Malachi 3:10 2%, not 100%, to the Temple

Discussion in '2004 Archive' started by Russ Kelly, Feb 23, 2004.

  1. Russ Kelly

    Russ Kelly
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    QUESTION: Why would 100% of the tithe go to the Temple when 98% of the people it was designed to feed lived outside Jerusalem in the Levitical cities?

    7 Bible Reasons to Rethink the Tithe Text of Malachi 3:10 [as 2%, not 100%]

    1. The first tithe (of three) was intended to replace property inheritance and to feed the Aaronic priests and their Levite servants. The Levite servants to the priests received the whole tithe and the Aaronic priests received one tenth of the whole tithe, plus many other offerings (Numbers 18; Deu 12:12; 14:27-29; 18:1-2; Josh 13:14, 33; 14:3; 18:7; Ezek 44:28)

    2. The vast majority of the priests and Levites lived in their Levitical cities around Jerusalem. Jerusalem was not a Levitical city. (Joshua 20, 21; Numbers 35; First Chronicles 6:51-81; Second Chronicles 31:15-19; Nehemiah 10:37; 11:29; 13:10.) Naturally, most of the tithe was sent to where most of the Aaronic priests and their Levite servants lived with their families.

    3. There were far too many priests and Levites than needed to serve in the Temple. Therefore, both the Aaronic priests and Levite servants were divided into twenty four (24) courses for one week terms of service in the Temple -- roughly two weeks per year, plus special holy days. Thus, only four to six percent (4-6%) of the families who required the tithe as food were ministering at the Temple at any one time. (1st Chronicles 28:13, 21; 2nd Chronicles 8:14; 23:8; 31:2, 15-19; 35:4, 5, 10; Neh. 11:30; 12:24).

    4. Among this 4-6% of the families of priests and Levites ministering at the Temple, only male priests over thirty yeas of age and male Levites over the age of twenty went to the temple.
    Therefore, even if these composed half of the family, the total percentage of priests and Levites at the Temple at any given time period would not exceed 2-3% of the total. (1st Chronicles 23:3; 2nd Chron. 31:15-19).

    5. Nehemiah 10: 35-39 and 2nd Chronicles 31:15-19 are very clear that the tithe went to the Levitical cities and was distributed to the 96-97% of the priests and Levites living in those cities as their food supply.

    6. Therefore, common sense teaches us that the “portions” “as each day required” found in Nehemiah 12:44 and 47 and 2nd Chronicles 31:14 was only this 2-3% of the total tithe required to feed the 2-3% of the priests and Levites taking their turn ministering for one week. It is equally clear that the remainder of the tithe was given by “portion” to the families of the priests and Levites --not at the Temple-- but in their
    Levitical cities, per 2nd Chronicles 31:15-19.

    7. Conclusion: Unless the above biblical presentation can be proven to be wrong, then there is a fundamental error in the usual interpretation of Malachi 3:10. For much greater detail on the level of a Ph.D. dissertation, please read or download my book for FREE at www.home.earthlink.net/~russkellyphd
    Neh 10:35 firstfruits of land to temple storehouse for priests
    Neh. 10:36 firstfruits of herds to temple storehouse for priests
    Neh. 10:37a firstfruits of bread to temple storehouse for priests
    Neh. 10 37b WHOLE TITHE to LEVITICAL CITIES for LEVITES
    Neh 10:38 1/10th of tithe to temple storehouse for priests
    2 Chron 31:14-19 most of both tithes stayed in the cities
    Neh. 12:44, 47 those ministering had their portion of their tithe
     
  2. Russ Kelly

    Russ Kelly
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    Fellow Baptist brothers and sisters,
    I really need your input about my presentation above. I know that this is a completely new interpretation of Malachi 3:10, but that is why I need your input. If I am wrong, please tell me where. If I am right, then our preaching, teaching, and commentaries need a serious re-write. I am suddenly getting a lot of hits on my web site and know that somebody is reading this material. Are we afraid to discuss this one subject, but not afraid to discuss hundreds of others?
     
  3. micahaaron

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  4. Russ Kelly

    Russ Kelly
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    For those reading this but not commenting, I believe that those cursed in Malachi 3:8-10 are the priests and not the prople. (1) The book of Malachi is specifically addressed to priests in 1:6 and 2:1. The only abberation is a third person mention of Judah in mid chapter 2. (2) Cahpter 3 continues answering the priests' question from the last verse in chapter 2. (3) The priests have already been cursed three times prior to 3:8-10, and (4) the priests had stolen the Levites' portion of their tithes in Nehemiah 13. Therefore, I believe that God is again cursing the priests and ordering them replace all of the tithes that they had stolen from the Levites (and from God).
     
  5. Dr. Bob

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    I like the conclusion, Russ. The whole "tithing" mess has been usurped by preachers today who are confused (to put it nicely).
     
  6. Russ Kelly

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    Dr. Bob
    Thanks. Again, I think that this is the true hermaneutic of dispensational theology. What bothers me is how many good dispensational schools like Liberty Baptist and Tennessee Temple have adopted tithing. I had to pay $150.00 to quote Major Bible Themes to put Lewis Sperry Chafer's chapter on tithing in my book. It is an excellent discussion. I only wish that more would join into our discussion. Spread the word.
    Dr. Russ
     
  7. Russ Kelly

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    This is incredible! Ten years researching for a Ph.D. disseerttin on tithing and Baptists do not want to discuss it!! Did you know that tithing only recently popped into the Southern Baptist statement of faith? Begining in 1649 it took 314 years before even the texts which include the word appeared in 1963. The word "tithe" still does not not occur in the text of the statement.
     
  8. Rick C.

    Rick C.
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    Dr. Russ,

    The discussion of the 24 courses is very interesting and I was not aware of this aspect or administration of the temple ministers until now when you pointed it out. It is well worth more review. It strikes me that there is much assumption about what the Bible states regarding the tithe due to what people have continually heard about it. When a topic is taught over and over again with the same general thrust, people take for granted that that is all there is about the subject and neglect to research it for themselves. The points you make underscore this.

    What we see in the adminstration of the tithe is a system that was taylored for a specific context. It was strictly to provide food for the Levites because they had no land to farm themselves. A tenth of that tithe was forwarded to the temple storehouse to feed the Levites and Priests on duty, if I am not mistaken. A close look such as this reveals that things are not what they have appeared to be on the surface with the popular teaching.

    I have to maintain that even at a higher level the translation of the tithe from the OT to the New Covenant does not make sense because the reasoning does not stand. For example, Abraham tithed so we must tithe. When the story is examined, it is clear that Abraham did not tithe of his own posessions. He tithed from the goods he recovered for the King of Sodom after going on a rescue mission to save Lot. Abraham made it emphatically clear that for him this was no conquest and the goods belonged to the King of Sodom, not him. So, this begs the question: Why did Abraham give away 10% of the King of Sodom's property? There is evidently something else going on here. Abraham through the course of his life is not recorded as tithing anything from his own possessions and certainly not money.

    The second high level examination pertains to Malachi: Will a man rob God? This can in no way be connected to Abraham. It can only be examined in the context of the law as it pertains to the tithe. The law regarding the tithe consisted only of perishables. Food. One can examine the OT and find there is much talk about money. But money is never mentioned with regard to the tithe. This must be because the tithe was never intended to be income for the Levites and Priests. It was to sustain them for their activies and to make up for the lack of land to farm themselves.

    What then stands is 2Cor 9:6 stating that each should give as one determines and cheerfully. This is a new order where the old order could not apply. Now everything would be determined and lead by the spirit.

    This is both liberating and demanding. It is liberating in that God has set no "requirement". It is demanding in that it requires the believer to honestly, before God, determine how he/she can affectively support the Lord's work.

    The letter kills but the spirit gives life.
     
  9. TC

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    Although I won't be able to study the material you present until spring break, it's a facinating subject - also one that has been greatly abused. I have been continually bothered the way most preach about tithes. When one questions what comes out of the pulpit, one is treated as an unbeliever way too much. I for one will not accept everything a pastor says simply because he is a pastor. Blindly accepting what the pastor says is not proper submission - although it's taught that way in many churches. We are called to live to a higher standard than the OT Law. We are to follow the Spirit and He will direct us in what we should do. It's not about a list of do's and don'ts. It's about getting close enough to God to see what He wants and then doing that. Jesus said "I do what I see my Father doing and I say what I hear my Father saying." (my paraphrase) We should do no less than Jesus - after all, we are told to imitate Him.

    The pharisees basically gave God the leftovers out of their abundance because of obligation. The widow, whom Jesus commended, gave all she had because she wanted to - even though she had very little. What a great example for us today.
     
  10. Russ Kelly

    Russ Kelly
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    Although 2 Corinthians is a discussion of giving to the poor, I beliweve it is a guide for all giving. God does not want poor Christians to deprive their family of essentials in order to give a specified perecentage. When the poor give less and the rich give more, there is an EQUALITY.
    2 Cor 8:12 For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality -- 14 at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality. NASU
    Many Baptists throw out the phrase "the tithe is a good place to start because that was the minimum standard in the Law and we must give at a higher standard." (no reference to TC here)
    This statement is built on the incorrect assumption that everybody in the OT was required to tithe and did so. In fact, only landowners and herdsmen living inside the terrirorial boundaries of Israel were required to tithe. Tradesmen such as Jesus (carpentry) and Paul (tentmaker) were not included in the definition or requirement.
     
  11. Rick C.

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    Reviewing 2Cor 8-9 I read it as a discussion about giving and giving according to ones means. 8 talks about the Macedonians giving out of their poverty but still giving generously. They are cited as an example to the Corinthians. This giving termed a service to the saints (v4...). In verse 10 (chpt 8) Paul offers advise to the Corinthians about their giving. They are asked to do as they had previously done - giving with a desire to do so, and that they should do so according to their means.

    This review for me is proving quite enlightening. V12 continues by saying if there is willingness a gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. V13 seems to indicate that Corinth is well off at the moment and their gift will help others in need. This may be where the focus of giving to the poor may come in (insight welcome here). I am getting to my point... In essence we have a situation of giving to the saints (workers) for the work of the saints.

    In Chpt 9 again is stated the service to the saints and the idea of giving generously. Up to this point everything is in the real context of what Paul is writing about, the giving for a specific service to the saints. In 9:6 a change in focus occurs and now Paul states a principal for giving period that applies to the current situation and all situations to come. This is announce by- Remember this. He then continues: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. EACH MAN should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheeful giver.

    If this is not a statement of NT principal I don't know what is. One must assume that during this whole discourse Paul is aware of what tithe is. Yet under the inspiriation of the Holy Spirit it is not mention at all. In fact, all instruction regarding giving in the NT is void of any instruction to tithe. This must be because the paradigm has changed and the new order of things an extention of the old order of things, but a completely new covenant.

    Instead of a temple in one place, with only a designated blood line to minister in it, churches are going to sprout up all over the place. They were to be supported by the giving of the believers in much the way we see in the 2Cor. The tithe did not provide income for the priests and levites only food. The church would simply not work this way. It is now lead by the spirit.

    One can institute the law of tithing if one wishes, but that would mix old covenant ordinance with new covenant liberty. The two do not work together as I see it.

    Incidently, the whole NT does not really command anything of the saints other than to love one another and to love God. We are taught about the sinful nature and given examples of its works. We are encouraged to live life by the spirit and are given teaching about what that is and principals to live by defining what is and is not living by the spirit. The teaching of tithing contradicts all of this.

    Any and all comments/corrections are welcome.
     
  12. Russ Kelly

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    Ron
    A Baptist evangelist friend of mine once told me, "I agree that tithing is not a New Testament doctrine, but what else are we going to preach?"
    He was worried that, without tithing, the church would collapse. Too many confuse tithing with giving.
    Somebody needs to remind those who think like this that Moody Bible Institukte, Dallas Theological Seminary, WheatonCollege and John MacArthurs college an seminary prosper without teaching tithing.
    In my opinion, tithing is one of the "no glory" doctrines when compared to the power of the Holy Spirit's to accomplish in the New Testament.
     

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