The truth about Jacob and Tithing

Let’s look at Jacob, who is the grandson of Abraham. God blessed Jacob tremendously. Jacob submitted a tithing proposal to God. Not only did God approve of Jacob’s tithing proposal, but God made his proposal the principle upon which all future tithing would be based.

“Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat and clothing to wear, 21 so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God, 22 and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.” Genesis 28:20-22 (ESV)

This is the first ever account in Scripture of someone giving a tenth or a tithe of his personal belongings back to God. However, it is very different from the teachings of most churches.

Jacob stated that if God would help him and provide for him, then Jacob would give God back a tenth. God honoured Jacob’s proposition. God also honoured this principle of tithing throughout the history of Israel.

Here we see that Jacob did not tithe on what he did not first possess. Jacob would tithe on what God would provide to him when it was provided. Too many church leaders tell believers that they must tithe on what they do not already possess. God did not expect a tithe from Jacob until He blessed Jacob first.

But how did Jacob actually give a tithe to God?

“and there you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the contribution that you present, your vow offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herd and of your flock. And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your households, in all that you undertake, in which the Lord your God has blessed you.” Deuteronomy 12:6-7 (ESV)

“At the end of every three years you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in the same year and lay it up within your towns. 29 And the Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance with you, and the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, who are within your towns, shall come and eat and be filled, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands that you do.” Deuteronomy 14:28-29

God acknowledged and received a tithe from Jacob when Jacob would joyfully partake of a portion of the tithe himself, with his family, and also share his tithes with the less fortunate, the sojourners, the fatherless, the widows, and the Levite priests. The Levite priests were included here because as priests, God did not assign them a land inheritance as was given to the other tribes of Israel. This is completely different from the tithe that church leaders teach us must go from our salaries to them.

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The truth about Abraham, Melchizedek, and Tithing

“‘and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Genesis 14:20 (ESV)

Here is the first mention of tithing in the Bible. Abram gives Melchizedek (a priest of God who was also the king of the city of Salem) a tithe of the booty taken in war. Notice that what Abram tithed was not wheat, corn, wine, oil, or cattle from Abram’s personal possessions, but rather booty taken from conquered nations.

The same event is told to us in the book of Hebrews:

“For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. 4 See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers,[a] though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.” Hebrews 7:1-10

There are a number of things we can learn about tithing from this section of Scriptures.

We do not see anything in these passages that tell us that Abram (later changed to Abraham) tithed on a regular basis from his own posesssions.

From Hebrews chapter 7, we learn that the priests of Levi, from the family of Aaron (far inferior to the priestly order of Melchizedek) also receive tithes from the people, according to the law.

Many church leaders claim that Abraham’s tithing of the spoils of war predated the Law of Moses, and so even if the Law of Moses is done away with, we must still tithe because Abraham predated the Law of Moses. Is this really true?

Many church leaders teach that this Scripture is the first proof from the Word of God that Christians are to tithe ten percent of their salaries to the church. Is this really true?

Let’s look at what we learned from these Scriptures.

Abraham went to war on Sodom’s behalf in order to rescue his nephew, Lot. Abraham then gave 10% of the spoils of this war to Melchizedek. Abraham allowed Sodom to keep 90%, while Abraham himself kept nothing.

How is it possible then that this one single never to be repeated act is supposed to be Scriptural evidence that Christians must give 10% of their annual salaries, not the spoils of war but their money, and not once, but year after year, and not to Melchizedek, but to church leaders? It just doesn’t add up.

Tithes from the land and not the wallet

“Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord. 31 If a man wishes to redeem some of his tithe, he shall add a fifth to it. 32 And every tithe of herds and flocks, every tenth animal of all that pass under the herdsman’s staff, shall be holy to the Lord. 33 One shall not differentiate between good or bad, neither shall he make a substitute for it; and if he does substitute for it, then both it and the substitute shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.” Leviticus 27:30-33 (ESV)

Notice here that the tithe does not come from the wallet or the salary. There is no mention of the tithing of money in this summary at the very end of the book of Leviticus. The tithe comes from the “land”. It was the “seed” or agricultural products from the land that was holy to God and that was tithed. From the herds and flocks, the “tenth” animal that passed under the rod was holy and dedicated to God.

Apostle Paul and Tithing

Paul never taught the Gentiles to tithe, but he did teach them to give freely from what they had, not from what they didn’t have. Paul said if someone desired to give, they could give according to their means and not outside their means. Paul never imposed a percentage on their giving. Paul never even imposed anyone to give. Giving was to come from their own desire.

2 Corinthians 8:10-12
New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“10 I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. 11 But now finish [a]doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. 12 For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.”

New Testament proof verses for Tithing

There are none. There is not one verse in the New Testament where Gentile converts were told to pay the tithe, or 10 percent of their income, to anyone.

How is it possible for leaders to tell believers under the New Covenant that they must give a tenth when the Bible tells us to invest our all, not simply money, (Rom. 12:1), to a priesthood that is made up of every single believing one of us (I Peter 2:9), at a temple that does not exist (Mat. 24:1-2), because we’ve become the temple where God dwells. Part of giving to the priesthood is making sure that the royal priests, you and I, have the proper finances we need to live an abundant life of testimony on earth, rather than one of struggling finances because of forceful giving. How often do we hear that preached from pulpits?

And in this new temple that we have become, no longer do we find priests with weaknesses and problems interceding for us, instead we find Christ Jesus as our perfect intercessor and High Priest seated at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens (Heb. 7:28-8:1).

What most churches won’t tell you about tithing

1. Abraham never tithed on his own personal property or livestock.

2. Jacob wouldn’t tithe until God blessed him first.

3. Only Levite priests could collect tithes, and there are no Levite priests today.

4. Only food products from the land were tithable.

5. Money was never a tithable commodity.

6. Christian converts were never asked to tithe anything to the Church.

7. Tithing in the Church first appears centuries after completion of the Bible.