The Why of Tithing
Prophetic Promise of Malachi
The words of Malachi in the Old Testament are lamentable as he pleads for a return of Israel to the ordinances of Jehovah. Reading in that book reminds us of the Words of Isaiah and Moroni. Malachi is in the same tradition as Moroni in that his book is the last of a testament and he echoes words of warning and invitation. Malachi invites us to test God.
It seems strange that a prophet promotes this opportunity to verify the creator of all things, but the invitation veritably extends to all believers. Malachi was particularly speaking to his brethren of Judah when he admonished them to return to God, but his words are applicable today as in the past. Malachi challenges,
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts." Malachi 3:10-12
How marvelous are the promise give to those Jews who followed the law instituted among them in olden times of tithing! The same promises apply to all people today who keep this law and honor it. In these last days, Jesus Christ teaches that " those who have thus been tithed shall pay one-tenth of all their interest annually; and this shall be a standing law unto them forever... [T]hose who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law...." Doctrine & Covenants 119:4-5.
God is the same forever and in Him, there is no hint of uncertainty about His role in our lives and His relationship to us. He does not have us worship Him out of vanity. We do so out of love and devotion to Him. All things that He reveals to us has eternal purpose.
Why Tithe - Anciently
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house..."
First and foremost, we tithe because Heavenly Father asked us to do so. He needs "meat in mine house." Of course, the Lord does not need meat to eat, and the house he was speaking of is the Temple at Jerusalem in the reference in the book of Malachi.
The priests did not work while serving in the Temple and needed people to give a tenth of their products to the Temple to continue the rites of sacrifice in similitude of the sacrifice that the Savior would allow of his life. There were several types of sacrifices performed--the foremost to atone for the sins of the people. There also were the individual sacrifices for each patron of the Temple.
Because cultural separation makes such ordinances seem cruel in today's society, I will not bother to detail them here, but tithing funded the ordinances of the Temple in Jerusalem. Temple worship was a large part of Jewish culture and religious life in ancient times. The idea of the Temple was to point the chosen people to God and His eventual glorious triumph over death and hell and their deliverance from the bondage of all their enemies.
The Lord wanted them to remember to support the Temple ordinances through tithing so that he could keep them in remembrance of his covenant to them.
Why Tithe - Today
"...all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed..."
The Lord expects the same devotion today for the same reason. While all who are reading this may not worship in temples, most Christian organization use tithing for the same purposes as in ancient Judah I assume. God gives us everything and asks in return that we return a tenth of what he allowed us to have.
We could reason that God gives us nothing because we work diligently for our support and present it as an offering! However, God created the earth and all the souls on it, who in turn, participated in the development of societies that offer employment to people like us.
He, God, also set the seasons and earth in motion and created the laws that allow gravity on Earth to hold so that we may walk and breathe air. He placed the Earth next to a star so that we may have warmth and light. He even prevailed upon the hearts of nations so that where many of us live there is relative peace. For all that, he asks for a tenth of our increase.
Tithing helps to run The Church of Jesus Christ. Temples of the Lord dot the planet in a way unprecedented in the history of God's church. These temples perform ordinances and use all sorts of products and services that cost money. The Lord needs "meat in mine house" still. We call this "meat" electricity, water, laundering, food service, central heating and air-conditioning and more. The Lord wants us to bring our increase to keep the temples going.
He wants us to keep our churches going. All houses of worship need to have upkeep so that the Lord can use the ministers to point the people towards the great sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth. We tithe to show our support for the Lord's servants who service our spiritual needs outside of home life. The church is an anchor of support for family teachings about Christ and needs support from Christians to keep it running.
The politics of tithing is not the question. What the leaders of churches do with the money after we give it to them matters, but it is a subject to leave to the Lord. We give freely and willingly with hearts pure in devotion for the upkeep of the temple or house of worship so that there "might be meat in mine house."
© 2018 Rodric Anthony Johnson