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 Tithing - Part III - What was Old Testament Tithing?

Recapping the two instances where tithing is referred to BEFORE the LAW:

1. When Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek, king of Salem and "a priest of God Most High" (Genesis 14:17-20)

2. When Jacob promised to give a tenth to God when he returned in safety to his father's house.

There are two observations that are never mentioned in of the sermons that you hear, today. They are:

Both of these instances of "tithing" were ONE TIME EVENTS. There is no indication at all that these men practiced "tithing" on any consistent basis, whatsoever.

There are no commands from God for these men to give a tenth of what they had. There were commands from God to practice circumcision and to build altars, but no command was ever given about tithing until the institution of the Law.

Therefore you cannot make a logical or scriptural argument that Tithing was practiced before the Law, was a part of the Law and therefore should be practiced after the Law.


This scripture in Malachi has to be the scripture that is most often used for the topic of tithing. It also happens to be the most misunderstood and misinterpreted passed in the Bible.

Words have meaning, but today a different meaning has been given to words. Two people can use the same words, but are not conveying the same meaning. But not everyone uses sound principles of biblical interpretation.

Mal 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Mal 3:9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Mal 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Mal 3:11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
Mal 3:12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.

To see Malachi 3:8-12 in its context, we must look at chapter 4, verse 4.

Mal 4:4 - Remember ye the law of Moses my servant...with the statutes and judgments.

All through Malachi's message to Israel, he was imploring them to return to a pure practice of the Law. One part of his message was for the people to fulfill the laws of tithes and offerings.

The first thing we need to observe is this: The practice of paying tithes was an important part of the Law of Moses.

Do you know and understand this?? WE ARE NO LONGER UNDER THE LAW OF MOSES!

One of the major doctrines of the New Testament is that we are no longer under the LAW.

Paul ran into many that were trying to put new Christians under the Law of Moses, but Paul and other writers of the NT made it very clear that the Law has no jurisdiction over Believers in Jesus Christ -- WHO was the fulfillment of the Law.

Tithes and Offerings were such a big part of the Law that we would have to have some very clear teachings in the NT that these were not included in arguments against the Law. And, in fact, no such teachings were given and cannot be found in the NT. There are only 3 verses that mention tithes in the NT (not very many for such a MAJOR topic). And not one of them is advocating a system of tithes that should be practiced by New Testament Believers.

What Did Malachi Mean When He said, "Tithes and Offerings"?

Here is what modern day Preachers say it means. You probably have heard many other ones. They get quite creative in their "exposition" of the Word.

Ok, I have heard this before. They say that a tithe is ten percent of your income which you must pay to the local church. And, only after you have paid your tithe are you in a position to give. That, they say, is what an offering is.

They never mention to you that there are 3 tithes in Malachi and what they were referring to. That is why the word is plural (tithes). There were 3 different purposes and 3 different ways that they were carried out. The word "offerings" is also in the plural and refers to 7 types of offerings, each having a specific purpose and a specific ritual that must be carried out.

I am not going to write all this out, but I will give you the references and you can look them up.

Three Different Tithes:
1. To the Levites for Their Maintenance. Numbers 18:21,24
2. For the Lord's Feasts and Sacrifices. Deuteronomy 14:22-26
3. Every Third Year a Tithe for the Poor. Deuteronomy 14:28,29

Some people debate whether there were 2 or 3 tithes, but I see these three.

What did Malachi have in mind when he said "offerings"? Did he have someone's personal income above and beyond 10% in mind?

Seven Different Offerings: (Using Zondervan Bible Dictionary)

1. Sin Offering - First mentioned at the consecration of Aaron, Exodus 29:10 and was a special expiatory sacrifice. A bullock was killed before the bronze altar and on its horns part of the sacrificial blood was smeared. The remainder was dashed against the base of the altar and the fat burned ceremonially. The flesh and skin were taken outside the tabernacle and burned separately. The Law of Sin Offering: (Lev. 4:1-35; 6:24-30, etc) provided for acts of unconscious transgression, mistakes or other inadvertences. No atonement could be made for deliberate rebellion against the covenant and its provisions (Num 15:30). the worshiper normally laid his hand on the head of the sin offering, symbolically designating it as his substitute in the sacrificial ritual. Poor people were permitted to offer two turtle-doves or a small amount of fine flour. The flesh that remained after portions had been burned belonged to the priest and was eaten in the sanctuary precincts. (Lev 5:13). A special sin offering for the Nation took place annually on the Day of Atonement. A bullock and goat were sacrificed and their blood ceremonially smeared on the mercy-seat. Another goat was driven into the wilderness after symbolic transfer of communal sin (Lev 16:1-28).

2. Trespass Offering - (Lev 5:14-6:7), or guilt offering, signified expiation and restitution and availed for inadvertent offenses, false swearing and improper dealings with a neighbor. By itself the offering made atonement towards God, but an additional one-fifth was required as a fine to compensate a neighbor adequately. The sacrificial ritual involved the slaughter of a ram, and was similar to that of the sin offering, although the imposition of hands and the sprinkling of blood in the holy places were not mentioned. Special offerings were required for the cleansing of a leper (Lev 14:12-20) and a defiled Nazirite (Num 6:12). All guilt offerings belonged to the priests and were most sacred in character.
3. Peace Offering - Symbolized right spiritual relations with God, and was among the earliest of the sacrificial offerings. The worshiper, if an ordinary Israelite, coud bring a bullock, a lamb or a goat, male or female and the ritual followed that of the sin-offering (Lev 3:1-17). If the worshiper was a priest the fatty portions of the animal were removed and burned on the altar of God, while the blood was sprinkled at the base of the sacrificial altar. The ritual for a goat followed that laid down for a bullock.

4. Meal Offering - Or meat offering (KJV), was instituted when Aaron and his sons were consecrated (Exod 29:41). It was forbidden to be offered on the altar of incense (Exod 30:9), but was used when the tabernacle was completed (Exod 40:29), and invariably accompanied the morning and evening burnt offerings. The ordinary Israelite was required to bring a mixture of fine flour, oil and frankincense prepared in a variety of ways (Lev 2:1-16), but without the addition of leaven or honey. All cereal offerings were to be seasoned with salt. The ritual for a priestly offerer required him to remove a token handful and burn it together with oil and frankincense as a memorial on the altar. What was left was most holy, and became priestly property.

5. Drink Offering - Or libations were common in the patriarchal period (Gen 28:18; 35:14) and accompanied many of the sacrifices (Exod 29:40). they could not be poured upon the golden altar of incense (Exod 30:9) and were required as an accompaniment of all freewill and votive offerings (Num 28:9) and other established feasts (Num 28:14-31; 29:6-39). The reference in Deut 32:38 indicates that dring offerings were common features of heathen cultic rituals. Oil and wine, used separately or as a mixture, constituted the normal libation.

6. Wave Offering - One part of the ritual associated with the Peace offering

7. Heave Offering - offering involved the wave and heave offerings. Both were apparently inititiated at the consecration of the Aaronic priesthood (Exod 29:24-28).
Well, if you were able to get through this ( I found it interesting ) then you will have seen that most Christians know very little about the Law with its ceremonial requirement. Because if they did, they would reject the New Testament Law of Tithes and Offerings.
Malachi's hearers understood what he was talking about. They knew he was referring to a complex SYSTEM of tithes and offerings.
It is intellectually dishonest to equate or maybe I should say, REDUCE Malachi's words to simply mean "Ten Percent of your income is the tithe and anything above is the offering".
There is no scriptural basis to change the meaning of those words and no justification for putting NT Christians under the burden of the LAW by telling them that they are REQUIRED to PAY. Of course, this is all couched in sermons on "GIVING".
1. Deut 14:24-25 shows that TITHES have nothing to do with MONEY.
2. The OFFERINGS of Malachi are the sacrifices which the NT declares have ended.


 2010/11/30 16:49

Joined: 2010/9/22
Posts: 71

 Re: Tithing - Part III - What was Old Testament Tithing?

Why cant the body of Christ just receive the freedom we have from the law????GAL 5:1

 2010/11/30 21:18Profile

Joined: 2009/8/31
Posts: 416
Ohio USA


Will a man rob God?

I do not look at tithing as something I have to pay, but as an opportunity to give.

Sure, many have robbed God.

Oh, well. We each have to make up our own mind.


 2010/11/30 21:31Profile

Joined: 2010/7/20
Posts: 29


What about Mat. 23:23, "Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier [matters] of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."?

Wouldn't that be Jesus commanding us to tithe?

Maybe Jesus is dealing with the law here, and not the new covenant? What do you think? Just an honest question, I would love to here your answer. Thanks

 2010/11/30 21:59Profile

Joined: 2010/4/19
Posts: 447


Wouldn't that be Jesus commanding us to tithe? Maybe Jesus is dealing with the law here, and not the new covenant? What do you think? Just an honest question, I would love to here your answer. Thanks

There is no record of Jesus accepting a tithe and additionally there is no record of Jesus taking a single offering. Yes there was the woman that 'brake the alabaster jar on him' buy He never asked her to do it.

He was saying that it was good to give the tithe, since the law wasn't fulfilled before His death and resurrection it was appropriate to pay the tithe.

In Christ,
Earl J

 2010/11/30 22:09Profile



Man is interesting. He has a religious bent in him. It is called our sinful flesh.

I have noticed that those who embrace the Law, in many cases have some sin in their life that they cannot overcome. They cannot overcome it because they are not doing it God's way (Cross). We will never overcome anything without the Cross of Jesus Christ. Everyone wants to feel good about themselves and it is much easier to feel good about yourself when you are able to accomplish some things in your life successfully. If you are always thinking that you are a failure, you don't feel so good about yourself. So we find other ways to make ourselves feel good spiritually. We avoid the cross and start obeying laws, which are much easier, though we don't obey them perfectly, but we rationalize that we are doing a good job of it.

Luk 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.

It's like a treadmill we get on. We get saved, (brought out of Egypt), then the Lord brings us into the Wilderness to see what is in our heart and prove us, and we either embrace the Cross or we refuse it.

Some people do very well at accomplishing works (obeying laws). It makes them feel successful in their Christian life. Some people can pay the tithe, or keep the Sabbath, or Feasts, much more easier than embracing the cross and dying to self to overcome sin. They actually enjoy some of these laws.

You see, when you bring yourself under a law, it is actually flesh based and not spirit based. It feeds the religious flesh and masks itself as true spirituality.

Gal 3:3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

That is why the cross is so important in our lives and there is no replacing of the cross. The flesh does not want to die and so we avoid it if we can. Our own achievements and good works are utter filthiness in God's sight because they take away from what His Son did and are an insult to Him and an improper response to His free gift to us.

It also sets us up as God, because we are saying by our own good works, we don't need God's sacrifice. That we have something to add to His equation (salvation), that we are not that bad.

Embracing the cross means total and complete death to self, and man does not like to die. The flesh will fight to the bitter end.

We can only embrace our freedom from the law when we embrace the cross. If we do not embrace the cross, then we are not dying and if we are not dying and want to appear to others and even God to be spiritual, we will then feign spirituality by making a fair show in the flesh by seeming to be spiritual and obeying outward laws.

It is a false gospel as Paul said, and it is absolutely abhorrent to God.

Tithing is just one of many "laws" that people might put themselves under to make a fair show in the flesh and make themselves feel better and more presentable to God. But, it is all self-deception.

The following verse shows why man will choose to make a fair show in the flesh. To avoid the cross.

Gal 6:12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

The Life that we live, we must live by Faith not laws.

Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

I hope this helps you a bit.

 2010/11/30 22:10


JB1968, it is ok to call your own giving "tithing". Just don't make it a law by which you are depending on it as justification and righteousness before God. Do not trust in anything you do, to establish your righteousness before God.

If it is just a word to you that means giving, then no biggie.

But don't try to perfect in the flesh what has been started (new life in Christ) in the Spirit.

 2010/11/30 22:15



Learjet is right.

Also, the New Covenant was established by the blood of Jesus Christ. He was telling the Pharisee the correct thing, but once the New Covenant was established by the Lord's death and resurrection, all men who exercise saving faith in Jesus Christ were set free from the law.

Here is one proof text.
Rom 7:4 Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.

We have been delivered from the law by our death with Jesus Christ
Rom 7:6 But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

 2010/11/30 22:19

Joined: 2009/12/4
Posts: 1860


that is exactly correct Bro_willy. The main point Jesus is trying to make though is the Hypocrisy of the Pharisees. This statement is made PreCavlary and Resurrection after this Christ Fulfilled the Law being a perfect Sacrifice for us all. We are now under the Law of Love nothing more and nothing less.

Matthew Guldner

 2010/11/30 22:19Profile

Joined: 2009/8/31
Posts: 416
Ohio USA


"JB1968, it is ok to call your own giving "tithing". Just don't make it a law by which you are depending on it as justification and righteousness before God. Do not trust in anything you do, to establish your righteousness before God."

We are saved by faith alone. Why would I trust in tithing to get me to heaven? I tithe because I believe it is Biblical, just like I don't kill or commit adultry. I want to please the Lord as an obedient child. That's the key- a want to. Not too many people want to please the Lord. They would rather please self, rather than God. (Many want the benefits of the church without supporting it financially.) While I please God by faith, I could also displease Him by disobedience. Eph. 2 says that we are saved by faith unto good works.


 2010/11/30 22:28Profile

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