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. 7 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.