Thursday, November 10, 2011

Was the Tithe Ever Money?

The next question I'll address is, 'Was the tithe ever money?' To be blunt, yes. "Ah-Ha! I got ya Bro. Bobby!" No you don't! I'll explain. The ONLY time the Mosaic Law on tithing was turned into money is when it was for traveling. Each year the tither in the O.T. would be commanded by the LORD to travel to one of the agricultural communities God decided to celebrate the tithe in. If the tither had too much to transport he could sell all and exchange it into money. He would then carry the money to the designated place of celebration and spend all of that money when he arrived on whatever edible foods and drinks he desired. Deuteronomy 14:22-29 explains what a tithe was in Israel, how it was to be expended, who was to participate and who was exempted.:  

"Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 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. 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: 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: 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, 27 And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. 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: 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."

The tithe in Israel was much different than a tithe in other countries. Actually, a tithe simply means, 'a tenth.' Before Israel became a nation, in ancient countries giving a tenth (a tithe) was quite common among Gentiles. But, the common Gentile tithe was a tribute (tax) to local monarchs. Back then, kings were simply kings of cities and surrounding lands. Kingdoms weren't quite as big as they are now. The tithe (or tribute/tax) was a tenth of one's income whether it were livestock, Produce or money. The biggest difference between a Gentile tithe system and God's system was as vast as the splitting of the waters of he Red Sea. God's tithe wasn't a tribute or a tax as the Gentile's imposed. God;s tithe was a food Program and never involved money to be recognized as the tithe. Why? Because the tithe in Israel was to be eaten before the LORD. We can't eat money. Also, the Israeli tithe was restricted to what was grown from the seed of the land within the borders of Israel alone. No outside imports were recognized as part of a tithe. Tithing in Israel was limited to the harvest seasons only. It wasn't an everyday, week or month cycle. They only time money played a part in the Hebrew tithe was as a convenience for travel. Superimposing and spiritulizing money to a Hebrew tithe after the Law was diss-annulled by Christ is irresponsibly handling God's Word for the purpose of capital gain.

Deut. 14:24-25 explains the reasons and Procedure for the conversion from corn, firstlings, wine, oil, etc into money for the trip. This was not an income as we think of an income by today's standards. So many people have been taught that our chosen field of work is somehow equal to an Israeli land owner's field in the O.T. This also is a false teaching. One of the qualifications needed to be allowed to tithe was that the tither had to possess land ownership (have an inheritance of land). If someone did not own land, he was not allowed to participate in giving a tithe. Also, the land that the tithe was derived from had to be within the borders of Israel. No foreign foods were allowed. If foreign foods were let in, the whole tithe would be defiled. Not only that, but he had to work the land. If he owned it but did not work it, the land would be given to another. Again, if you were an Israeli blacksmith, or a craftsmen of some sort, but didn't own land in Israel, you couldn't have the privilege of tithing. The tithe had to be Produced from the "seed of the land."

So, the conversion into money was for convenience sake. It was meant to help lighten the load for travel. The foods it bought at the celebration were to be consumed before the LORD there (vs 26). Tithing was meant for a time of celebration. It was a festival to celebrate God's blessings and increase at the time of harvest. There were two major harvests a year. One in the Spring called the Winter Wheat and Barley Harvest and the other in the Summer/Fall for most everything else. Money had very little to do with the tithe. The Hebrew back then didn't give money to one another as a tithe, nor did they eat the money in the form of shekels. The tithe was consumed as food. 

The LORD knew He didn't need money! God's idea for a tithe was to show miraculous growth in the form of the seed of the land. This Produced a lot of food in an area of the world that had traditionally struggled to Produce food in great abundance. Food was the item of real value. Without it, money wouldn't hold any value whatsoever! The tithe was to Provide for the Levites, widows, orphans and the strangers. It was also a celebration that followed the reaping of the harvest. It was never meant to shoulder the expenses of a modern day, business entity Institutional 'Church.' It was never an Income tithe as we think of it today. To say that it is, is to say that the so-called  "church in the wilderness" (Hebrews in Moses' day) are the same as today's Institutional 'Church' System. And that type of message and thinking is just plain moronic. 

If 'Churches' today think of tithing as an extension of what the Hebrews did in the Mosaic Law, then why do they insist on giving the tithe as money all year around? Why don't they follow God's prescription for the tithe? What makes them think they have allowance to change God's way of doing it without God's command? Most Christian 'Churches' are Gentile. So, knowing that the Hebrew tithe system didn't account for Gentile participation, why then do we assume that it is perfectly normal and acceptable to give a tithe and say that the God of Israel told us to? May I have the Scripture for that please? There are many arguments I could throw the readers way, but I think these are enough to keep us pondering for awhile. No, the tithe was never money!

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