Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith Yahweh 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]. Malachi 3:10
Without a doubt, Malachi 3 is one of the most misunderstood and poorly interpreted Scriptures of our time. What is not understood or explained is that the only people obligated to tithe were farmers, herdsmen and those Levites who were servants to the priests (see Numbers 18:21-24 & Nehemiah 10:37). No one else. The tithe was about food ... not about money. It was God's method of feeding the servants of the priests! Those Levites, who were servants to the priests, gave a tithe of the tithe (1%) total to the priests (see Numbers 18:25-29 & Nehemiah 10:38). The priests were not required to tithe but were expected to give freewill vow offerings ... which they were stealing; Malachi 1:13-14.
When the Promised Land was divided up among the Tribes of Israel, all the tribes were given land ... except for Aaron's tribe, the Priestly Tribe of the Levites, who were loaned non-inheritable farmland and pastureland around the Levitical cities. They used these lands to raise and feed the animals which were given to them as tithes and offerings (see Joshua 20,21 & Numbers 35). Further, since they only worked in the Temple one week out of twenty-four, they spent the remainder of their time farming, raising animals, and learning crafts to build and maintain the temple.
Another misunderstood fact is that the tithe was only concerning the increase (not the total or the gross) since the increase was proof of God's blessings on His land year after year. In other words, if a herdsman had 100 sheep and in the spring the lambs that were dropped were 30, he would tithe out 3 lambs -- the best 3 of the 30 and those that were the firstborn of each womb; 10 percent of the increase. So, in this scenario, the herdsman would have 130 sheep (total or gross) and his tithe obligation was 3 lambs (10 percent of the 30 that were his increase) -- not 13 as so many would have you believe. Further, merchants, fishermen, bankers, artisans, etc., did not pay tithes ... the apostles never paid tithes, Paul never paid tithes and, in fact, no Jew outside of Israel ever paid a tithe.
So ... What Is Malachi 3 Talking About?
Verse 9 reads: Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. The reference here is to local priests who were getting their food (tithes) ... and keeping the best for themselves without sending 10 percent (of their 10 percent) to Jerusalem! The priests clearly stole the Levites' portion of the tithe in Nehemiah 13:5-10 and, consequently, the Levites went home because the Levites were starving. In short, Malachi 3 is talking about crooked preists cheating their Levite servants and robbing God.
And what do we see today? Crooked clergy, pastors and TV evangelists using scripture to rob you in the name of God. They use this Scripture to tell you that if you tithe to them, God will open the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing that is greater than you can receive; the more money you give to them, the more money God will give to you ... and this is nothing short of an out and out lie! Jesus and Paul said the elders of the church should get secular jobs and help give to the needy (see Acts 20:29-35).
They ignore the same blessings and curses found in Deuteronomy 28:12 & 28:23-24 ... and they ignore Galatians 3:10. In reality, they put their church under the curse of the law by expecting God to bless them for obedience to the law ... which means all of the law.
Granted, there are many teachers who, having been taught the same and being bound by traditional thinking into not thinking at all, sincerely believe they are teaching a truth ... but if they knew the real truth of what the Bible is saying, they would change their tune. The sad story is, they are suppose to know the Scriptures well enough to know better than this! But, like so many things (like knowing what the Father's Name is) many teachers ... and students of the Bible, too ... are too lazy to learn for themselves what God's Word actually says; they fall prey to believing what they are told by others who are just as lazy about studying the Bible literally -- and so we have the blind leading the blind.
Don't misunderstand me ... we need to give, give intelligently and give freely ... we should certainly help others and support those who are working for the Gospel ... but tithe? No. As the apostle Paul said "if you try to keep some of the Mosaic Law you have to keep all of the Mosaic Law;" he taught the gentiles to give not to the local churches but to the poor in Jerusalem.
Lastly, if someone points out that Abraham freely gave tithes because it was God's will (Genesis 14:21 being the key text), consider this:
The Bible does not say that Abraham freely gave this tithe.
Abraham's tithe was not from his own personal property, his wealth or his income.
Abraham kept nothing for himself; he gave everything back.
Giving 10 percent of the spoils of war to the local chieftain was normal pagan practice and Abraham, as a guest in those lands, merely followed the prevailing local customs ... and the rest was given over to satan's minister, the King of Sodom, and his coalition which Abraham assembled. Abraham, essentially, divested himself 100 percent of the ill gotten gains of war.
Abraham did this one time, and one time alone and never tithed out of God's provisions in his life.
For those of you who want to learn real bible facts on the Tithe, its origins, purpose and execution, check out the info on this web page: Must Christians Tithe Ten Percent?