• The Law of the Tithe

    The Law of the Tithe
    by Howard B. Rand, LL.B.

    What is the tithe? How shall it be taken and to whom shall it be paid? These are vital questions for those who wish to keep the requirements of the Law of the Tithe in order that they may be eligible for the promised blessings. Through Malachi the Prophet the Lord asks His people:

    "Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation." (Mal. 3:8-9).

    Following this denunciation for withholding the tithe, a call is given to bring in all the tithes to the place of gathering. A special blessing is promised those who will do this, for God declares He will become the Debtor and will pay His obligation in full:

    "Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shalt not be room to receive it." (Mal. 3:10).

    God challenges His people to put Him to the test by paying tithes and see if He will not pour out abundant blessings upon them. The testimony of all who have accepted this challenge and consistently paid their tithes is that God has kept His word in every respect. The individual who refuses to accept this challenge to put God to the test—a test of God which He permits each one to make for himself—is missing great blessings. When men say they cannot afford to pay a tithe of their income because they are financially unable to do so, they make a grave mis-statement. The actual fact is that they cannot afford to withhold the tithe for their own spiritual good and economic well-being. As far as their personal finances are concerned, God has promised that those who are faithful to Him shall not want and He promises special blessings of abundance to all who meet the obligation imposed upon them in keeping the Law of the Tithe.

    The Tithe is a tenth of one's increase or income and we find many references to the tithe in Scripture. The principle of the tithe was evidently well-known in Abraham's time. We are told that when he returned from the battle against the kings who had carried the people of Sodom and Gomorrah away captive, including Lot and his family, Melchizedek, King of Salem, met him. This King of Salem was the Priest of the Most High God and to Him Abraham gave tithes of all his possessions (Gen 14:18-20). Commenting upon this, the writer of Hebrews said:

    Now consider how great this man was unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils."(Heb 7:4).

    When Jacob fled from his fathers house for fear of Esau, he slept one night out on the plains where he had a dream. In it he saw angels ascending and descending a ladder and the Lord stood above it and confirmed the covenant made with Abraham and Isaac to him. When Jacob awoke he made a vow, asking God to keep him in the way that he went, provide for his daily needs and make it possible for him to return to his father's house in peace. In return Jacob vowed:

    "Then shall the Lord be my God: and this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God's house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."((Gen. 28.22).

    Jacob was evidently well acquainted with the Law of the Tithe and he recognized that it was an obligation to be kept, just as Abraham recognized that he must pay tithes. But to whom were the tithes to be paid? Leaders in the modern Christian Church have been stating that all the tithes belong to the Church, but this is not true. There was no Church in existence in Jacob's day, to whom did be pay his tithes? Part of that tithe was used for sacrificial offerings in the pursuance of religious duties, but the larger portion of it went to assist the stranger, clothe the needy and give food to the hungry. This was the work of a righteous man as he strove to relieve suffering, want and destitution. It was permissible to use the tithe for these purposes.

    Job recognized his obligation to god and used at least a tithe, if not more, of his wealth for the Lord's work. While the tithe is not definitely stated in the Book of Job, the results of tithing are given when Job publicly pleads his own cause:

    "If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof .... If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; If I have lilted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate; Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone." (Job 31:16-22).

    When Israel was organized into a kingdom at Mount Sinai the Law of the Tithe was established as the basis of their support of national institutions and services. It was under the law establishing a double tithe that the people paid their taxes. Thus the full tithe included gifts to the Lord and charitable work, as well as taxes to finance the administration of the affairs of state. When Israel demanded a king of Samuel, God warned them that, in addition to the tithe they were paying to the Lord for worship and for charitable purposes, they would also be required to meet the levies made by their king:

    "And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants ... He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants." (1 Sam. 8:15-17).

    Thus, we have established the amount of tax that should be levied by any government against its people—one tenth of the income of the people. Today, governments have far exceeded the legal levies of one-tenth of our increase and by their excessive demands are actually confiscating the peoples' property. Through real estate, personsal income, capital gains, death duties, direct and indirect taxes, sales taxes, GST, two to five times the legal limit established by God is being collected from the people. An exhorbitant tax levy was made upon the people in the time of our Lord, so the Jews challenged Him:

    "Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?" (Matt. 22:17).

    Jesus was well aware of their crafty tricks so He requested them to show Him a penny. He asked them whose image and inscription was on it and they replied, "Caesar's." Jesus then said:

    "Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's." (Matt. 22:21).

    Though the Jews had to pay tribute in excess of what would have been a just tax, they still were obliged to pay their tithe to the Lord. What was true then is true now, regardless of the demands made by the government upon its citizens. The tithe is still required by God, for no man may rob God and expect to prosper.

    It will not be until the administration of justice under the righteous laws of the Kingdom of God that we may expect to have an equitable system of taxation. Until then oppression and confiscation of the possessions and earnings of men will be the order of the day under the administration of governments which exceed the God-given limits of equitable taxation. While we are compelled in this way to pay "tribute to Caesar," we must not neglect the things of God, for a tenth of our increase belongs to Him.

    Under the Israel laws of administration the Levites collected the tithe, or 1/10th, from the people, and a tenth of the tithe was given to Aaron, the High Priest, for Tabernacle, and later Temple, services (Num. 13:26-23). Thus, the Church in Israel is entitled to only one-tenth of the tenth, or tithe. The balance of the tithe, or 9/10ths of the tithe, was to he used for Kingdom services and for charitable purposes.

    Having arrived at this understanding, it is now necessary to consider what we shall do with the tithe today—how it shall be spent. Under Biblical law we should all tithe all of our increase, whether that increase is represented in money or in possessions. For the farmer it would be a tenth of his crops and of the livestock born to his flocks during the year, or their equivalent value in money. For the wage earner it would be a tenth of his salary or of his commissions, while the businessman would tithe his profit on every transaction or take a tithe of the year's earnings.

    Deductible from the amount to be tithed would he the cost of tools a workman furnishes in earning his wages, for they would be a part of the cost contributing to his ability to earn. We have often been asked if a man may deduct his living expenses before tithing. The answer is, "No." The nine-tenths of his income remaining to the individuals after deducting the Lord's tenth, are for this purpose.

    But why should we pay tithes at all? Because God has enjoined us to carry the glad tidings of the Gospel to those who are not informed about it. Today this includes both phases—personal salvation through Jesus Christ and the knowledge of the blessings of the Kingdom of God. All who believe in the Lord and desire to do His will are commissioned to carry out assigned tasks. But all cannot speak, write, publish, though everyone may give support to those who can do such work, by their financial assistance they become partners in the work being accomplished.

    It is well, therefore, to carefully select those with whom we wish to be in partnership, for by supporting them with our earnings we become responsible to that extent for the kind of work they are doing. It is absolutely essential to know that those whom we support are as reliable and trustworthy as we would expect if we were to enter into a direct business relationship with them. Jesus had this type of partnership in mind when He said:

    "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me. He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." (Matt. 10:40-42).

    We have presented here an opportunity which everyone may take advantage of and receive the reward of the righteous man and prophet even though they are not qualified to actually do the work of those whom they assist. In "A Privilege and a Blessing", Destiny for March 1948, we said in part:

    "If a business concern were to offer the public an opportunity to invest in its operations, basing the percentage of returns on investments according to the terms God has laid down for investments made in His work, men would be certain the Millenium had come. But Mammon cannot afford to be so generous, for it would destroy the very basis of the profitable operations upon which it thrives.

    In our present economy, when a man invests $1.00 in a business venture, he only secures interest on a dollar at the currently-established interest rate, or dividends in proportion to the actual financial investment. The man investing $1,000.00 would have a thousand times more in returns that could possibly accrue from the poor man's dollar. Usually, however, Mammon would not even consider accepting so small a sum as $1.00. Such an amount would be considered ridiculous as a business investment and Mammon would be more apt to rule that the minimum investment acceptable would be $100.00.

    God reverses this order, basing the value of an investment in His work, not upon the actual money invested, but upon its relationship to a man's assets. Thus, a poor man who possesses only $2.00 and invests $1.00 in Kingdom work has a 50% interest in the work according to his investment. A man of means worth $100,000.00 giving $1,000.00 to further the work of the Kingdom, would only have a 1% investment to his credit, though he gave a thousand times more than the poor man. Insofar as the actual amount of money is concerned, the poor man's gift in Kingdom assets far outweighs the wealthy man's gift because of the relationship to their respective assets.

    Here is one of the most interesting lessons in the study of Divine equity, for the poor man made a far greater sacrifice when he parted with his dollar than the wealthy man did when he gave a thousand times more. Often the poor are, out of their little, laying up treasure in heaven in fact greater abundance than the wealthy who, from their abundance, give sums that seem to dwarf the donations of the poor.

    But why should a work wholly devoted to spreading the Gospel of the Kingdom be in need of financial support? The worldly wise tell us it should become self-supporting, but a study of Christian witnessing proves that the true gospel has never been able to go forward without financial support from God-fearing men and women who have been willing to sacrifice in work, in giving money and in prayer. The very nature of the work the Lord has called us to do miiitates against the co-operation of Mammon and Mammon's methods since the Gospel of the Kingdom proclaims the doom of the present world economy. The work of the Lord meets increasing opposition from the foes of righteousness and Mammon knows that it is by the withholding of financial support that it can be hindered. The ordinary channels of trade that enable Mammon to conduct profitable business and pay substantial dividends do not operate to the advantage of Kingdom work to allow it to prosper. Therefore, those who bear the glad tidings of the Kingdom must secure financial support by other methods.

    The activities of the early Church proved this true for, though its followers were known as the poor and were often destitute of worldly goods, they carried the Gospel to the ends of the earth. It was the work of pioneers, filled with the Spirit of the Lord, who willingly faced every type of hardship for the work's sake.

    There is another—and most important—aspect to this subject. If it had been possible to carry on Kingdom activities on a paying basis, without the need of financial support, those who are interested in its program but not qualified to speak or write, would have had no opportunity to secure the blessings reserved for all co-workers in His vineyard.

    Because God knew that His work would meet tremendous resistance from Mammon and all those who are unrighteous, and because He knew too that the ordinary channels of trade would be closed to His servants, He left instructions concerning its support, commanding that those who believe set aside a tenth of their increase to be used in His service. To those who prosper He commands that, in addition to the tithe, or 10% of their increase or income, they also give "free will" offerings according to their material prosperity.

    Thus, a way has been provided for those who by faith believe to lay up treasure for themselves, not according to the amount given, but in accordance with its relationship to all of their assets. Under thls investment program instituted by god, the poor have as good an opportunity as the rich to acquire Kingdom assets by the investment of earthly earnings and be assured of dividends on the basis of a "hundredfold" increase in the age to come.

    This is a type of investment that Mammon cannot duplicate. Only the wealthy are able to take advantage of its stock and bond offerings, but God offers to the poor and the rich alike equal opportunities to acquire Kingdom dividends. Unfortunately, the love of money prevents many of the wealthy from taking advantage of these splendid investments and our Lord pointed out the problem that would confront rich men, making it difficult for them to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. (Matt. 19:23)."

    There is still another important phase to tithing. It brings the individual in closer touch with spiritual values, for no man can remain indifferent to work he is helping to finance. After all, the very first indication of a man's interest in any work is his willingness to support it financially. There are thousands who claim they are Christians but who NEVER give financial support to real Christian work and some, though they may give occasionally, do not become systematic supporters of such work. Thus, by withholding their tithes, not only are they robbing God, but their profession of faith in Christian principles and the Christian way of life has a hollow sound for they are without works. Jesus said: "Where your treasure is, then will your heart be also." (Matt. 6:21).

    All those who withhold their tithes because they feel they "cannot afford" to pay so much for the support of the Lord's work will be unable to complain in the day of the Divine Assize because they receive no certificate of deposit from the keeper of the heavenly treasure. Through the tithe the way has been made easy for all, both poor and rich, to acquire equality of investment in Kingdom assets.

    Jesus confirmed the necessity to keep the Law of the Tithe when He called the Scribes and Pharisees hypocrites. "For," He said, "Ye pay tithe if mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the Law, judgment, mercy, and faith." (Matt. 23:23). Following this condemnation for the failure to keep important clauses of the law, and contrasting that failure with their scrupulous observance of the tithing of small seeds, Jesus affirmed that they should continue this tithing but at the same time He called them hypocritical because they were neglecting the weightier matters of the law. Let those who think that the Law of the Tithe is non-essential take heed, for Jesus warned:

    "Whosoever thereforre shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shalt be called the least in the kingdom of heaven." (Matt. 5:19).

    Every Christian is expected to do at least as much as is required under the law and many are doing more. When the Kingdom is functioning in full perfection upon earth under the administration of the Commandments, Statutes and Judgments of the Lord, every citizen will be required to pay the double tithe. The first tenth wilt be divided as it is now. The second tenth will be the full tax paid to finance the administration of the affairs of state of the Kingdom of God.

    From Destiny magazine, June 1948.