MALACHI AND THE LAW OF TITHE
The book of Malachi is the most popular of all that preachers of tithe use. For this reason it is important for us to look closely at chapter three of that book from verse 1 to 12. Malachi is the last literary prophet in the OT who was raised to minister at the time the Jews were abandoning their religion i.e. Judaism. After the return from Babylon, about a hundred years after Haggai and Zechariah, the Jews were no longer faithful in their Temple worship. The priests no longer took the OT precepts seriously, the people no longer offered sacrifices that were good, divorce was rampant between couples and tithing was not held as important as it used to. The Jews were seriously expecting the fulfillment of some prophesies. The preaching of Malachi in chapter 3 is centered on restoring the people’s faith in the OT when the NT has not started operation. Verse 1 talks about two different personalities:
ONE: “Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me…” This refers to John the Baptist. (Mt. 11:10; Lk. 1:76; 7:27, 28)
TWO: “And the Lord, whom you seek…even the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight. Behold he is coming…” This refers to Jesus Christ the messenger of the better covenant. (Lk. 7:26-28; Heb. 9:15-18; 6:6-8)
Concerning the coming of the Lord, it became clear that the people were eager to see him come because they no longer had delight in the OT. Jesus is “the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight”. We should remember that Jeremiah had prophesied that God would change the OT from written code to a spiritual law. (Jer. 31:31-44). This is what the Jews were expecting and so were in a hurry to discard the OT which worship system stood on Levitical priesthood sustained through tithes. If tithing was not done, the priestly ministry would not be effective. If the priestly ministry was not effective, the OT ordinances could not be observed as designed before the coming of the Lord. The Law was supposed to keep Israel in custody until the coming of the saviour. (Gal. 3:23-25).
Failure to pay tithe fully according to the Law is what prophet Malachi refers to as robbing God. According to the Law of Moses, tithe belongs to God and nobody has any right to withhold it. Malachi speaks of the blessings on faithful tithe payers and curses on tithe robbers. The major reason why Malachi took this tithe issue so seriously is that upon faithfulness in tithing rested the faithfulness of the Levitical priests to their calling; and only then can the whole Jews follow the Law of Moses properly before the coming of the Lord – “the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight.”
It was the prevailing condition of that time that made Malachi spoke so forcefully on tithe. Now that the Lord has come (the messenger of the NT), the OT with its Levitical priesthood including tithing that provided food for the Levites had been annulled by the coming of the NT.
In the NT where all believers are priests, who pays tithe and to whom?
“For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness, for the law made nothing perfect…”(Heb. 7:18,19)
“But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed. Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” Gal. 3:23-25
“Now if perfection had been reached through the Levitical priesthood because the Law given to the nation rests on it, why was it still necessary for a new priesthood to arise, one of the same order as Melchizedek not counted as being of the same order as Aaron? But any change in the priesthood must mean a change in the law as well.” (Heb, 7:11, 12 JB)
From the references quoted above, we can see three important points:
a) The OT law has been abolished.
b) The Levitical priesthood has been abolished.
c) Since the NT believers are not under the law, they have no obligation to continue paying tithe.
If you now insist that you must give tithe like Abraham, then you must make sure you fight a war, win, take the enemy’s properties as spoil and then give a tenth of the spoil: not your own earning. (Gen. 14:11-20; Heb. 7:4)
Malachi goes further in verse 3
“He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; he will purify the sons of Levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness”.
When the Lord who is the messenger of the NT comes, he will purify the sons of Levi and they will now give offering according to the NT method.
Let us see a fulfillment of this:
“And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Acts 4:36, 37)
This Bible is beautiful!
One who is supposed to wait for tithe from others according to the Law of Moses, when he became converted to Christianity, brought a freewill offering in accordance with NT injunction. (2Cor. 9:7).
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, cursed is everyone who does not continue in all things written in the book of the law to do them.” Gal.3:10
If Malachi 3:8-10 is read within context and without a mind-set, it will be clear that tithing was necessary then, and not now that the messenger of the covenant in whom people delight in has come.
JESUS CHRIST CAME TO FULFILL THE LAW
“Do not imagine that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete them. I tell you solemnly, till heaven and earth disappear, not one dot, not one little stroke, shall disappear from the law until its purpose is achieved” Mt. 5:17, 18.
If we understand the words of Jesus well, we will know that he is the very fulfillment of the OT law, judgments, ordinances and precepts. He is the offering, he is the propitiation, he is the high priest, and he is the first-fruit, the scapegoat, the Passover, the heave-offering and all the purifications that the OT foreshadowed. When he gave up the ghost on the cross after saying, “it is finished”, all the OT laws were fully fulfilled. He told his disciples after his resurrection that: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the prophets and the Psalms concerning me.” (Lk. 24:44) This means that what Jesus said in Matt. 5:17, 18 is explained to have been fulfilled in Luke 24:44. Therefore the Law of Moses does not concern NT believers, although we may read the OT for our learning.
Paul explained further in Gal. 4:4, 5 that Jesus was born under the Law, lived under the Law, to redeem all who are under the Law so that they might receive adoption as sons. This is the reason why it is stated that, “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” (Rom. 10:4) The Bible makes it clear that nobody can receive justification through the law. (Rom. 3:20) If that is so, how can a tithe payer receive credit from God through tithing? It is not possible because the “Law brings about wrath” (Rom 4:15), and the “law makes nothing perfect…” (Heb 7:19) Nobody can pay tithe according to the stipulation of the Law of Moses, therefore nobody can keep the Law of tithing, and hence all are robbers of tithes. Anybody who wishes to be under the law of tithe must not amend it or panel-beat it to suit his own condition. Nobody who alters the instruction of God will go scot-free. This is true of Moses in Num. 20: 8-13
Have you built storehouses where all kinds of tithes will be stored? Has your own denomination constructed store-houses near each church building where tithes will be stored? If God has taken us out of bondage, why do we still want to be under it?
Our Lord Jesus had fulfilled the whole law; hence the Levitical priesthood, the daily sacrifices and the laws of tithe are not for Christians. We are free!
“Now whenever a Testament is in question, the death of the testator must be established: indeed it only becomes valid with that death, since it is not meant to have any effect while the testator is still alive.” (Heb. 9:16, 17)
The New Testament of Jesus Christ where we cannot find the ordinance of tithe became effective after Jesus had shed his blood to annul the former and make the new operational. Christ has fulfilled all.
The OT stands for Hagar the mother of Ishmael, she is in bondage. The NT stands for Sarah the mother of Isaac, who is free. It is a pity that “unto this day, just as the one born after the flesh persecuted one born after the spirit, so it is now.” (Gal. 4:21-29) It is not surprising therefore if people oppose this teaching or the author.
Many people depend on testimonies to say whether a teaching is true or not. They talk about wonderful blessings they get after paying tithe. Some even say that they saw in their dreams that their sufferings came on account of their failure to pay tithes. All these are just satanic deceptions. Building a doctrine on personal testimony or dream is not of God. Idol worshippers also claim they have testimonies. Somebody said OsunRiver gave her a baby after visiting the grove, drinking the water and making a pledge. This testimony does not make Osun worship the true way. In the same reasoning, testimony of supernatural provision does not make tithing a NT ordinance. All visions, revelations, dreams and testimonies that people talk about cannot be used to establish any true doctrine. Any of these that does not fit into the teachings of the Bible is a lie and a heresy. Even if you are a faithful tithe payer, that does not insulate you from problems.
This book was written entirely by Mr. Aboluwarin Ademola Daniel. I’m reposting this with permissions from him. You could post your comments or questions in the comment section of this site. I will be replying as quickly as possible.
You could reach Mr. Aboluwarin via email on firstname.lastname@example.org