“And my people shall know the truth and the truth shall set them free” John 8:32
“ will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say where in have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse for ye have robbed me even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the store house and prove me now here with saith the lord of hosts if I will not open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing, that there would not be room enough to receive it” Malachi 3 : 8 – 10
The above quoted scripture is probably one of the most quoted scripture in the bible. Unfortunately it is being quoted out of context and used as a weapon of mass intimidation, manipulation, extortion, oppression, cajolery and outright lies and deceit by some church leaders to collect ten percent of the gross income of their church members who have been hoodwinked into believing that they are doing God’s will.
Before I go into the details of this discourse, I want to state categorically that I am a God loving, bible believing Christian who has the fear of God in his heart. I am also not writing this article to undermine any church or pastor but to let people realize the truth about tithes and remove the yoke of tithes being placed by some pastors upon them. I also want to state categorically that I strongly believe in giving to the church for the sole purpose of propagating God’s work and the Christian ministry. I would also continue to encourage all Christians to give their all to God as exemplified by the widow’s mite which Jesus Christ himself referred to in the bible.
Now back to Malachi 3 : 8 – 10, the first question one should ask is that who was this message directed at? The answer lies in the book of Numbers 18 : 25 -28 which states that
Num 18:25 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Num 18:26 Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.
Num 18:27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.
Num 18:28 Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’S heave offering to Aaron the priest.
From the above it is clear that it was the Levites that were directed to pay a tithe of the tithe they collected from the Israelites to the priest who represents God and not the people of Israel. It was the Levites that were being referred to in the book of Malachi as those who rob God.
A thorough study of the book of Malachi would reveal that in those days the Levites were collecting the tithe from the people of Israel and not remitting a tithe of it to the house of God, hence Malachi’s statement which is now being quoted out of context.
To understand what tithes really means one would have to understand the social reasons and cultural / religious setting within which it was situated this concept of tithes was properly explained in the bible as stated in the laws of the tithe which can be found in the books of Leviticus 27 : 30 – 34, Numbers 18 : 25 – 31 and Deuteronomy 14 : 22 – 29.
Upon reading this passages one would understand what tithes really means, but unfortunately most pastors prefer to neglect these passages that tell us the true meaning of tithes and emphasize on Malachi 3 : 8 – 10 which was directed to the Levites to remit the priest’s share of the tithes they collected to him.
It is worthy of note that Malachi does not even define what tithes is and how it should be paid. The definition of tithes as practiced today was manufactured by modern day pastors to suit their purpose as it is completely in contrast with what is in the bible and it only seeks to manipulate Christians to believe that God requests 10 per cent of their gross income from them.
So what is tithes and why did God request it be paid to the Levites?
The answer can be found in the following passages : Leviticus 27 : 30 – 32
Lev 27:30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.
Lev 27:31 And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
Lev 27:32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
And Deuteronomy 26:12
Deu 26:12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
The above quoted passages clearly tells us what tithes is and the reason why God directed the people of Israel to pay tithes. It is very evident that it was a social arrangement for the less privileged in the Jewish society of that time, it was also meant to take care of the Levites because they have no land or property of their own.
Today, the wealthiest among property owners across the globe are these pastors.
It also states that every third year is the year of tithing not the weekly/monthly tithes being extorted from church members today. Another passage that illustrates the true meaning of tithes properly and also states clearly that tithe is not money is Deuteronomy 14 : 22 -29
Deu 14:22 Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
Deu 14:23 And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
Deu 14:24 And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:
Deu 14:25 Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose:
Deu 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,
Deu 14:27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
Deu 14:28 At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates:
Deu 14:29 And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
It is very clear that tithe is not money and it is not the exclusive preserve of the Levites (church). It was a religious practice in those days to give reverence to God and to celebrate God in His place of worship. The Levites were only included for the main reason that they have no land of their own.
Yet some pastors would tell you that you are cursed and would not go to heaven if you don’t give them 10% of your gross income. All this hypocrisy would not have bothered me if all the money being collected was being used to propagate God’s work, but the truth as we all know today is that this money is being used to finance lavish, flamboyant and exotic life styles that is unbecoming of a man who truly claims to serve God as a pastor who is expected to be meek and humble like our lord Jesus Christ was.
As a concluding part to this article, I would want to refer us to the book of Hebrews which was written to the early Christians, this provides irrefutable proof that Christians are not meant to pay tithes as the priesthood of our lord Jesus Christ does not require it.
Hebrews 7 : 5,which states that “ and those descendants of Levi who are priests are commanded by the law to collect one tenth from the people of Israel that is from there own country men even though their country men are also descendants of Abraham” from this verse we can jump to verse 11 – 13 which states that “it was on the basis of the Levitical priesthood that the law was given to the people of Israel. Now if the work of the Levitical priests had been perfect there would be no need for a different kind of priest to appear, one who is in the priestly order of Melchizedek not of Aaron. For when the priesthood is changed, there also has to be a change in the law. And our Lord of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe and no member of his tribe ever served as a priest. It is well known that he was born a member of the tribe of Judah and Moses did not mention his tribe when he spoke of priests.”
The above passage is self explanatory and it’s states clearly that the practice of tithing has no place under the priestly order of our Lord Jesus Christ in fact the passage suggests that the collection of tithes is belittling of the priestly order of our Lord Jesus Christ. It states that it is wrong for us as Christians to receive or pay tithes and is not relevant to us as Christians because we belong to a superior priestly order.
Once again I would like to state that this article is not meant for us as Christians to revolt against the church or our pastors, it is just meant to establish the biblical truth about tithes and remove the yoke from people who labor to pay tithes ( not required of them by God) while their pastors are living luxuriously. Today many pastors see the church as their personal business and even fraudulent people are opening up churches so that they can have access to people’s tithes and use it for their personal aggrandizement. I encourage all of us as Christians to remain vigilant and continue to serve God in truth and in faith to the glory of his holy name. Amen. Kunle Oshob, Nairaland