Eat the Tithe

Party Time! Maybe not the words that first come to mind when we think of God’s Law, but after telling us to care for ourselves as His children, YHWH commands us to take seasonal vacations, our house to His, to party with Him!

The funding for these feasts is the Tithe, a tenth of our harvest in fields and flocks, which only God Himself can provide. We’re to eat this gratefully in His presence, congregating where He’s placed His name (De 14:23), feasting on our heart’s desire, rejoicing before Him. (De 14:26)

While Christian leaders commonly teach that God wants us to support their ministries with our tithes, God Himself says no such thing. Our tithes are to fund these pilgrimages and parties, care for the poor (De 14:28-29) and provide for Levites as they serve the tabernacle (Nu 18:26) and arbitrate civil disputes. (De 21:5)

God never intended that we hire people to teach us about Himself (1Jn 2:27); that’s not what our tithe is for. Tithes are His way of bringing us all together to rejoice in Him, providing a basic safety net in society and funding simple judiciaries. In finding and knowing Him, He gave us His Word and expects us to study it. (Jn 5:39)

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3 thoughts on “Eat the Tithe”

  1. Financially supporting godly teachers and shepherds of God’s flock is unrelated to the Tithe. When Paul encourages us here he appeals to an entirely different concept from Torah: not muzzling an ox that’s treading out our corn. (De 25:4, 1Ti 5:17-18)

    As men voluntarily serve us and others in God, we ought to voluntarily support them as we perceive God’s calling in their lives, and as others are genuinely helped by their labor. This is not necessarily a formal obligation as is the Tithe, but it’s certainly an important one when God calls someone to serve others sacrificially.

    Even so, I’ve yet to meet anyone who I believe is called of God to pastor a church full time, or who deserves financial support for teaching God’s Word in their own culture. In my opinion, pastor-led churches with full-time staff expecting financial support aren’t God’s design; clergy are simply manipulating ignorant people into funding their own aspirations.

    In Scripture, no prophet or servant of God ever asked anyone for money to support their ministry. Only government officials and Levitical priests dedicated in tabernacle service in the land of Israel have ever had the right to our tithe.

  2. Whether the tithe is formally based on earned income is an open question for me. God is specific about tithing on things that grow or multiply on their own under our care, which seems fundamentally different than earned income. I think this is significant as it relates directly to His providential care and supply in a way that working an 8-5 job does not: the laborer is worthy of his reward, but a farmer is not “worthy” of his harvest: getting crops to grow or causing animals to reproduce is fundamentally different; only God can bless us with this kind of increase, even when we do everything correctly.

    In agricultural societies most people benefit from some kind of agricultural income, but what do people do who are merchants or craftsmen by trade? It stands to reason that they are not excluded from participation in the Feasts or from helping the poor and funding the government, and that they should use the agricultural tithe as a guide and participate along with farmers and gardeners in a similar way.

  3. When government is taxing us to protect us, arbitrate disputes and care for the poor, it’s taking our tithe for its rightful purpose in the absence of God’s temple.

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