In ancient Israel, God instructed His people to set aside a special tithe to assist those in need such as orphans, widows, strangers, and Levites.
Deuteronomy 26:12-13: V12 “When you have finished laying aside all the tithe of your increase in the third year – the year of tithing – and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your gates and be filled.
V13 Then you shall say before the LORD your God; I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them.”
The first portion of this tells us about “tithes.” The people completed tithing that third year “all the tithes” – which implies more than one tenth in the third year. (“The third year” refers to the third year of the cycle of seven.) The third year was a special year.
Since the laws of letting the land rest and releasing the poor debtors were based on a cycle of seven years, we are to save this special tithe in the third and sixth years out of every seven-year period.
The Jews who translated Deuteronomy 26:12 into Greek in the Septuagint, understood it. Notice this verse as it is translated in the Septuagint:
Deuteronomy 26:12 “When thou hast completed tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, thou shalt bring the second additional tithe to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat in thy gates, and be merry.”
The Greek wording here is to deuteron epidekaton – that is – “the second additional tithe.” There is not only one “tithe” (first tithe), but also an “additional tithe” (second tithe), then this “second additional tithe.” That is how the Jews understood it 250 or 270 years before the time of Christ.
Is the only place this “second additional tithe” or “third tithe” is mentioned? (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
Deuteronomy 14:28-29: V28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates.
V29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.”
Deuteronomy 15:1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts.”
They were to bring this tithe out of their houses, and they were to “lay it up within their gates” – that is an ancient Hebrew expression referring to the gates in the wall surrounding a city, not the gate of one’s private residence.
But the other tithes they were to take out of their homes and bring them yearly to the place where God chose to put His name.
This special “third tithe” – God’s insurance program – is for the stranger, the fatherless, the widow, and the handicapped Levite” – in other words, those having no means of support.
Is there more than one tithe mentioned in the Bible? (Deuteronomy 12:1, 5-17).
Deuteronomy 12:5 “But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses, out of all your tribes, to put His name for His dwelling place; and there you shall go.”
What were they to come there for?
Deuteronomy 12:6 “There you shall take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, your vowed offerings, your freewill offerings, and the first born of your herds and flocks.”
This is addressed to the people by Moses on the east side of Jordan. He warned them to bring all these things up to headquarters.
Deuteronomy 12:7-8: V7 “And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you.
V8 You shall not at all do as we are doing here today – every man doing whatever is right in his own eyes –.”
Instead of having altars and high places throughout the country, they were to have one central place and there they were to bring their burnt offerings, and other sacrifices, and tithes, and heave offerings, freewill offerings, and the firstlings. And it was there that the people were to eat before the Lord; not some other place. That is what Moses is emphasizing. Some have hastily concluded from this verse that the people were to eat the Levite’s inheritance. But it does not say this. Moses does not expressly tell what is to be eaten. It cannot mean everything mentioned in verse 6 – for burnt offerings were wholly burnt on the altar.
They were to bring “tithes” there. The word is plural – more than one.
Deuteronomy 12:11-12: V11 “Then there will be the place where the LORD your God chooses to make His name abide. There you shall bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the heave offerings of your hand, and all your choice offerings which you vow to the LORD.
V12 And you shall rejoice before the LORD your God, you and your sons and your daughters, your male and female servants, and the Levite who is within your gates, since he has no portion nor inheritance with you.
V13 Take heed to yourself that you do not offer your burnt offerings in every place that you see;
V14 But in the place which the LORD chooses, in one of your tribes, there you shall offer your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I command you.”
Israel was to observe the annual festivals where God chose to put His name.
Deuteronomy 12:17-18: V17 “You may not eat within your gates the tithe of your grain or your new wine or your oil, of the firstborn of your herd or your flock, of any of your offerings which you vow, of your freewill offerings, or of the heave offering of your hand.
V18 But you must eat them [Jewish translation in Magil’s Linear reads it, not them] before the LORD your God in the place which the LORD your God chooses, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God in all to which you put your hands.”
These verses clearly forbid anyone to eat within his gates the tithe being discussed here.
The Septuagint [the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament, rendered into English] sheds a great deal of light on this. The Septuagint reads as follows:
Verse 17-18 – “Thou shall not eat in thy cities the additional tithe of thy corn, or thy wine, or of thy oil, or the first-born of thy herd or of thy flock…but before the Lord thy God thou shall eat it, in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose…”
The Greek word rendered “tithe” is epidekaton which may mean “an additional tithe,” or “a tithe besides.” The Greek word dekaton which means “a tenth” is not used here.
The “second tithe” or “an additional tithe” or “tithe besides” – is to be eaten by everybody [not just the Levite] only at the place where God places His name.
It is plain that the Greek-speaking Jews who translated the book of Deuteronomy understood tithing clearly.
Is Deuteronomy 12 the only place mentioning two tithes? (Deuteronomy 14:22-27 – also mentions what we commonly refer to as “second tithe.”)
Deuteronomy 14:22-27: V22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.
V23 And you shall eat before the LORD your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
Here we see the second tithe is for our use. Why? So we might learn to properly stand in awe of, revere, respect and worship our Creator at His festivals!
V24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you,
V25 Then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses.
V26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.
These verses show us what we are to spend this tithe – for transportation (getting to and from the feast site), lodging, food, and drink, and for our entertainment and pleasure during these days.
Verse 26 – also makes it plain that we are to REJOICE before God at these festivals!
V27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.”
If there were only one tithe mentioned in all the Bible, that would mean that God gives man the right to spend the Levite’s inheritance, which is holy to the Lord, for the purchasing of food, wine and strong drink. Clearly there are two different tithes under consideration. The only stipulation God puts on this additional or “second tithe” is the place and time where you use it.
The second tithe is a fantastic blessing provided for by a thoughtful and All-Wise Creator.
Does God reveal Himself as the Creator and Owner of everything? (Psalm 24:1; Job 41:11; Exodus 19:5; Haggai 2:8).
God created everything and by virtue of that creation He owns it all! Therefore he has a prior claim to ownership of all that is produced out of His earth. Yet God requires us to return to Him only 10 percent of what our efforts produce and earn. God, in turn, uses the 10 percent He claims as His own for proclaiming His Gospel message – the good news of the coming Kingdom of God and the peace, joy, happiness and prosperity it will bring to mankind.
Did Abraham tithe? (Genesis 14:17-20; Hebrews 7:1-4).
Abraham paid tithes over 430 years before the Law was delivered through Moses.
Did God bless obedient (Genesis 26:5) Abraham? (Genesis 13:2).
Tithing is revealed in the Bible as God’s system for financing His ministry. Hundreds of years prior to the Levitical priesthood, the ministry was that of Melchizedek. Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1) was none other than the member of the Godhead who became Jesus Christ. He was God’s representative on earth at that time, and He received tithes from God’s faithful servants.
Did Jacob, son of Isaac and grandson of Abraham also pay tithes? (Genesis 28:20-22). Was he blessed for doing so? (Genesis 30:43).
The first mention of tithing in its full details is found in – Leviticus 27. (See Leviticus 27:1-2, 30).
Leviticus 27:30 “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S. It is holy to the LORD.”
ALL the tenth (the word “tithe” means “tenth”) is holy to the LORD. It belongs to God. It is His. Not man’s.
Before the time of Moses, the tithe had been paid directly to Melchizedek, high priest of God. But after Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, notice what God commanded regarding the tithes. To whom were the people to pay tithes? (Numbers 18:8, 20-24).
The Lord is here speaking to Aaron – Numbers 18:20 – about the fact that Aaron doesn’t own any productive land for an inheritance. The only places in Palestine they were even allowed to reside in were 48 Levitical cities, and of these 13 were devoted to the priesthood. The Levites just had a small area around the cities where they kept the produce which was turned over to them – the tithes and offerings. God gave the children of Levi – all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance.
What use was the Levitical priesthood to make of the tithe? (Numbers 18:21).
Melchizedek (Christ, the Lord of the Old Testament) selected the Levites to be His ministers. But there was no commission to spread the Gospel at that time. God merely called for the Levites to teach the people His law and to administer the physical rituals and sacrifices as a reminder of their failure to obey His laws. The people were commanded to bring the tithe – and Christ [Melchizedek] transferred receipt of the tithe to the Levitical priesthood for their support.
Does Hebrews 7 (the priesthood chapter) make it clear that tithing is not Levitical (not having originated with Levi’s descendants) or ceremonial? (Hebrews 7:5, 8-10).
Hebrews 7 – clearly shows that tithing had long been an ongoing financial principle by the time God instituted ancient Israel’s civil law through Moses. It was then that tithe paying was formally commanded. And since tithing did not begin with the administration of the Levites, it therefore is not ended now that the Levitical priesthood is no longer extant in the world. Rather, according to Hebrews 7:11-17 – God changed the priesthood back to the spiritual priesthood of Melchizedek. The Levitical priesthood was superseded by the priesthood of Jesus Christ – the Melchizedek priesthood restored. And so there was also a change as to who should receive the tithe (Hebrew 7:12). Christ has authorized His New Testament ministry to accept the tithes in order to do the spiritual Work of God.
What is Christ’s commission to His New Testament ministry? (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Matthew 24:14).
Today, God provides for the financing of His Work by the same system He has used for millennia – the tithing system.
Did Jesus teach people to tithe? (Matthew 23:23).
Did the Apostle Paul clearly show that Christ’s New Testament ministry is to be supported through tithes? (I Corinthians 9:7-14).
How have nations and individuals been literally stealing from God? (Malachi 3:7-12).
What should be our attitude in paying tithes and offerings to God? (II Corinthians 9:6-7).
What spiritual principles did Christ reveal about the use of our treasure? (Matthew 6:19-21).
What is the fourth commandment? (Exodus 20:8-11; Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
Is the Sabbath to be a holy convocation (commanded assembly)? (Leviticus 23:2).
For whom did Jesus say the Sabbath was made? (Mark 2:27).
Jesus Christ is Lord of the Sabbath because He made it Mark 2:28). God the Father created all things through Him (Colossians 1:13-16).
When did God make the Sabbath? (Genesis 2:2).
The Sabbath was made for man during creation week.
On which day of creation week did God rest? (Genesis 2:3).
God made the Sabbath by resting, whereas all else was made by working.
Did God rest because He was tired? (Isaiah 40:28).
Was observance of the Sabbath to be a sign of identification between God and His people? (Exodus 31:13-17).
The Sabbath is special to God. It is a memorial of creation – a sign identifying God as Creator and those who keep it as His people.
Do days begin and end at sunset according to God? (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31).
Does God command us to celebrate His holy time from “evening to evening?” That is from sunset to sunset? (Leviticus 23:32).
How did God intend the Sabbath be kept?
Isaiah 58:13 “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words,”
What are “your own ways”, “your own pleasure,” “your own words?”
Your own ways – This means course of life, mode of action – that is, your employment, enterprises, finances, the business of making a livelihood.
Your own pleasure – We should avoid having or mind, time and energy taken up in hobbies, sports, and pleasure seeking.
Your own words – This is the spiritual application of the first two principles. We talk about what we are thinking. Our words (Matthew 12:34) show what is going on in our minds and hearts.
Is the Sabbath to be observed each week regardless of pressing duties, rush business or ripe crops? (Exodus 34:21).
Does God command us to prepare for the Sabbath day? (Exodus 16:23-25).
Will God bless a faithful Sabbath keeper? (Isaiah 58:14, Isaiah 56:2-7).
How did Christ intend the Sabbath to benefit mankind?
Exodus 23:12 “Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.” (Notice the words “rest” and “refreshed”).
The word “Sabbath” means “rest” in Hebrew. The Sabbath allows us to rest physically and mentally after a busy week. God knew humans would need period rest from work. The Sabbath allows us time to think more about God, to pray and worship Him, and to study the Bible to understand more about God’s purpose for us.
Was Sabbath keeping a test to see if the Israelites would obey God? (Exodus 16:4-5).
Was rebellion, especially Sabbath breaking, the reason God did not allow an entire generation of Israelites to enter His “rest”? (Ezekiel 20:12-13, 15-16).
The land of Canaan – the promised “rest” into which Israel finally entered (Joshua 1:13) – is spoken of in the Bible as a symbol of the Christian’s spiritual “rest” (Hebrews 4:1) – of being born into the universe-ruling Family of God!
What are New Testament Christians admonished regarding the assembling of themselves? (Hebrews 10:24-25).
Did Christ keep the Sabbath? (Luke 4:16, 31).
Jesus obeyed His own command to meet every Sabbath (Leviticus 23:3).
Was it the Apostle Paul’s custom to keep the Sabbath? (Acts 17:1-2).
Did the New Testament Church of God observe the Sabbath? (Acts 13:13-15, 42, 44; Acts 18:1, 4, 11).