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1 - Tithing - Legalism - Robbery - Origin

Is the failure to TITHE robbing God by robbing the priests? No. Malachi said: And now, O PRIESTS, this commandment is for YOU. Malachi 2:1. If you are still a sharecropper on your own land then you have been imprisoned by robbers.

The Origin of Animal Sacrifices

1 - Abraham - Free-Will Giving

The Bible first mentions tithing in the story of Abram in Genesis 14:18f. When foreigners invaded and stole the property of the king of Sodom, lot and others, Abram rescued them and recovered everything. Under ancient laws, he could take 10% of the "loot." Melchizedek as king and priest fed Abraham. As a result, Abraham voluntarily gave the 10% booty to Melchizedek. Abraham typified the priesthood of the Levites. His free-will gift is no more binding than circumcision.

And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way. Genesis 4:11

And they took Lot, Abrams brothers son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. Genesis 14:12

When they returned, the king of Sodom went out with empty hands. However,

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. Genesis 14:18

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; Hebrews 7:1

Melchizedek blessed Abraham and God. He was both king and priest of Jeru-Salem or Jerusalem. As a type of Christ, he gave food to the returning army. Because food was the only thing tithed in the Old Testament, Melchizedek served the people rather than demand a tithe.

By custom, Abraham could claim 10% of the loot but he gave it to Melchizedek. That is, the king of Sodom owed the tithe of all to the one who recovered it. Therefore, it was not Abraham but the king of Sodom who supplied the tithe.

Remember that Melchizedek was king of Jerusalem as a city-state which would include the surrounding country. This means that Abraham's gift of the king of Sodom's goods to Melcihzedek was for both civil (Caesar) and religious (God) purposes. That is, as with the Levites, the 10% was for both the government and maintaining the temple. In the New Testament, Jesus paid the Temple tax and declared the children of the King to be free.

Abraham was offered all of the goods by the king of Sodom who could normally claim the tithe or ten percent of the returned loot. Because Abraham had "lifted up his hand to God" he would not take anything for the rescue because people could say that he had profited from ill-gotten goods.

There was no command for Abraham to give to anyone for religious purposes. He gave only the loot of the king of Sodom and none of his own income. In fact, there is no hint that Abraham gave a tithe to anyone for religious purposes because as senior male and Patriarch he could approach God without Levitical intercessors. Hence, there was no rationale for tithing before Israel sinned at Mount Sinai and was "laded" down with the Levites to be intercessors to keep the people away from the Tabernacle.

Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils. Hebrews 7:4

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: Hebrews 7:5


Under the Law of Moses, the Levites took tithes of their brethren so that they could serve as a priestly class standing between the people and God's presence in the Tabernacle.

However, in a typical sense, the Levites (priests) gave the tithe to Melchizedek who represented Christ and an enduring priesthood which would not need to make sacrifices over and over and would not, therefore, need a Levite to be the mediator or intercessor:

But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises. Hebrews 7:6

And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham. Hebrews 7:9

For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him. Hebrews 7:10


Out of what the Levites received from their brethren, it was they who were responsibile for giving a tithe (1% of the people's tithe) to Melchizedek who represented both civil government and the total religious function. Therefore, if anyone was robbing God it was the clergy class who mishandled what they took from their brethren.

However, we must always remember that the Levitical priesthood was ordained to intercede or stand between the people and God's presence. This was to protect a violent, sinful people so that they could atone for their own sins through legally sacrificing. The Levitical priesthood did not make a single person more spiritual or ever able to stand on their own in the presence of a Holy God:

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? Hebrews 7:11

For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. Hebrews 7:12

Before the Law, Abraham represented the clergy class giving directly to the Priest-King Who had taken the initiative by giving the food to the people. It was unlawful under the Law for a priest or prophet to take a wage of money; under the New Covenant, it was, according to Paul, unseemly.

Jesus abrogated the tithe by paying the total debt and permitting each believer to come boldly before His throne.

For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. Hebrews 7:13

For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. Hebrews 7:14

And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Hebrews 7:15

Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. Hebrews 7:16

Tithing under the law made nothing perfect. Rather, it gave food (only food) to the Levites because the sinful people (under law) could not "draw night unto God." However, under a new law, we do not tithe to have someone intercede for us:

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. Hebrews 7:19

Christ was not of the tribe of Levi and therefore took no tithes. As God, the Spirit, He does not need to be fed. A new priesthood of believers does not need a Levite-like priest or intercessor because our High Priest replaced all legal priests:

Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the peoples: for this he did once, when he offered up himself. Hebrews 7:27

Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. Hebrews 4:14

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Hebrews 4:15

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

Tithing of the king of Sodom's goods represented the Levites tithing to Christ. Christ was not a Levite and does not make intercession like a Levite who needed to be fed. Our citizenship is in heaven and we can come boldly before the throne without a human Levitical intercessor. Therefore, to demand the tithe is to claim the role of Jesus Christ as Intercessor. To give to Him we must give cups of cold water (and more) to the poor, widow and stranger.

2 - Jacob - Free-Will Giving

Later, as Jacob was enroute to Paddan Aram, God spoke to him in a dream confirming His promise to Abraham and said, "I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying." When Jacob woke, he vowed, "Of all that Thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto Thee." (Genesis 28:22). We have no record of how Jacob gave this freewill vow as God already "owned all of the cattle on a thousand hills" (Psalm 50:10. The heads of the families served as God's leaders within the tribe. Because there was no priestly class under this covenant of grace, we might assume, consistent with later rules, that he gave this food to the poor or had it burned.

Israel's Rescue from Egypt

When Jacob's son, Joseph, was sold into slavery in Egypt, he rose to a high position in the government. When God revealed that a famine was coming, Joseph bought all of the farm land and rented it back to the people. The renters gave 20% of their food and it was stored for them for the years of famine. Genesis 47:24. The priests grew their own food.

If God used justice He would have left Israel in Egypt to live in slavery. This was because they profaned Him and caused the Egyptians to ridicule His Name. Therefore, He removed them from Egypt by grace to protect His own reputation.

Rather than allow the people to be destroyed in Egypt and let the Egyptians to make fun of Jehovah for having such an evil group of worshippers or from just destroying them, God removed them from Egypt

In the day that I lifted up mine hand unto them, to bring them forth of the land of Egypt into a land that I had espied for them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands: Ezekiel 20:6

Then said I unto them, Cast ye away every man the abominations of his eyes, and defile not yourselves with the idols of Egypt: I am the Lord your God. Ezekiel 20: 7
But they rebelled against me, and would not hearken unto me: they did not every man cast away the abominations of their eyes, neither did they forsake the idols of Egypt: then I said, I will pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them. Ezekiel 20: 8
But I wrought for my names sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, among whom they were, in whose sight I made myself known unto them, in bringing them forth out of the land of Egypt. Ezekiel 20: 9

God made the same choice (even if He knows the end from the beginning) in the wilderness:

Wherefore I caused them to go forth out of the land of Egypt, and brought them into the wilderness. Ezekiel 20: 10

And I gave them my statutes, and shewed them my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them. Ezekiel 20: 11
Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them. Ezekiel 20: 12
But the house of Israel rebelled against me in the wilderness: they walked not in my statutes, and they despised my judgments, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; and my sabbaths they greatly polluted: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them in the wilderness, to consume them. Ezekiel 20: 13
But I wrought for my names sake, that it should not be polluted before the heathen, in whose sight I brought them out. Ezekiel 20: 14

The righteous decision would be to leave Israel in the wilderness. Again, god had to protect His people to protect His Name:

Yet also I lifted up my hand unto them in the wilderness, that I would not bring them into the land which I had given them, flowing with milk and honey, which is the glory of all lands; Ezekiel 20: 15

Because they despised my judgments, and walked not in my statutes, but polluted my sabbaths: for their heart went after their idols. Ezekiel 20: 16
Nevertheless mine eye spared them from destroying them, neither did I make an end of them in the wilderness. Ezekiel 20: 17
But I said unto their children in the wilderness, Walk ye not in the statutes of your fathers, neither observe their judgments, nor defile yourselves with their idols: Ezekiel 20: 18
Notwithstanding the children rebelled against me: they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths: then I said, I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness. Ezekiel 20: 21
Nevertheless I withdrew mine hand, and wrought for my names sake, that it should not be polluted in the sight of the heathen, in whose sight I brought them forth. Ezekiel 20: 22

The idolatrous worship of Apis at Mount Sinai sentenced Israel to captivity and almost total destruction -- then and there -- because they would always be unfaithful to God. Therefore, He gave them a law which could not give life (as the Covenant could have) and helped them on their way to destruction when they "fired" Him and demanded a king like the nations so that they could worship like the nations:

I lifted up mine hand unto them also in the wilderness, that I would scatter them among the heathen, and disperse them through the countries; Ezekiel 20: 23
Because they had not executed my judgments, but had despised my statutes, and had polluted my sabbaths, and their eyes were after their fathers idols. Ezekiel 20: 24
Wherefore I gave them also statutes that were not good, and judgments whereby they should not live; Ezekiel 20: 25
And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord. Ezekiel 20: 26

To worship like the nations meant that Israel, under violated law, was doomed to worship like the nations. This included burning "spare" children in the red-hot arms of Molech. With minor exceptions for short periods this destructive worship persisted until Israel was lost and Judah was sent to Babylon for 70 years to have their noses rubbed in idolatry so that they could comprehend the sorrow of God.

Stephen got himself murdered in part for denying Dr. Shelly's thesis:

"But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt. They told Aaron, 'Make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who led us out of Egypt--we don't know what has happened to him!' -- Acts 7:37-40
That was the time they made an idol in the form of a calf. They brought sacrifices to it and held a celebration (ie Played in song, music and dance) in honor of what their hands had made. -- Acts 7:41

The Book of the Law was to judge them:

"But God turned away and gave them over to the worship of the heavenly bodies. This agrees with what is written in the book of the prophets: "'Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings forty years in the desert, O house of Israel? -- Acts 7:42

Amos also said that they failed:

"You have lifted up the shrine of Molech and the star of your god Rephan, the idols you made to worship. Therefore I will send you into exile' beyond Babylon. -- Acts 7:43

Amos didn't condemn a "bad mental attitude" but:

The sacrifices of the ungodly are abomination to the Lord, for they offer them unlawfully." Prov. 21:27 LXX

This is what Ezekiel said. Now, look back and see the actual event.

At Mount Sinai, God gave Israel The Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20-23). This restated the Covenant made with Abraham. It contained 70 laws to amplify the original ten commandments. It had no priestly class, but the first born sons or elders were to serve God as Patriarchs. Everyone could pray, praise or sing to God or offer sacrifices without clergy to bear the pain.

When Moses was slow coming down from meeting God on Mount Sinai, the Israelites returned to the festive calf (Apis) worship of Egypt. As a result, the Levites were forced to kill three thousand of their sons and brothers and a great plague broke out

God then gave Moses ten commandments which are never recorded as identical to the first ten written with the finger or Spirit of God. Exodus 31:18

As a sign of the lost Covenant, Moses had to personally chisel out the two stones and write the second set of tablets (Exodus 34:27). Of the full 613 terms (micvah) of the Law, it was recorded that:

"These are the terms of the covenant the LORD commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab,

in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb (Mount Sinai). Deuteronomy 29:1

The Levites now replaced the patriarchs or eldest sons in order to live under law. (Numbers 3:12). However, Korah did not understand that they had lost the covenant of grace and the "priesthood of believers"--

And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord? Numbers 16:3

The rebels were swallowed up by the earth or consumed by fire.

This showed how serious it was under law to try to offer your own worship or, as we see later, even sing your own songs. The whole of Israel grumbled against Moses and 14,700 died of a plague (Num 16:49).

When the people finally understood that they were separated from God, they asked for a remedy (Numbers 17:12-13).

"AND the Lord said unto Aaron, Thou and thy sons and thy fathers house with thee shall bear the iniquity of the sanctuary: and thou and thy sons with thee shall

bear the iniquity of (connected with) your priesthood. Numbers 18:1

As Adam and Eve were expelled from the garden of Eden and the tree of life was now guarded by Cherubim with a flaming sword (Genesis 3:24), the Levites guarded the symbolic place of God's dwelling in the Tabernacle to keep everyone out. The common people worshipped God out in the shops and farms where righteousness and justice was needed and the national, representative "debt-paying rituals," were performed by the clergy for the nation.

The Effect of the Law

No one can escape life-changing moments of decision. The fork in the road in the Bible led to the path of noise as the cry of violence in worship; or it lead to the quiet, peaceful rest promised when Jesus came as "Prince of Peace" to lead His lambs beside quiet waters. You know, lambs cannot feed beside noisy, rushing streams.

After the people stripped off all of their idol-jewelry in repentance, the tabernacle was set up "outside the camp and far away." In the Book of the Law, the nature of the Tabernacle was changed and the Levites were deprived of an inheritance in Canaan and stood between the people and the symbol of God's presence. If modern clergy demands to be the mediators of the Word and ritual of the church then they, consistent with all priests, strip themselves of wealth and live on the day-to-day dole Paul defined as the "daily ration of the Roman soldier."

Israel's Mandatory Tithe

The Levites now stood between Israel and God to offer sacrifices when people broke the law. The legal tithe was one of the burdens of the law which would be enforced by the unauthorized kings (1 Samuel 8:15).

"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. Numbers 18:21

Abodah (h5656) ab-o-daw'; or abowdah ab-o-daw'; from 5647; work of any kind: - act, bondage, / bondservant, effect, labour, ministering (-try), office, service (-ile, -itude), tillage, use, work, * wrought

Abad (h5647) aw-bad'; a prim. root; to work (in any sense); by impl. to serve, till, (caus.) enslave, etc.: - * be, keep in bondage, be bondmen, bond-service, compel, do, dress, ear, execute, / husbandman, keep, labour (-ing man), bring to pass, (cause to, make to) serve (-ing, self), (be, become) servant (-s), do (use) service, till (-er), transgress [from margin], (set a) work, be wrought, worshipper.

"Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die. Numbers 18:22

This service of mediating between God and the people required giving 10% of the food grown in the land to the Levites who, as a type, absorbed the punishment for sins by service and poverty.

After the tribes received their lands in Canaan, God reminded them through Joshua that He had gone before them and had driven out the inhabitants, and said, "...you did not do it with your own sword and bow. So I gave you a land on which you did not toil and cities you did not build; and you live in them and from vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant." Joshua 24:12-13.

And the Lord said, "And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lords: it is holy unto the Lord." Lev. 27:30 "And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord." Leviticus 27:32


Kenneth Sublett


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