Grace, The Law & Tithing III



Grace, The Law & Tithing III

The History and Purpose of Tithing.mp3


This week we are looking at the history and purpose of tithing. The points we covered in this lesson are:


  1. Tithing predated the law in Abraham under the covenant of promise by faith.
  2. Tithing is an issue of stewardship of God’s resources.
  3. Tithing is a form of worship and honor to God for those He has given to the Body as Gifts.

This session went a off topic several times, but the overall goals were basically addressed.

We spent time looking at…

  • The priesthood who received the tithes
  • The purpose of the tithe
  • Recognizing that it was actually God’s gift given to the priests from the Israelites (which is why God told Israel that when they failed to give the tithe they were robbing from Him.)
  • We also spent some time connecting dots between the priests of the Old Covenant and those statements in the New Testament where every Christian is called a priest.

At the beginning of the lesson we watched a short video which is a deliberate satire on the subject. While in no way do I believe the issues at hand are funny, I think it is healthy to have a laugh at our “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel” theologies which develop around issues like money. Christ and the New Testament Apostles were so very clear that dedication to money was deadly and caused more to go astray than nearly any other single thing – so it is a wonder in one way that Christians should allow themselves to cling so tightly to what their Lord said is passing away.

Different types of giving:

Tithe: 10% of Gross given to Levites but there were several kinds and were based upon what year they were on in the cycle of the year of Jubilee. There were 7 cycles of 7 years in the Jewish calendar, so when there is a reference to the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th or 7th year, it is speaking of the particular year in that particular cycle of 49 years making up the Jubilee.

  • Nearly 100% of families grew crops and raised kosher cattle. The torah didn’t mention giving tithes of money since all were to participate so the tithe was of crops and cattle.
  • 10% of the agrarian produce was to be given on the 1st, 2nd, 4th & 5th year of the sabbatical cycle.
  • 3rd & 6th year of the sabbatical cycle, tithe was stored up and brought to priest to be eaten by them AND THE poor, stranger & widow. – Deut. 26:12-16
  • Tithe in future years was allowed to be liquated into cash form for ease of transport. Deut. 14 – spend it on whatever your heart desires only do not forget the priest, the poor the orphan…etc.
  • 10% of 10% to Priests – Num.18:26-31 –Best of the Best

How much provision did the Tithe provide?

The following numbers and names were taken to identify how many sons of Israel were eligible for war. The difference in the numbers is due to their being taken at separate times. Most reductions are likely due to the various times when God judged Israel and many thousands died. You will also notice name variations – this should not bother the reader – it does not speak to the inspiration of scripture, but the flexibility of the Hebrew language at that time in terms of spelling and perhaps deliberate adaptations of names due to significant personal events – such as Abram to Abraham and Jacob to Israel.
Number of people per tribe at the beginning of the wilderness wandering is found in Numbers chapter 1: (This number included only males 20 years of age or older). Those numbers in bold represent those tribes who increased in number during the 38 year duration between the two census’.
Total – 1st = 603,550 & 2nd = 601,730. Leaving an average of about 50,000 per tribe.
Scripture censuses were taken from Ex. 6:14-26; Num. 26. The family fathers are in bold and the number beside their name represents the number of offspring God considered to be heads of family under (but not including) the Father of the tribe. Levi appears in blue and Aaron and his sons (The Priesthood) in Red.

  • Reuben (8) – Hanoch, Pallu, Hezron, and Carmi
    • Pallu’s sons were Eliab
      • Eliab’s sons were Nemuel, Dathan, and Abiram
        • Note on Dathan & Abriam (See Num. 26:9-11)
  • Simeon (6) – Jemuel (Nemuel), Jamin, Ohad, Jachin, Zohar (Zerah of the Zarhites), and Shaul
  • Levi (20) – Gershon, Kohath and Merari
    • Gershon’s sons were – Libni and Shimi
    • Kohath’s sons were – Amram, Izhar, Hebron, and Uzziel.
      • Amram’s sons were Aaron and Moses
        • Aaron’s sons were Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar.
          • Eleazar’s son was Phinehas
      • Izhar’s son’s were Korah, Nepheg, and Zichri
        • Korah’s sons were Assir, Elkanah, and Abiasaph (Family of Korahites)
      • Uzziel’s sons were Mishael, Elzaphan, and Zithri
    • Merari’s sons were – Mahli and Mushi
  • Gad (7) – Zephon, Haggi, Shuni, Ozni, Eri, Arod, Areli
  • Judah (7) – Er and Onan (who died in Canaan) Judah’s sons according to family were Shelah, Perez, Zerah,
    • Perez’s sons were Hezron, Hamul.
  • Issachar (4) – Tola, Puah (the Punites), Jashub, Shimron
  • Zebulun (3)- Sered (Sardites), Elon, Jahleel.
  • Ephraim (3) – Shuthelah, Becher (Bachrites), Tahan.
  • Manasseh (9) – Machir
    • Machir’s son was Gilead
      • Gilead’s sons were Jeezer, Halek, Asriel, Shechem, Shemida, Hepher.
        • Hepher’s son was Zelophehad.
  • Benjamin (7) – Bela, Ashbel, Ahiram, Shupham, Hupham.
    • Bela’s sons were Ard, Naaman
  • Dan (1) – Shuham
  • Asher (5) – Jimna, Jesui, Beriah (Beriites).
    • Beriah’s sons were Heber, Malchiel.
  • Naphtali (4) – Jahzeel, Guni, Jezer, Shillem.

The following numbers exclude the tribe of Levi because they represent the income

The Tribe of Levi received from the other 12 tribes.

How many heads of family were there?

On average each tribe had 6.3 family heads each of which had approximately 9,433.96 members. (This number includes the Patriarchal head of tribe and the heads of family beneath them from the list above.)

For illustrative purposes only…
What the income would look like if the average Jewish family made $35k per year in American dollars:

  • 50,000 (20+ yr. old males per tribe) / 6.3 (heads of tribal families) = 7,937 people per family.
  • 7,937 x $35,000 = $277,795,000 per tribe.
  • $277,795,000 x .10 tithe = $27,779,500 (leaving $250,015,500 per Tribe and $31,500 per Family to live on).
  • $27,779,500 x 12 tribes = $333,354,000 given to the tribe of Levi.
  • $333,354,000 x .10 from Levi to Priests = $33,335,400 for Aaron and his 5 sons. (Neh. 10:35-39)
  • $333,354,000 – $33,335,400 tithe = $300,018,600 what remains after tithe for the rest of Levi.
  • $300,018,600 / 21 (family heads including Levi & Moses Himself) = $14,286,600 per family in tribe of Levi.

God went out of His way to teach lessons to Israel, from the manna in the wilderness (teaching that man cannot live by bread alone but by every word which God speaks them) to the tithe (which at least in part teaches the value God places on spiritual things as compared to natural things).


What where these “spiritual duties” upon which God placed so much honor?

The Levites:

The tribe of Levi (as divided into the three major families of Gershon, Kohath and Merari) had jobs which touched the components of construction of the tabernacle.
When moving the tabernacle these were the jobs of the tribes of Levi:

  • Gershon – This family lived on the west side of the Tabernacle within the “gate” of the Levitical tribe. They handled all woven materials of the Tabernacle. Gershon means exiled which could refer to the meaning of the curtains of the tabernacle with which they were directly concerned. Among these curtains was the great curtain blocking the way to the presence of God. In a sense, this curtain spoke of the exile of man from God presence until it was torn apart by the death of Jesus our Messiah.
  • Kohath – This family lived on the South side of the Tabernacle within the “gate” of the Levitical tribe. There service to the Tabernacle was to carry the holy things which were disassembled and properly covered by the Priests. The name Kohath means Assembly and “could” be a reference to the holy assembly realized under the New Covenant as the “church”.
  • Merari – This family lived on the North side of the Tabernacle within the “gate” of the Levitical tribe. They served by handling all of the cords, sockets, bars, pins…etc. that supported and held the tabernacle together. Merari means bitter which could in part refer to the bitter cup Jesus drank from of crucifixion and death for our restoration. This bitter cup of Gall represents the sacrifice which He bore to draw the cords of mercy round about us in drawing us to the Father. It is also in dying to self and living for the benefit of our brothers (the bitter cup of dying to the self-life) that holds the body of Christ together by the joints and ligaments – Eph. 4:16.

In addition to these tasks associated with the mobility of the wilderness tabernacle, the Levites were to serve the Priests by attending to their needs for they were given to the Priests as a gift from God (Num. 18:2-4,6). Also the Levites were to attend to the needs of the Tabernacle of meeting with the restriction that they could not come near the articles of the sanctuary or of the altar or they would die. They bore their own iniquity and could have no natural inheritance in the land (Num. 18:23,32). Their inheritance and reward for their service was the tithes of the nation of Israel (Num. 18:24, 31).
They in turn offered 10% of the best of the tithe to the Priests (Num. 18:26-30) it was a type of heave offering to the Lord.
The Priests:
Aaron’s and his sons Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar (Ex. 28:1) and evetually Eleazar’s son Phinehas, lived on the East side of the Tabernacle within the “gate” of the Levitical tribe. The priests’ job in moving the Tabernacle of Meeting all pertained to the holy articles within the Tabernacle from the Holy of Holies to the entrance of the tent (Showbread table, Incense Altar and the Candelabra) – these duties are enumerated in Numbers 4:3-16. Their job entailed preparing the articles to be moved, not the actually carrying of the articles from one camp site to another.
The name Aaron is of uncertain origin but it is suggested that it is a original Hebrew proper noun meaning “high mountain” or “exalted”. This would seem to have several possible references. One would speak to their exalted position in ministering the holy things before and to God. Also, it was on the Mountain of God that Moses and Aaron were called and Moses alone received the initial instructions for the priesthood – Exodus 24-29. Several other things might be correctly derived from this name, but these are sufficient.
In addition to these duties the Priests had to maintain the tabernacle:

  • Keep the oil filled in all lamps and the altar.
  • Make fresh bread for the showbread table.
  • Maintain the Incense on the altar.
  • Offer and aid in offering all manner of sacrifices.

In essence the Priests bore the iniquity of Israel through their priestly duties related to the sanctuary (Num. 18:1,5). They received their brothers in the tribe of Levi as gifts from God to aid them in their task of serving in the sanctuary (Num. 18:6). Also, Priesthood itself (including the people filling the position) we to be seen as a gift of service (Num. 18:7). God made it a point of declaration that He Himself had given Aaron charge of His heave offerings, of all the holy gifts of the children of Israel – they were given to him and his sons as their portion (in addition to the tithes) as a commandment forever. This was said to be given to them due to the anointing placed upon them (Num. 18:8).

What was given to the priests in addition to the Tithe?

The most holy things, reserved from the fire of Israel’s offerings to the Lord:

  • Every grain offering
  • Every sin offering
  • Every guilt offering

They were most holy to Aaron and to his sons. Every male among them were allowed to eat of it only they had to eat it in a most holy place.

In addition to this the contributions of Israel’s gifts included:

  • All the wave offerings
  • All the best of the oil
  • All the best of the wine
  • All the best of the grain
  • The firstfruits – The first ripe fruits of all Israel’s land which they bring to the LORD.
  • Every devoted thing in Israel.
  • Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which Israel offers to the LORD. (except the firstborn of man which was redeemed, as well as the firstborn of any unclean animals.)
  • The firstborn of a cow, sheep, goat, was NOT redeemed for they were holy. Their blood was sprinkled by the Priest on the altar and their fat burned as a food offering. But the flesh belonged to the Priest, just as the breast of the wave offering and the right thigh were theirs.

All of these holy contributions was given by the LORD, to the Priests and their sons and daughters, as a perpetual due. It was a covenant of salt forever before the LORD for the Priest and their offspring.
However, like the Levite, the Priests were not to have any inheritance in the land, nor have any portion among them. God Himself was their portion and their inheritance among the people of Israel.

Who could minister?

Only those males of Aaron’s family who were between 30-50 (Num. 4:3) could do the work of the tabernacle. Any male within that scope who had any infirmity defined in scripture was disqualified from ministering in the tabernacle.

“And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to Aaron, saying: ‘No man of your descendants in succeeding generations, who has any defect, may approach to offer the bread of his God. For any man who has a defect shall not approach: a man blind or lame, who has a marred face or any limb too long, a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, or is a hunchback or a dwarf, or a man who has a defect in his eye, or eczema or scab, or is a eunuch. No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer the offerings made by fire to the LORD. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God. He may eat the bread of his God, both the most holy and the holy; only he shall not go near the veil or approach the altar, because he has a defect, lest he profane My sanctuaries; for I the LORD sanctify them.’ ” And Moses told it to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel.” ~ Lev 21:16-24


Specific answers to specific questions

  • Is the Feast of Tabernacles a harvest festival? (Leviticus 23: 39).
  • What are the biblical commandments relative to this festival? (Deuteronomy 16:13-17).
  • Is it especially a family festival? (verse 14).
  • Is this a celebration in response to God’’s generosity to His people? (verse 15).
  • Is it a “pilgrimage” festival – that is, a time for travel to the place God chooses? (verse16).
  • How were they to finance this pilgrimage? (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
  • Is it a time for giving a special offering in thanksgiving to God? (Deuteronomy 16:16, 17).
  • How were the Israelites to live during these days? (Leviticus 23:40-42). Why? (verse 43)


Other types of giving

Firstfruits – beginning of harvest (beginning of fiscal year or season) Newly planted trees were not eaten from until 5th year. The 1st-3rd years were considered unholy. The 4th year was considered completely dedicated to temple or sold and $ brought tot he priests. The 5th year you can eat from yourself as the land owner.

Offerings – heave and wave and various other portions of sacrifices were given regularly to the priests.

So the priest had 3 continual streams of income – Tithe, Offerings & Firstfruits



Alms – giving to the poor – 1/50th (the edges or gleanings of the field) – Lev. 19:9

Exod. 22:25,  “If you lend money to any of My people who are poor among you, you shall not be like a moneylender to him; you shall not charge him interest.”


Exod. 23:11,  “but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.”


Lev. 19:10,  “And you shall not glean your vineyard, nor shall you gather every grape of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the stranger: I am the LORD your God.”


Lev. 23:22,  “‘When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not wholly reap the corners of your field when you reap, nor shall you gather any gleaning from your harvest. You shall leave them for the poor and for the stranger: I am the LORD your God.’ “


Lev. 25:35-43,  “(35) If one of your brethren becomes poor, and falls into poverty among you, then you shall help him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. (36)  Take no usury or interest from him; but fear your God, that your brother may live with you. (37)  You shall not lend him your money for usury, nor lend him your food at a profit. (38)  I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. (39)  ‘And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and sells himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. (40)  As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you until the Year of Jubilee. (41)  And then he shall depart from you—he and his children with him—and shall return to his own family. He shall return to the possession of his fathers. (42)  For they are My servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves. (43)  You shall not rule over him with rigor, but you shall fear your God.”


Deut. 15:1-11, “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release of debts. (2) And this is the form of the release: Every creditor who has lent anything to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not require it of his neighbor or his brother, because it is called the LORD’s release. (3) Of a foreigner you may require it; but you shall give up your claim to what is owed by your brother, (4) except when there may be no poor among you; for the LORD will greatly bless you in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance— (5) only if you carefully obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe with care all these commandments which I command you today. (6) For the LORD your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow; you shall reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over you. (7) “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, (8) but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs. (9) Beware lest there be a wicked thought in your heart, saying, ‘The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand,’ and your eye be evil against your poor brother and you give him nothing, and he cry out to the LORD against you, and it become sin among you. (10) You shall surely give to him, and your heart should not be grieved when you give to him, because for this thing the LORD your God will bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand. (11) For the poor will never cease from the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall open your hand wide to your brother, to your poor and your needy, in your land.'” (See Mark. 14:7)


This agrees with Js. 2:12-16

  • Mat. 6:1-4
  • Luke 11:39-44
  • Luke 12:28-34
  • Acts. 3:1-7
  • Acts 10:2-4, 31

It is in this later case of giving to the poor that many anti-tithers draw their information and misapply the principles for giving to the poor as though they are the very same as any and all forms of giving.


I hope this teaching will challenge you and encourage you to study the scriptures for yourself and ultimately to place your trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.

You have a special place in God’s family & kingdom. If you do not know Him, please use our ‘Contact Us‘ page and reach out so we may have the privilege of introducing you to the Lord. Attendance at our church will NOT even be mentioned nor will money.

If you have been spiritually fed by this ministry and wish to give, we truly appreciate that and you may do so here, but all outreaches of this ministry are FREE for you and anyone to enjoy at no cost.


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!