By: Clement Ntukogu –
The above quoted scripture is probably one of the most quoted scriptural passage in most of the churches today, but unfortunately, it is being quoted out of context and used as a weapon of mass intimidation, manipulation, extortion, oppression, cajolery and outright lies and deceit by so many church leaders to collect ten percent of the gross income of their church members who have been hoodwinked into believing that they are doing God’s will.
Many Christian publications say that those who do not tithe are robbing God and will suffer curses for not doing so. I am going to use one of them as an example of what Scriptures and reasoning are usually used to support the idea that the church is full of God robbers, that is, people who do not tithe 10 per cent of their income.
A booklet entitled “Tithes, Offering, and Alms” states: “Today many churches do not teach tithing because they do not want to drive people away. In reality they are robbing God’s people of their blessing. When tithing is not taught, they are allowing their people to ignorantly rob God. By this they allow the devourer to have free access to their people.
Then the church and the people wonder why they are not being blessed. When God’s people return again unto God, He will return unto them as He has promised. “By this minister’s own reasoning then, the Churches of the world are full of “God-robbers.”
The vast majority of Christians do not even come close to giving ten per cent of their income. Most churches are overflowing with “God-robbers.” While this booklet “Tithes, Offerings, and Alms” deals with more than just the tithe, we will only focus on the tithe since that is the subject of this article. I am not mentioning the author of this work hoping in days ahead he will see the foolishness of what he wrote.
In one small paragraph, this minister condemned to the devourer entire congregations who do not tithe. As long as people do not tithe, he says, they have turned their backs to God and He cannot bless them. They are God robbers! The booklet I just quoted is very typical of publications like this. They all refer to the same handful of Scriptures to justify their position. I will use this one as an example of which Scriptures are used to support their view and then show how these Scriptures have not only been grossly taken out of context, but even these Scriptures out of context do not support the teaching of tithing being 10% of income.
When studying a book of the Bible, one of the primary things to look for is who the book is addressed to. That is, who is written to? Who is the audience? Who did the author have in mind when he wrote? With Malachi, this question is easily answered, for Malachi refers to them directly several times. In several places, Malachi reveals that he is addressing the children of Israel (Malachi 1:1; 4:4).
In this case, the rebuke of Malachi is not at all directed toward the Christian churches today, but towards the children of Israel who were failing to tithe at the time. The purpose of this study, therefore, is to examine who was this message of Malachi 3: 7-10 directed at?
Is the interpretation that Christian churches make correct? Let us examine some of the verses, one by one, so that we can establish the relationship to the modern concept of tithing preach in our churches today.
In Malachi 3:7; the Scripture says, “Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?” This verse, as well as the following verses, establishes that it is God, who was speaking. There can be no doubt of that.
The nature of the warning indicates that He was speaking to the children of Israel. Does this passage apply to Christians today? There is no suggestion that the same can be applicable to the Christian churches today. To whom did God give the laws? It was the children of Israel (Malachi 4:4). And who was not keeping those laws?
Again, it was the children of Israel. God made a promise to His chosen people. Since he wanted them to receive the benefits from that promise, He offered to return to them if they would return to Him.
In Malachi 3:8; the Scripture says, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings”. God told the Israelites how they had gone astray. Whether any one of the words defraud, insult, hide up from, or rob is used, it still means that the people have been withholding something from God.
They had gone so far that they did not recognize that they had been neglecting tithes and offerings. References to tithes and offerings can be found in Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
In Malachi 3:9; the Scripture says, “You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation”. Deuteronomy 28: 16-68 describes the curses that would fall on those who turn away from God.
Since this turning away had gone on for numerous generations, some of those mentioned probably were included. Again, when you look at the phase; “even this whole nation”, mentioned in verse 9, is an indication that the passage was referring to the nation of Israel alone and not to Gentiles Christians (Acts 15:1,5-29.
Then, Malachi 3:10; says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD 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”. God invited the children of Israel to begin their tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in His house.
The priests, a sect of Levites, who had no inheritance of land (Numbers 18:26-29), were to oversee the storehouse in the house of God, and to make sure that temple workers, as well as widows, orphans and aliens were fed from the whole tithe brought in by the people. And those tithes were usually an agricultural products – grain, fruit, Corn, wine, oil, cattle, and sheep (Leviticus 27:30-33; Deuteronomy 14:22,23).
But today, the modern-day Christian concept of tithes is only “MONEY”, but unfortunately, God never allowed money as a substitute for those agricultural products (Leviticus 27:30-33). The only reference to money in the Mosaic law states that a person was to exchange his products for money under certain circumstances, then go to a place which the Lord appointed, spend the money on food, and eat it at that place (Deuteronomy 14:24-26).
This hardly fits the interpretation of the tithes of the present-day Christian church. Again, where is the storehouse of this modern -day Christians? Is it not in the pastor’s pockets and bank accounts? Is it according to God’s instruction?
Once again I would like to state that this article is just meant to establish the biblical truth about Malachi passage that so many churches are using to intimidate, manipulate, extort and oppress their members and remove the yoke from people who labour to pay tithes ( not required of them by God) while their pastors are living luxuriously.
Today many pastors see the church as their personal business and even fraudulent people are opening up churches so that they can have access to people’s tithes and use it for their personal aggrandizement. I encourage all of us as Christians to remain vigilant and continue to serve God in truth and in faith to the glory of his holy name. Amen.
Another point of note is: how come out of the 613 biblical laws of Moses which were handed out to the people of Israel, it is only an adulterated version of the law of tithe that is still being practiced today, apart from the Ten Commandments? How come we are no longer required to offer burnt sacrifices? How come we no longer stone people to death for sinning?
The truth is that only tithing was dug out of the laws of Moses because it presents material benefits to the collectors of tithes. Given that most Christians do not study their Bibles and depend on their pastors to guide them through, it was easy for pastors to pick a passage in the Bible (Malachi 3 : 8-10), quote it out of context and use it to manipulate the flock into parting with 10 per cent of their income.
Furthermore, it is worthy of note that neither Jesus Christ nor any of the apostles ever preached about or collected tithe. In fact, in the Bible, Jesus Christ only spoke about tithes in Luke 11:42 which states that: “But woe unto you Pharisees! For ye tithe mint and rue all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone”.
Here we can see that Jesus Christ is rebuking the Pharisees for laying emphasis on tithes instead of the more important things of the spirit, like our pastors are doing today. In Acts 15, we find outlined what the apostles all agreed was necessary for the newly converted Gentiles to practice, and by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, tithing is conspicuously missing. Yet, what is one of the very first legislated duties taught to Gentile converts by the Church today? It is that they must tithe their salaries to the Church. Where did this unscriptural law of Christian tithing come from?
I find it horrible that when a brother or sister is in financial need all that many pastors will do is ask them if they are paying their tithes, and then, if the person is not paying their tithes, tell them that they are under a curse from God! This type of teaching is a travesty – it is a stain on Christianity. When a brother or sister is in need then the local church should be the first to step in and help them. Of course, wisdom and discretion are necessary, since we need to be sure that we are giving to a legitimate need, and that the money will not be misused. However, we should definitely give!
While some churches use Malachi 3:10 to justify the New Testament practice of tithing, others will admit that tithing is clearly an Old Testament ritual. Nevertheless, even such churches will attempt to rationalize the practice of tithing by making statements like, “Well if it was good enough for the Old Testament saints to pay 10%, how much more should we, the New Testament church be willing to give that same amount? After all, don’t we have more knowledge and revelation about Jesus Christ than the Old Testament believers?” The question poses an important response, but this response must be based upon the Scriptures, not the opinions or traditions of man.
Hence, Malachi Chapter 3:8-10, is not rebuking the New Testament Christians at all, but Malachi was rebuking the Israelites who were under the Law at the time, and were under obligation to pay tithes (Malachi 1:1). As Apostle Paul explained; “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law” (Romans 3:19).
“….The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith, but after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster” (Galatians 3:24-25). Christians are NOT under the Mosaic laws which included the law of tithing (Malachi 4:4). Tithing was part of the law to ISRAEL, NOT to the Christians. Therefore, there is no curse for “not paying tithes” in the New Testament, as is often implied on the sermons from Malachi 3:8-9.