I have no doubt you have heard this verse…
Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse… – Mal 3:10
But was it taught to you correctly? Let’s dig in and see.
Firstly, what is the reason God gives for saying these words? The answer is in the same verse…
… that there may be food in my house – Mal 3:10
and also in the 2 verses before…
“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’ “In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.” – Mal 3:8-9
Apparently God felt His people were robbing Him and as a result there was a shortage and not enough “food” in His house.
Firstly let’s note that the “house” He is referring to is far larger than merely the temple building, it’s His entire Kingdom which includes His strategic and His plans for the future.
What this scripture tells me is that God wants to do things “in His house” but the people are not giving the “full tithe” and this is leaving the “house” in a shortage – and God is unable to do all the things He wants to do.
So we ought to bring in the FULL tithe. Wait. What does that mean… the FULL tithe?
There were (very simplistically put) three main tithes collected from Israel…
- FIRST Tithe: 2.5% of the income (after tax) to support the priests who ministered to the people and to God and this tithe is known as terumah (‘heave offering’ or ‘gift’)
- SECOND Tithe: 10% of the remainder to support Levites (Num. 18:21) which are the people running the temple etc. this is our modern day church and the tithe is known as maaser rishon
- THIRD Tithe: 10% to pay for a sacred celebration once a year (Deut. 14:23) in Jerusalem or if you live too far away then “wherever your heart desires” this tithe is known as maser sheni
- NOTE: every third and sixth year of the cycle culminating in the Sabbatical year, the second tithe is given to the poor and is known as maaser ani, ‘poor man’s tithe.’ (Deut. 14:28-29;Â 26:12-13)
So the actual income percentage given was closer to 23% rather than the current 10%.
Before I carry on, let me say… in Christianity we don’t give according to the law, instead we give out of our relationship with God…
Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7
Although we give out of our heart, I think we can and must see what we can learn from God’s design and let us see what we can discern about His intentions.
Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children – Eph 5:1
Sometimes I have found that “giving from my heart” means I give much more than just 10%. In fact one time I felt to give and give and give… then some time later I calculated how much I had given and it was about 23%. Interesting huh?
(But actually none of this is my point.)
Sowing and reaping is definitely an eternal principle. Just think… God sowed His own Son (Jesus Christ) in order to reap many sons. THAT is sowing and reaping being displayed in Heaven!
(And still… that is not my point.)
My point is this… when we give should we only be giving to the church (levites) or should we also be giving to the people in our lives who act as a “priest” to us. The 2.5% The 1/40th offering went to the ‘man of God’ in your life. That person is not necessarily even going to your church.
The vision God showed me was a church where the people in it were giving to one another as they felt led. I could see the lines going between the people.
Imagine that… a church in which people who have ministries are given a 2.5% tithe which will support the work they do. Right now we have fantastically rich churches teaching maaser rishon only… and as a result all the tithes go to the churches only.
There are so many ministries outside of the church in God’s Kingdom (His “house”) where we are robbing Him and there is “not enough food”.
How would that change things if our giving didn’t only go to the church leaders but also went to God’s workers in His Kingdom. What if there was enough food right across His entire Kingdom?
Please don’t think this 2.5% tithe (called a Terumah) is a small issue in God’s design for our lives. It’s mentioned 87 times in the Tanakh (Old Testament).
Also shouldn’t we be saving for a yearly celebration? But what was left over after the feast or festival they would trade it in for silver and gold; and save it up as an inheritance for their children’s children. What a good idea! What a good God.
Lastly, about the maser sheni which is the yearly festival or celebration I love how God says this… see the freedom… of what food to buy in the celebration…
Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. – Deut 14:26
and if you live too far away from Jerusalem you can have the celebration where you live. The point is to rest once a year and enjoy yourself and your family and friends together in God’s Presence. Isn’t that wonderful?