by Norman H. Wells
Former Pastor, Central Baptist Church, Cincinnati
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"A Biblical History Of Tithing"

First Published In Booklet Format by Cincinnati Baptist Bible Institute

The word "tithe" means "tenth," thus, a tithe of one's income is a tenth of one's income.

The Scripture teaches tithing, that is, the giving of a tenth of our income to the Lord.

The principle of tithing began in the Garden of Eden. The tithe is that part of our possessions that God sets apart for Himself. "... all the tithe ... is the Lord's ..." Lev. 27:30. God demonstrated this principle in the Garden of Eden. God gave Adam and Eve the free use of the garden for their own sustenance and pleasure, however, He reserved a portion of the garden and forbade them to partake. By refraining from partaking of God's reserved part of the garden, Adam and Eve demonstrated their obedience to God and acknowledged Him as their God.

This is the principle of tithing! Adam and Eve, like so many since, were not satisfied with the portion God had given them and they partook of God's reserved part. It seems a great number have inherited this characteristic of not being satisfied with nine-tenths but desire God's reserved one-tenth. It brought judgment to the violators in the garden—it brings judgment today.

The history of tithing began in the Garden of Eden and continues through the Bible. The 14th chapter of Genesis reveals that Abraham, the father of the faithful, was a tither.

"And blessed be the most high God which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all."—Gen. 14:20.

Five combined kings of the north had destroyed Sodom and had taken Lot and his family captives. Abraham, with 318 servants, pursued the kings, defeated them and restored Lot and his family. On his return Abraham met Melchize-dek, to whom he gave a tithe of the spoils of the victory. Melchizedek was a type of Christ. The seventh chapter of Hebrews emphasizes this again and again!"For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him;

"To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all . . ."—Heb. 7:1-2.

Again in this chapter we have the comparison made between giving tithes unto men who would die and giving unto Christ who ever lives.

"And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth."—Heb. 7:8.

Before the coming of Christ men gave their tithes to other men who were types of Christ! Now we are privileged to give our tithes unto Christ that ever liveth!! What a tremendous blessing!

Tithing was carried on by Jacob. There is no break in the constant teaching of tithing in God's Word. "... and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee."—Gen. 28:22.

This is the promise Jacob made to God—a promise to tithe his income. It is very easy, for one who wants to know, to see that tithing has always been practiced by God's people.

The tithe was incorporated in the law that God gave Moses for Israel. It is well to remember that there is the Bible record of Abraham practicing tithing more than 400 years before the law was given. Tithing was before the law, under the law and after the law.

Under the law the Jews had three tithes: They gave a tithe for the Levites and their work (Numbers 18:24) and a second for the Lord's feasts and sacrifices. (Deut. 14:22) and a third tithe was given for the poor every third year (Deut. 14:18).

The last book in the Old Testament, the book of Malachi, sets down the practice and promises of tithing for all ages.

"Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. "Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room, enough to receive it."—Mal. 3:8-10.

These verses give the Bible's teaching concerning the practice of tithing. As tithing existed before the law, these verses would be applicable then and as tithing exists now, after the law, these verses apply to us. It's just as simple as that!

To fail to tithe is to rob God and subject ourselves to the judgment of God. It cuts us off from the blessings God has for us. To tithe acknowledges and glorifies God. It provides for the financing of God's work and makes us the recipients of untold blessings. In his book, "Why Every Christian Should Tithe," B. H. Hillard gave a summary of Mal. 3:8-12 as follows:

"(1) Scriptural—'Bring YE all the tithe.' God has never relinquished His claim to the tithe as the minimum of one's gift.

"(2) Simple—'Bring.' Yes, just as simple as coming to church; bringing the tithe just as a parent brings the child. To 'bring' implies a complete control, coercive subjugation.

"(3) Serviceable—'Into the storehouse.' The church is God's storehouse, into which ALL the tithe is to be brought, none of which is diverted through extraneous channels.

"(4) Sufficient—'That there may be meat in mine house.' 'Meat' means a sufficiency. God says the tithe will prove sufficient for every need; and, wherein, under any circumstance, the tithe did fail to meet the requirements, God will make provision for that which is lacking.

"(5) Sublime—'Prove me now herewith.' 'Prove me' means to give God a chance. To use a slang phrase, it means 'to put God on the spot.' It is accepting God's challenge.

"God yearns for a chance to bless His people; that chance comes when we accept God's challenge to 'bring ALL the TITHE into God's House,' accepting God's promise to bless.

"What a challenge; how sublime!

"(6) Sensible—'If I will not open unto you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.'

"Common intelligence, coupled with faith, would lead one to tithe as the means of claiming such a promise. No person can believe this promise and then fail to tithe; it would be unthinkable. Believe, tithe; disbelieve, fail to tithe. There is no alternative.

"(7) Satisfying—'And all na-tions shall call you blessed, for ye shall be a delightsome land.'

"It was doubtless tithers of whom Paul spoke when he said:

" 'But my God shall supply all your need according to the riches of his grace by Christ Jesus.'" —Phil. 4:19.

Jesus Christ, during his earthly sojourn, practiced tithing. This alone should be an incentive to every Christian to do likewise. It is ridiculous to think that Christ, who was the fulfillment of all of God's requirements, would have failed in the matter of tithing.

Christ also commended tithing in others, as He will in each of us. "Woe unto you scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith: for these ye ought to have done and not to have left the other undone."— Matt. 23:23.

The principle of tithing is clearly set forth in the New Testament.

"Upon the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come."— I Cor. 16:2.

This kind of giving would be punctual. "Upon the first day of the week."

This kind of giving would be personal. "Let every one of you."

This kind of giving would be proportionate. "As God hath prospered him." The tithe is the proportion of each.

This kind of giving would be prosperous. "As God hath prospered him."

This kind of giving would be practical. "That there be no gatherings when I come." Tithing finances God's work.

A brief study of God's word has revealed the history of tithing. It began in Genesis and continues through the entire Bible, before the law, under the law, and after the law.

All true born-again Christians will desire to be obedient unto God and this includes tithing.

The Purpose of Tithing

The question naturally arises as to why an individual should tithe. What is the purpose of tithing? The Bible teaches us we should tithe and the reasons are likewise given.

"Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase."—Prov. 3:9.

A Born-again Christian has a heart's desire to honor and glorify God. He seeks ways of expressing this desire and God has graciously provided many ways whereby the lowly sinner can give utterance to this desire. One of them is tithing! God certainly doesn't need a tenth of our income — nor does He have any need. He is all-sufficient, yet, in His counsel He has made it possible for us to give unto Him. By tithing the Christian is permitted to give material expression to his heart's desire to honor and glorify God.

Tithing expresses our faith in God and in His promises. It is an amazing thing that some Christians will trust God with their immortal souls but are fearful of trusting Him with a tithe of their income!! Every time a Christian comes to God with his tithe he is demonstrating his explicit trust in God and His promises.

Probably everyone has had the difficulty of trying to choose a gift for a loved one at Christmas or on his birthday. How many times it has been so frustrating because the one you wanted to please just seems to have everything and it seems impossible to find any gift that would be needed and would express our love. This can be amplified untold times in our relationship with God. The Christian comes before God with a desire to give expression of his love and worship of Him, but how can this be done? God has no need! One of the ways God has provided is through tithing. Tithing gives an opportunity for material expression of our devotion and worship. God receives our tithes as part of our worship. Praise His Name!

Tithing provides the finances for carrying on God's work!! This is the way God has given!! What a wonderful thing it is that God has not left this to chance. It gives every child of God, rich and poor, the opportunity to have an equal part in financing the work of God! God does not need us nor our tithe to carry out His work but in His grace and mercy He has provided this way that all can have a part in the greatest of all work.

In receiving our tithes God has made it possible for everyone to have a part in the financial responsibility of carrying the gospel to the world. Again, let it be emphasized — God does not need us! He could speak and the gospel would be heralded around the world in thundering tones and written across the sky in letters 10 miles high!! He could do this — but He doesn't! Instead, He uses us! He permits us to be partakers of this exalted task. The tithe should be given in this light.

Tithing elevates the work of God through the church above the level of beggars expecting a handout from the world. God has made provision for His work to be financed by His own people — not Satan's! Our age has witnessed the degeneration of God's house to the low level of sponsoring rummage sales, pie suppers, ice cream socials and in many instances even dancing and gambling, in order to raise money to carry on God's work. God help us!! This is not God's way!!! God's way of financing His work has always been, and will continue to be, through the tithes of His people.

One other thought might be suggested as to the purpose of tithing. Tithing gives us an opportunity to acknowledge that everything we have is owned by God—we are just stewards. If properly understood, it would destroy covetousness, greed and pride in the believer.

The Blessing of Tithing

God promises to bless all who tithe! Someone has well said that tithing is the key that opens the storehouse of God's richest blessings. Someone else has said that tithing is the way to perpetual prosperity! Listen to God's promises!

"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it."—Mal. 3:10.

"Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase :

"So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." —Prov. 3:9-11.

"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down and shaken together and running over ..."—Luke 6:38.

"... the liberal soul shall be made fat.. ."—Prov. 11:25.

"... he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully." —II Cor. 9:6.

God says tithing will open the windows of heaven!! If God's people would only learn to accept this promise!

God says He will pour out blessings upon all who tithe. Reader, listen to God! Do you want the windows of heaven opened to God's greatest blessings to be showered upon you? Tithing is the answer! No one ever outgave God!!

Tithing puts us in partnership with God! What a magnificent thought! Partnership with God!! By giving the tithe God becomes a partner in all our affairs. Even greater than that, by tithing, we become a partner in all of God's works! Possibly it is even too much to conceive what this means! Who can fail with God as a partner? What problem, financial or otherwise, is there that God can not solve? This then is the answer —tithing!

Tithing makes us a partner in all of God's work! We have a very real part in the greatest of all activities—the work of God.

Then there is the satisfaction, the comfort and the assurance that comes by knowing we have been obedient unto God! This, in itself, is a condition of happiness and comes by tithing.

The Sin of Not Tithing

God has pronounced judgment upon all who fail to tithe. "Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me . . ."—Mal. 3:9.

Rob God?! To take and use for ourselves that which belongs to God. No language is more plain or easier to understand than is given here! To fail to tithe is to steal from God. God says, "Ye are cursed with a curse" — judgment! Only eternity will reveal the failures, the heartaches, the doctor bills, the misery, etc. that have come because of this sin.

To fail to tithe is to look into God's face and say, "I don't believe you nor trust you." Certainly anyone who believed all the promises God has made for those who tithe would be obedient unto Him. The only reason for not tithing is unbelief! Actually it is not only robbing God but also calling Him a liar!!

To fail to tithe is to reject God as a partner and deny God's ownership. It means to look into God's face and say, "I don't need you, I can get by by myself." May God help each to understand the importance of this matter of tithing.

To fail to tithe is to hinder the work of God! God forbid that any should be guilty! This is the way God has set down for financing His work and failing to tithe is an effort to thwart God's plan. Actually it is stealing from the poor and needy to satisfy personal desires. It is taking that which God has designated to provide for widows and orphans and squandering it on self. It is taking that which would be used to provide the means for teaching God's word. It is, without a doubt, the worst kind of stealing!!

To fail to tithe is to keep the lost from Christ!! Dear reader, if you are a Christian it is reasonable to state that you were able to hear the gospel because some of God's people were tithing. They were supplying the financial means for sending forth the gospel.

"How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

"And how shall they preach except they be sent? ..."—Rom. 10:14-15.

God has ordained that preachers, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, etc. should be sent forth by God's people to preach the gospel. This is only possible when God's people tithe. If none of God's people tithed this activity would be greatly hindered.

To fail to tithe is to vote that the mouth of every one of God's servants be closed and the lost denied the right to hear the gospel!

When viewed from all angles, a failure to tithe is a grievous sin, a hideous sin!

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