This Issue of the Tithe – Leviticus 27

Redemption, The Tithe, & Other Levitical Items - Leviticus 27Okay – I have to be honest: I’m OVER Leviticus. I don’t mean to be disrespectful of God’s Word and all, but it has given me a higher appreciation for what Christ did so we wouldn’t have to go through all this bloody mess and legalistic mumbo-jumbo, memorizing detailed sacrifical routines, keeping track of first-born this and flawless that.

I also have a higher appreciation for young Jewish students who actually have to memorize all this…hats off!!!

Today’s reading, as much as my bad attitude wanted me to just skip another day of trying to figure out something interesting to write, caused me to pause on the topic of tithe. Here’s what prompted the pause:

30 “‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man redeems any of his tithe, he must add a fifth of the value to it. 32 The entire tithe of the herd and flock–every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod–will be holy to the Lord. 33 He must not pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If he does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.'”  

In “the day” the tithe was required of everyone, as a sign of gratitude to God, for the purpose of supporting and maintaining the ministers who took care of the people and the Tabernacle. Apparently, someone was permitted to substitude cash for the normal tithe of livestock or groceries (and of course this was spelled out in painstaking detail), but the point is, the tithe in some form, was a requirement.

Contrast that to today. Many people I know feel as though the tithe is no longer a requirment. Well, like many of God’s laws which are chronicled in Leviticus, this may be one that has gone away as well. Some say there’s no mention of “tithe” in the New Testament, which is used as supporting evidence.

So – if we say we still believe in the local church, are we still required to tithe? The ministers and pastors of our local churches are like the Levites of “the day” who’s responsibility it is to take care of the spiritual needs of members of the local church body. If we’re no longer required to tithe, then who takes care of the ministers & pastors?

I understand this is a perfect opportunity for my anti-church friends to jump in and say the duties of the local ministers & pastors went away with the Levites and the Tabernacle because of the New Covenant, but I’m not prepared to make that leap.

For the rest of you, I just thought I’d put the question out there and see what kind of responses I get: Is the tithe still required for today?

Love to hear from you…


  1. #1 by tina on February 26, 2007 - 3:09 pm

    I bet anyone who is anti-church is also anti-Jesus, so you may not get much help from your anti-church friends on this topic.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the personal practice of tithing if it helps a person develop a giving discipline and they want to use it as such.

    Not everyone was required to tithe in the Old Testament times. Only farmers and husbandrymen (sheep, cattle, etc.) – those who grew food items from the land. Paul would not have been required to tithe, since he was a tentmaker, neither would Jesus, since he was a carpenter.

    With regard to the Levitical priesthood, Hebrews tell us that we are priests in the order of Melchizedek, not Levi. Melchizedek only received one tithe and that was a tithe on the spoils of war. Disregarding that, since we are all priests, even if we were to tithe to priests, we’d all have to tithe to each other (but only if we happen to be farmers or ranchers), and we could only use money if we lived too far away from our place of worship to transport the livestock. In that case, we could bring money equal to the value of 1/10 of our entire produce, plus a premium.

    If we were going to follow the tithing laws as set forth in the Old Testament, then for our annual tithe we would bring our grain and livestock to the church, and consume it there, saving some for the “priests” or “pastors” or “church staff”, or if the house of worship is too far away, we would exchange our tithe for silver, and then when we got to church, we would “exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the LORD your God will choose. 26Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the LORD your God and rejoice.” Sometimes I really wish someone would follow this so we could have keg parties at the local house of worship!

    Last thought: not even devout, Torah-following Jews tithe today, because there are no Levites and no Temple.

    Again, if someone wants to tithe, I have no problem with that. I do have a problem with the law of tithing being enforced, encouraged, and supported as a New Testament law, and I also have a problem with tithing being presented as a way to blessing, and not tithing as a way to curses.

    If a local “church” is appointed by God to exist, then he will provide for its needs. It shouldn’t be a problem. My household continues to bring in enough money to stay “in business” and we trust that God will continue to provide. I think a more reasonable way for the institutional church to stay open is to charge set membership fees. It is fair and reasonable, and no guilt trips necessary.

    Thanks for the thoughts.

  2. #2 by Jaqua (Jāy 'Quāy) on February 26, 2007 - 5:49 pm

    Definitely some stuff to think about. That’s what this blog is all about. You’ve obviously thought about this more than I have, so…

    A few questions if I may:

    I’m trying to cut through your sarcasm and get to the core of what you’re saying. I’m sure you don’t really condone keg parties and membership fees at the local “institutional church.”

    I had never heard it said that those in farming and husbandry were the only ones required to tithe. Do you have a scripture reference?

    It sounds as though you’re saying the bottom line for you is that tithing is no longer a requirement. As I mentioned, I know many people who also feel this way. When did this requirement end? Is this since the New Covenant (Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross)?

    I’m not trying to be silly or “tricky”, I genuinely struggle with this question of OT law vs NT freedom. For example, the OT talks alot about Sabbath. The NT even mentions it, but for the most part Christians don’t observe this – at least not as carefully as we read about in the OT. Is this also “under the blood?”

    Taking it a step further, one could say that there are no OT laws that are still required – only following Christ. A sort of “let the Holy Spirit be your conscience.” Just wondered if you had any thoughts on that.

    And I guess I just need to clarify your statment: “If a local ‘church’ is appointed by God to exist, then he will provide for its needs. It shouldn’t be a problem. My household continues to bring in enough money to stay ‘in business’ and we trust that God will continue to provide.”

    I totally agree that if a God is in a particular local church, ministering and meeting the needs of the community, then the necessary resources will be there. But, can you explain the comparison you used about the local church and your household income? I’m confused.


  3. #3 by tina gasperson on February 26, 2007 - 6:59 pm

    Hey Eric, I wasn’t being sarcastic at all. I think it would be great to have a real party at church. From my observations, a lot of Christians drink anyway and feel like they have to pretend otherwise whenever they’re around other believers. I’m all for being honest and real. Do I mean a drunkfest, obviously not, because that would be sinning.

    In my studies, one of the verses you mentioned above, Lev. 27:30 talks about who should tithe and what they should tithe. In addition, Deut. 14, verses 22 and 23, similarly state “22 Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. 23 Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the LORD your God always.”

    If I don’t have any fields, then I can’t set aside a tenth. If I dont have herds and flocks, no tenth. I have searched and searched the rest of Scripture and haven’t found any other tithing verses that say there is something else that is supposed to be tithed. Only “your herds and flocks” and “your grains, new wine and oil”.

    Tithing was for tribal Jews who had to support the tribe of Levi, because they had nothing of their own, no land or inheritance. Jews don’t even tithe now because nobody knows who the Levites are, if they even exist anymore, and there’s no Temple worship. So, I guess that tithing never really began for those who follow Jesus, especially those who came from a Gentile tradition. I would surmise, but I don’t have any proof, that tithing for Jews ended when the Temple was razed in A.D. 70 by the Romans.

    These are only my thoughts, regarding the OT law and the NT principles: Where the OT laws are external and physical or carnal, the NT principles are internal and spiritual.

    I mean, that instead of the LAW of tithing, under Jesus and the NT we have the PRINCIPLE of giving, which many times means giving much more than 10%, sometimes it means giving all you have.

    Instead of the LAW of the Sabbath, we now have the PRINCIPLE of the Sabbath, in which Jesus asks us to enter His Sabbath rest and remain there, in a spiritual way, which means we have to observe a focus on Jesus much more than just one day a week.

    Instead of the LAW that says do not commit adultery, we now have the PRINCIPLE of purity which goes even further than the physical act and says that if we even look upon another with lust in our heart then we have committed adultery. That raised the bar.

    Instead of the LAW that says do not murder, we now have the PRINCIPLE that says do not even say to yourself that your brother is a fool, or you will be in danger of judgment.

    Again, this is just what I have found when I sought the Lord on exactly the same things you mention in your questions to me. I have found that the OT laws and directives that you are studying right now, illustrate spiritual principles that are found in the NT.

    As I mentioned above, OT LAW is external and others can look and see if we are obeying them or not. NT LAW is written on our hearts, not written in stone, and the requirements are steeper, if you ask me. BUT, many people don’t like the NT way because it is internal, and no one but Jesus can see if I am truly obeying.

    In other words, if I tithe, someone can come and check on me to see if I am obeying. But if I follow the principle of generosity, truly obeying the leading of the Holy Spirit about when and how much to give, I can’t be tracked as easily. Too much freedom! I might not do what I’m supposed to do! To some people that doesn’t feel safe enough. I understand that.

    The comparison between the local church and my income, is that I don’t require someone to tithe to me in order to support me. That’s all. If I am expected to live in the real world and support myself, then why isn’t the local church expected to do the same? I think it would be perfectly reasonable for the local church to charge membership fees. That’s basically what tithing is, but we just blame it on God. 😀

    By the way, I’m sorry that my tone comes across as sarcastic, but I appreciate you mentioning it. Others have told me that as well and I am working on not coming across that way if at all possible.


  4. #4 by Jaqua (Jāy 'Quāy) on February 27, 2007 - 1:51 am

    Once again, lots of things to think about.

    A few comments, however, I feel I must share.

    As to your comments about a “real party” at church, I’d have major-jumbo difficulty explaining that to my hurting friends who struggle with alcoholism – especially in light of scripture concerning being a stumbling block. Your tone in reference to Christians who drink but “pretend otherwise” might not be appreciated by some.

    As for the tithe being only for those in the harvesting and husbandry business, the scriptures you cite do not translate your point to me. Unfortunately, I’m not a historian familiar with the events back in Jesus’ day, but it seems to me that everyone was likely to have harvest and livestock. I don’t know if everyone had a garden and goat pen or if some went to the Publickkkhx (that’s the Jewish grocery) each Thursday and purchased grains and fruit, then they went to Goldstein’s Goats for their meat, but everyone did eat. If they didn’t grow it or raise it, they bought it. Somehow, everyone obtained harvest and livestock.

    My point? Well, if everyone obtained these things, then it makes sense that they could hold back the first 10% as the tithe, as was commanded in the passages you cite – nowhere do I read it was just for goat-hearders and gardeners.

    But, all that is basically a moot point, because I agree with your statements about giving vs. tithing today. I especially like what you wrote about the law vs. the principle: “…instead of the LAW of tithing, under Jesus and the NT we have the PRINCIPLE of giving, which many times means giving much more than 10%, sometimes it means giving all you have.”

  5. #5 by jared on February 27, 2007 - 2:43 pm

    you are right the levites somewhat resemble how our pastors serve at the altar of God. You are right the tithe was never abolished. But there’s one equation to this whole tithe mess that clears it all up. He’s called the Holy Spirit. If the fruit of the Spirit produces love, joy, peace, longsuffering, meekness . . . how can the Holy Spirit not be in control of the Christians life. It’s just a matter of putting the Holy Spirit in control or the Old Testament teacher. With the Holy Spirit involved in the lives of God’s chosen people we are confronted with a completely different ball game.

  6. #6 by Jaqua (Jāy 'Quāy) on February 27, 2007 - 2:47 pm

    Well said, Jared. Thanks for participating! Come, Holy Spirit…

  7. #7 by Jan on February 28, 2007 - 12:36 pm

    Whether or not the tithe was required only of those in the retail world. They still had to offer yearly sacrifices. Those were things that went to the priests. Giving for the maintenance of the temple and those officiating in it are biblical concepts that were clearly reiterated by the apostle Paul when he talked about the ox treading out the grain. Hey, if we want to be truly biblical then we should sell everything and hold all things communally. But I digress into extremism that even the early church had trouble sustaining.

  8. #8 by Vincent John on March 24, 2007 - 10:52 am

    God Commanded tithes to be paid to levites and no one else afte the establishment of the temple system. A levite had to show documents that they were levites by family line. Ministers are corrupt most are sorry to say this. Read 1st Corinthians NO 7 from Paul who states circumcision is nothing and uncircumsicion is nothing but keeping the commandments of God , In todays churches they are so corrupt and wicked that they use Paul and brainwash people saying Paul said not to keep the commandments . My church is my neighbour the sick and poor and family under the eyes of the Holy Royal Family above. As for the person who said we are all in the order of Melchilzedick …your wrong the line was talking about the Messiah in the order.. Give your money to needy people organisations not multi millionare ministers and fake churches.

  9. #9 by Scot Love on August 15, 2012 - 3:43 pm

    Hope I am not to late to join in. The last comment was 5 years ago. 🙂 I will keep this brief and hope to get a response. The tithe is something I have been wrestling with the past year. I have always been a faithful tither and still am but more and more I see that it is not part of the new covenant. Paul who was himself a Pharisee never mentions tithing in the New Testament but he DOES mention giving a few times. In all occurrences he says it is a matter of the heart as we are no longer under the law but under grace. The concurrent argument I always hear is that Tithing was before the law (Abraham). If that is the basis for the pro-tithing argument then we need to include mandatory circumcision in our modern churches as well. Am I wrong here?

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