Tithing: A Command with a Promise

Via Flickr, by user EF Photography. Used under Creative Commons License.

When was the last time that a politician made you a promise — and kept it?

We give the government hefty sums of our money. And while we trust that our tax money goes to pay for civil necessities such as the military, firefighters and highway work crews, we also know that there’s a lot of waste in government, and a lot of campaign promises that never get met.

Even though the people that handle our government’s money may be suspect, few of us ever try to withhold what we owe in taxes. We may doubt that their promises about our investment will ever come true (do you really expect that Social Security will be around when you retire?), and yet we pay anyway.

But if we give to our leaders, whose promises we don’t trust, why is it so hard to give to God?

Just like the government has a claim to some of your income, God has identified some of the money that you make as His. Ten percent of everything you earn — the tithe — belongs to God. In our modern world, that money is given to support the work of the local church; without tithing, church as we know it can’t happen.

And yet, so many Christians are reluctant to give the full tithe. There is no shortage of excuses that we can make as to why we’re not tithing. But the truth is that it’s a matter of the heart. People don’t tithe because they don’t want to give God their money… even though it’s really His money from the start.

This is a tragedy, not just for the church, but for the stingy believer. Tithing is a command with a promise. And unlike the spurious claims of men in suits running for public office, the promises of God always come to pass.

Let’s examine what God has to say about the tithe in Malachi 3:8-12.

“Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.

“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.  I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.

God consider’s the tithe His own from the beginning, and says in no uncertain terms that those who withhold the tithe are robbing from Him. When the Israelites did not tithe as they were commanded, they fell under a curse. But God did not institute the rule of the tithe to burden us; He did it to bless us.

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Check out the great promise that God gives to those who are faithful to tithe — He says that He will open the floodgates of heaven, and “pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.” Last time God threw open the floodgates, it rained for for 40 days and 40 nights — so when He says that He’s going to bless us, we know that He means business.

It may be hard to see how God is going to bless us for our faithfulness in tithing, but He is waiting for us to take a step of faith, and believe that He makes good on His promises. In fact, this is one time in scripture where God gives us explicit permission to test Him — “Test me in this,” he says, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven.”

The miracle of tithing is that when we give to God, He gives us abundantly more in return. You may not always see the return immediately; and it may not always be a direct financial return. But in all of history, God has never reneged on a promise. The return is coming.

His word isn’t hollow or incomplete. It’s better than any campaign trail catchphrase — when God makes a promise, you can bank on it.


  One thought on “Tithing: A Command with a Promise

  1. Patti
    February 7, 2012 at 6:22 am

    This part often gets overlooked as not applicable – I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe – but we miss part of His blessing if we fail to look around at our “stuff” and notice what doesn’t get stolen (like my phone I left where it could have been picked up) or break down (like my 12 year old car). If you pay attention, you might be surprised… and blessed! 🙂

    • February 7, 2012 at 8:53 am

      Great point, Patti!

  2. February 11, 2012 at 6:00 pm

    Start with Malachi 3:7 (KJV) “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ORDINANCES, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”

    The word to focus on here is ORDINANCES. Then read Colossians 2:14 (KJV) “Blotting out the handwriting of ORDINANCES that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;”

    Ephesians 1:3 (KJV) “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”

    Galatians 3:13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…”

    The blessings referred to in Malachi 3 was RAIN.

    This whole section is addressed to the Levitical priesthood, not the people. In Nehemiah 10:37 we learn that the firstfruits were taken to the temple for the priests, and the tithes were taken to the Levites who lived in the Levitical cities. Therefore, we see that firstfruits have nothing to do with the tithe.

    In Nehemiah 10:38 we learn that the Levites would take a tithe of the tithe to the Temple. It is this tithe, the tithe from the Levites, that went to the storehouse, not the tithe from the people. This is important to remember when we study Malachi 3:10.

    • February 13, 2012 at 3:14 pm

      Gary, you obviously have a very strong opinion on the subject of the tithe. I welcome the lively discussion. Rather that answering each of your comments across the various posts on this site, I’m going to address several of the oppositions to the tithe in one article later this week. Hope you’ll stay tuned.

  3. February 13, 2012 at 10:02 am

    The only problem I have with this is that Mal 3 was not a command to the new testament church but to Israel – or those in Israel to whom it was appropriate. At the time of the prophet Malachi Israel was still under the Old Covenant and therefore the injunction in the passage relates to the Old Covenant and has nothing to do with the New. Incidentally, Christ through His blood fulfilled the Old Covenant therefore we the new church are not required to observe the Old Covenant again. Please read Galatians 3. There is no command to the church to tithe and Malachi 3 should certainly not be used to support tithing in the church.

    • February 13, 2012 at 3:19 pm

      Henry, you seem to be one of several readers who take issue with the teaching of tithing in the New Testament church. I’m going to address some of those objections on a biblical/theological basis in an article coming later this week (hope you’ll stay tuned for that).

      I think your comment misses the point of this post — I’m less concerned with the commandment of tithing than I am with the promises of blessing that God attaches to it. You can make a point that the NT church isn’t bound to tithing by the OT law, and I can see where you come from in that. But even if the law is not binding, the promise that God attaches to it still is — because His promises endure forever.

      Thanks for the thoughts.

  4. February 15, 2012 at 5:41 am

    I take issue with the teaching of tithing because it cannot be supported from the New Testament. When people teach tithing they forget two things. Moses, who was a type of Christ spoke God’s Words to Israel, teaching them all things that they were to observe when they entered the Promised Land. This was the first covenant and those who were outside of the commonwealth of Israel were not party to that covenant. Israel at that time were a people that God had carved out of the nations and set aside for Himself. Certainly they were to be an example to the rest of the nations around them so that they would know that there was a God in Israel who was the One True God. But… the nations could not partake of the benefits of that covenant as it was made with Israel alone. Christ came however to give not just Israel but the whole world a new message from God – the new covenant. The purpose is so that those who were outside of the commonwealth of Israel (cut off without a hope) could now partake of the promise made to Abraham. As such the previous covenant has been set aside (Heb 8). Are you therefore saying that God will honor a covenant that was not made with us (the wild olive tree) in the first place if we attempt to make ourselves subject to that covenant? This is what we do when we seek to observe the injunction in Mal 3. The injunction in Mal 3 relates to the first covenant (the Law) with all it’s ordinances which Israel had gone away from and in no way relates to the church today. Perhaps it is more beneficial for us to look at what Jesus Christ taught us on giving instead of what Moses first preached.

    • February 15, 2012 at 9:31 am

      Yes, that’s a common argument against tithe teaching. As I said, though, I’m more concerned with the promise than with the commandment. While the law was directed towards the OT people of Israel, I believe the promise of blessing applies to the NT church as well. After all, the bible says that we are Abraham’s spiritual descendants, and heirs to to the promises of God.

      You make a good point that we should look to the NT for guidance on how to give. What I find there is an even higher standard than the OT tithe. The early church sold their possessions to care for each other and give to the poor; Paul admonishes the church for giving even more than they could afford to. He also says that we are blessed so that we can be generous in every way, on every occasion.

      I’ll go into greater detail on these ideas in my next post, hopefully coming tonight or tomorrow.

  5. March 22, 2015 at 10:49 am

    This site was… how do you say it? Relevant!! Finally I
    have found something which helped me. Thanks!

  6. May 6, 2016 at 12:50 am

    When preaching on the topic of tithes, pastors often begin their sermon at Malachi 3:8. But why start at Malachi 3:8? They should instead start at Malachi 2:1. Then they will have proper context for the command in 3:10.

    Malachi 2:1 says, “And now, O ye Priest’s, this commandment is for you.” What commandment? There is no commandment given in the entirety of that chapter.

    In Chapter 3:6, we read, “For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.”

    So, we see thus far that God was speaking to a specific people, Priests who were descendants of the patriarch Jacob.

    When we arrive at Malachi 3:7, we see the commandment referred to in the previous chapter,…

    “Return unto Me…”

    Remember, God is addressing the Priests. They ask, “Wherein shall we return?”

    God’s reply through His Prophet Malachi reveals that the Priests had robbed God. He then instructs them, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in my House…”.

    Nehemiah 10:37-38 reveals to us that it was not the congregation who were responsible for tithing to the House of God. Rather, it was the Levites.

    Had the children of Israel not tithed to the Levites; had the Levites not tithed to the House of God; there would have been no tithes for the Priest’s to steal. But, there were tithes in the House of God. We see them removed in Nehemiah, not by the children of Israel, not by the Levites, but by the Priest Eliashib. The tithes were stolen by the Priesthood, as both Nehemiah and Malachi affirm.

    The commanded tithes were agricultural, as revealed in Leviticus 27:30-33. They were not money.

    By taking the tithes from the storehouse chambers, the Priests robbed God. But they not only robbed God, they robbed the nation as well. For their act of thievery brought a curse upon the nation, robbing them of rain from Heaven an also of food from their gardens and orchards.

    So, now we have the whole truth. The command of Malachi 3:10 is not a command for a tithe of money. Nor was it a command for the congregation to bring tithes to the storehouse. It was a command for the Levitic Priest’s to bring the agricultural tithes that they had stolen to the House of God, to the chambers. “Return to Me.”

    The Priest’s had stolen the tithes from the storehouse, and God wanted them back. (“O ye Priests, this commandment is for you”; “Return unto Me”; “Ye have robbed me, even this whole nation”; “Bring ye all the tithes…”)

    Pastors have deceitfully handled the Word of God for too long. They have twisted the truth of Malachi 3:8-12, and used it as a tool to rob church members of their money.

    We are to be faithful stewards of all that our God has given us. That includes being faithful with our money as well. Giving our money to thieves is not wise stewardship.

    In 2 Corinthians 8:13, the Apostle Paul wrote that he did not want the Corinthians giving to be such that others were eased and the Corinthians themselves burdened. Many tithe teaching pastors place unnecessary burdens on Church members while they themselves are living “high on the hog”.

    Time for Christians to wake up… stop feeding the Thieves.

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