My resolve not to blog about the tithe has been shattered yet again by some rather odd tithe teaching I heard quite recently. I had heard that line of argument before used as proof that the New Testament church is still supposed to carry on tithing but this was the first time I actually connected the dots.
The argument is simple; the tithe is valid today because it was practised by Abraham and Jacob before the law, thus trying to make a distinction between tithing before the law and tithing during the law. However, this distinction isn’t maintained with regards to the consequences of not tithing; the same punishment levelled against tithe defaulters during the law becomes binding on the so-called ‘pre-law’ tithe defaulters as well.
The pre-law tithe and the tithe of the law were similar in everything regard except one; the former was done voluntarily while the latter was compulsory. As such it is really absurd to level punishment on ‘defaulters’ of something that is entirely voluntary.
In any given country, giving to charity is entirely voluntary. No one gets charged to court or imprisoned for not being charitable. In the same vein, payment of taxes is not voluntary but mandatory and all who default will be punished. Therefore, just as one cannot use the punishment levelled against those who default on their taxes against those who refuse to give to charity, you cannot use the punishments levelled against those who refuse to tithe during the law against non-tithers in the pre-law era. Both remits are completely different.
The punishment mentioned in Malachi 3 clearly references the law as the word translated ordinances refers to a written law or a decree.
7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? 8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Malachi 3
So, to say that those who do not tithe are robbing God and are bringing themselves under a curse is trying to resurrect the law.
Only 2 people were recorded as having given a tithe before the law; Abraham and Jacob. God never commended their actions nor punished those who didn’t follow this example. The same definitely applies today. The choice to ‘tithe’ in today’s church is definitely a voluntary one and one will surely be hard pressed to justify teaching otherwise without being guilty of resurrecting the law.