Biblical Prosperity in Perspective 20

Tithing Under the Old Covenant

by Pastor John Hamel

Someone said, “There are few subjects on which the Lord’s own people are more astray than on the subject of giving …”

As true as this may be, things are definitely improving.  There has been tremendous revelation granted to the Body of Christ in the very recent past, particularly in the area of giving and receiving.  


The Bible is indeed a lamp unto our feet and our Father has not left us in darkness regarding our financial dealings with Him. 


In the next three lessons we will study the subject of tithing, or giving back to God that which rightly belongs to Him.  We will begin with the Old Testament.


Tithing in the Old Testament

Some insist, “Tithing was part of the Mosaic Law only and it is no longer required under the New Testament.”  Of course, this could not be further from the truth.  Although there is no “Thus saith the Lord” concerning tithing before the Law of Moses, there is certainly ample evidence in the Bible that such a command had been given at some point in time. 

Actually, there are three areas like this in the Old Testament.  We will look very briefly at all three.


First, there is no command recorded prior to Moses Law concerning blood sacrifices.  Yet, common sense tells us that there must have been such a command given.  Certainly Abel, Noah, Abraham and others did not come up with the idea of presenting a dead, bleeding animal to the Creator on their own, just assuming it was His will.  Somewhere along the line Creator God quite obviously commanded that blood sacrifices be offered to Him. (Hebrews 11:4; Romans 10:17)


Second, there is no recorded command prior to Moses Law concerning the keeping of a Sabbath.  However, we can know of a certainty that such a command was given for the following reason.  When God gave the Ten Commandments to Israel, He did not tell them to “keep” Sabbath.  He commanded them to “remember” the Sabbath day.  This implies that the Sabbath had been commanded at an earlier date and was forgotten.  It had been forgotten by Israel’s forefathers somewhere back in time, even as the Bible clearly reveals. (Ezekiel 20:12,13; Exodus 16:27,28)


Third, there is no recorded command prior to Moses Law concerning tithing.  Yet we know such a command certainly had been given for the following reason.  In the Book of Genesis, prior to Moses Law, Abraham paid his tithes to Melchizedek. (Genesis 14:20)  Obviously Abraham had some sort of communication with God about tithing and was carrying out His revealed will in the matter.  Also, Jacob determined to give one-tenth (tithe) of his income to God.  This intimates a previous revelation of God’s will in the matter to him, as well. (Genesis 28:22)


So we see clearly from the Scripture that although no “command” is recorded prior to Moses Law concerning blood sacrifices, the Sabbath or tithing, God did indeed command all three sometime before Moses Law.  So there goes the old excuse, “Tithing was part of the Mosaic Law only and it is no longer required under the New Testament.”  


Tithing clearly existed BEFORE the Law, was clearly incorporated INTO the Law and clearly continues AFTER the Law, as we will see.


The Tithes under Mosaic Law

Arriving at the Law of Moses we see that tithing was clearly incorporated into it.  The key word here is “incorporated.”  You cannot incorporate something into something else unless it previously existed. 

Let us stop here for a moment and make something clear.  The actual word for tithe means “tenth.”  The Law of Moses says “… and concerning the tithe … the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30-32)  Almighty God has predetermined that one-tenth of our income does not belong to us.  We have no say about the matter whatsoever.  He has set it apart for His holy use.  God determined this before the Law of Moses.  God incorporated this into the Law of Moses.  God continues this even after the Law of Moses, which, as I said, we will see in our next lesson.


Under Moses Law the Priests derived their support from the tithes of the Tribes’ annual increase.  The Priests then turned around and paid tithes themselves from the tithes that were given to them. (Numbers 18:24-26)


After forty years of wandering in the Wilderness, Israel finally became settled in the Promised Land.  They then became overconfident.  They got sloppy.  They began to disregard practically every aspect of Mosaic Law.  They began falling into sin time and time again.  Their enemies would whip up on them so severely during these times that they would finally come back to God.  Every single time Israel decided to come back to God on a national level, one thing is very clear in the Bible.  They always immediately restored the practice of tithing.  Let’s look at some examples.


Under the leadership of King Hezekiah, Israel turned back from their sinfulness.  They had been ignoring the Passover, tithing and practically everything else about Moses Law for centuries at this point.  Hezekiah wrote letters to Israel, Judah, Ephraim and Manasseh inviting them to come back to Jerusalem and obey the God of Israel.  


They accepted the invitation and one of the first things they decided to do was to restore the practice of paying tithes according to Moses Law.  As soon as they began to do so, God blessed them mightily.  So mightily in fact that it actually took five months to heap into piles all the wealth that came in through their tithes and offerings. (2Chronicles 30:1; 31:4-7)


Later in Israel’s history they turned away from the Lord once again.  They stopped paying tithes and disobeyed practically every other aspect of Mosaic Law.  They ended up being carried away as slaves.  Almighty God raised up King Cyrus to invite Israel to come home to their own land.  A small remnant chose to do so.  These people once again began to tithe and once again God blessed them tremendously. (Nehemiah 10:34-39)


Unfortunately, years later, these very same people fell away from the Lord once again.  They stopped paying tithes and this time Almighty God charged them with grand theft.  He called them “God robbers.”  He did, however, make them a promise.  He told them if they would begin to pay their tithes and offerings once again that He would bless them once again.  As a matter of fact, He told them He would bless them so much that they would have to create special places just to store His blessings. (Malachi 3:7-11)


So we have seen that not only does the Old Testament hint at tithing, but it also commands tithing.  We have seen that tithing clearly existed long before Moses Law.  We have seen that tithing was incorporated into Moses Law.  As I have continued to state, we will next see that tithing continues even after Moses Law.


We have also seen that under the Law of Moses, the Levitical Priesthood derived their income from the tithes of the people.  The Priests, in turn, also paid tithes unto the Lord.  Finally, we saw from Scripture that Israel continued to fall away from the Lord throughout their history.  During these times of backsliding they would cease to pay their tithes, incurring terrible curses.  Time and time again they became “God robbers.”  Yet, every time they repented and began to pay their tithes, God would bless them to the point of overwhelming them.


Presently there is an outpouring of God’s goodness upon the people of the world who turn to Him.  People are beginning to give themselves to God, through Jesus, by the multiple millions.  As they come into God’s Kingdom, they are joyfully receiving the revelation of paying tithes and offerings.  God is tremendously blessing them for doing so.  


This is just one of the many ways the wealth of the (formerly) wicked is presently being transferred over to the Body of Christ. (Proverbs 13:22)


The Most High God has always required tithing from those with whom He Covenants.  This is the first step towards positioning oneself to receive the blessings of God.  Because He never changes, this will never change. (Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8)  


We will see this in our next lesson.


Be blessed … John and Barbara Hamel



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