Why are the United States, Great Britain, and other English-speaking countries of the world in so much financial trouble? How are your personal finances? Good financial health comes by obeying God’s tithing laws. Though many understand what the Bible says about tithing, few follow all of God’s tithing principles. How about you?
It is clear that the people of the U.S. want to see big changes in the economy. News analysts agree they want new leaders. But what many people in this country do not realize is that changing one man will not change the state of the economy. A more fundamental change will have to happen in the entire nation before things get better. What this country needs is a spiritual change in every man, woman and child!
The Financial Law You Can’t Afford to Ignore
Herbert W. Armstrong taught this nation for over 50 years that our true identity was that of the ancient Israelite tribe of Manasseh. Together with Great Britain (the ancient Israelite tribe of Ephraim) we were to share in the fantastic material wealth promised the nation of Israel (Genesis 48:15-25). Mr. Armstrong showed from the Bible that the only way we could keep possession of our great material wealth would be if we obeyed the God of Israel—according to His dictates!
Mr. Armstrong warned our nations that if we did not repent of our sins, and begin to follow God, we would lose our great wealth. We would suffer catastrophic natural disasters. We would experience life-threatening famine. And we would lose the coming Third World War! Mr. Armstrong died and few heeded his words, but those words are ringing true!
In late August 1992, Hurricane Andrew proved to be the worst natural disaster to strike this nation in the 20th century. A Newsweek story stated, “The stories from Andrew’s ground zero summoned up a kind of terror the country had not felt since the 1906 San Francisco earthquake” (Sept. 7, 1992). In late November 1992, 45 killer twisters affected 11 southern states, killing 25 people. These natural catastrophes are only the beginning of troubles to come!
Many people in the United States and Great Britain hope their elected officials can save their nations from insurmountable troubles. But no political figure can rescue our nations from what is coming! Those of us who attend God’s Philadelphia Church know that the only Being in the universe who can truly protect any one of us is Almighty God! And the only way He will protect us is if we obey Him.
God expects us to continually measure ourselves against the Bible to see if we measure up to His expectations. One area we need to reexamine periodically is tithing. This article will help you in your review. Realize though that there is not room enough in this article to discuss all the issues related to tithing. Each one of us should also reread Mr. Armstrong’s booklet on the subject.
Did you know that if you obey God’s laws on tithing He promises you both physical and financial protection? In Exodus chapters 21 through 24, Moses outlined certain judgments for the Israelites based on the Ten Commandments. The subject matter of the judgments took into consideration the many different aspects of the Israelites’ new national way of life. The judgments were very specific on how to treat other people and how to worship God! For example, Moses states in chapter 23, “Thou shall not raise a false report …. Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil …. Keep thee far from a false matter …. Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger” (Exodus 23:1-2, 7, 9). These verses represent expanded teaching on several of the last six commandments which show how to love other human beings (Matthew 22:39).
Moses continued, “Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord God. Thou shalt not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leavened bread …. The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God …” (Exodus 23:17-19). These verses are a detailed teaching on the first four commandments which show how to love God (Matthew 22:38). Notice that one of the areas which Moses focused on, in relation to loving God, was tithing! Moses commanded the people that they were to obey God’s requirements concerning “the first of the firstfruits,” or tithes.
In verses 20 through 23, Moses showed the people that God was going to administer these judgments through His “angel.” The Hebrew word for “angel” here is malak and means “messenger.” This is a direct reference to Jesus Christ as the God of the Old Testament (1 Timothy 2:5). As God’s messenger, or Logos, Christ had the authority to punish the people for disobedience. Remember that one of the judgments dealt specifically with tithing. If the people disobeyed God in the way they handled their tithes, they could expect punishment. But, if the people truly obeyed the voice of the “angel,” God Himself would fight their battles for them. “But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thy adversaries” (verse 22). Moses implies here that one of the punishments for disobedience would be losing the battle to take over the Promised Land.
These scriptures are still valid today, even though many professing “Christian” organizations believe that the Old Testament was “done away.” How much healthier would our sick economy be if we truly obeyed God? If our nations were striving to live God’s way we would never have to fear war. We would not have to maintain a multibillion dollar defense budget. God would fight all of our battles for us! We could put money spent on defense to much more constructive uses, such as education, rebuilding our inner cities, and building homes for the homeless!
Stealing From God
In the book of Malachi, written specifically for our time now, God says that the United States, Britain and other English-speaking peoples are under a curse because of our disobedience in the area of tithing. “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation” (Malachi 3:7-9). As a nation, we have lost God’s financial protection because we have been stealing from God. Our national economies can never be set back in order until our nations return to God!
Look at what God says He would do if our nations returned to obeying Him in paying tithes: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord 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. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts” (verses 10-12).
Unfortunately, unless some spiritual revival happens very quickly, this will not occur until the return of Christ. But what about you as an individual in the Philadelphia Church of God? Do these scriptures hold true for you? Absolutely!
God’s true Church has always upheld God’s laws concerning tithing. God’s ministry has witnessed God backing up His promises in many miraculous ways for members who faithfully pay their tithes. In the same manner, we have also seen God punish people for disobedience in this area. And we know, without doubt, that when the natural disasters strike and war and famine loom over our heads, God will protect us according to His promises. I do not mean to say that we will be able to keep all of our material goods when these end-time disasters strike, but God will preserve our lives! How could we ever expect God to protect us unless we are diligent in our tithing? We need to seriously ask ourselves—are we tithing correctly?
It has always been Church policy that individuals pay their tithes based on their gross income if they are salaried employees. Those members who are self-employed should tithe on all profits after business expenses are paid. All members should tithe on interest income. Those members who are living on government-paid pensions or disability plans like the United States Social Security System or other pensions and plans do not tithe.
Over the years, Mr. Armstrong made certain judgments concerning the paying of tithes in countries other than the United States. The Philadelphia Church of God supports those judgments. If you have questions concerning tithing for your specific country, you may direct them to your local minister. If there is not a minister in your country, please address your questions to headquarters.
From time to time everyone falls into some kind of financial trouble. But it is often true that when a member is caught in continual financial trouble, it is caused either by not tithing, or not tithing properly! Notice what Moses taught the people: “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year” (Deuteronomy 14:22). A similar scripture is found in Leviticus 27:30. Moses was very clear in his teaching. The people were to “truly tithe all” of the increase of their fields. The word “truly” in the Hebrew is uwlam and can mean “in very deed.” In other words, the people were not to be casual about tithing. God does expect us to be very circumspect and pay attention to detail in our tithes. Even Jesus Christ supported the Pharisees in the detailed ways they tithed (Matthew 23:23).
In the 1970s, liberal ministers failed to teach scriptures like these, and many members suffered for it financially. At that time, members were not required to pay a full second tithe. Deuteronomy 14:22 is a direct reference to the second tithe. All of it was to be saved for personal use in attending the annual Feast days.
It also became an option to pay “third tithe” at a reduced percentage over a seven year period. Moses was very clear about when the third tithe should be paid: “When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled” (Deuteronomy 26:12).
The third tithe is to be paid only two years out of a seven-year cycle. These years are to occur during the third and sixth years. Paying a percentage over a seven-year period is actually more of a burden and will most always fall short of a full tithe!
Your third tithe year should begin two years after baptism at the Feast of Tabernacles closest to the date of your baptism. If you have any questions as to when your third tithe year should begin, ask your local minister if one is assigned to your area.
The experience of the ’70s showed that God did not bless the membership or the Work for such sloppy practices. God expects us to pay “all” of our tithes when He specifies!
90 Percent Abundance
In Exodus 23, Moses also showed the people that God would bless the nation in other ways if they fully obeyed God in the area of tithing. God would make the 90 percent left to them truly abundant. “And ye shall serve the Lord your God, and he shall bless thy bread, and thy water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of thee. There shall nothing cast their young, nor be barren, in the land: the number of thy days I will fulfil” (verses 25-26). God promised the people an abundance of food, a clean environment, and physical health. Are you experiencing an abundant life? Do you see God’s blessings working in your life? Are you healthy, physically? If you are not healthy, is it because you are disobeying God with your tithes? Remember, Mr. Armstrong taught that God’s promises for healing would only come about if we were obedient in all aspects of our Christian lives!
God established the tithing system long before Israel was a nation. The benefits of tithing have been proven throughout history. Abraham was a very wealthy man (Genesis 13:2). Why? Because he was obedient to God. God promised Abraham great physical and spiritual blessings because of his obedience. “And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws” (Genesis 26:4-5). Abraham paid his tithes! He was also very careful to pay all of his tithes.
After delivering Lot from a confederation of warring kings, Abraham paid tithes on the bounties taken from the battle. “And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all” (Genesis 14:18-20). Notice that Abraham paid tithes on all. Abraham did not reason around the law of God. He knew what God required and then did it! Paul refers to Abraham as the father of all those who have faith (Galatians 3:7).
We need to follow Abraham’s example. This does not mean that we will be very rich, but it does mean God will be on our side looking out for us! Tithing to obtain additional material goods does not work. But tithing out of loving obedience to God will always produce both physical and spiritual blessings.
Tithing Shows Submission to God’s Government
We must never forget the fact that our supreme goal as Christians is to obtain the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Peter showed the Church that we are now being judged to see if we qualify for positions of leadership in the Kingdom (1 Peter 4:17). One area in which Christ is judging us is tithing. We need to realize that God is not interested in our money. He owns everything anyway (Haggai 2:8). God is very interested in how we submit to His law and government.
God has established that the ministry collect the tithes of the people (Genesis 14:20; Numbers 18:21; Hebrews 7:1-12). However, we only administrate what God has put into place. Even though the ministry collects tithes, we need to remember that all of us, including ministers, pay our tithes to God. Paying our tithes shows submission to God’s government.
After dreaming about the “ladder,” the Patriarch Jacob made a direct connection between tithing and the government of God. “And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee” (Genesis 28:20-22). As a result of his dream, Jacob realized the importance of God’s Work on this Earth. He vowed to set up the stone that he slept on as a pillar which was to represent God’s house or the seat of God’s government on Earth. Jacob was so inspired by the dream and the Work of God that he vowed to pay tithes of “all” that God gave to him.
God has promised the Philadelphia Church of God that our “work” would be a marvelous wonder (Habakkuk 1:5). Like Jacob was in his time, we should be awe-inspired by this fact. Our work is the sparkling capstone of what Jacob helped begin. We should all deeply desire to do all we can to support the Work! If you study deeply into Jacob’s life you will see that he was an extremely hard-working individual. Those of us who are physically healthy and employable should be sure we stay regularly employed if at all possible. It takes everyone’s effort and tithes to support this Work. No one’s contribution is too small! If we will not work because of laziness, do we think God will bless us? Now is the time to make an extra effort to support God’s Work! Time is running out! Let’s all work hard on our jobs, or obtain a job so we can support this Work!
How we tithe also demonstrates to God how we will act as members of the God Family. Christ told the disciples, “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?” (Luke 16:10-11).
In a few short years money and riches are going to be meaningless. What will be important is how much character we have developed. Character is the key to opening the door to the true riches and being a member of the all-glorious Family of God. Working hard and paying tithes does produce character.
Let’s all take the time now to reexamine this area of Christian living. It would be a great shame to miss out on a stupendous future because we were disobedient or negligent in paying God’s tithes!