What’s the purpose of tithes and do they still apply?

Author: BibleAsk Team

The Purpose of Tithes

The Bible explains that tithes (Leviticus 27:32) were used for three purposes:

The First Tithe

This tithe was used for the income of the priests. The tribe of Levi (the priests) received no portion of land for crop-growing and business operations, while the other 11 tribes had the land divided between them. So, God’s plan was that the tithe would support the priests and their families as they worked full time for God. “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as [a]an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting” (Numbers 18:21 also verse 26).

This same principle also applies in the New Testament: “Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13, 14). Thus, tithe is be given to God’s ministers of the gospel (pastors, Bible workers, missionaries…etc.)

The Second Tithe

To provide for God’s people to observe His commanded festivals

This second tithe was distinct from the first tithe, which was devoted exclusively to the support of priests and Levites. “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.  And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.  But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you,  then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.  You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you. end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates”(Deuteronomy 14:22-27 also 26:12–15).

To help the poor

“At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates. And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do” (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).

Some have assumed that just one tithe was saved and then divided among these three categories as a person saw fit. But the Bible shows that this assumption is not correct because Numbers 18:21 speaks of God giving the Levites 10% and not part of a tithe.

The tithes are different than the offerings (Psalms 96:8).  Some give a second tithe for the poor as offerings. The Lord asks His children to bring their offerings to express their gratitude for His blessing. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). The Bible does not specify a set amount for offerings. Each person decides to give based on his income. These offerings can be given to cover church expenses, poor, charity, health, or educational purposes…etc.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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