In essence, ten percent of everything we earn is given for YHWH’s work and for the poor. Specifically, those to whom this goes are: ministers of the Gospel such as pastors–who incidentally are to receive a double portion–missionaries, travelling evangelists, and any societies or groups that support or administer these ministries. The poor include Christian charitable organizations and anyone we may hear about or are led by the Holy Spirit to help financially (NUM. 18:21-24, DEUT. 14:22-27). We are commanded to give to all who ask, so long as we have what is being requested of us.
Houses. land, children, babies, time, talents, and our lives may all be tithed or dedicated to the service of YHWH, either for a period of time or a lifetime (as in the vow of the Nazirite in the Old Testament). It is important any commitments made are kept like an oath. In the case of children being dedicated, as was Samson, we can only inform them. It will ultimately be their own choice.
A second tithe or ten percent of a person’s income was to be set aside to use at the Feasts in Yerushalem (DEUT. 12:6-7). Then a third tithe was to be set aside in the third and sixth years of a seven year cycle so that the poor and Levites could eat and enjoy the Feasts, presumably if they were unable to provide for themselves from other income (DEUT. 4:28-29, 26:12).
Concerning these, we must remember that we do not live, at present, physically in our Promised Land. Few of us own land to which, YHWH’s Law says, we are entitled, therefore we remain in a strange land.
In this alien land, we are required to pay taxes as Yahshua did in order to avoid giving offence (MATT. 17:25-27, LUKE 20:25, ROM. 13:17). Taxes pay for capital works, education, health care, defence, and many other things. However, Yahshua stated in MATTHEW 17:26 that the sons (of Abraham or the Kingdom) are exempt from paying tax. In a nation which follows YHWH’s Laws the tithes are sufficient. Public needs are met by everyone when the need arises, such as was done in the wilderness with the construction of the tabernacle, and the many calls to men between twenty and fifty to gather when they went to war or to defend Israel against an enemy.
There is a vast difference between how we live in our strange land now, whether Christian or not, and how YHWH’s people are supposed to live in His Kingdom or Promised Land. All education, for instance, was conducted at home by the parents, or freely by the priests. Elderly parents were cared for in the home of the eldest son and his family who inherited a double portion to facilitate their support. The sick were nursed at home unless the disease was infectious. It was truly a community effort far removed from the community as we know it today where many people do not even know their next door neighbour.
Most of us would be well stretched financially if we had to pay a second or even third tithe because we don’t own our land or houses. If we do own them outright there remain rates and bills to pay that never stop coming. In Israel during Bible times there was no excuse. In Yahshua’s discourse with the rich young ruler in MATTHEW 19:16-23, it becomes clear that although this man had kept the Ten Commandments, it was according to his own standards and not YHWH’s. Verse 21 reveals he had failed to fulfill the Law of the third tithe, that of giving to the poor, so by that time he owed so much he would have to sell all his possessions to repay the debt. The selfishness and greed in this young man’s heart rendered him unable to do so even when corrected lovingly by the Son of YHWH Himself, as well as being given an alternative to becoming destitute–that of following the Son. Sadly, the man did not recognize Yahshua, for his wealth had become the object of his worship.
Imagine, as with the writing of YHWH’s Laws upon our buildings, if every child was given at birth a portion of land upon which to live and raise produce for his family’s upkeep. Imagine if three times a year we all went to one central place to celebrate our national holidays in joy and thanksgiving. Imagine if the poor could legally trespass upon any property to glean or eat a portion deliberately left to them for their satisfaction. Imagine if every person, every business, every industry, and corporation gave the first fruits of their produce to support the the work of YHWH. Imagine if all mothers stayed home caring for and teaching their children. There would be no unemployment. Imagine if all adult men were required to commit a portion of every year to public works, with only the morally upright and those with YHWH’s wisdom appointed to government positions.
This is the essence of tithing–giving from a heart of love, the pinnacle of YHWH’s Kingdom.