Nehemiah 13:10-11a NKJV says, “I also realized that the portions for the Levites had not been given them; for each of the Levites and the singers who did the work had gone back to the field. So I contended with the rulers, and said why is the house of God forsaken?”
Nehemiah had discovered that the house of God had been forsaken. The Levites had to go back to working in the fields to provide for themselves. Provision for the house of God was contingent upon the Levites doing the work. They had quit because the tithe wasn’t being given to the house of the Lord. Nehemiah rebuked the rulers for their negligence, the tithe was restored, the Levites left the fields and went back to work in the house of God as God had ordained.
It was never God’s intention for men and women to work secular jobs while in the ministry (be bi-vocational). They are to be provided for by the tithe (Numbers 18:21). The house of God is inevitably neglected when the ones he has called cannot devote all their time to the ministry.
That said, we do not use the tithe today as God originally intended. We give our tithes to pay for all the expenses of the church, but the tithe was originally given to support the ministry and ministers. Their tithe and additional offerings was used for general expenses. Can you imagine all that could be done for God if his tithe was set apart for those called to minister full time? Here are a few facts about tithing:
1. Tithing is a principle set forth by God.
The tithe was instituted by God through Abraham before the law ever existed. Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek while the law was still in his loins (Genesis 14:20 and Hebrews 7:5-10). If the principle of tithing existed prior to the giving of the law, it stands to reason it would continue after the law was abolished. The law merely picked up the principle that God had already setup before the law existed.
2. The tithe belongs to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30).
The tithe is God’s not ours. That’s why Malachi said we were robbing God when we withhold the tithe (Malachi 3:8). All we have belongs to God. We are merely stewards of what is his – caregivers over what He has entrusted us with. The fact that He allows us to keep ninety percent is overwhelmingly gracious of Him.
3. Tithes are the first fruits of what is to come (Proverbs 3:9).
Israel was to bring God the first fruits (tithe) of the harvest. They did this in anticipation of a full and plentiful harvest. When we give God the first of what we make, we do so in faith expecting a full harvest from our labors. Therefore, tithing is a principle of faith and not law. Notice, it is the first fruits and not what we have left after we have paid everything else.
4. The tithe should go to the storehouse (Malachi 3:10).
We are to bring the tithe to the storehouse so there will be food (provision) in God’s house. We give our tithe so that the priest (pastor/minister) is able to adequately prepare food (spiritual food) for your dinning pleasure. The tithe goes to the priest enabling him to have time to prepare properly for your spiritual diet. That is why the tithe is to go to your local church or the place you get fed spiritually. If you do not have a local church at this time, your tithe should go where you are getting your spiritual nourishment. Also, some pastors are fed spiritually by other ministries. If so, you should give your tithe to the ministry that feeds you.
5. Tithing releases God’s blessing (Malachi 3:10).
There is something about God’s children stepping out in faith and trusting him with their commitment to tithing that releases God’s favor and blessing. It is not law or a works thing, but faith. We are expressing faith by trusting God with our finances, believing he will bless us with the full harvest of our labors. God promises us, as we give in faith and obedience, to open the windows of heaven and bless us until there’s no longer room to receive it. It’s interesting that this is the only place in the Bible where we are encouraged to test God.
6. Tithing releases spiritual revelation.
Jesus said, “If you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon (money), who will commit to your trust true riches” (Luke 16:11). When we are faithful to God with our tithes and offerings (finances) he begins to open the heavens with spiritual revelation into our hearts, spirits and minds. When we withhold the tithe the heavens become brass and the revelation of God scarce. It is interesting that when Malachi proclaimed this to Israel concerning the tithe, they failed to obey, and God was silent for 400 years until John the baptist came on the scene.