Tithes and offerings are mentioned in the Old and New Testaments. The word “tithe” translates into “one-tenth.” In the Old Testament, the Israelites gave a tithe of their agricultural income as an offering income to the Lord as an expression of worship, thanksgiving, dedication, and expectation.
There were also freewill and other types of offerings. But the tithe was to be given as a result of the fruit of the Promised Land.
Below are a number of passages in the Bible that further explain the purpose of tithes and offerings and how we can view them today.
What Many Don’t Know about Tithes and Offerings
Today, many people either think that tithing is not necessary, or they view it as a means to promote the Gospel alone. Though resources are crucial to promoting the Good News of Jesus, tithes and offerings are used beyond just resources.
The truth is that the Bible clearly states that the priesthood was permitted to use the tithes and offerings for themselves.
Tithes and Offerings Mentioned in Deuteronomy 14:22-27…
- “Be sure to set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the presence of the Lord your God at the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. But if that place is too distant and you have been blessed by the Lord your God and cannot carry your tithe (because the place where the Lord will choose to put his Name is so far away), then exchange your tithe for silver, and take the silver with you and go to the place the Lord your God will choose. Use the silver to buy whatever you like: cattle, sheep, wine or other fermented drink, or anything you wish. Then you and your household shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice. And do not neglect the Levites living in your towns, for they have no allotment or inheritance of their own.” (emphasis added)
Tithes and Offerings Mentioned in Numbers 18-21-29…
- “’I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the tent of meeting. From now on the Israelites must not go near the tent of meeting, or they will bear the consequences of their sin and will die. It is the Levites who are to do the work at the tent of meeting and bear the responsibility for any offenses they commit against it. This is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. They will receive no inheritance among the Israelites. Instead, I give to the Levites as their inheritance the tithes that the Israelites present as an offering to the Lord. That is why I said concerning them: “They will have no inheritance among the Israelites.”’
“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Speak to the Levites and say to them: “When you receive from the Israelites the tithe I give you as your inheritance, you must present a tenth of that tithe as the Lord’s offering.”’” (emphasis added)
What Are These Bible Verses about Tithes and Offerings Saying?
In short, the tithe was given to the Lord and provided for the priests. The priests did not inherit the land and therefore could not produce crops.
Those who gave an annual tithe, such as during the Feasts, were also able to eat part of it. The rest, which would be the majority of it, was given to the priests.
The priests were instructed to give a tenth of what they received through tithes and offerings to the Lord. They were not excluded from this instruction and type of worship.
Bible Verses about Tithes and Offerings | The Destruction that Comes from Robbing the Lord
In Malachi 3, the Israelites did not give the tithes and offerings that the Lord instructed. They became greedy and did not trust that He would provide. They robbed Him, and as a result, a curse was brought upon the nation.
They did not see it as robbing, yet it was because they were unwilling to give what God had asked. They thought their way of managing their prosperity was better than the Lord’s way.
Robbing the Lord of Tithes and Offerings | Malachi 3:6-12 Explains the Cost and the Blessings
““I the Lord do not change. So you, the descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your ancestors you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,’ says the Lord Almighty.
“’But you ask, “How are we to return?’
“’Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How are we robbing you?’
“’In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.’ (emphasis added)
The cost of not giving was a curse. The benefit of giving was an opened floodgate of heaven that poured out blessings.
The Importance of Giving Tithes and Offerings | How to View Them Today
It is important to understand how the treasure and heart relate. Jesus said in Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Nothing exposes the heart like difficult times. When we go through difficulties, where do we turn?
- Do we turn to a friend to grumble and complain?
- Do we turn to addictive behaviors to escape the reality of the situation?
- Do we turn to the Lord and seek His heart and will, proclaiming Him and His instruction as our treasure?
Many of us are going through difficult times right now. And our human nature tells us to hold on to what we have, possibly even hoard and collect, not trusting in God’s provision.
Malachi 3:8 reminds us to give to God what is His. He doesn’t ask for all of it, although He certainly could and is worthy of it. He only asks for a small portion of what He has provided. He asks you to test Him in His faithfulness to His Word.
We cannot afford not to bring tithes and offerings. If we choose our way instead of His, He honors that and lifts His protection. But if we choose Him, we can expect something great is in store for us as we turn to Him and obey.