Ralph Burgess



In a previous article about Jacob’s vow, I mentioned the priestly portion as being relative to the tithe that Jacob promised to render to God. At the time of Jacob and his grandfather Abraham, there was only one Priest, Melkizedec, but no nation of Israel, nor any other Godly work. This is important to understand, since there is a very distinct amount of income set aside for the priesthood, which is not a full 10% of one’s income! If a person felt especially blessed, that person would have expressed appreciation with special offerings, but tithing was by exact prescription. 


Nehemiah 10 precisely addresses this matter. A careful reading will reveal that the full tithe was collected by the Levites at the local level. The Levites then sent a tenth of the total to the Priesthood at headquarters. So when it comes to the amount of tithe sent to support the Spiritual work, it actually amounted to one percent of national income, not ten percent. Ninety percent of tithe was for support of local Levites in their service in government and education throughout the nation.


Now, back to Jacob for a moment: “The tenth” that Jacob spoke about is the amount that was set aside for the operation of the Priesthood, not the amount set aside for the governing of an entire nation.  We find proof of this even in Abraham’s story. In the book of Hebrews chapter 7, it is stated that Abraham gave tithes of the “spoils, but this word (only used this one time in the bible!) means: “top of the heap, or the best of the booty”. It means simply that Abraham gave a tenth out of the very best, not a tenth of everything! That is exactly what is set aside by law for the priesthood, a tenth of the total tithe, but taken from the very best.


Before Mr. Armstrong died, he had rendered a decision to relieve brethren in certain countries of some aspects of tithing, due to high tax rates in those countries. He could only have done that if he was aware of a precedent to do so. The likely precedent was his understanding as stated in Mystery of the Ages that all functions of government in the world tomorrow will be funded by the simple ten percent tithe. He defined those functions as governmental, educational and spiritual leadership of the entire earth, all funded with just one simple 10% tithe, exactly as was done under the Levites!


Here is my question then. If the 10% tithe paid for all functions of government as well as spiritual welfare in Israel, and will do so again in the world tomorrow, why not today? I believe that all brethren should have been given a reduction in the required amount of tithe, not just brethren in certain nations. God needs converted people to do His work, not money. Clearly the church never provided all functions of government, by any stretch of imagination. If a Church did do that, I would be the first to pay a full tithe to it, and there would be no more taxes!


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