Moses makes some changes.

When the time came for the Israelites to move from the wilderness to a more normal type of environment in the land of Canaan, Moses had to redefine the laws, including tithing, to accommodate this transition. The first twelve chapters of Deuteronomy deal with this.

“Moses saw that a new teaching was necessary on this and other matters. He decided to make a change in how the tithes were to be distributed and spent when Israel settled in the land of Canaan (Deut 12:8). It was going to be different from now on! Moses was talking about the payment of tithes, burnt offerings, sacrifices, heave offerings, vows, freewill offerings, firstlings of the herds and flocks (Deut 12:6). While in the wilderness the Israelites gave what little tithes and firstlings they had at any time they pleased, and (for the first twenty years) they were deposited in the general treasury of the sanctuary. For the last twenty years they still gave them to any Levite they pleased and at any place where there was a Levite and in whatever manner they saw fit. Moses said each Israelite was able “to do whatsoever is right in his own eyes.” But this unregulated manner was now to stop! Once the central sanctuary was established in the midst of Canaan, new regulations were to come into play (Deut. 12:8).

Since the wilderness existence of the Israelites allowed little increase from agricultural products or animals, Moses did not consider the question of tithing as being of pressing importance. But now that Israel was going into the land of Canaan, it became very necessary to regulate the matter. Moses recognized that tremendous quantities of money and produce would be arriving at the central sanctuary each year. There had to be directions on how those monies should be employed. Moses decided to adopt a system that would fairly benefit all the people in the nation. He did not want any part of Israelitish society having an aristocratic lordship over other members. This inspired Moses to come up with the most equitable tithing system that could be imagined. Since the tribe of Levi was a small tribe in Israel, Moses saw that tithing ten percent of all agricultural and animal increase to them would give them tremendous financial advantage over the other Israelites. It meant that the Levites would receive about 3 times the financial remuneration as ordinary Israelites who worked in the fields. Moses would have none of this! He decided on a plan that would equalize the situation and let all Israelites have an equal share in the economic blessings that God was giving. He ordered that all Israelites set aside ten percent of their agricultural and animal production each year. Then he commanded that those tithes be brought to a central place where the tabernacle would be located (Deut.14:22-24).

Moses changed the law by allowing the tithes to be turned into money without the premium penalty of a fifth extra. This permitted the Israelites who lived far from the sanctuary to carry monetary tithes to the central temple area unburdened (Deut. 14:25). Those who lived closer could still transport their tithe of the grain, oil, or firstlings to the sanctuary. When they arrived at the temple, Moses commanded the Israelites to do something with their tithes that they were not allowed to do while in the wilderness. They could now use part of their tithes to rejoice before God at the central sanctuary. They were also to share it with the Levites (Deut 14:27). While formerly only the Levites were to be given all tithes, now it was different! In a seven-year sabbatical period the first, second, fourth and fifth years were times when the tithe payer himself could eat of the tithes at the temple. The Levites from then on were only to receive the full tithe (along with the fatherless, strangers, and widows) every third and sixth years. During those third and sixth years a different kind of distribution of the tithes was to be enforced. They were not to be brought to the central sanctuary but given to the Levites and indigent peoples located in communities throughout the country (Deut 14:28,29). Look at what this meant. The third and sixth years of a seven-year sabbatical period were the only times that Levites got the full tithes (with the exception of that part of the tithes, which went to the destitute).

The system was most equitable. This meant that the Levites (instead of getting three times as much money if they were given the full tithes every year) now got about the same amount of financial benefits as all ordinary Israelites who earned their living from their toil of the land and the raising of flocks. It must be understood that in the Bible there was only one tithe being discussed. It was one tithe being used differently in the various years of a sabbatical cycle! People should realize that the tithes ordained by Moses were to benefit the whole of the Israelitish community, including even those who paid the tithes. The Levites were not given territorial lands, but they (along with the Priests) were allotted 48 cities in which they could earn a living (Numbers 35:1-3). The only Levites that received tithes were those who attended the service of the tabernacle. At other times they had to earn their own living within the cities and lands allotted them.” Martin, Pg. 13-16.

What is important to realize is that even though tithing is not taught in the New Testament, equality and equity is taught in both.

Today there are pastors and others making huge amounts of money using the excuse that the tithes belong to them or “a man is worthy of his hire”. Nowhere in Scripture can that teaching be substantiated other than in the sins of gluttony, greed and selfishness. Even in the Old Testament Moses made sure that the Levites did not become rich over their sacred duty. “Prosperity” preachers like to use the example of Abraham as an excuse to be filthy rich. They fail to remember that Abraham was the father of the nation of Israel, as well as other nations, and that is where the wealth is today...amongst the nations.

In “The Truth About Tithing” Andy Neckar write, “New Covenant teachings are overlooked for Old Covenant practices, thus limiting both Christian responsibility and freedom due to the church’s regulated rules for giving. Ironically, Christians are taught to let the Spirit guide their walk in Christ, yet they are given rules to guide them when it comes to their giving. Goodness and kindness are identifying traits of the fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 makes it clear that the fruit of the Spirit cannot be regulated because against such there is no law. Consequently, the old covenant tithing ritual should not be used to govern Spirit-led giving.

Today it is not possible to fully walk in the Spirit in the area of giving while following modified rules and regulations of Old Covenant tithing. All too often tithing Christians accuse other Christians of not obeying the whole Bible simply because they do not give tithes and offerings to a local church. Accusations are made...sometimes with love and sometimes with hostility. Many people in today’s church believe that tithing is the only way to give to the local church and that giving to the local church is the only way to determine their own level of godliness or faith. In fact, some pastors teach that a person’s spiritual growth is determined by simply looking at whether or not monetary tithes are given. Although the church needs financial support, it should not be at the expense of the needy or of sound doctrine. Unfortunately, the problem of careless biblical interpretation has led to traditional giving based on isolated portions of the tithing ritual. When non-tithing Christians respond to the will of God in meeting the needs of fellow Christians, as well as others, they are actually giving to the church. Not giving to the “local” church every paycheck should not be confused with not giving to the “living” church.

Let’s look at another New Testament passage about the giving of finances to support the work of the kingdom of God (Phil 4:15-20). You know what’s missing from this text? The word “tithe” or “tenth” or any implication thereof. I remember many times hearing preachers stand in pulpits in financially wealthy churches and say things like, “You can help para-church ministries with your finances, but your tithe belongs here. If you want to give money to help the poor and needy of India, you may do so with your “offerings” but not your tithes. If you want to give over and above your tithes, then that’s okay, but Malachi says that you are to bring all of your tithes into the storehouse, and that is now your local church. So, if you give your tithes anywhere but the local church, you will be, as Malachi says, robbing God. And, if you are robbing God, then you are sinning against Him and His church.

Again, I have to ask, why didn’t Paul make this point (or Peter? or John? or James?) if what some modern-day preachers say is correct. And, if there was the slightest chance that the Philippian Christians might misunderstand Paul and send their “tithes” to him and thereby sin against God, he would have certainly said to them, ‘Oh, by the way, I am not talking about your tithes! That belongs to your local church. But, if you want to help my ministry over and above your tithes, then you may.’ Can you imagine someone like the Apostle Paul, being inspired by the Holy Spirit, accidentally leading people to sin against God? Of course not, and yet he doesn’t think it important enough to make this grand distinction between ‘tithes’ and ‘offerings’ that many preachers today do. Why do you suppose that is? Well, it goes back to the fact that tithing is not the undeniable answer to the issue of financial giving to the work of the kingdom of God. Of course Paul doesn’t make an issue of tithing with them because tithing was not an issue!

So, the big question is not, ‘How much of my money should I give to support the Kingdom of God?’ But rather, ‘How much of God’s money that He has made me steward over should I keep (to support me and my family)?’” Pg. 1, 2, 4, 5.

The reality is that in the New Testament Christians now usually give much more than just ten percent to support the kingdom of God, the Bride of Christ. But, that does not necessarily mean supporting only the local church. If the pastors who do not realize this truth would only teach truth instead of taking Scriptures out of context to make a pretext, then their church would be blessed with even more money, not less, as God will cause even more people to be drawn to a local church where the pastor truly supports His Bride and not control it to build a local kingdom instead of God’s kingdom. If you want to join a church and in the membership class they teach that you have to make a covenant with that church to pay your tithes, do not join that church! You are supposed to make a covenant with Jesus to support His Bride; not with a local church to control His Bride!

“Giving is an Act of Worship. In Phil 4:18-19 Paul states: ‘But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.’

When Paul says that the gifts that they sent are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God, he is using Old Testament Temple terminology. He is comparing the gifts that they had given to him (to Paul) to the worship of the Old Testament people when they gave sacrifices to God in the Temple worship. So, when we give to the work of God, we are worshipping God. Isn’t that amazing? God gives us everything. Then, we in turn give only a portion of it back to Him, and God is happy about that! So, giving your finances to the Lord’s work is more than simply a duty or obligation; it is an act of worship. And, Jesus says that we are to worship God with our whole being (Mark 12:30). There are some people who have given a tenth of their income to their church for years who have never given a dime to God! For many people tithing is a have-to law. Some of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day were doing that, and Jesus called them hypocrites.” Neckar, Pg. 5, 6.

A person can give a tithe to a local church, yet be a hypocrite.

Tithing does not make a person a Christian. Jesus made the point clear to the Pharisees that paying tithes does not change the heart or transform the mind, values or goals of a person. It does not alter a person’s personality into the fruits of the Holy Spirit where compassion, sensitivity and love for another person become the true test of salvation. Many times a Pharisee’s teaching in a local church on tithing causes people to become insensitive and judgmental of their fellow brethren instead of merciful and gentle toward them. Instead of seeing the needs of the poor, widows and orphans in their church and around the world, they ignore what Jesus would attend to and concentrate on “white elephants”. Tithing used to construct buildings is not what extending the Bride of Christ is all about. I am not saying a pastor cannot use a portion of giving for construction, but I am saying that it should not interfere with building God’s kingdom and ministering to God’s Bride (people) at the expense of erecting a personal ego-fulfilling monument.

The people attending our church/fellowship should be totally in love with Jesus and concerned over the needs of people around them. There should not be a spirit of competition, but of cooperation for another fellowship, ministry or servant of Jesus Christ. Jesus will surely judge many pastors today for telling their people not to give their finances to the ones the Holy Spirit is asking them to support. I would never command people to give all their tithes to the ministry I lead, nor would I tell the members of the church that I pastor to give all their tithes to the church. I tell them to pray about it and ask God where He wants them to give His money. I know that every Christian ought to support his own local church in some amount. Depending on how faithfully that church does the work of God, the Holy Spirit will prompt the person to give. But, to tell them to give all is sin. Likewise, to tell them not to give to another person’s ministry or to minister where the Holy Spirit is urging them to be faithful in giving is sin. I have no problems with people giving 10%, 20%, or more to the local assembly they attend. But, let’s make sure it is out of a willing heart as the Holy Spirit directs.


World Ministries International (WMI) is The Church Without Walls.

We are not a local church! We believe people should belong to a local church if they can find one that is holy. The true church of Jesus Christ cannot be numbered, and the real membership is accepted solely by Jesus who alone can judge the heart. WMI is dedicated to faithfully preach the truth and warn the nations what God is sending upon them. We are dedicated to help the local church develop the saints through our semi-monthly pastoral letters. Many pastors throughout the United States have put their entire congregations on our mailing list. They know that the truth we share edifies and matures the people so they are more faithful wherever they attend. Some people live in countries where Christians are persecuted, and our pastoral letters become one of their only sources of teaching. Some people cannot find a local church or they may have been isolated or rejected because they have been faithful and righteous and we minister to them also. WMI is determined to help people stand up for truth and righteousness and discern deception.

If you are tired of the nonsense in the world and the religious arena today, then please financially support this ministry and cover us with your prayers. The need is great.  Shalom

To help support WMI in our task to warn the Church, both within America and throughout the world, please specify the amount of your contribution on the envelope enclosed. If you are receiving these articles each month, please be responsible and send a monthly offering. Blessings.

© 2000 World Ministries International