Tithing (Leviticus 27)


  1. Israelite history
    1. Best New Testament commentary is Old Testament
    2. Already covered Genesis and Exodus
  2. Leviticus = how to use tabernacle
    1. Looking for major theme / how points to Christ
      1. So skipping / paraphrasing
      2. Using NLT
    2. Covered so far:
      1. Offerings, feasts, special days
      2. Priests

Now tithing (how priests were supported):

  1. But first:
    1. Address common misconception:
      1. “Tithing = 10 percent of income”
        1. Or: $100 = $10 owed
        2. In fact, it was closer to 20
      2. So it gets translated as wages for modern preachers and church expenses
        1. Far too simplistic and inaccurate
        2. Truth is so much richer / more meaningful
    2. Reason understanding is important:
      1. Often abused
        1. Malachi 3 (what New Covenant believer is cursed?)
        2. People who can’t buy food or pay bills
      2. But even more: we don’t want to miss out on original intent (Christ / gospel)
  2. So, why tithe?
    1. (Worship) Deuteronomy 26:1-11: “When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, 2put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored. 3Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, ‘With this gift I acknowledge to the LORD your God that I have entered the land he swore to our ancestors he would give us.’ 4The priest will then take the basket from your hand and set it before the altar of the LORD your God. 5“You must then say in the presence of the LORD your God, ‘My ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live as a foreigner in Egypt. His family arrived few in number, but in Egypt they became a large and mighty nation. 6When the Egyptians oppressed and humiliated us by making us their slaves, 7we cried out to the LORD, the God of our ancestors. He heard our cries and saw our hardship, toil, and oppression. 8So the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and powerful arm, with overwhelming terror, and with miraculous signs and wonders. 9He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey! 10And now, O LORD, I have brought you the first portion of the harvest you have given me from the ground.’ Then place the produce before the LORD your God, and bow to the ground in worship before him. 11Afterward you may go and celebrate because of all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household. Remember to include the Levites and the foreigners living among you in the celebration.
      1. Explicitly part of the Old Covenant
      2. A time of worship / celebration
        1. In response to Exodus
        2. And for food provided in Promised Land
    2. (Support priests) Numbers 18:20-31: And the LORD said to Aaron, ‘You priests will receive no allotment of land or share of property among the people of Israel. I am your share and your allotment. 21As for the tribe of Levi, your relatives, I will compensate them for their service in the Tabernacle. Instead of an allotment of land, I will give them the tithes from the entire land of Israel. […] 25The LORD also told Moses, 26‘Give these instructions to the Levites: When you receive from the people of Israel the tithes I have assigned as your allotment, give a tenth of the tithes you receive—a tithe of the tithe—to the LORD as a sacred offering. 27The LORD will consider this offering to be your harvest offering, as though it were the first grain from your own threshing floor or wine from your own winepress. 28You must present one-tenth of the tithe received from the Israelites as a sacred offering to the LORD. This is the LORD’s sacred portion, and you must present it to Aaron the priest. 29Be sure to give to the LORD the best portions of the gifts given to you. 30“Also, give these instructions to the Levites: When you present the best part as your offering, it will be considered as though it came from your own threshing floor or winepress. 31You Levites and your families may eat this food anywhere you wish, for it is your compensation for serving in the Tabernacle.”
      1. Presented to Levites.
      2. Levites gave 1/10 to priests at altar
      3. Brought to them where they served (Dt. 12:5-6; 2 Chron. 31:4; Neh. 10:35, 37-38)
  3. What was it?
    1. (Crops and animals) Leviticus 27:30-32: “One tenth of the produce of the land, whether grain from the fields or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD and must be set apart to him as holy. 31If you want to buy back the LORD’s tenth of the grain or fruit, you must pay its value, plus 20 percent. 32Count off every tenth animal from your herds and flocks and set them apart for the LORD as holy.
      1. Tithe = first crops / last animals
        1. Carpenters did not give lumber
        2. Fishermen did not give fish
        3. Miners, bankers, weavers, etc.
        4. Moreover: only landowners gave; hired hands owed nothing
      2. Crops could be kept and money given instead but at a 20% penalty
      3. Animals selected at random (every 10th)
        1. A man who owned only nine sheep did not tithe
  4. How to do it?
    1. (Eat in Jerusalem) Deuteronomy 14:22-26: You must set aside a tithe of your crops—one-tenth of all the crops you harvest each year. 23Bring this tithe to the designated place of worship—the place the LORD your God chooses for his name to be honored—and eat it there in his presence. This applies to your tithes of grain, new wine, olive oil, and the firstborn males of your flocks and herds. Doing this will teach you always to fear the LORD your God. 24“Now when the LORD your God blesses you with a good harvest, the place of worship he chooses for his name to be honored might be too far for you to bring the tithe. 25If so, you may sell the tithe portion of your crops and herds, put the money in a pouch, and go to the place the LORD your God has chosen. 26When you arrive, you may use the money to buy any kind of food you want—cattle, sheep, goats, wine, or other alcoholic drink. Then feast there in the presence of the LORD your God and celebrate with your household.
      1. Only given annually after harvest
      2. Eaten in Jerusalem: Deuteronomy 12:17-18: “But you may not eat your offerings in your hometown—neither the tithe of your grain and new wine and olive oil, nor the firstborn of your flocks and herds, nor any offering to fulfill a vow, nor your voluntary offerings, nor your sacred offerings. 18You must eat these in the presence of the LORD your God at the place he will choose. Eat them there with your children, your servants, and the Levites who live in your towns, celebrating in the presence of the LORD your God in all you do.”
      3. Consumed by grower and his family
    2. (Stored in hometown) Deuteronomy 14:27-29: And do not neglect the Levites in your town, for they will receive no allotment of land among you. 28At the end of every third year, bring the entire tithe of that year’s harvest and store it in the nearest town. 29Give it to the Levites, who will receive no allotment of land among you, as well as to the foreigners living among you, the orphans, and the widows in your towns, so they can eat and be satisfied.”
      1. Committed to local storehouses every third year
      2. Storehouses = granaries / pastures (not a place of worship)
    3. So the schedule is…
      1. Year 1: Family ate in Jerusalem
      2. Year 2: Family ate in Jerusalem
      3. Year 3: Delivered to local Levites for their ministry and for the poor
      4. Year 4: Family ate in Jerusalem
      5. Year 5: Family ate in Jerusalem
      6. Year 6: Delivered to local Levites for their ministry and for the poor
      7. Year 7: Sabbath (no tithe)
  5. In short, tithes =
    1. Recognition / gratitude for land / food
    2. Celebration of God’s goodness
    3. Practical way to support priests / provide for helpless

How does it point us to Christ and the New Covenant?

  1. The Old Covenant commanded priestly / brotherly support regardless of personal feelings. The New Covenant instructs us to give out of the overflow of our hearts without compulsion.
    1. It’s so much better being by faith and from genuine repentance
    2. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)
      1. From a changed heart
      2. No worries about whether they’ll come through
  2. The Old Covenant provided for the poor and helpless through crops and animals. The New Covenant gives us Christ as the Living Bread from heaven.
    1. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. 57As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” (Jn. 6:54-57)
  3. The Old Covenant included a celebration of God’s goodness with a meal. The New Covenant gives us Christian fellowship, the Lord’s Supper, and the Wedding Supper of the Lamb.
    1. Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb.” (Rev. 19:9)
  4. The Old Covenant promised a blessing to everyone who gave 1/10th of their crops and animals. The New Covenant promises every spiritual blessing for all who are in Jesus Christ.
    1. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3)
    2. Not of your works but of Christ’s!
  5. The Old Covenant warned of a curse for the disobedient. The New Covenant promises that believers can never be cursed.
    1. Misuse of Malachi
  6. The Old Covenant celebrated the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. The New Covenant promises a spiritual resting place with God for eternity.

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (Jn. 14:2-3)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s