Money Mondays: Tithing 3

In case you missed my disclaimer in the comment section last week, these posts are not an opportunity to preach. However, it is a chance for those who wish to discuss their positions the chance to do so without beating the opposition into submission. With that said, let's jump right on in.

Tithing under Mosaic Law.

The statutes of Mosaic Law are laid out in the book of Leviticus, particularly the matter of tithing. Today we are going to dispel the myth that tithes were given as animals and/or as a product of the field because society at that time was based upon Agricultural standards. That is true in part, but what most people fail to acknowledge is that money was a vital part of the society of that day. If that is the case, why didn't those under Mosaic Law tithe money? I won't answer that, I just want you to think about it for now.

So, what does the book of Leviticus say with regard to tithing? The 27th and final chapter of Leviticus goes into this matter in detail. It is interesting that the chapter opens with dedicating oneself to the Lord. It was common in those times for someone to vow a person to the Lord but in order for it to be legit and recognized by the Lord, you had to fork over the dough. Here were the rules.

50 Silver Shekels (that's money y'all) for a man 20 - 60 years old.
30 Silver Shekels for a woman 20 - 60 years old. (please no feminist stances)

20 Silver Shekels for a boy 5 - 20 years old
10 Silver Shekels for a girl 5 - 20 years old

15 Silver Shekels for a man 60 years and older
10 Silver Shekels for a woman 60 years and older

The only reason I show the above was to prove that money was used to present to the priests in certain cases. Another point of note, Leviticus 27:8 says that for persons who make a vow and cannot meet the valuation, the priests can then set a value proportionate to the resources of the person who made the vow.

The 27th Chapter goes on to deal with offering animals, houses and fields and having to accept the value given by the priests. The value is set primarily as a measure of its redeeming value if for some reason the person who offers it decides they want it back. In those instances, the value plus 1/5th is required.

Finally, the last 4 verses of Leviticus 27 deal with this whole matter of tithing. Tithing according to the Law of Moses deals with only land, flocks and herds. Verse 30 makes it clear, all tithes of the land, levied on the produce of the earth or the fruits of trees, belong to the Lord. Verse 32 says, all tithes of flock or herd, the tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman's staff shall be a thing consecrated to the Lord. It goes on further to say you can't pick out the good and the bad and that if you decide you want to redeem your tithe you have to pay it's valuation plus 1/5th its value (Tithe plus 20 percent), but none of that really matters since we aren't under Mosaic Law. My point is that the Mosaic Law tithe was never about money EXCEPT in the case of redeeming your tithe or when dealing with the instruction given in the book of Deuteronomy (Moses instruction to the Israelites before he dies).

In the book of Deuteronomy, 14th Chapter Moses lays out instruction for the tithe. In Deuteronomy tithing takes a twist from conventional teaching. Moses instructs them to do this each year. It should be noted that this is not a different tithe from that outlined in Leviticus. It is the one and same tithe. Moses is just reemphasizing what must be adhered to, even after he is gone. Paraphrased Deut. 14:22-23 -- Every year take a tithe of all that your sowing yields on the land and in the presence of the Lord, in the place that he chooses to give his name a home, you are to EAT THE TITHE of your corn, your wine and your oil AND the first-born of your herd and flock; so shall you learn to fear the Lord your God always. Verses 24 - 27 goes on further to say that if it's just too far to travel with your tithe to the place that the Lord made his home (the Temple), then you must turn your tithe into money and with the money in hand you must go to the Temple and buy whatever you like to eat. There is also instruction that every third year the tithe was to be laid out to give to the Levite (tribe dedicated to serving the Lord on behalf of the Israelites), the stranger, the orphan and the widow who live in your towns so that they may come and eat and have all they want. In this manner, God is glorified because he provided for them as well.

So that there is no confusion, tithing was done yearly because it wasn't money based, it was driven off of the harvesting of crops. I imagine that at different times of year the tithe was given because otherwise certain crops wouldn't last, for example, you wouldn't hold an apple harvest until winter. I'm not sure how those with cattle would have adhered to the rule, although animals do go into heat at certain times of the year. Therefore, I would also imagine there being an increase in flocks and herds at various times of the year as well. In that regard, there was always a reason to celebrate the goodness of God, because he was constantly providing.

So lets review. What have we learned today.
1. There was a system of money in place during Mosaic Law.
2. Tithing was never about money, but provision for God's people. Anywhere you see tithing in the Old Testament, it is applied to agriculture, flocks or herds, because that is what God intended for the Children of Israel. (This point does not overlook that the times now are different and thus money is required so that churches stay operational. I'm just laying out the facts so that everyone is empowered with the proper knowledge.)
3. The tithe was used to bless those that gave it as well as those who couldn't give.

Questions, Comments, Criticisms?

Next week -- Are you cursed financially because you don't tithe?

About the host:
Rich Fitzgerald is the author of the short story "One to Remember" featured in Love and Redemption (Bloggers' Delight Vol. 1), a collection of short stories by authors who blog. To read excerpts or to order a copy of the title, visit i-Lit. The book is also available on Amazon.


The True Urban Queen aka Sharon said...

Good morning Rev. Rich.

I want to say that personally I don't have a problem with tithing. If I went to church I would tithe.

I have a problem with how some churches go about tithing, how they collect, and how it is used.

Let's say I have ten percent to give and I give it faithfully. Every pay. Then, I come to church and they passing plates for the building fund, the missionary fund, the preacher's fund, the anniversary dinner fund.
I am not trying to be funny. But, there is always something they collecting money for.
And if they preaching hellfire cause, you don't give. I find it a turn off.
Or it becomes a burden and God don't want us to be burdened with only wanting to praise him.

I can't wait for next week. First, I thought it was because I ain't living right.

But, seriously, I hope you considered a member of the church who may be disabled with only one income. Or a single mother of four on welfare.
It is hard out there.

Torrance Stephens - All-Mi-T said...

u cant pick out the good or the bad


Tony OH said...

Hmmmm.... Now I think I'll share some verses with you privately on this matter, but in the end it's good to give ten percent to any needy person(s) or organization as a rule of thumb.

Christ answered the disciples when they asked, " When did we see you hungry or without and gave to you?"

And Christ responded, " When you gave to the least of them, you gave to me!"

Mizrepresent said...

Oh, i loved what Toney Oh said.

CapCity said...

u gettin' deep up in her' ;-)

Shelia said...

This is a good series. I'm a faithful tither but I find your posts on this subject interesting. I recommend it to those who don't and do tithe.