The Three Tithes--Part 2
Dec 30, 2008
Biblical taxes (tithes) are rooted in the concept that God created all things and therefore owns all that He created. He lays claim to ownership of the land (Lev. 25:23) and, indeed, the entire earth. Psalm 24 says,
" (1) The earth is the Lord's, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it. (2) For He has founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the rivers."
This runs contrary to the modern Babylonian doctrine of the state, where the state lays claim to eminent domain over the land. This has led to the property tax, which is then applied, not on its production, but upon the land itself, whether one makes it productive or not. Further, the land is taxed according to its speculative value, which has little to do with its practical value.
The tithes of Scripture are based upon production. Biblical taxes are thus owed six years out of seven, since there is no production in the Sabbath land-rest year. If God taxed the land itself, as does modern governments, it would have forced many of the people to sow and reap in the Sabbath year. The land would get no rest, and the people would get no year-long vacation. Rushdooney says on page 2 of his book, Tithing and Christian Reconstruction,
"In the first session of the Continental Congress in 1774, Congress denied that Parliament could tax real property. Gottfried Dietze has summarized the American opinion then: 'As to property, the delegates felt it should be free from seizure and taxation'. The property tax came in very slowly, and it appeared first in New England, coinciding with the spread of Deism and Unitarianism, as well as atheism. Such anti-Christian men saw the state as man's savior, and as a result they favored placing more and more power in the hands of the state."
By the way, the tithe does not belong to the Church, nor does it belong to state. It belongs to God. This distinction has been overlooked by many in the Church, where ministers often hold out their hand while telling you to "give to God." But if you look at the story of King Saul, who represents the political side of the Church under Pentecost, you will see that Samuel prophesied that the Saul-Church would STEAL God's tithes. 1 Samuel 8:15, 17 says,
" (15) And he will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards, and give to his officers and to his servants. . . (17) He will take a tenth of your flocks and you yourselves will become his servants."
God never intended for His people to become servants of either Church or state. God's laws are based on the fact that Israelites were God's servants. Lev. 25:42 says,
"For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt; they are not to be sold in a slave sale."
King Saul's life prophesied of the Church and how it would lay claim to men, the land, and the tithe. The Church would then give the tithe to "his officers and to his servants." The fact is, the tithe was to be used for the maintenance of His lawful order in His Kingdom. Though Saul was legitimately crowned, he became a usurper of God's authority. The tithe ought to have gone to the Levites to maintain godly institutions in society, but Saul took it to pay the expenses of His own cabinet.
Saul was made king because the people wanted a king "like all the nations" (1 Sam. 8:4). They got their request. Since the nations had a statist mentality, that is what Israel got as well. So the tithes were taken by the state to be used as it saw fit. The educational, social, and medical institutions run by the Levites were soon under-funded, and the people suffered. In such situations, the people then look to the government to support these things, and power is thus transferred to the federal government which has most of the money.
God's money ought to go to God's causes--worship, education, outreach, and health care. These are the primary duties of the Levites. Take special note that entertainment is not included. The cost of entertainment should be met by one's own money, not the tithe. Many churches today have become entertainment centers, rather than teaching centers.
Evidence of usurpation is also seen when ministers use tithe money to live lavish life styles that manifest greed rather than need. It is not necessary for ministers (i.e., "Levites") to live in poverty, but neither should their life style be so far above the average tither supporting him. The Levites received one-tenth of the production from the land. With twelve tribes paying tithes, it is plain that God intended the Levites to have an income about 20% higher than the average worker. Perhaps a bit more, since there were also first-fruits offerings and other more minor sources of income for them. Yet only a portion of this money was to be used for salaries. Keep in mind that the tithe was to be used for education, not merely to pay the teachers, but perhaps buildings and books as well. The Levites had their own personal sources of income, since they owned houses in towns as well as flocks and herds. So they would not have needed to rely upon the tithe as their primary source of income.
Leviticus 25:42 (above) shows that God not only owns the land, but He also owns mankind. Of course, mankind was "sold" for Adam's sin, but God then redeemed a portion of mankind when He brought Israel out of Egypt. These were then called "My people." In other words, God owned them. They were God's servants, or slaves. As such, He treated the people in much the same manner as the land itself.
This brings us to the law of first-fruits and the law of the first-born, which we will cover next time.
This is the final part of a series titled "The Three Tithes." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones