Yahweh gave us His Torah so we could know how to be refined as His Son’s bride. While there are some parts of the Torah that we cannot obey in the dispersion, we should obey every part we can—and as we will see, the three tithes are one of those parts that we can.
Some people believe Yeshua came to do away with the tithe, and the offering. Even though there is presently no temple, let’s look to see why the three tithes still apply today (even without a temple).
In the earliest times, Adam’s sons brought offerings to Yahweh. Hevel (Abel) brought Yahweh the first and finest of what Yahweh gave him, and this pleased Yahweh. Qayin (Cain) simply brought “an” offering (i.e., nothing special), and this displeased Yahweh.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 4:3-5
3 And in the process of time it came to pass that Qayin brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to Yahweh.
4 Hevel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their finest. And Yahweh respected Hevel and his offering,
5 but He did not respect Qayin and his offering. And Qayin was very angry, and his countenance fell.
In verse 4, the word “finest” is the Hebrew word chelev (ֵחלב). Strong’s Hebrew Concordance tells us this refers to the richest or choicest part. What Yahweh found pleasing was that Hevel decided to give his best back to Him. This is the principle we should follow, is always to bring Yahweh our best.
OT:2459 cheleb (kheh’-leb); or cheleb (khay’-leb); from an unused root meaning to be fat; fat, whether literally or figuratively; hence, the richest or choice part:
The patriarchs offered sacrifices to Yahweh directly, at least up until Noach’s (Noah’s) time.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 8:20
20 Then Noach built an altar to Yahweh, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.
However, Yahweh did not want the Israelites to continue to offer sacrifices to Him by houses. Rather, Yahweh wants us to bring Him His sacrifices as a unified nation. This may be because we can do more as a nation united than we can do as individuals.
What we will see is that Yahweh began to develop three main offices: those of the kingship (army leadership), the priesthood (i.e., the spiritual army leadership), and the office of the prophet (communication with Yahweh). This kind of specialization would allow Israel to become more technologically advanced—and hence, richer and far more successful, as a nation.
In Genesis 14, Avram led the people to war (which put Avram in the kingship role). Yahweh gave Avram victory, and so Avram gave Yahweh’s priest Melchizedek a tithe (a tenth) of all he had. This showed Avram’s gratitude.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 14:18-20
18 Then Melchizedek king of Shalem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of Elohim Most High.
19 And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Avram of Elohim Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be Elohim Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all.
Avram’s grandson Ya’akov (Jacob) was also grateful. He made a vow to give tithes to Yahweh year by year, because Yahweh was keeping him in the set apart path, and because He gave him food to eat, and clothing to wear. This set the standard for us, as Ya’akov’s children.
B’reisheet (Genesis) 28:20-22
20 Then Ya’akov made a vow, saying, “If Elohim will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on,
21 so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then Yahweh shall be my Elohim.
22 And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be Elohim’s house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.”
The principle here is that when Yahweh gives us food to eat, and clothing to wear, and is leading us back to Him, then we also should keep our forefather’s vow, and tithe year by year to Yahweh’s priesthood (as Ya’akov did).
In Nazarene Israel we see how Yahweh separated the Levitical priesthood from the rest of the tribes. He did not give them an inheritance in the land, because He did not want them working the land—He wanted them to focus on serving Him and His people full time. Therefore, He gave them the tithes and offerings of the people, instead of an inheritance in the land.
Bemidbar (Numbers) 18:20-21
20 Then Yahweh said to Aharon: “You shall have no inheritance in their land, nor shall you have any portion among them; I am your portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel.
21 “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.”
However, Yahweh did not just tell His people to give a single tithe to the priesthood (and that’s it). Instead, He gave His people a system of national support, to take care of all of the needs of the people.
The first 10% that the people received was to go to Yahweh’s priesthood, for their support. In addition, they were to give gifts, offerings, and first fruit offerings, to show their thankfulness unto Yahweh. The purpose of this was to help them develop a heart of love for Him, and those who would dedicate their lives to serve Him.
In addition, Yahweh told us to set apart a second tithe, so we could bring our families up to the feasts. The idea behind setting apart an entire second tithe is so the feast will be a joyous, happy time for the whole family. Even if we do not need to go up to Jerusalem, Yahweh still wants us to set aside a second tithe, to make the feast season joyful for our families. That way, our children will grow up with fond memories of the feasts, and they will want their children to grow up keeping the feasts also. (This is the principle the Christians unwittingly apply by spending 25% of their annual income during the Christmas shopping season, to make Christmas an enjoyable time for their families.) Even if there is not presently a temple, we still need to make the feasts a joyful time for ourselves, and our families.
Yahweh also says to set aside a third tithe, two years in seven, for the poor, the widow, and the orphan. This is because being Yeshua’s bride isn’t just about taking care of ourselves (and our families)—it is about taking care of all of Israel’s family. Thus, in the third and sixth years of the seven year Shemitta cycle we should give another ten percent tithe.
But how are we to collect the tithes? And how are we to use and distribute them, in the dispersion? First let us look at the Levitical order, so we can understand the principles Yahweh has in mind.
Because Yahweh likes order, He commanded that the Levitical priesthood be ordered in three ranks, with the people tithing up to the Levites, and the Levites tithing up to the priests. In turn, the priests then tithed upward to the high priest. If we are willing to receive it, this was a system of reciprocal relational fellowship, in which each part of the body gave of what it had. The priesthood gave of their spiritual things, and the people supported them with their material things.
Qorintim Aleph (1 Corinthians) 9:11
11 If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?
As we explain in Nazarene Israel, when Yahweh first called Israel out of Egypt, they were not strong as a people. Therefore, Yahweh gave them the tabernacle service, to unite them around Him. Further, Yahweh must have known the truth of the adage, “The family that plays together, stays together,” because the feasts served essentially as three great big family reunions, in which His priesthood was also provided for. But how are we to operate, in the dispersion?
The purpose of the temple service was to unify Israel around Yahweh, and to provide support for Yahweh’s priesthood. However, after Yeshua’s advent, the need was no longer to unify Israel around a temple in the land of Israel, but to go forth into all nations, and build a cohesive worldwide body.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 28:19-20
19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, immersing them in My name*,
20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amein.
[*For why we immerse only in Yeshua’s name, please see “Immersion in Yeshua’s Name Only,” in Nazarene Scripture Studies, Volume 3.]
As we explain in Nazarene Israel, Yeshua established an organized priesthood made up of men who had laid down their lives in the world, so they could serve Him full time. They were to raise up elders in each city.
5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you —
The elders (overseers, bishops) collect the people’s tithes and offerings, and use them to carry out the Great Commission in their town. They also oversee the use of the third tithe to take care of the poor, the widow, and the orphan (if they do not have other family to take care of them).
TimaTheus Aleph (1 Timothy) 5:3-4
3 Honor widows who are really widows.
4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before Elohim.
Congregational servants (deacons) can be paid from the people’s tithes and offerings, if they do the work of ministry full time. They are analogous to the Levites of the temple system. (Many on ministry staff would properly be considered “congregational servants.”)
Congregational elders are to be paid double honor, especially if they labor in the word and doctrine.
TimaTheus Aleph (1 Timothy) 5:17-18
17 Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.
18 For the Scripture says, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain,” and, “The laborer is worthy of his wages.”
Notice how this system only works if the tithe and the offering still applies. If we do away with the tithe and the offering, then we have to tear whole chapters out of Scripture, because they no longer make sense.
As we explain in Nazarene Israel, the chief difference between the congregational elders and the priesthood is that while Yeshua’s priests cannot have an inheritance (i.e., possessions) to pass along to their children when they die, congregational elders can.
These are truths that some people find difficult to accept, because they go against the desires of the carnal man, which wants to keep everything for himself. However, Yeshua said He was not sent to do away with even the least part of the Torah.
Mattityahu (Matthew) 5:17-20
17 “Do not think that I came to destroy the Torah or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.
18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the Torah till all is fulfilled.
19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.”
If the Torah describes the right relationships between the people and their priesthood, and provides a system by which everyone in the body is adequately nourished, why would Yeshua do away with it?
And if the scribes and the Pharisees (Orthodox Jews) tithe, how can our righteousness possibly exceed theirs, if we are not eager to obey the Torah of the tithe?
What kind of righteousness is Yahweh looking for? Yahweh looks on our hearts. In Yeshua’s day, when a poor widow was genuinely unable to pay her ten-percent tithes, she gave all she had to Yahweh’s work, out of faith, and love for Yahweh.
Marqaus (Mark) 12:42-44
42 Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, which make a quadrans.
43 So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury;
44 for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.”
If we can picture it, this was the equivalent of a homeless woman giving her last two dollars to Yahweh, because she loved Yahweh so much. Yeshua said that her love for Yahweh was greater than everyone else, because she even gave of what she needed, to live on. This was the kind of discipline Yeshua required of all His disciples.
Christians sometimes use Shaul’s (Paul’s) words to do away with Elohim’s. For example, this passage has often been used to suggest that we don’t need to tithe, if we don’t want to.
Qorintim Bet (2 Corinthians) 9:6-11
6 But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7 So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for Elohim loves a cheerful giver.
8 And Elohim is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
9 As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,
11 while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to Elohim.
Some believers take verse 6 to mean that if we are not cheerful to give anything back to Yahweh, then we do not need to obey the Torah of the tithe. However, we should never use Shaul to do away with Elohim’s words. Further, if we read the entire passage in context, what Shaul is really saying is that we should be joyful to give our tithes, because Yahweh can bless us beyond our wildest imaginings, as Yahweh also says in Malachi.
8 “Will a man rob Elohim? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation.
10 Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says Yahweh of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it.”
Unless we obey Yahweh, and give His priesthood His tithes, then it literally robs Elohim, because that is how He provides for His work. If the priesthood does not have the funds they need to operate, they cannot perform the Great Commission worldwide—and if we think we can please our Husband while refusing to give the priests the money they need to spread our Husband’s Good News, we are sadly mistaken.
Yeshua said more about money than He said about love. Perhaps this is because Yeshua knew that the heart of man is deceitful above all things—and that Satan would try to deceive us, saying that we can love Elohim, even while withholding Yahweh’s tithe from His priesthood.
Yirmeyahu (Jeremiah) 17:9
9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?”
Yeshua, however, was clear. If we love Elohim, we need to keep His commandments. He has millions of potential brides–so if we want to be chosen, shouldn’t we obey Him eagerly, and with a heart joyful to serve Him?
Yahweh wants us to tithe, to make sure the Good News of His Son gets spread all around the world—and it is also His way of making sure that all of Israel is provided for. If we love Him, should we not do what He says?
Yochanan (John) 14:15
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.”