There are lots of bible verses that talk about tithes or tithing, and to understand what the bible says about tithes, we need to conduct a thorough research and studies on those bible verses.
The results of our research and studies on what the bible says about tithes will cover the following sub-topics
- The first person to tithe in the bible
- How tithing was formulated as part of the Mosaic law.
- Who does the tithe belong to?
- The purpose of tithes
- How to tithe properly.
- Tithing in the Old Testament
- Tithing in the New Testament.
And without further ado, let’s move straight into our seeing the results of our research and studies.
1. The first person to tithe in the bible.
In Genesis 14:17-20, we discover that Abram was the first person to tithe in the bible.
The story actually begins in chapter one of Genesis 14, where the four kings: Amraphel of Babylonia, Arioch of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer of Elam, and Tidal of Goiim went to war against five other kings.
The five kings were; Berah of Sodom, Birsha of Gomorrah, Shinab of Admah, Shemeber of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (or Zoar).
Now since Abram’s Nephew, Lot was living in Sodoma at the time, he became a victim of the captivity that arose from this war.
So when someone escaped to inform Abram about what happened to his Nephew, he gathered all the fighting men in his camp and pursued the four kings on their way to Dan.
Luckily for Abram, he rescued Lot and also discovered all the loot that was taken by the four kings including the women and other prisoners.
And when he returned, he was met by Melchizedek, a priest of the Most High God, who gave him bread and wine and blessed him.
Immediately after blessing Abram, Abram offered Melchizedek a tenth of all the loot he recovered, which we now refer to as tithe.
When we look at Abram paying tithe to Melchizedek from a spiritual perspective, we will realize that Abram gave the tithe to Melchizedek in appreciation of the bread, wine and blessings he gave to him.
2. How tithing was formulated as part of the Mosaic law.
Let us not forget in a hurry that the Israelites were the descendants of Abraham who was the first person to tithe in the bible.
So it was therefore necessary for the descendants of Abram to follow in their footsteps.
But from what we see in Leviticus 27:30-32, the paying of tithe was formulated as part of the Mosaic law.
In the above bible verse, Moses commands the children of Israel to set aside their ten percent of all the produce they got from their lands, as well as their animals.
Since the paying of tithe is not among the 10 commandments written on the tablet by God to Moses, we can’t really say if this was an instruction from the Lord Himself.
But as we will see from subsequent research, the paying of tithe really had a root in the Mosaic law.
3. Who does the tithe belong to?
In Leviticus 27: 30-32, Moses commanded the children of Israel to set aside their tithe because it belongs to God.
So originally, tithe belonged to God. But later on in Numbers 18:21-24, God handed over the tithe to the Levites in repayment for the services they were offering in His temple.
However, in Deuterenomy 12:17-19, we discover that the Israelites were commanded to eat the tithe with their family in the first year
And on the third year as recorded in Deuterenomy 26:12-15, they were to pay the tithe to the Levites, strangers, orphans and widows.
So with this knowledge we can conclude on this sub topic that the tithe belongs to the owner, to the Levites, strangers, orphans and the widows.
4. What was the purpose of tithes?
Every bible verse about tithe points to food and meat. Moses states categorically in Leviticus 27:30-32 that the children of Israel should gather ten percent of their farm products and animals.
Malachi 3:6-10 makes this point clearer when it says that the Israelites should bring their tihe to the house of God so there could be enough food.
Its however worthy to mention that the occupation of the modern world transcends just farming and raring of animals, as it was back in the early days. And because of this, money has been substituted for food and animals.
In fact people feel safe to take out ten percent of their earnings, whether from salaries or business transactions, and pay as tithes.
On the other end, the preachers or general overseers of the Christian denominations, especially in Africa, are using tithes to build mansions and schools, buy private jets as well as afford a luxurious lifestyle.
But studying Deuteronomy 14:29, we discover that the Levites who received tithes were not supposed to use it to get inheritance, that is buy lands and houses.
And this latter knowledge confirms the fact that the purpose of tithes was to provide food and meat for the Levites, strangers, widows and orphans who had no inheritance among the Israelites.
5. How to tithe properly.
To tithe properly, we must stick to what the bible commands in Deuteronomy 14:22-29 and Deuteronomy 12:17-19.
The two bible portions above shows us the following:
- Deuteronomy 14:22-29 shows us that in the first year the worshipper must take hs tithe alongside his family and eat it all in the temple. It even commands them to sell them off in the case where their house is far away from the temple. But when they get to the temple they are commanded to use the money to buy the tithe and eat it right there.
- And in Deuteronomy 12:17-19, we discover that the next tithe should be paid after three years to the Levites, strangers, orphans, and widows.
But many Christians dismiss this means of tithing on the grounds that it always took the Israelites a year to harvest their farm produce, that was why they were required to pay their tithe every year.
While in its modern era, so many people are making money on a daily basis, some monthly etc. And because of that tithes should be a sort of pay-as-you-go issue.
But I always love to maintain my stand on heeding to the biblical method of tithing because farming and raring of animals was not the only occupation when the Israelites were tithing.
In fact, in Genesis 47:24-26 Joseph instituted tithing in Egypt during the time of famine. And remember this was a foreign, and as the bible says those people are still tithing till date.
6. Tithing in the Old Testament
Our research and studies so far has really treated so much about tithes in the Old Testament.
But notwithstanding that, let us look at few other important points about tithes in the Old Testament.
- In Genesis 28:22, Jacob, who was a grandson of Abram the first man to tithe in the bible promised to be paying his tithes.
- Numbers 18:26 reveals that the Levites were to pay tithe from the tithes they received from the Israelites to the priest.
- Durng the return from exile, tithe was among the laws that Ezra and Nehemiah re-enacted. (Nehemiah 10:37-38, 12:44, 13:2 & 5, 13;10-12.
- Amos 4:4 confirms that tithes are to be paid after three years.
- During Hezkiah’s reform, the payment of tithe was among the laws he placed a lot of emphasize on. (2 Chronicles 31:5-12)
7. Tithing in the New Testament.
In the New Testament, Christians are more concerned about what Jesus said about the paying of tihes.
And from our research and studies we discover that it was on two occasions that the issue of tithe was brought forth around Jesus.
The first occasion is in Luke 11:42 where Jesus commented on the Scribes and Pharisees obeying the law of tithes but neglecting the weightier matters of the law which is justice, mercy and love.
And on the second occasion as recorded in Luke 18:12, a rich young man told Jesus that he regularly paid tihes. In response, Jesus ignored the issue of tithe but rather told him to go and sell his belongings and give to the poor; and afterwards follow Him.
From Jesus reactions to the issue of tithe in these two occasions we can discover that paying of tithe is still relevant in Christendom event though a lot of denominations are doing it the wrong way.
Another person people would hope to comment on the issue of tithe is St. Paul.
But the results of our research and studies from Hebrews 7 show that Paul was all along overviewing tithing as was done in Judaism.
And he did not mention what Christians must do win respect to tithing.
Finally, from the results of our research and studies above we can firmly understand that what the bible says about tithes is safe in the fact that we should eat our tithes every first year. And on the third year we should pay our tithes to our church leaders, strangers, widows and orphans.