The question of whether the tithe is “legal” today in the New Testament Church is one which is constantly being brought up in light of the spectacle which Christians and non-Christians alike see through their television sets every week. As we enter the “end-times,” the hawking and haranguing in requests for more money seem endless more louder. And of a certainty, the issue of tithes and offerings and whether a Christian should tithe or not comes more to the forefront. “Is the tithe even legal?”, many Christians are asking themselves today.
However, let us step back a moment in time and look at this issue as it was before the so-called “end times” of today. One who knows a little bit of Church and Rabbinic history knows that there was indeed a tithe ( the giving of one’s 10 percent gross income) implemented during “Biblical times” – this was under the period known commonly as the “Law” under Moses. (1)
It was established under the leadership of the great lawgiver, military commander and prophetic administrator-judge who is credited to have led the Children of Israel out of Egyptian slavery and into their “promised land”. However, due in large part to his own willfulness in following a seemingly very simple instruction from God, he himself was personally denied the obtainment of what he had struggled and warred over for so very long to achieve – entrance to the “promised land”.
However, In a study of God’s Word the reader finds that before the tithes, way before the tithe during the period of the “Law”, there were offerings given as far back as Cain and his brother Abel. Even then, we find that willful self-determination and the willing giving of offerings was already coming into play as a confrontational issue in the area of giving to God. Spiritual warfare, even then, was taking place. Cain was trying, evidently, to “do it his way”. He and his brother had been raised with an offering consciousness, yet Cain determined he was going to give offerings in the manner he deemed right. But there was no mention of a tithe as of yet at this point in the Scriptures.
Later on in Biblical history, again way before the giving of the “Law” under Moses, there is recorded that Job, one of the wealthiest men of the then known world, gave freely to others: to the poor, the widow and to the orphans but no mention is made of any tithe. It seemed to have been, once again, voluntary. Again the question arises, should Christians even tithe today during the end-times. Is it legal? We shall see later on as we progress through the ages through the period after the ” Law”, and into the the early New Testament Church, the practices of offerings and giving of tithe and how they relate to today’s end times or latter days as some call this age.
We next come to the commonly regarded “father of the Hebrew nation”, Abraham. He gave voluntarily to Melchizedek, (Gen. 13:2), the priest, a tenth of the “spoils” of war (the booty or plunder), which Abraham had taken in battles against several regional kings. No where does it say that he gave a tenth of all his possessions. However, he did “give voluntarily” and did not keep any for himself. He was not under any duress or coercion. This is also the only reference in the Bible to Abraham, (or Abram as he was named at the time), ever having tithed anything. Finally, but not the least, we come to the grandson of Abraham, Jacob, who “conditionally” promised a tenth in offerings — “only if” God blessed and prospered him (Gen. 28:20-22). (2)
Hence, a conclusion can be reached that yes, there was the custom of giving of offerings, not only as far as the nation of Israel is concerned, but for other cultures of the time, as well. However, it was volitional. There was no mandatory requirement upon a people, either individually, or corporately set forth as an edict from God Himself. The giving of offerings (and not tithes), seemed to have been left up to an individual and God alone – before the “Law”. Therefore, it is a valid point to be considered during this period of so-called “end times”. Should indeed Christians be coerced into tithing every week and if so, is it even legal or is it a matter of God’s grace and the heart of the giver?
(2) Dr. Kluane Spake, pg.3. http://www.scribd.com/doc/1014552/Tithing#
Authored by Beverly Anne Sanchez, 2010