As we continue our ‘Tithing on Trial’ series, we will evaluate the most common tithing arguments used to defend its practice.
Argument: Jesus is the High Priest and Should Receive a Tithe
If the Church wants to continue tithing as it happened in the Old Testament, there is an enormous obstacle to overcome with the absence of crucial elements including the Levites, the Mosaic law, the temple; and the Israelites. Tithing was used to support the infrastructure of Old Testament worship, but with that infrastructure replaced, supporters today try to find the missing link that connects the whole tithing system in the Old Testament with the infrastructure of the New Testament.
The priesthood of Jesus is used as a missing link that somehow transforms the practice of “tithing under the law” – To – “tithing under Grace”. Tithing had been contingent upon the Mosaic law, the temple, the Levites, & Israelite soil, but these links have been cut off; so we would need another type of bond to help graft tithing back into the chain of requirements. Unnaturally, Jesus’ priesthood gets linked in between the Law and Grace and creates a defective union between the old and the new so that tithing can be grafted in with the Church. This is what the bible calls putting new wine into old wineskins. (Matthew 9:17)
Most of the confusion about Jesus Priesthood and what it has to do with tithing is found in Hebrews 6:19-Hebrews 8:6 It would be good for you to read the passage before reading the rest of this post because there is a lot of information, but if not, i’ll do my best to fill you in.
Let’s get some context
Hebrews is written to a group of people who had trouble transitioning from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. Hence the name of the book is ‘Hebrews’. It is not called, ‘Greeks’, or ‘Gentiles’ since it was the Jews who had this problem. Although, i think it would serve well to rename the book – “Gentiles” today, since 2000 years later it seems the Gentile Church has a huge problem with this Law issue.
In a brief paraphrase, this passage in Hebrews uses Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20) to illustrate how the priesthood of Christ is greater than the Levitical priesthood.
Other Offerings Given to Priests
I think one of the major problems is that everyone focuses on tithing and overlooks all the other offerings for the priests. Here are some details on the overlooked offerings received by the priests.
- Twice a Year (Numbers 28)
– Two lambs, a tenth of an ephah of grain, a quarter-hin of wine
- Once a month (Numbers 28)
– Two bulls, three-tenths ephah of flour, half-hin of wine
– One ram, two-tenths ephah of flour, third-hin of wine
– Seven lambs, tenth ephah of flour, quarter-hin of wine
- Once Each Harvest (Nehemiah 10:38)
– One-tenth of Israel’s tithe from crops and animals (1%)
- Once a Year (Numbers 28)
– Two bulls, Three-tenths of an ephah of flour
– One ram, two-tenths of flour
– Seven lambs, one-tenth of flour
Question 1: If Jesus is the High Priest and deserves at least the same offerings that the earthly Priests were offered, then why do we stop at tithing?
Question 2: Why would Jesus Priesthood get 10% of our increase, when the Priests only received 1% of Israel’s increase? (Nehemiah 10:38)
Another thing most people do not understand is that the Israelites never tithed to the priests. They only tithed to the Levites and then the Levites were responsible for then tithing to the priests. So, not only did Israel not give to the priests, but the priests only received 1% of Israel’s increase.
Other symbolic Titles of Jesus
Regardless of my previous points, let’s say that Jesus’ position as a high priest is what compels us to keep the tradition of tithing going. In this case, you would have some explaining to do if we were to honor His offices found both in the Old and New Testaments. Let’s address a few other positions . . .
Jesus was named the . . .
- Lamb of God
- First Fruits of the Dead
- Passover Lamb
- High Priest
All the rituals found in the Old Testament that were meant to symbolize who Jesus was or what Jesus would do, have all been fulfilled. For some reason, people feel the need to resurrect a few of these ceremonies and continue to practice them.
I don’t know what reasons you may have for practicing tithing, but to practice it for the sake of honoring the Priesthood, would be comparable to raising an altar and sacrifice an animal in honor of the Lamb of God. I know it sounds ridiculous to compare tithing with slaying a lamb on an altar, but honoring any one of these rituals has no less severity over any of the others.
Looking forward, there is one task that Jesus asked us to perform in honor of him.
As Often as You Eat This Bread & Drink This Cup
Jesus didn’t ask us to commemorate anything except for his death.
Luke 22:19 states, “And he took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body given for you; do this in remembrance of me.“
Between the meeting of Abraham and Melchizedek, there were two things offered – A tithe and also bread & wine. The ironic thing is that before Christ’s death He initiates a Church practice with his disciples, but specifically mentions one of the offerings and not the other. It was the Lord’s Supper that Christ asked us to perform in remembrance of him under the New Covenant. He did not say tithe, sacrifice a lamb, shed some blood, or offer your firstborn. Since the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek is not what launched the Lord’s Supper into church practices, then why would tithing be added to Church practices?
Some people treat tithing as if we are to obey it in commemoration of Jesus’ priesthood just as we obey the Lord’s Supper in commemoration of his death. I’m not sure how the Lord’s Supper can be placed at the same table as tithing? Tithing was being practiced looking forward to the fulfillment of our final Priest, and the Lord’s Supper is being practiced while looking back at the fulfillment of his work on the cross.
There are so many symbolic practices of Christ found in the Old Testament. Just to name a few: Noah’s Ark, Manna, the Tabernacle, the Bronze Altar, the Mercy Seat, the Bronze snake, the Passover, Scapegoat, etc. All of these are just as symbolic of Christ as the tithe would be to Christ’s priesthood. . . yet, do you practice them?
As The High Priest, Jesus Set The Precedent
After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means.
What other example do you need? The High Priest of High Priests set up his ministry on earth through the freewill offerings of his followers. Pastors talk from the pulpit about the “order of Melchizedek” and continuation of tithing to our living high priest. We are quick to exemplify Abraham’s tithe to an earthly priest and yet overlook Mary, Joanna, & Chuza’s literal example of giving to Jesus. The ultimate question is why is Abraham giving to Melchizedek more significant than these women actually giving to Jesus?
If the argument here is about Jesus’ priesthood supporting the tithe then don’t use Moses, the Law, Abraham, or Melchizedek to illustrate when you have a clear example right in front of you. All this, if Jesus is actually the one we are trying to honor, unless we know it’s really not about Jesus but admittedly we know it’s about the money. In that case, I respect you for your honesty at least.
Our giving should be cheerful, free, liberal, and sacrificial and should look nothing like tithing to the priests. It should resemble how God gave to us when he gave his only Son. The Priesthood of Jesus is not the missing link that that enables tithing to be grated between the old and the new. This union is defective and can be illustrated in the example of new wine put into the old wineskins.
Luke 5:36-39 He told them this parable: “No one tears a piece out of a new garment to patch an old one. Otherwise, they will have torn the new garment, and the patch from the new will not match the old. And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the new wine will burst the skins; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, new wine must be poured into new wineskins. And no one after drinking old wine wants the new, for they say, ‘The old is better.”
You Be the Judge
Now that the evidence has been given in this court of law, it is your turn to decide
David James says
Jesus our High Priest, did not call it tithing, he described giving as “bringing our gifts to the altar.
Whether we practice freewill offering, spirit-led giving, or tithing, there is a way of giving that pleases God. If we follow His principles, we will be truly blessed.
These principles of giving include:
1. Cultivating a heart of love (includes forgiveness) before giving
2. Giving generously
3. Not giving resentfully
4. Giving what’s in your heart to give
5. Not giving because you have a need
6. Giving cheerfully
7. Not boasting about your giving
22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 Therefore, if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you; 24 leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He is kind to the unthankful and evil.
2 Corinthians 9:6-8
The Cheerful Giver
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have abundance for every good work.
2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”
3 But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly
Jesus speaks out against prosperity preachers; especially those who love to use Malachi 3:8-10
“Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, it is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obliged to perform it. 17 Fools and blind! For which is greater; the gold or the temple that sanctifies the gold?
3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless debating of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 6 Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
God looks at the heart of giving; not what we give.
David. Unfortunately, I never knew this [your text] when I joined the tithe preaching,grasping church; later exited To me, your words are spot on!
ANYONE OUT THERE KNOW WHO/WHAT DENOMINATION THIS WEBSITE’S PROGENITOR[S] ARE.Asked thrice: NO RESPONSE?!
Benjamin Peterson says
I am a long time tither, who has heard a lot of views that say that there is no temple and no Priest to give it to. I believe that Jesus is our High Priest and Malachi says You have robbed me in Tithes and Offerings. So I’m a Tither. If we don’t Tithe we will be under the curse.
Ben , Christ has redeemed us from ANY curse under the law…Gal 3:13.
I have realized over time that once the Church need money they will ‘ resurrect’ any custom & traditions under the old covenant to support it. May I know where in scripture did Jesus or any of his apostles or disciples pay tithe, show me just one?
Mariette Kroukamp says
-Jesus is our high priest?..Yes…(Hebrews 6-9)
-Jesus did not come to replace the law but to fulfill it?..Yes
-So our tithes (all of it) as stated according
old testament should go to Jesus?…Yes
*But, Jesus does not have a physical address or bank account where I can drop-off or pay in my tithes…so HOW DO I GIVE TO JESUS?
*Giving to a church or pastor does not mean giving to Jesus!
*So how do I give to Jesus??? Jesus told us how to give to Him, in His own words!!!!!
Go read Matthew 24:34-40
34 “Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 “Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’
# I believe offerings we can give to the ministry out of free will, to support the ministry or church we are part of, like the women supporting Jesus’s ministry in Luke 8:1-3
# BUT Tithes, should be given to least among us in the form it is required when and where it is required…!!
(Giving to the least = Giving to Jesus our High Priest!)
1. I believe Jesus was the Lamb slayed once and for all, for all man and all sin. No more blood shed required to cover our sins.
2. I believe in first-fruits, but instead of giving it we should live it! And carry fruits worthy of our conversion. Not carry rotten fruit or no fruit, then we will be cast in the fire. Be a tree planted by the water, giving shade to those who need shade and fruit to those that need food in every season.
3.I believe there is power in the Blood of Jesus and what it stands for, therefore I use anointing oil only as a manifestation of the blood of Jesus to pray for the sick or consecrate a specific place or person.
4. I believe Jesus is our eternal High Priest and redemption for our sins is only possible through Him. Jesus is the truth, the life and the way!
David James says
Malachi was addressing the priests who were robbing God. Read the book in context. He also said that the tithe was to address the needs of the needy. Mal 3:10. Example: Read Acts 4:31-37.
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”)
Jesus or His disciples did not teach on tithing; they taught on giving.
Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.”
2 Corinthians 9:5-7New King James Version (NKJV)
5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. 6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
J. Les says
This article is in error. The priest in Nehemiah 10:38 DID NOT receive only 1%. The Levites which was the Levitical Priest hood brought 1% of the 10% they received to a store room or treasury. Please read the scriptures with understanding if you’re gonna dispute “The Word of God”.
Jared Brian says
The Levites brought 10%(1/10th) of the 10% to the storeroom.
David James says
God sent Jesus for these times we live in, and will will follow His teachings because God commanded me to do so. (Duet 18:15-19; Matt 17:1-8; John 17; John 12:48). Jesus fulfilled the law and the ordinances. Preachers who preach the Old testament laws of tithing have their who motives for doing so because those teachings are confusing to the layman who think that they will be pleasing God if they obey these preachers. In Amos 5:21-24 and Matthew 5:22-24 God expresses what He demands of us over tithing.
Johnny Morales says
Me and my wife have been catching this as well. The Holy Ghost showing us through the word that giving is from the heart. And interesting that “tithing” in the book of Hebrews is sandwich in between talking about the old priest offering gifts and sacrifices. When why was tithing put in when the chapter continues to expound that everything from the Law was a foreshadowing of the New to come and that Jesus offered once for all. Awesome
Joe Contreras says
This sounds pretty sound to me, thanks for posting. I’ve been tempted to make a public stand against the tithe concept, via FB, even though the church i’m a part of believes in & promotes a tithe. I consider myself a free will giver recognizing that Jesus(our judge) is ‘nt looking for us to to meet a minimum $ amount but to express our appreciation of his Grace through many means. Where your treasure is there will our hearts be also. If we say we love Jesus but refuse to invest in his kingdom, do we really? Do we “tithe” to prove our love but fall short in extending love, gracy & mercy to others then do we really love? If we tithe out of obedience then are we also honoring all the other laws because if we fail in one we fail in them all.
Lastly, if we take away the tithe, are we relieved or are we burdened? Happy we get to save money or sad because we need to find another way to “please” God? God isn’t concerned with how much we give, he’s concerned with how much give him, Romans 12:1, greatest commandment & rich young ruler come to mind.