Tithing in the Bible: Malachi 3:8-12

Corey —  December 4, 2009 — 13 Comments

       Before we get to the verse most frequently used to teach tithing as a requirement for Christians, let’s make sure we have a firm foundation for understanding the context of Malachi. If you haven’t read my discussion on 2 Chronicles 31 and Nehemiah 10, 12, and 13, please take the time to go back and study those articles. This post will still be here for you to read later. It’s important to have the right historical context for Malachi before reading and interpreting it. (Nehemiah and Malachi probably lived in the same place at the same time, so studying Nehemiah will help you better understand Malachi.)

Robbing God’s Tithes and Offerings

       Malachi 3:8-12 begins by accusing the sons of Jacob of robbing God in tithes and offerings.

       6 “For I, Yahweh, don’t change; therefore you, sons of Jacob, are not consumed. 7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my ordinances, and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says Yahweh of Armies. “But you say, ‘How shall we return?’ 8 Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In tithes and offerings.”

Malachi 3:6-8 (WEB)

       As we’ve studied already, these tithes and offerings are the things God specifically commanded to the Israelites. Although tithing advocates use these verses to support a single 10% tithe to the church, they do not discuss the other tithes God required of the Israelites or the various offerings (sin, peace, wave, etc.) He required of them as well. God was calling the people and the priests to return to keeping all of His commandments, statutes, and ordinances – not just those concerning a single 10% tithe. Using this passage of Scripture to teach a requirement of tithing to a church without including the requirement to follow all of the Law is abusing the Scriptures and twisting it for man’s purposes.

Cursed with the Curse

       God makes it clear that He is specifically speaking to the nation of Israel (and not to Christians) by cursing them with “the curse”.

       You are cursed with the curse; for you rob me, even this whole nation.

Malachi 3:9 (WEB)

       The nation of Israel had bound themselves to follow all of the commandments, statutes, and ordinances found in the Law under penalty of the curse (see my discussion on Nehemiah). What is “the curse” if not the curse that applied to those who did not keep the whole Law?

       Those who use these verses in Malachi to teach Christians that they will be cursed if they do not tithe are seriously misusing the Scriptures. You must understand that the curse God is referring to here is the same curse found in Deuteronomy 27 and 28, which applies to the Israelites who do not keep the Law of Moses.

       So if you want to teach Christians that they must tithe or else be cursed by God, then you must also teach them to keep every single commandment in the Law or else be cursed. And if you want to do that, you might as well ignore the fact that Jesus came to die for our sins and take away the curse of the Law. But we know that we (Christians) no longer live by the Law but by faith because Christ redeemed us from the curse.

       10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under a curse. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who doesn’t continue in all things that are written in the book of the law, to do them.”
       
       11 Now that no man is justified by the law before God is evident, for, “The righteous will live by faith.” 12 The law is not of faith, but, “The man who does them will live by them.”
       
       13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us. For it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree,” 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Christ Jesus; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

Galatians 3:10-14 (WEB)

       So we should not be teaching that Christians must tithe under penalty of a curse from God, or else we completely ignore all that Jesus did for us. We cannot place ourselves under the yoke of the Law with regards to tithing and choose to ignore all of the other commandments, statutes, and ordinances that are found in the Law.

The Tithe in the Storehouse

       Verse 10 then says to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse so that there may be food in God’s house.

       “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,” says Yahweh of Armies, “if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough for.”

Malachi 3:10 (WEB)

       As we learned in our study of Nehemiah and 2 Chronicles 31, the Temple storehouse was not designed to hold the entire tithe of Israel. Only the Levites received the tithe, and they received it in their Levitical cities (not at the Temple). It was then the duty of the Levites to bring the tithe of the tithes to the Temple so there would be food available for the Levites and priests serving at the Temple during their shifts. Nehemiah specifically notes that the priests had stolen the Levites’ portion of the tithe of the tithes and the Levites went home so they could eat. (And remember that Nehemiah and Malachi address the same time period in Israel.)

       Tithing advocates stretch the meaning of this verse to include the full tithe that went to the Levites and say that the storehouse is the local church. However, the clear context of these verses and the Bible’s teaching on the tithe do not support these ideas. Furthermore, placing Christians under the burden and curse of the Law entirely ignores Christ’s sacrifice for us.

The Tithe Was Still Food and Only Food

       Finally, these verses continue to make it evident that God’s tithing statutes for the Israelites only included food and never money.

       10 “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and test me now in this,” says Yahweh of Armies, “if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough for. 11 I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast its fruit before its time in the field,” says Yahweh of Armies. 12 “All nations shall call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says Yahweh of Armies.

Malachi 3:10-12 (WEB)
emphasis mine

       Every single instance of tithing in the Bible, including this one, refers to the tithe containing only food and never money. The entire description of how God would bless the Israelites in this passage relates to the production of food. It’s all about how God would send them rain (open the windows of heaven means to send rain) and protect their crops. It says nothing about money or income – only food because that’s all the tithe ever contained. It was not that the Israelites did not have money – there are plenty of Biblical examples that show the use of money before, during, and after tithing was enacted among the Israelites. God never intended for the Israelites’ tithes to contain money.

       But modern tithing teachers tell you that you must give 10% from any and all sources of income – not just agricultural produce. At the same time they claim to be holding to the Bible’s teaching about tithing. It should be very clear by now that the Bible never taught anyone to tithe money, but men today want your money and teach false doctrines in an effort to get as much as they can. When will we open our eyes to this truth?

No More Lies

       I challenge you to study the truth of what I am saying and to read what God has to say about this issue. Stop listening to men long enough to hear God and then you will find His truth. We have seen that Malachi 3:8-12 plainly does not apply to Christians, but it is constantly used to force Christians to tithe out of fear of a curse from God. Do not let these lies infest your church any longer! Stand up for the truth and follow God’s principles for New Covenant giving.

Stay Tuned!

       With this we’ve looked at all the Old Testament examples of tithing. (I didn’t look at Amos 4:4-5, but it barely mentions tithing and hardly applies to our study.) I’ll begin looking at New Testament verses on tithing next week. Make sure you sign up for free updates to Provident Planning if you don’t want to miss anything!

Corey

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Corey is currently pursuing a Master of Arts degree in religion. While he enjoys learning and writing about Christianity, another one of his new passions is writing about personal finances in order to help others make wise decisions with their money.

13 responses to Tithing in the Bible: Malachi 3:8-12

  1. excellent articles. i have actually sent these to my pastor, who teaches from malachi. i can’t stand it. we have a church of over 3,000 and i know i’m suppose to be there. but it’s all about grace and what jesus provided thru our redemption process. we are already blessed. and you can’t give to get. we are already blessed. i’ll say it again it’s such good news. i believe god just wants mature chrisitians that listen to the holy spirit and understand that concept of giving.

  2. Thank you for taking the time to comment, Dayle! I’m glad you’ve enjoyed the articles. You’re exactly right in emphasizing grace and the incredibly rich blessing of eternal life that we have in Jesus Christ. We get so caught up in following rules and laws that we neglect to seek God’s Spirit and love. Generous giving is a natural outflow of our response to God’s grace in our life as the Spirit works through us. Thanks for reading and I hope to hear from you more!

  3. I have been attending the same none denomination church for the past 25 years I believe in giving generously but not tithing,
    Most all Church’s seem to adoped this way of collecting money;
    But where do we go to worship ?

  4. I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking by your question, R A. But I would say that we do not need to go to a special building to worship God. Believers are able to worship Him in spirit and truth whenever they approach Him with a humble heart.

  5. I am not sure what this all means, butbi have yet to see anyone who is blessed, who did not believe in God and did not follow his counsel. Have you seen anyone prospered who murdered, committed adultery, stole? Why is it that doing good by giving is frowned upon?

    Why is it that if someone gave a percentage this is wrong? Why is it that if God speaks to someone about giving though the old testament this is wrong? After all did not Paul learned about grace and giving through the old testament? Wasn’t the old testament Paul’s Bible, and Jesus Bible?

    Why spend so much time discrediting part of God’s word?

  6. Hi, Joseph. I’m not sure you’ve read much on this site because you obviously don’t know my position on giving. I’ve never frowned upon giving. I encourage generous, sacrificial, cheerful giving that flows from the love of God living in us. I’ve not said that giving a percentage of your income is wrong. And I’m certainly not discrediting part of God’s Word.

    I am, however, discrediting the false teaching that has been spread about tithing – what it is, how it was applied in the Old Testament, and how it applies (or rather, doesn’t apply) to Christians under the New Covenant. I am pointing to Jesus as the ultimate revelation of what giving should be and what our standard for giving should be based on. I am urging us to learn to walk in love and understand that love is the fulfillment of all things. Yes, Paul used the Old Testament, but even he said it only served as a schoolmaster until Christ came. Now we learn from and follow Christ as He has revealed God to us.

    I’m sorry you’ve misunderstood the purpose of these articles about tithing in the Bible, but I hope you’ll take the time to read what I’ve written about New Covenant giving. You can easily find it under the “Start Here” page in the navigation bar at the top of this site.

  7. Dear Paul thank you for the article about Christian Tithing yea i agree with all your thoughts/teachings … but i got questions If people have stop giving money as tithe in this era how will the church manage and how about the city churches where there is no farmers to give crop as first fruit? if you are saying tithing is only food is it wrong to tithe in money?

    Sincerly

    Chiluyio

  8. Hi, Chiluyio! My point about the tithe only being food is that those who teach tithing and claim they’re teaching what the Bible says always seem to ignore what the Bible really says about tithing. It is not to say that we should not give or to say that if we give it should only be food. The point is that no one really “tithes” as the Bible teaches. We need to move past this and see what the Bible teaches about giving.

  9. Paul, actually, God was speaking to the PRIEST/PASTORS of that time. Start reading in Malachi Chapter 2 verse 1 where God says through the prophet Malachi, NOW TO YOU OH PRIEST, HERE IS A COMMANDMENT FOR YOU. The YOU in the next two chapters is addressing the PRIEST. And the reference to the phrase EVEN THIS WHOLE NATION (concerning the ROBBING of tithes) means that the PRIEST were ROBBING THE WHOLE NATION. NOT that the WHOLE NATION was robbing God. That is why it says Will “A MAN” rob God?

  10. Yes, I’m aware of that.  I didn’t include it here because I discussed it in the article that came before this one in the series.  (see http://www.providentplan.com/811/tithing-in-the-bible-background-for-malachi-nehemiah-10-12-13/ )  I can see how that would be confusing though.  I will plan to revise this soon.  Thanks for adding the clarification!

  11. Why do most pastors will preach the law and the new covenant but will not preach the truth about thithing. They continue to push 10%. It seems as though they will lose money…its call greed as well as false prophecy

  12. I am not currently employed but my husband has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Christian organizations. My son-in-law got seriously hurt in an auto accident and my daughter (his wife) had two failed back surgeries. Is it wrong for me to help them financially? If I didn’t help them, they would not have a roof over their heads. A lot of my Christian friends will not help their children but they will pay their tithe. Over the years, I have seen so many pastors and TV evangelists living extravagant lifestyles and still keep begging for money.

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