Kingdom Taxes to Fund Government
Dec 22, 2008
In any discussion of Kingdom economics, one of the major issues is that of taxation. Taxation is one of the big issues in any American election.
Biblical taxes are called the TITHE. While the tithe is not the only source of revenue, it is certainly provides the government with most of its source of income.
Today, we are accustomed to hearing that the tithe is owed to the Church, rather than to the government. That is partly because we live in a non-Kingdom setting. The tithe is to be used for the support of divine government--the Kingdom of God--rather than to support Babylon's government. But we have been in captivity to a Babylonian system since the days of Daniel. So the question is how are we to implement the tithe law while in captivity? Especially when the Babylonian government takes the equivalent of a double or triple tithe in its tax system.
Because today's captivity situation is unnatural, it is not biblically clear if tithes are to be paid to the Church on top of the Babylonian taxation. Some denominations solicit offerings, which are voluntary contributions. Others demand tithes in order to maintain people's membership in good standing.
But let us get back to basics in order to understand the mind of God concerning the tithe. It is not what most people have been taught in the Church. First, the law of tithe is based upon God's ownership of the earth, which He created in six days. Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth." Because God created all things, He therefore OWNS everything that He created. He has given man an inheritance in the earth, but man does not own the land. Lev. 25:23 says,
"The land, moreover, shall not be sold permanently, for the land is Mine; for you are but aliens and sojourners with Me."
God merely gives men the privilege of living on His land on earth. It is not a right, but a privilege insofar as our relationship with God is concerned. It is only a right insofar as it relates to our relationship with our fellow men. Thus, if man violates the conditions that God has set forth in exchange for this privilege, then God has every right to disinherit us and to place us in captivity to others as a judgment for sin.
This God did many times with Israel in the book of Judges and in Jeremiah's day as well. At first, the judgment upon Israel was a "wooden yoke," which allowed the people to remain in the land, as long as they paid tribute (tax) to their captors. But in the days of Jeremiah, when the people refused to submit to the wooden yoke, God imposed a yoke of iron upon them. (See Jeremiah 27 and 28.)
In that context, God set forth His right as Creator, saying in Jer. 27:5,
"I have made the earth, the men and the beasts which are on the face of the earth by My great power and by My outstretched arm, and I will give it to the one who is pleasing in My sight. And now I have given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, MY SERVANT . . ."
In biblical law, God is said to "sell" His people into the hands of another nation as payment for their sin. It is based upon the principle of law found in Ex. 22:3, where it says that if a thief cannot repay restitution to his victim, "he shall be SOLD for his theft." In other words, he must work off his debt. The court "sells" him to another man, who then makes the restitution payment to the victim of injustice. In return, the thief must work for his redeemer (i.e., the one who paid his debt).
And so, all through the book of Judges, we read that the people persisted in violating God's law, and as a result, God "sold" them to various nations. (See Judg. 3:8; 4:2; 10:7.)
Since one cannot sell what one does not own, the fact that God sold Israel to other nations is biblical proof that God owns all nations as well as the earth itself.
The law of the tithe is based upon God's ownership of all that He created. A just tithe (tax) is payment for services rendered. God does not tax the land itself but the production from the land (or from nature). God labored six days to create the heavens and the earth, and now He wants a return on His labor. Man labors as well, and for his trouble, he is allowed to keep 90% of that which he produces.
And so the tithe is said to be on the increase of the fields, flocks, and herds. Lev. 27:30-32 says,
" (30) Thus all the tithe of the land, of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's; it is holy to the Lord. (31) If, therefore, a man wishes to redeem part of his tithe, he shall add to it one-fifth of it. (32) And for every tenth part of the herd or flock, whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the Lord."
A man is allowed to redeem the tithe of the grain or fruit, but he then owes 12%, not just 10% tithe. (Adding one-fifth of the 10% is an extra 2%.) It may be easier to transport money than a load of fruit or grain, so it may be well worth the man's time to convert the tithe to money.
Also, every tenth lamb or calf was to be given to God, but as verse 33 says, "it shall not be redeemed." So the 12% law applies only to that which comes from the ground. The lambs were herded into a corral and then funneled through a gate single file. Someone sat on the gate with a stick dipped in red dye and marked every tenth lamb that walked through the gate. That marked lamb passed "under the rod" and belonged to God.
Once we understand that the tithe is based upon God's labor, and it is calculated according to production, we can know the mind of God in this matter. When man makes a living directly off God's labor, he owes God a tithe. This goes beyond farming and ranching. It applies equally to lumbering, mining, fishing, and power plants. All of these utilize God's labor, and so God wants a 10% return on His labor.
But if a lumberman, after giving God His tithe, builds a chair with his lumber, he has added value to the lumber by shaping it in a useful manner. He can then sell that same lumber for a much higher price. But he is really not selling the lumber itself. He is selling his labor and skill. The money he gets for it is not "taxable income." That is, he does not owe tithe, because he is selling his own labor, and God's labor has already been reimbursed through the tithe paid earlier.
If the carpenter were to owe tithe on his own labor, then he would have to add that cost to the price of the chair in order to make a living. All taxes are ultimately passed on to the consumer at the end. If you have many "hidden taxes" at every step of the process, you end up with much higher costs to the consumers. In God's Kingdom, such taxes are not demanded in the law, though the Babylonian system has invented the "value added tax," which does this very thing.
Any tax that goes beyond God's 10% allowance is essentially theft, unless such taxes are paid voluntarily in order to obtain community services that go beyond the maintenance of government. Once again, as long as a tax is payment for services rendered, it is not an unjust tax as such. To this requirement, I would add that the services rendered ought to be by popular consent and not by government imposition. Taxation without representation was a major cause of revolt after Solomon died, and God backed the revolt (1 Kings 12).
The point to remember is that a biblical tithe is not owed on every form of income, wage, or earning. Tithe was to be paid at the ground level only. God's government respects every man's labor, which is his most basic property right. Churches do wrong by demanding tithe from all forms of income.
This is the first part of a series titled "Kingdom Taxes to Fund Government." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones