img_3397

In last week’s post, we investigated the crazy interpretations we Christians have brought forth from Malachi 3:8–12. We discovered that we have taught that Christians should bring their tithes into what the Lord through Malachi called the “storehouse,” which we have somehow morphed into the word “church.” However, the New Testament clearly teaches that the “church” is people—not a building. So, the problem we need to solve is, how can we with integrity and honesty instruct people from Malachi 3 to bring their tithes to the church using this passage of Scripture?

Well, we can’t.

Obvious realities.

The church is not a physical storehouse. It is people. So, we bring the tithe to people?

What is ironic about this is, yes, that is what the Old Testament teaches. The people of Israel actually did eat with others the tithes they gave.

But we’ll get to that later.

I’m going to avoid the biblical reality that tithing is not taught in the New Testament and instead emphasizes generosity to those in need—starving people, orphans, widows, and yes, needy pastors and teachers—and move along to what the Lord actually meant in Malachi 3. To do that, I offer this commentary on Malachi from Taylor and Clendenen.

“After Israel settled in the land they were to bring the tithe annually to the sanctuary and consume a portion of it, leaving the remainder with the Levites, who were to share a tithe with the priests (Numbers 18:21–32; Deuteronomy 12:5–19; 14:22–27). Moses instructed Israel in Deuteronomy 12:17–19: ‘You must not eat in your own towns the tithe of your grain and new wine and oil, or the firstborn of your herds and flocks, or whatever you have vowed to give, or your freewill offerings or special gifts. Instead, you are to eat them in the presence of the LORD your God at the place the LORD your God will choose—you, your sons and daughters, your menservants and maidservants, and the Levites from your towns—and you are to rejoice before the LORD your God in everything you put your hand to. Be careful not to neglect the Levites as long as you live in your land.’

“Every third year, however, the tithe was to be dispensed in the person’s hometown to be consumed by the local landless inhabitants—Levites, foreign residents, the fatherless, and widows (Deuteronomy 14:28–29; 26:12). The tithe, like the Sabbath year, was to benefit the poor and the landless, thereby showing love to both God and neighbor.”2

This is a teaching that I have never heard in the church. Can you imagine if it were? Bring your tithes—and we’ll eat together! We will sit at table with the landless, the fatherless and widows, and share our food with them.

I’d be laughing if it weren’t so tragic.

1Taylor, R. A., & Clendenen, E. R. (2004). Haggai, Malachi (Vol. 21A, pp. 415–416). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Advertisements