As a way of introduction to this post, it is worth noting that certain Christian groups, which are not typically associated with classical Christianity, used to consider the dissemination of their views as a fresh, rare and exuberant occurrence. However, with the advent of emerging technologies such as TikTok, these groups have found an easy platform from which to share their perspective about certain aspects of Christianity, which I will not discuss in this post. This has allowed them to spread their message more liberally and to a wider audience.
It is important to note that the argument for requiring congregants to pay ten percent of their income to the church is a widely debated topic. However, it is a requirement by some church's doctrine and is seen as a way to financially support the church's mission and ministries. The practice of tithing can be traced back to the Old Testament and is seen as a way to show gratitude and obedience to God.
Let’s start with the types of tithes God intended his people to give to the Temple
1.The Levitical Tithe - This tithe required the Israelites to give one-tenth of their produce, flocks, and herds to the Levites who were the priestly tribe. This tithe was intended to provide for the needs of the Levites, who were not given a land inheritance in Israel, but instead were to serve in the temple.
2.The Festival Tithe - This tithe required the Israelites to set aside an additional one-tenth of their produce, flocks, and herds each year to celebrate the feasts and festivals that God had commanded. The Israelites were to use this tithe to purchase whatever they needed to celebrate the festivals in Jerusalem.
3.The Poor Tithe - This tithe was given every third year and was intended to provide for the needs of the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners who lived in the land. The Israelites were to set aside one-tenth of their produce, flocks, and herds for this purpose.
Offerings and gifts
In the Old Testament, several types of offerings and gifts are mentioned. Here are some of the most common ones:
1.Burnt Offering - This offering involved sacrificing an animal (such as a bull, sheep, or goat) and burning it completely on the altar as an offering to God.
2.Grain Offering - This offering involved giving a portion of grain (such as wheat or barley) to the priests to be burned on the altar as a sweet aroma to the Lord.
3.Peace Offering - This offering involved sacrificing an animal and sharing a portion of it with the priests and the worshipper's family to eat together as a meal in celebration of God's goodness.
4.Sin Offering - This offering was made to atone for unintentional sins committed by the worshipper. An animal (such as a goat or lamb) was sacrificed, and the blood was sprinkled on the altar as a symbol of the forgiveness of sin.
5.Guilt Offering - This offering was made to atone for intentional sins committed by the worshipper. An animal was sacrificed, and the priest would make restitution for the wrong that was done.
Other types of offerings and gifts mentioned in the Old Testament include the wave offering, heave offering, and first fruits offering.
Were there any penalties for not bringing tithes, offerings and gifts?
It is imperative to base any stance on the controversial topic at hand on the Scriptures, as they are a valuable resource for training, teaching, and rebuking God's people. It is important to remember that God's will and His Word, the Bible, do not change with time or societal shifts, nor due to new interpretations. I urge readers to ground their defense or resistance to the matter in the Scriptures and to remain steadfast in their adherence to God's unchanging Word.
In the Old Testament, there is no specific penalty mentioned for not paying tithes. However, the failure to tithe was considered a violation of God's law and could result in being under a curse or divine punishment.
In the Book of Malachi, the prophet Malachi rebukes the Israelites for not bringing their tithes and offerings to the temple. He warns them that they are robbing God and that they are under a curse because of their disobedience. Malachi 3:8-9 says, "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed you?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed me, even this whole nation."
While there is no specific penalty for not paying tithes mentioned in the Old Testament, the idea of being cursed or punished by God was a serious concern for the Israelites. Therefore, tithing was an important religious duty that was not to be taken lightly.
What happened in Israel during the four-hundred years of prophetic silence?
Following the writing of the book of Malachi, he became the final prophetic writer of the Old Testament. A period of four hundred years of silence of prophetic utterances ensued. During this time, the people of Israel strayed from the path and continued to behave as they did during Malachi's era. It is important to note that this period of silence was a critical time in the history of the Israelites, and it is essential that we understand its impact on their culture and beliefs.
During the Hellenistic period, which spanned from 332-63 BC, Greek culture and language became the dominant influence in the region after Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire. As a result, the Jewish people came under Greek influence. Later, during the Maccabean Revolt from 167-160 BC, the Jewish people rebelled against the Seleucid Empire, which was ruled by the Syrian-Greek dynasty, and successfully established an independent Jewish state.
Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem to Mary and Joseph in 4 BC. This event fulfilled Old Testament prophecies of a Messiah who would save his people from sin, according to the Christian faith. These events laid the groundwork for the social, political, and religious context in which Jesus was born and ministered.
What were Jesus’ last words at the cross?
At this juncture, I shall shift my focus from the Old Testament to the New Testament to bring to the forefront the significance of the final words of Jesus Christ: "It is finished". These words, spoken by Jesus just before his death, signify the completion of his mission on earth, the fulfillment of prophesies, and the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of humanity.
The words "It is finished" signify the completion of Jesus' mission on earth. He made the ultimate sacrifice for the redemption of humanity, fulfilling prophesies and the Law, and tithes were part of the Law. As a result, those who believe in Christ are no longer ruled by the Law and its requirements no longer apply to them. Jesus fulfilled the Law and invited us into a new covenant, the covenant of grace. Therefore, it is important for believers to accept this new covenant and live a life of grace.
What does the Apostle Paul write regarding tithes in the New Testament?
The New Testament does not explicitly require believers to pay tithes. While the concept of giving to support the work of the church is still important, the New Testament emphasizes giving out of a heart of generosity, cheerfulness, and willingness, rather than a legalistic obligation to give a certain percentage of income.
In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul instructs the Corinthian church to give generously and willingly, stating that "Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7). The emphasis is on giving as an act of worship and thanksgiving to God, rather than fulfilling a requirement or obligation.
Furthermore, the New Testament also teaches that all believers are priests in Christ and have direct access to God (1 Peter 2:5-9), so the need for a separate priestly class and temple system, which tithing originally supported, no longer applies.
While many Christians still choose to tithe as a way to support their church and demonstrate their faith, it is not considered or generally considered a requirement or commandment in the New Testament. The emphasis is on giving out of a heart of gratitude and generosity, and supporting the work of the church and its mission in the world.