A Perspective on Tithing
- Friday, November 09, 2012
I'm taught that the tithe should go to the church budget. How were the three tithes used in the Old Testament?
The three tithes in Israel were used for three main purposes:
(1) to support the full-time religious workers, who were not given land of their own,
(2) to provide a meal for community celebration and religious fellowship and
(3) to provide for the needs of the poor.
Together these three tithes added up to about 23.3 percent of one's agricultural income produced in the promised land. Numbers 18:8-32 explains that the tithes were given to the Levites, who, unlike the other 12 tribes, had no inheritance in the promised land. In Deuteronomy 14:22-29 a tithe of crops and livestock was to be shared in celebration with one's family and the community—especially the Levites. "Every third year, however, the tithes would go to the local storehouses so that they could be distributed not just to the Levites but also to other poor and marginalized people: 'the aliens, the fatherless and the widows' (Deuteronomy 14:28-29)" (Craig Blomberg, Neither Poverty nor Riches, 46). Even though the tithe no longer applies in the same way for Christians, God's priorities for giving—ministers, mission, fellowship and charity—have not changed.
The complete version of this article can be found on GenerousChurch.com. Used with permission.
Publication date: November 9, 2012
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