The Law of Tithing
Since we've come into the Melchizedek Order of priests through Yahshua's sacrificial offering, we must essentially confirm the cutting of a new agreement with the sign and seal of Yahweh's Spirit being given, circumcising our hearts.
It's important to understand, if we just proclaim belief in the Messiah and acknowledge obedience to Yahweh's laws, we really are not where we need to be. Unless we understand the ramifications of the New Covenant (i.e., new agreement) made on our behalf and that we are to walk in the Spirit, we could miss out on our full potential.
We probably should avoid the term "renewed covenant," as it strongly implies that everything stays the same, when in fact, everything does not stay the same. A case in point is the law of tithing, which we'll want to look at more closely in this article.
Some, who do understand that the Levitical priesthood is in abeyance, will say this law of tithing is no longer for us today. They'll point out: "It was only specifically for the Levites to feed them the produce from the crops which were harvested by the Israelites." Is this true? Or is it true that there is a change in the law due to the new priesthood in Messiah?
Consider the following Scripture clearly showing "the law is NOT done away with."
For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 5:18–19 NASB.
Pretty serious, if one letter or stroke from "the Law" is abolished (or taught that it is abolished), then one will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven.
Has anyone you know or have heard of ever taught that the law is not applicable to mankind?
There is one Torah for the native-born and for the stranger who sojourns among you, Exodus 12:49 TS.
What we have taught is all blood sacrifices and purification rites, and other details found in the civil law, are going to be re-instituted or re-newed in the coming Kingdom.
This is not for those in Messiah, mind you, but for the physical people who are going to learn that sinning (1 John 3:4) has consequences, and they are going to be given these types of training wheels to guide them. At least, initially, for the first 1000 years. Beyond this we're not told a whole lot.
In addition, during the millennial rule, there will be first fruits in the Spirit with Messiah who will be helping to guide and direct the physical people. We are to walk in the Spirit even now, growing in it and allowing the Messiah to grow within us, even as we grow with Him.
In doing so, we don't neglect those things in the law of Yahweh which are applicable to us. What did Yahshua even tell the teachers of the law?
The Law is Good
Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices— mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former, Matthew 23:23 NIV.
Here, Yahshua proclaims that the law (here, specifically, the law of tithing) and the spiritual intent of the law are to be observed. Both are good. One can't just spiritualize everything away, for we are to walk on higher ground.
Then Yahshua said to the crowds and to His disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice,” Matthew 23:1-3 ESV.
Yahshua is teaching that the law is good, if one does according to the law. He is teaching that everyone is to obey Yahweh, the crowds of onlookers and the disciples, Israelites and non-Israelites, everyone who was listening, and will listen, even today.
He had already started to give instructions on how some of the laws, even civil ones, were to be applied on higher spiritual ground. For example, in chapter 5 of Matthew, not actually taking an eye for an eye or a tooth for a tooth. The main point He was making was for people not to take revenge.
Today, under current civil law, we have the right to receive recompense or damages for injuries received on the job or in a car accident on the road. It would not be sin to receive such compensation, but it is not a reason to gouge or to try to be overcompensated, nor is it a reason to seek revenge on a company or an individual.
Not Tithing is a Sin
What would be a sin is to with-hold the tithe from Yahweh.
Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is YAHWEH’S; it is holy to YAHWEH, Leviticus 27:30 ESV.
A tenth? Yes, it was from agriculture and whatever the agriculture produced. This would include animals.
And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to YAHWEH, Leviticus 27:32 ESV.
"Holy unto Yahweh" literally means, "set apart for Yahweh." It is His, not yours or mine. He gives the ability to gain increase. Whatever you gain from the ground, the work of your hands, a tenth is His.
And, He explained what He wanted done with it years ago in Numbers 18:21,
Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.
Let's fast forward a little and see what was going on with the Spirit functioning in great power among the brethren after Yahshua had been killed and had risen, and when He had sent the Spirit. Remember, this is the New Covenant they are accepting now, a new priesthood under the order of Melchizedek.
Did the brethren go to the Temple? Yes, for Pentecost and most likely they met initially in the upper room there on top of the outer wall.
The Spirit was poured out to them as tongues of fire among those who had traveled according to the command. It was a moral command. It is morally good to come before Yahweh and worship Him at the time He appoints and at the place He puts His Name, just as the Word says.
This gets into the area of prophecy of Yahshua with the woman at the well, saying that Yahweh will be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth wherever they are. But, wherever they are, they will gather together before Him. The Temple was not going to stand, but a new Temple, the Temple of the people, would.
And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Master Yahshua, and abundant grace was upon them all, for there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need, Acts 4:32–35 NASB.
Did the Apostles forget the command of a tenth to Yahweh? Not at all. Things were progressing and Yahweh would reveal what was needed. In fact, He was giving insight and it was being taught by His Spirit and by the law, with the understanding there was a change in the law which occurred, for those accepting Yahshua's blood as a covering and New Covenant in their lives. Assemblies would be established, as the Pastoral Epistles clearly show.
Now, mind you, those not accepting the Messiah would still be obligated under the previous covenant to do all that it said, which included obeying the law of the tithe and what it was used for at that time. There is a difference between that and what we are to do today.
The Spiritual Temple
Yahshua was the first One to start giving insight and depth to what we now understand. After Yahshua had overturned the money changers temple’s at the Temple, the Jews, most likely the Pharisees, confronted Him, saying:
“What sign can You show us to prove Your authority to do all this?” Yahshua answered them, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again n three days.” They replied, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and You are going to raise it in three days?” But the temple He had spoken of was His body, John 2:18–21 NIV.
It is this understanding we have today, concerning the body of Messiah, and being obedient to Yahweh.
Or, do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from Elohim, and you are not your own?" (1 Corinthians 6:19 NKJV.)
Can we understand that there is a change in the law for us? That we ourselves are changed for the better? Yet, just as Yahshua said to consider the weightier matters of the law, He said not to neglect the basics of the laws.
Tithing is a basic law which applies to all generations, just as many of the other laws of Yahweh do, though accomplished a little differently.
Let's go back to the beginning and see what Yahweh said of Abraham.
For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of Yahweh by doing righteousness and justice, so that Yahweh may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him, Genesis 18:19 NASB.
Why speak of Yahweh's ways to the children? It's obvious: so that Yahweh's ways will be known to the generations after him.
This was before the laws were written down at Mt. Sinai and affirmed in that agreement with the people. Yahweh told Abraham:
I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws, Genesis 26:4–5 NASB.
In Spirit and In Truth
Abraham obeyed Yahweh’s laws (plural). The Bible tells us what we need to know, and it tells us that the commandments, statutes, and laws, are eternal; not the law that was added (Gal. 3:19), as mentioned. That, specifically, is not for those in Messiah now. Still, we offer up the fruit of our lips (Heb. 13:15), don't we? As an application of the spiritual in truth, which is eternal?
You are near, O Yahweh, and all Your commandments are truth. Of old I have known from Your testimonies that You have founded them forever, Psalm 119:151–153 NASB.
"Forever!" How long is that? The core teachings would certainly apply, such as the law of tithing.
From the Beginning
Think about how Abraham obeyed Yahweh and had faith in Him as the Creator Who could perform all that He would promise to do. Yahweh was to be honored and faith was to be combined with works.
We find that by going back even further in time that Abram had faith when he went and recovered Lot from those who had captured him.
And Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; now He was a priest of El Elyon. He blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram of El Elyon, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be El Elyon, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” He gave Him a tenth of all, Genesis 14:18-20 NASB.
Abram later says in Gen. 15:2, "Yahweh," besides the Title, El Elyon, which means, "Most High Mighty One." So, even Abraham knew the Proper Name of the One he served, Yahweh. We, too, are to know and are to honor Him by Name and to live according to His word.
But, the main point here is that, of the commandments, statutes, and laws performed by Abraham, tithing was known and done by him.
Tithe of Increase
Notice, also, that the tithe was of the increase, apparently from the booty won in the war, not just of produce or animals. It would have been gold and silver, as well as other things of value.
Melchizedek was a king and a priest of Yahweh, just like Yahshua. Abram saw that this Being, as a representative of Yahweh, would be able to accept a tithe to Yahweh and used for His purpose.
As a side note, Scripture tells us that Salem was another name for Jerusalem:
His tabernacle is in Salem; His dwelling place also is in Zion, Psalm 76:2 NASB.
Salem is also related to Shalom, as in “peace.”
Does Yahweh Care?
Is Yahweh concerned whether we tithe or not? After all, He already owns everything. Maybe this is why He calls not tithing to be a robbery:
Will a man rob Yahweh? 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 Yahweh of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows,” Malachi 3:8–10 NASB.
Do we not store up and distribute spiritual food for the people? Does this not, in return, build up the Temple of Yahweh? Please read our free booklet, The Temple Tenth.
This also builds up one's own reserves, and it is a principle noted in at least one other location of Scripture:
Honor YAHWEH from your wealth and from the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled completely, and your vats will overflow with new wine, Proverbs 3:9-10 NET.
Thinking about the physical vs. the spiritual, remember when Yahshua asked Peter if he "loved" Him? After he said that "he did," Yahshua told him to feed the sheep. Is that physical or spiritual food that's being spoken of?
He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Master, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Yahshua said to him, “Feed My sheep,” John 21:17 NKJV.
Scripture or Traditions
Do you notice that we're looking at Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, including the inspired New Testament letters, and not just from Torah? Some teach we need to refer to the Mishna (i.e., Talmudic oral teachings) for the details of that Torah. The details are in Scripture! Not in commentary or in so-called oral laws written down by man full of wrong man-made traditions.
This is very important to understand, because there are those going too far into Judaism and getting lost. Just because they have the Scriptures written down doesn't mean they do what it says.
They have many mystical writings, and oral traditions that just are not what we or many Jews, for that matter, would call kosher.
Jewish Life TV recently had a whole program talking about the Cabala and how it helps give revelation to a person. It's no revelation at all and it lacks true knowledge.
People in Christianity also are suffering from a lack of knowledge because they think they can just believe and have faith, and they make up their lives as they go, in moral relativism. Much of the Christian Commentaries promote this liberal view with some now choosing things like homosexuality, as a so-called loving thing to accept, all in the name of love.
Today’s faith (i.e., traditional Judaism or Christianity), though some truth is in both, does not bring us into the true knowledge of Yahweh and His Son. If we want to know Them, then we must walk accordingly in and with Them.
This basically means that we must consider the Spiritual aspects and the literal aspects of Yahweh's word, which are appropriate in Messiah Yahshua. It means walking in the Spirit.
Some cannot accept this teaching, now, even as some couldn't accept it in the first century:
About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing, Hebrews 5:11 ESV.
Dull of hearing what? Dull of hearing and understanding the Word of Yahweh, to be sure.
In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of Yahweh’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! (Hebrews 5:12 NIV.)
Ouch! Those who should know Scriptures don't, is what the author of Hebrews is saying. This is the dilemma we face today.
Concerning the law of tithing, it's a matter of simply honoring Yahweh with the fruits of one’s labor. And the matter is between the individual, himself, and Yahweh. We don't police such things, but we do preach and practice such things that are applicable, things that can be applied to the work of Yahweh today.
Yahshua saw the need in His day. And, it appears to be in parallel to our own time, as we line ourselves up with the true worship of the first century and not the horde or hosts of man-made traditions found today both in Christianity and Judaism.
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Master of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest,” Matthew 9:36–38 NKJV.
Are funds needed to provide for Yahweh's work? Of course, just as brethren are needed. History shows once tithes cease from coming in, so the work also suffers.
Suffering the Consequences
Nehemiah addressed this and other things coming back from Babylon when he saw that things were not being done properly.
I also learned that the portions assigned to the Levites had not been given to them, and that all the Levites and musicians responsible for the service had gone back to their own fields. So I rebuked the officials and asked them, “Why is the house of Elohim neglected?” (Nehemiah 13:10-11a NIV.)
While we know that the work will increase with Yahweh moving the hearts and minds of the people, that time is appointed ahead of us with the great working and power of Yahweh's Spirit in the prophesied latter rain. Therefore, we wait patiently for it.
Stay the Course
In the meantime, and even at that time, we need to keep in mind what Paul said concerning the Assembly at Corinth which is applicable to all brethren today.
All things must be done properly and in an orderly manner, 1 Corinthians 14:40b NASB.
This means we need to put away false ways, and focus on Yahweh's ways that are appropriate for us today in His Spirit.
We seriously do not think the Spirit is going to cause us to walk backwards, as we see some Jews doing today at the Wailing Wall. We also don't think we need to be involved with other man-made traditions which are mostly for show, like waving oneself back and forth, like a flame, rather than actually BEING spiritual and a light to the nations.
Yahshua also warned when one gives, "don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." That, of course, was in reference to the poor. However, it was also to teach against what the Pharisees were doing so they could be seen by everyone.
Both Before and Now
With this said, it's important to remember that tithing was done under both the Levitical Priesthood and also the Melchizedek Orders. In both, and at different times, it was done and given to Yahweh.
The point was and is, it was and is to be done, as a basic unchanging principle. Therefore, the law of tithing we see stands as it did from the very beginning, and it is for the work of Yahweh to move forward as it builds up the spiritual Temple we see occurring today in Messiah.
The New Testament often emphasizes the spiritual, but you'll also notice it doesn't do away with basic laws and principles from heaven. Even the tabernacle on earth was patterned after the heavenly tabernacle, showing the laws thereof also had spiritual significance.
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart shall be also, Matthew 6:19 TS.
By saying this, Yahshua didn't say not to tithe, but just the opposite, as it would have come to mind for all those aware of Yahweh's law of tithing. The Gentiles coming in and learning would learn from the law of Yahweh and other areas such as Malachi and Psalms, as well as being led by the very Spirit of Yahweh.
The point is that it is not just Torah, but the whole Bible presents the concept and the law of tithing. It comes with an automatic cause and effect of both physical and spiritual blessings, when done appropriately.
In submitting fully to Yahweh's Spirit, in His truth, we'll be able to obtain our full potential. The full potential is eternal life as Spirit beings.
-Elder David Brett
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