As we continue our ‘Tithing on Trial’ series, we will evaluate the most common tithing arguments used to defend its practice. So let’s evaluate another argument used to promote tithing.
Argument: Israel Gave their Tithes to the Storehouse, So We Should Give our Tithes to the Church.
Malachi 3:10 – “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house.”
There are good principles we can draw from Malachi 3, but using the storehouse as an argument to bring tithing to Church is not accurate. Yes. We should supply ministers and the Church body with food and provisions for their needs, but the principle in Malachi 3:10 is about supplying for the needs of others; it is not about giving 10% to a Church. Here are 3 areas to review on why the Church is not a storehouse for tithing.
Only 1% Made it to the Temple Storehouse
The temple storehouse only received 1% of Israel’s increase, the other 9% was stored in Levitical cities – not at a place of worship.
Nehemiah 10:37-38 to bring the firstfruits of our dough, our offerings, the fruit from all kinds of trees, the new wine and oil, to the priests, to the storerooms of the house of our God; and to bring the tithes of our land to the Levites, for the Levites should receive the tithes in all our farming communities. And the priest, the descendant of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive tithes; and the Levites shall bring up a tenth of the tithes to the house of our God, to the rooms of the storehouse.
The Israelites were responsible for giving their tithe to the Levites and in turn, the Levites were then responsible for giving a tenth of the tenth towards the temple storehouse. 1% of Israel’s increase was used for the support of those ministering and serving in the House of God. I’m sure the percentages today do not come anywhere close tho this figure. The latest giving statistics state that 85% of the offerings received by Churches are used for internal operations. The Priests only absorbed 10% of what was given to the Levites (or 1% of Israel’s increase)
The irony of all this is that the decree in Malachi 3:10 was not addressing the whole Israelite nation. It was only addressing the Levitical tribe since they were the only ones responsible for the 1% that was supposed to bring food to God’s StoreHouse. As a word of wisdom to leaders in our Churches who may be reading this – In Malachi 3, it was those who received the tithe that was neglecting their duties to give. Considering 85% is spent on internal operations, I don’t think we’re any better off than those in Malachi were . . . what a scary thought!
If you wish to read more about the Levitical cities, they are first outlined in Numbers 35:2-3, while other references can be found throughout scripture in regards to the storage of tithes and offerings within these cities as well.
Did Your Church Build a Storehouse?
A storehouse actually STORES something. Duh! Right! If you had a storehouse for your farm, that means you are safekeeping your grain to be used later for feed or for seed. The Church building, is not used as storage to preserve or distribute anything. Quite simple to understand, don’t you think?
Most people don’t pick up on the fact that Malachi 3:10 mentions two different places. First, God mentions a “storehouse”; then, God mentions a separate place and calls it “my house”. The two are exclusive of one another. God’s house is NOT the storehouse, and the storehouse is NOT God’s house. Did you think the grain was sitting in the Holy of Holies? Maybe they stored some of their corn in the ark of the covenant? There was no Shekinah Glory sitting above the grain house. God’s house was not a place to bring your goods or possessions. Neither was it a place to make transactions.
Matthew 21:12-13 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “ ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’”
God kicked ALL the money changers out. There were no exceptions for those who were honest and those who were dishonest. Jesus statement was that in the presence of God, there was to be prayer, not business.
I know that I stated the temple is not the Church building today, so it’s not like these restrictions in the Temple are applicable to worship buildings today, but this means if these restrictions aren’t applicable, then it also means that the Church building is not a resemblance of the Storehouse or the Temple.
The storehouse was was not considered a holy place or part of the worship process. The only reason why a storehouse was needed was because there was food to store. If you are unaware of the temple tax; it was a monetary offering required for everyone to pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the House of God. The temple tax was never kept in a storehouse. So, God doesn’t need a storehouse in order for us to have a reason to give to support His work.
One last note. If you observe the New Testament, there is no reference to a Church storeroom to bring your tithes or offerings. Nor was the word ‘storehouse’ mentioned whatsoever.
Our Storehouse is Not in This World
Let’s set aside the technicalities and semantics and focus on the spiritual application of a storehouse. Some of you believe that the Storehouse in the Old Testament, through spiritual meaning, is comparative to a church today. I get why this thought occurs to most people. But let me show you two significant differences between a church and the Temple and a storehouse.
1. A Building was Where God Dwelt – Isaiah 66:1-2, 1 Chronicles 17:6, 1 Kings 8:27
Our Soul Is Where He Dwells Now – Acts 7:48, John 1:14, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17
In the Old Testament, the temple was known as the House of God, but in the New Testament, we know that God does not dwell in houses made with hands. We are the temple of God.
2. A Storehouse Stores Corruptible Things – Luke 12:16-21, Matthew 6:19
Heaven Stores Incorruptible – Matthew 6:20, Matthew 19:21, 1 Peter 1:3-4
The earthly Storehouse symbolizes the purpose of an eternal storehouse, it does not symbolize a worship building or any other form of infrastructure you may have for the local Church. The storehouse symbolism is perfectly described in Matthew 6:19-20 where Jesus commands us not to store up treasure on earth, but to store treasure in heaven.
It’s a disservice to consider your worship building God’s Storehouse. I know there are many great programs and actions that come through some local churches and their facilities, but certainly, God did not want us to focus on earthly legacies. He wanted us to focus on eternal legacies. If anything, Malachi 3:10 should be a reminder to lay up treasures in heaven, not to bring a check to the next service.
Here is a review of the key points from the article.
- Only 1% of Israel’s tithing increase was used to support the service in God’s house while 9% was NOT used within God’s House
- The Temple was not a building to store money or goods, and was not used for any financial transactions. A Storehouse was Not needed unless there was something to store.
- God no longer resides in a building and our storehouse is found in heaven, not on earth.
If a Church wants to consider itself a storehouse for tithing, then by all means make sure they follow the guidelines in the Old Testament. Otherwise, let’s not call the Church building a storehouse. In the mean time, let’s encourage one another to give as God leads us. May it be sacrificially, liberally and cheerfully.
You Be the Judge
Now that the evidence has been given in this court of law, it is your turn to decide