everyone who steps through the door. The reality is that this is how the pastor and staff get paid and the church gets bigger. Sometimes richer. Okay, but if it’s called a tithe it is the law and grace is removed because we can’t live under the law and grace at the same time. Confused!

    • momzilla76 // July 21, 2016 at 8:09 am // Reply

      Don’t get bogged down in technicalities. If your church uses the term tithe for general offerings and giving then the heart of the intent is not law.

      • I know what Gord is saying. The church means a “tithe” when they use the word. They are not talking about giving. Note what he said…. It’s pounded into everyone who steps through the door. It’s like walking down the aisle to the “old fashioned altar” to get saved. These people need to preach the Gospel correctly.

  3. Rosanna Requejo // July 21, 2016 at 1:03 am // Reply

    Amen and amen and amen!

  4. Gord beaudin // July 21, 2016 at 1:05 am // Reply

    Sorry, forgot to click the notify boxes on my last comment.

  5. Love it! And yes “amazing coincidence” hahaha!

  6. I like it Paul. It suggests to me that tithes and offerings be made to the church with a heart of gratitude for what Jesus did and to see the local church thrive, rather than from obligation or law.

  7. I’ve read all three of your posts about tithing. I do understand what you are saying about tithing to be blessed being a law based theology. I totally understand that. I don’t tithe to be blessed. But I’m sure you’ve heard it said that if God can get money through you, He will get it to you. (I believe that applies to all blessings, not just provision… love, joy, patience, compassion, healing, etc.) Are you saying this isn’t true? That regardless of your motivation, there are no additional blessings? That you would be blessed the exact same whether you gave or not?

    I guess I’m confused here.

    • Hello Kindall, I would say the reason God blesses you is because you are His child. He has more blessings for you than you can imagine and the way they are received is through belief. The only reason for giving is that as God’s child, it is your nature to be generous.

  8. Confession – The real reason I do not tithe is because I am unable to give up bacon cheeseburgers and football.🙂 Great Post!

  9. Very well said.

  10. We stopped tithing years ago and turned it all over to God. We set aside a certain amount monthly and ask God to put it to use. Sometimes it sits for a few months before he tells us where its to go. Our philosophy is that all of what we have belongs to God and therefore he is the director of its use. We set some aside so that when he tells us to give an amount in a certain place we have it already set aside to give and it doesn’t become a burden because we have to take it from our current budget. I wish the churches understood this. I more needs would be met if they didn’t guilt people into giving.

  11. Claudia FOWLER // July 21, 2016 at 2:50 am // Reply

    Thank you for the revelation. I felt so guilty for not being able to tithe and guilt did not help this matter. Most teachings felt condemning although somehow my spirit was not completely agreeing. But researching this was even more confusing since the information goes from one end of the spectrum to the opposite. And agreeing with someones interpretation that solely depends on his income from this was not entirely convincing. So thank you this enables me to press further and seek his heart without all the baggage.
    Be blessed.

  12. Very good Paul

  13. Jake Dunbar // July 21, 2016 at 3:19 am // Reply

    So good! Thank you for this.

    Jesus is the first fruits offering

    Deut 26
    2 take some of the firstfruits of all that you produce from the soil of the land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in a basket…
    4 The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the Lord your God.

    1 Corinthians 15
    But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

    He came out of the ground, just like the produce from the soil. Buried and Risen!

  14. Wow! What a great article on tithing! I love how you showed Malachi through the lens of Christ since that verse is always such a huge stumbling block.

  15. wanjiku irungu // July 21, 2016 at 6:29 am // Reply

    wow really awesome what a revelation on tithing

  16. Good article but you have an incorrect reference, There is no Matt. 28:41. What tddext did you mean?

  17. Hazel Saquing // July 21, 2016 at 7:41 am // Reply

    The TITHE is my thanksgiving (pertaining to my finances) and my TESTIMONY THAT HE IS ALIVE..HOORAY, HE LIVES !! “Furthermore, here [in the Levitical priesthood] tithes are received by men who are subject to death; while there [in the case of Melchizedek], they are received by one of whom it is testified that he lives [perpetually]” – Hebrews 7:8 AMP.

    The tenth of my finances is just a representative of my whole that I BRING back to him TO SHOW THAT I COMMIT ALL MY FINANCES To him and ACKNOWLEDGE that HE Is ALIVE and LORD OVER MY FINANCES TO SANCTIFY THEM. We know that The New Covenant Spirit is a GIVING/SUPPLYING Spirit that even surpasses what the LAW requires.The LAW commands us not to commit adultery, but the HOLY SPIRIT, CHRIST JESUS living in us teaches,leads and enables us to LOVE our SPOUSES. In the Same way, the LAW commands you to PAY your TITHE, but the SPIRIT of LIFE teaches, leads and ENABLES you to BRING YOUR TITHE.. Being a Cheerful GIVER. NOT tithing to be blessed BUT TITHING BECAUSE I HAVE BEEN SO BLESSED, Not as a requirement for RIGHTEOUSNESS but as a FRUIT and MANIFESTATION of my RIGHTEOUSNESS by the BLOOD OF JESUS CHRIST. ALL IN THE SPIRIT OF THANKSGIVING bec. Of a REVELATION OF CHRIST JESUS, Just like ABRAHAM who lived under a covenant of Grace. — Hebrews 7:1-2 FOR THIS Melchizedek, king of Salem [and] priest of the Most High God, met Abraham as he returned from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, And Abraham gave to him a tenth portion of all [the spoil]… Hebrews 7:1‭-‬2 AMP.

    If you will look for REASONS not to TITHE.. YOU will FIND A LOT, BUT IF YOU HAVE A REVELATION OF THE AMAZING LOVE OF GOD IN CHRIST JESUS, You are HONORED AND BLESSED THAT YOU GET TO TITHE to the KING OF KINGS, AND LORD of LORDS, Our SAVIOUR CHRIST JESUS!! I have been blessed with your teachings bro. Ellis and still a follower and a supporter. but we All have the holy spirit bearing witness in us.. just saying that this particular teaching doesnt bear witness in my spirit. The LORD bless You and the ministry He has blessed you with abundantly!

    • Hazel, I am delighted you have such a deep joy in giving ten percent. Clearly, giving a tithe is not a dead work to you but a faith-based acknowledgement of the Lord and his goodness. Be blessed.

    • Hazel,

      When people talk to me about tithing like their lives depended on it, I ask them if they submit their receipt from the church on their tax returns.

      I tell them if they do, they will get a tax break and therefore haven’t tithed 10% – only maybe 9.34%. They are therefore “cursed”.

      I’m sure you don’t include your tithing receipt on your taxes.

    • Amen to Hazel, AWD & Paul! Strictly according to the OT law, tithing is more than just giving 10% of your income (net or gross salary? after tax? perks n allowances etc, etc). As in everything, God put a universal law to offset/balance thing. Tithing; A rest day in a week; Sabbatical and Jubilee year are all God’s way of check and balance.

    • Hazel, what you said really resonates with me. I feel exactly the same. I like that God takes care of me so well that I WANT to tithe. I don’t have to. Sometimes I get extra money other than my paycheck and I don’t feel like tithing on it, so I don’t. But I like the fact that I am able (by his grace) to give the Lord the firstfruits of my income as an expression of my love for him and my reliance on him. For those who feel put upon and stressed financially then maybe they shouldn’t do it. But I’ve always looked at tithing as a blessing. For decades God has blessed me by doing it. I believe that; it doesn’t matter what others think. BUT I will say that when I got some revelation of True Grace a few years ago God has blessed our finances super abundantly. It is beyond coincidence that at the same time that I absorbed that God blesses me APART from my performance and behavior that money and things would flow in from various sources in an unprecedented manner. I’ve heard teachings about prosperity before, but true prosperity in every area of our life comes from one thing only – having a genuine revelation that JESUS ALONE IS MY RIGHTEOUSNESS.

  18. Thanks, Paul for these posts. My observation is that Satan creates diversions from, and confusion about that which is holy and truth, in order to set believers against each other and make us ineffective in the mission of revealing Christ to the world. The tithe is one such truth. We will do well to remember that Jesus calls justice, mercy and faith weightier matters than the tithe (Matt. 23:23). Even more instructively, the chief apostle of grace, apostle Paul did not once mention tithing in all his writings (unless, as it is claimed by some authorities, he also wrote the book of Hebrews, where the tithe is mentioned in a very specific context, in chapter 7). Rather, apostle Paul emphasized cheerful giving and sowing liberally as pertaining to money as well as faithfully supporting the material needs of pastors. Unfortunately, in this as in other matters, we seem to put the cart before the horse. Let’s get people excited about Jesus alone, portraying him in his loveliness, power and absolute grace, then see how people respond. I suspect that people who are in love with Jesus would give to him in unprecedented ways. Rather than quibble over the letter of the law, O may we embrace the reality behind the law, who is Jesus.

  19. In Malachi, the warning was directed at the priests, not the common man.

  20. “Jesus is the tithe” is the revelation that liberated me. He is my provision/rest and trusting Him I tithe and sow to out of my life committed to the local church.

  21. Great post, Paul. I give because I’m blessed; but not because i want to be blessed. Glory to my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ!

  22. Beautiful! great post!

  23. Jesus was God’s firstfruit but firstfruits were never tithes. God never changed His describption of holly tithes from food. God never changed his destinatdioon of tithes tdo Templ;e ministers who could not own property or amass wealth (Num 18:20-28). The temple and priesthood changed to the believer. O.T. non-food producers did not tithe and Jsus did not tithe. Post-Calvary giving is freewill, sacrificial, generous and cheerful. Stop stealing om God that which He never gave to gospel workers.

  24. Listening to almost 40 years of sermons on giving in Bible churches, the main message seems to be “Everything we have belongs to God and we are just stewards of God’s money–so give Him back some of His own money.” I agree that God created everything and everything we have is from His gracious hand but I don’t agree we are stewards of God’s money. I guess this teaching came from the parable of the unjust steward in Luke 16. Instead, what we have is ours to do with as we please (Acts 5:4). Under the New Covenant we are stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Cor 4:1) and of the manifold grace of God (1 Peter 4:10), not God’s money. “Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7) Therefore, give what you decide in your heart what you can give cheerfully, and not a penny more. That is New Covenant giving, in my opinion. Paul, I greatly respect your opinion so please straighten me out if I am missing something.

    • I totally agree with you John. The parable of the unjust steward is about using money to make eternal friends – it’s very hard to see how that could be co-opted into church giving. I have four children. I give them pocket money. If they gave that money back to me in any percentage – 10%, 1%, 100% – I would be very sad. God doesn’t want our money and the idea that he’s a financial pump that needs to be primed is just ludicrous. Old covenant giving is rule-bound and lifeless. New covenant giving is spontaneous, life-giving and fun.

      • Kimberly Grigsby // August 26, 2016 at 3:46 am //

        YES!! It expresses the life of God and there is no sorrow or hesitation. It comes out like the river of living water and everyone is blessed when led by the spirit. I am so grateful that God straightened this out in my mind and heart. Makes being with God’s people more pleasurable when you when you receive and stand in the freedom that he has set us free in.

  25. Melchisedek is NOT the old covenant of Law. The Law did not exist yet during the time. It was before the old covenant of Law. There was no Law to tithe and Yet Abraham did it out of honor to Melchisedek who is a typical picture of Jesus.
    Pls correct your writing.

  26. I have never ONCE heard anyone preach on Deut 14, a passage I discovered two decades ago when I was still a legalist. And a wise elder a couple of years later told me tongue-in-cheek that he was sure I never would hear such preaching! But I had indeed discovered it, the cat was out of the bag, so to speak, and I decided to apply the Deut 14 teaching in my own life. This was my first step towards freedom from the onerous doctrine of tithing, and also my first step out from under legalism itself. That it also coincided with a complete loss of confidence in church leadership was simply the icing on the cake😉

  27. Warren (South Carolina, USA) // August 8, 2016 at 1:24 pm // Reply

    Excellent study Saint Paul. I have always struggled with the tithe (as most of us have). Blessing!!!
    Warren (South Carolina, USA)

  28. What about the reality that the tithe was before the law was ever given? I think the tithe unlocks the blessings we have all been given in Christ. Faith unlocks things in The Kingdom. Tithing if done in faith releases heaven on earth. I don’t see why people get so ensnared around tithing. I just see it as the way Gods kingdom operates. If we really believe that when we give it is given unto us in good measure… giving should be the most exciting thing in the world! Not some argument about law or grace.

  29. Hello Paul i don’t get why Matthew 26:41 is in here? That verse doesn’t mention anything about a curse.

  30. Hi paul, could you perhaps explain hebrews 7:8 and how it fits in with tithing

    • The author of Hebrews is contrasting old covenant tithing with what Abraham did: “Or look at it this way: We pay our tithes to priests who die, but Abraham paid tithes to a priest who, the Scripture says, ‘lives’.” (Heb 7:8, MSG)

  31. Priceless and I love it.

  32. If those who are tithe said tithe exist before law I think they will maintain also animals sacrifice because it exist also after the law.

  33. I got that I give because I am blessed not to give because I want to be blessed. But what does the scripture which says give and it shall be given unto you mean?

  34. Good article. It is sad that in this age of grace so many still look to and emphasize the shadow of things to come rather than to Jesus, the authentic head of the Church and everything that was foreshadowed.

  35. Awesome Post everyone. Good biblical dialogue is what the Body of Christ needs.

  36. pastors lie and are not struck dead. why not?
    I feel sad for Ananias and Sapphira.

    I do not understand. It is most unfair. Megachurch pastors lie to collect 10% of our income but they are not struck dead. Why not?

    The megachurch we were attending until a few months ago (www.chapel.org) has gotten around the tithing lie by not calling it a tithe, but saying “we should give at least 10% of our income to God”. It is their requirement (one of three) for all members. 2 Corinthians Chap 9 says we should give what we have decided in our hearts.

    Nowhere does it say “at least a tithe”. so why do these pastors get away scot-free?

Tell us what you think (<250 words)...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s