The first example of tithing in scripture is when Abram gave a tenth of the spoils of the ten kings to Melchisedec [the one who became Jesus Christ].
Gen 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. 19 And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: 20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
The question must be asked: Was a tithe [tenth] given to the High Priest Melchisedec an arbitrary decision by Abram? or did Abram already know about tithing and did he have the habit of tithing on his increase in his lifetime?
We are not told whether Abram tithed on his increase regularly, or whether his tithing to Melchisedec was a one off; and we are not told if the figure of 10% was arbitrary or a principle of God understood by Abram.
It is also clear that Abram tithed on the spoils of battle and therefore tithes were not just on agricultural production.
Nevertheless Abram did tithe at least on the spoils of the battle [which were not necessarily agricultural production] and Abraham’s children did understand the principle of tithing for Jacob promised to tithe on everything he received.
We can see several principles from these two scriptures:
1. That tithes were paid to the one who became Jesus Christ and therefore once the Aaronic priesthood ended and the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ was restored, it is fitting, lawful and proper that tithes by given to the priesthood of Jesus Christ,
2. That tithes were given on all increase not just agricultural produce,
3. That tithing had nothing to do with some kind of payment for use of the agricultural land.
Later when the Mosaic Covenant was set up, it was established as an instructional allegory to teach us the basics of the New Covenant.
The Tithing System
The tithing system called for the people to tithe on their INCREASE to the Levites which included the priests;
Lev 18:20 And the Lord spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel. 21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
The Levites including the priests then tithed a tithe of their tithe, to the High Priest.
Lev 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.27 And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn [grain] of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.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.
The priests and Levites also had their own cities for dwelling and commerce, and received parts of the personal offerings of the people, as well as receiving the first fruits of the people.
The High Priest received the tithe of the tithe of the nation in addition to the commanded festival offerings; and used that to finance the Daily Sacrifices, and the Sabbath, New Moon, annual sacrifices and Festivals for the whole nation.
The priests were to officiate in the sacrificial and holy things, while the Levites were to do the physical necessities; cleaning, providing wood and water and moving the Tabernacle. David also wrote psalms and established choirs of Levites for the Tabernacle and later Temple services.
Both priest and Levites were to be teachers of holiness throughout the nation, spreading out from the 24 Levitical cities to teach godliness to all the people. Which was the synagogue system started by Moses/Joshua and spoken of by David Psalm 74:7-8 and revived again by Ezra Nehemiah.
Remember that since David’s time the priests served only two weeks a year in the Temple service plus on the Holy Festivals. The remainder of the year was to be spent in teaching the people to discern between the holy and the profane in the local schools [synagogues].
This System was a microcosm of how the Millennial Kingdom of God will be financed and how the Levites and priests of Zadok will work in the New Covenant Millennium. They will be supervised by the spirit kings and priests, yet physical people will still have very much to do.
When the Mosaic Covenant ended, the obligation to tithe to the priesthood of Aaron also ended; and the right to accept tithes became the prerogative of Jesus Christ who himself in the form of Melchisedec took tithes of Abram. The High Priest of the New Covenant, Jesus Christ, has the authority to take tithes of the people, and so do the priests of the priesthood of Jesus Christ.
It is lawful and proper that people give tithes to those who are proven to be faithful rebuker’s of all sins, and zealous to learn, teach and keep the whole Word of God, for they are the servants of our LORD and High Priest.
It is not lawful to give the tithes belonging to God the Father and Jesus Christ; to those who have no zeal for the whole Word of God and are full of spiritual adultery with idols of man and false traditions.
Giving God’s money to his enemies who will speak lies to maintain false traditions and teach the brethren to follow them away from any zeal for the whole Word of God is wrong. It is a sin to finance the enemy of the truth and the Word of God; and to give God/s tithes to the apostate COG groups is as great a sin as if Mosaic Israel gave God’s tithes to Baal.
Hebrews 7 For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; 3 Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.5 And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:6 But he whose descent is not counted from them [did not descend from Levi] received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.7 And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
8 And here men that die [Levites] receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he [Melchisedec (Jesus Christ) who received the tithes of Abram still lives] liveth.
9 And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes [to Melchisedec who became Jesus Christ] in Abraham. 10 For he [Levi] was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
Perfection was not attained under Levi; yet perfection can be attained through Melchisedec who became Jesus Christ and after dying for sin is risen to be a permanent High Priest, replacing the imperfect priesthood of Aaron out of Levi.
11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.
The imperfect priesthood of Aaron and the Levites, where the priests are subject to death is passed away; that a perfect eternal Priesthood of Melchisedec (Jesus Christ) may be reestablished. The change in the priesthood means a change in the laws regarding the duties, functions and prerogatives of the priesthood from Aaron and the Levites, to the High Priesthood of Jesus Christ. The new High Priesthood of Jesus Christ therefore has the right to take tithes of the people.
13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.
14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest,
16 Who is made [high priest], not after the law of a carnal [physical priesthood subject to death] commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
The High Priest of the New Covenant then has the function of interceding with God the Father for the sincerely repentant; Applying his perfect sacrifice to the sincerely repentant; Reconciling the sincerely repentant with God the Father; and has the right to take tithes from the people.
Principles of Tithing
The word tithe refers to 10% of our INCREASE, which we are to give to God, not as some kind of tax for the use of agricultural land as false teachers would claim: But to acknowledge the sovereignty of God over our lives,
A tithe is 10% of our increase. Increase is anything left over after all the expenses necessary to earn the increase are paid.
Expenses to earn an increase include work clothes, transportation, tools, raw materials to produce a product and educational expenses. All these things may be deducted before tithing to those who have been proven faithful to the whole Word of God.
Remember that tithing to those who reject the truth and pollute the Sabbath, or waste the money on things like the AICF and a weak business model outreach, are stealing from God and giving the tithe belonging to Jesus Christ to those who are rebelling against him.
Mal 3:8-10 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. 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 you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Herbert Armstrong and all those who came from him have robbed God of God’s tithes. How? By wasting them on worldly things like the AICF; instead of using them to preach the Gospel which is the whole Word of God; and by presenting a business model outreach instead of proclaiming the whole truth of God.
It should be understood that Paul revealed to us that while he had the right to take tithes, he also had the right to forbear and exercised mercy for people who were under severe persecution and in serious poverty in this imperfect world. It is also self evident that most people will be unable to tithe during the tribulation.
Tithing is an acknowledgement of the sovereignty of God, and is for the purpose of doing the work of God and teaching all people the difference between the holy and the profane, and exhorting all people towards a genuine sincere repentance and true passionate zeal for godliness.
The tithe was to be from our increase in all things, not just agricultural produce; although ancient Israel was an agricultural society.
If tithing was a law in physical Israel for the physical imperfect priesthood of Aaron; how much more is it a law in spiritual Israel to tithe to the perfect and eternal High Priest Jesus Christ; that salvation may be taught to humanity?