Tithing from the Exodus.
Tithing was a system brought in following the exodus from Egypt and the forming of the children of Israel into a nation of their own. Their nation was divided into 12 tribes, and 11 of these tribes grew crops, had animals, inherited land etc. The twelfth tribe, Levi, were the priests and administrators of the nation, and had no land, animals, crops etc, so the 11 tribes had to give the tribe of Levi one tenth of their income (who in turn provided one-tenth as an offering to God). From this part which was given to the tribe of Levi, they still had to make their own offering to God, the same as the other tribes had to from their remainder, which mathematically works out that they were then all very nearly equal.
“Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak thus to the Levites, and say to them: ‘When you take from the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them as your inheritance, then you shall offer up a heave offering [present, gift] of it to the LORD, a tenth of the tithe.
‘And your heave offering shall be reckoned to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor and as the fullness of the winepress.
‘Thus you shall also offer a heave offering to the LORD from all your tithes which you receive from the children of Israel, and you shall give the Lord’s heave offering from it to Aaron the priest.‘”
The tithe given to the Levites was equivalent to the part played by taxes today — our taxes pay for the everyday administration of our country. The Levites did everything from attending the tabernacle/temple, judging disputes, diagnosing illnesses, being the judicial system etc. The Levites also operated their ‘social welfare’ system from the tithe money when necessary.
Tithing was part of the old law, or what is often referred to as ‘the law of Moses’. It was given specifically to the nation of Israel, who were God’s chosen people:
“ “Therefore I made them go out of the land of Egypt and brought them into the wilderness.
“And I gave them My statutes and showed them My judgments, ‘which, if a man does, he shall live by them.’
“Moreover I also gave them My Sabbaths, to be a sign between them and Me, that they might know that I am the LORD who sanctifies them..” (Ezekiel 20:10-12)
And again in verses 19 & 20:
“I am the LORD your God: Walk in My statutes, keep My judgments, and do them;
hallow My Sabbaths, and they will be a sign between Me and you, that you may know that I am the LORD your God.’ ”
“He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; And as for His judgments, they have not known them.” (Psalm 147:19,20 )
Under the New Law.
The law of Moses was a law of sacrifices and offerings to God for the atonement of sins. This was looking forward to the time when the one true sinless Lamb, Jesus Christ, would be offered to atone for the sins committed by Adam and Eve. When Jesus came, and as a sinless sacrifice for our sinful nature, he completed the old law and brought in a new one, referred to as ‘the law of Christ’. The old law was then fulfilled, and consequently obsolete.
“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come; In the volume of the book it is written of Me; To do Your will, O God.‘”
“Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law),then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:7-10)
“For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law..” (Hebrews 7:12 )
After his death and resurrection, Jesus himself became our high priest to intercede with God on our behalf — the priests under the old law had been superseded, there was a complete change of the law and the old one was obsolete.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Romans 10:4)
Tithing was part of the old law which was done away with. We cannot continue with parts of the law which we choose, since the old law has gone. The Jews continued with the old law because they refused to recognize the true position of Jesus Christ, that he was God’s only son. So if we keep on with parts of the old law, we are doing the same. We have never been under the old law, for it was only following the rejection of Christ by the Jews, that others as ‘Gentiles’ were given the opportunity to be part of God’s plan.