Who Forgot the Second Zero?

“For we are not like so many others, who peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as men sent from God.” (2 Corinthians 2:17; BSB)

To introduce the concept of tithing we will need to briefly touch on the prosperity gospel mentioned in a previous chapter, The Narrow Way. There are countless sermons which could be offered on the subject, but we will use only this one due to how succinctly it illustrates the modern method of “tithing”.

On Sep 9th 2015, Joseph Prince gave a sermon at Hillsong, London [9].. This sermon can be found on YouTube and other sites. Please take a few minutes to watch the entire sermon to gain a perspective on what we are referring to in this chapter. (see endnote 9)

Joseph began by using Hebrews 5:10-12 to claim anyone who does not tithe 10% to the church is a baby who is only capable of drinking milk. Alternatively, those who have ears to hear Joseph Prince and his message are the individuals capable of eating solid food as a mature and faithful believer. Audacious words, Mr. Prince. Let us now open our bibles and study together. We will begin where Joseph Prince began in Hebrews 5.

“and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek. 11We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. 12In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:10-14; NIV)

So, what is this “solid food” Mr. Prince is referring to? It is the offering Abraham gave to Melchizedek – 10% of the spoils of war (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7).

Mr. Prince compares the act of Abraham giving Melchizedek the spoils of war (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7), to the “solid food” of Hebrews 5. And those who do not tithe 10% to where Mr. Prince tells them to tithe are the “babies” who can only drink milk because they are not yet mature enough to eat meat. He states that if you tithe 10% you will be “under the blessings of Abraham”. If you tithe in the manner Joseph Prince commands, you will receive a financial return on your spiritual investment.

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Those who insist their church members tithe 10% often use Genesis 14 to claim tithing existed before the “law of Moses”. This is a similar argument used by those who claim to be observing the Sabbath who also suggest the Sabbath was to be observed from the beginning of creation, not only from the time of the Exodus.

Unless you consider Cain and Abel’s offering a tithe (which prosperity teachers do not) Genesis 14 is the first passage in the bible where we see any resemblance to “tithing”. We will begin here, then work our way through every notable instance of tithing mentioned in the Old Testament. Later, we will traverse the New Testament. In this way, we will have scriptural evidence to prove what tithing is, and what it is not. Let us begin.

“Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, 19and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. 20And praise be to God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand.” Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything. 21The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” 22But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the Lord, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, 23that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.” (Genesis 14:18-24; NIV; emphasis in bold mine throughout this chapter)

In the KJV Bible, verse 20 only says “he gave him tithes of all”, meaning a portion of the spoils of war were given to Melchizedek. In the NIV (and various other versions of the bible) it states “a tenth of everything” was given. For arguments sake, we will use 10% because that is what is mentioned in most bibles as well as various other books of the bible relating to this topic. So, 10% was given to the priest (Melchizedek) of the God Most High, while what was deemed worthy was given to those who helped in the battle. Whatever remained was returned to the king of Sodom. Abraham kept nothing for himself. He did not offer a 10% tithe, he returned 100% of the spoils of war after the spoils were offered to him as a reward for winning the battle. Abraham was not offering a tithe; he was returning what belonged to someone else. He gave a portion (10%) to Melchizedek because it was the God Most High that permitted them to win the battle against these ruthless aggressors. Sodom was an evil habitation to begin with. Why would Abraham keep the possessions belonging to the king of Sodom? It was not a tithe from Abraham. It was a returning of possessions. Abraham wanted no part of those possessions. He only wanted his family who had been taken captive returned safely. But you don’t hear that being taught very often, do you? No, it’s all about tithing 10%. Shameful.

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In the tenth chapter of John, we see what is likely the most popular scripture used for the 10% prosperity teaching. “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)

What these wolves in sheep’s clothing are not telling you is that the life Jesus Christ is referring to is the next life – a life with him in paradise. As the Lord clearly states, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). If Jesus wanted us to have a “more abundant life” hear in the church age, why then did he willingly die on the cross and leave us to the work of serving others in sacrifice? Unfortunately, these prosperity teachers continue to preach a return of rewards in this life and in this world in direct opposition to the teaching of the coming kingdom of God. Which is what Jesus Christ is referring to in John 10:10 – the next life. Having money is not all bad, as we will see. But expecting a direct increase of wealth because we were swindled into giving 10% of our income to our favorite prosperity teacher… well, that is a lie created by Satan. We must come to understand what tithing is truly supposed to represent.

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A Complete Biblical Study on Tithing

Tithing in the Old Testament

Tithing in the New Testament

And much, much more.

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[9] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tu6tulAAiLg “Joseph Prince: Why Tithing Isn’t For Everyone (Live at Hillsong London 2015) – 9 Sept 15”

[10] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m9IvYgPtPMM “The Importance of Tithing/Offering-Haggai 1:9| Karli Castellon”

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Thank you, and God bless.

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