This section is from the "How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt" book, by Rev. Sylvanus Stall. Amazon: How To Pay Church Debts And How To Keep Churches Out Of Debt.
"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." - (Gen. xiv. 18, 20; see also, xv. 9, 10).
"And Jacob rose up early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put for his pillows, and set it up for a pillar, and poured oil upon the top of it. And he called the name of that place Beth-el: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first. 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 garment 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." - (Gen. xxviii. 18, 22; see also, Ex. v. 1, 3; x. 25, 26; xii. 3, 26, 27; xviii. 12)
These passages of Scripture show:
1. That from the very first men offered to God of the choicest of beasts, fowls and cultivated fruits of the earth.
2. In the fact that Abel "brought of the firstlings of his flock" we see clearly that God had enjoined upon the family of Adam the duty of offering the first of that which the bountiful Giver bestowed Upon them. The institution must necessarily have preceded the first mention of its observance, and since Abel's offering is declared to be an offering of "faith," it must have been in conformity to the divine command, else it could not have been offered "by faith."
3. That in two instances at least the tithe is explicitly mentioned, and mentioned in a manner which indicates that Abram, in giving tithes to Melchizedek, simply conformed to an already established custom, and that Jacob at Beth-el simply vowed conformity to a law previously enjoined.
4. The tenth is the least amount which is either expressed or implied.
If we come to the law as recorded by Moses, we get a clearer understanding of the divine law of the tithe. As with the law of the Sabbath, the sacrifice and other laws, so with that of the tithe - it was authoritative from the beginning, it was known to the servants of God, and more or less obeyed by them. This re-enactment, or recording of the law was an endorsement whereby this law which had been universal became a re-enjoined law to the children of Israel. By its re-enactment God was emphasizing the importance of its continued observance. Here, then, we come to a more full and more clear understanding of the divine requirements respecting our relations and duty to him as the undisputed Sovereign of all things.
The law of the tithe, as we find it in the code of Israel's laws, consisted in this:
I - The First Tithe.
"And all the tithes of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord. And if a man will at all redeem aught of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord. He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed." - (Lev. xxvii. 30, 33;).
This one-tenth of the increase is that which was required from the beginning as the least that would meet the requirements of God's law. This was what still is emphatically the Lord's tenth, and by him it Was wholly assigned to the support of his servants.
II - The Second Tithe.
"Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the Lord thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the Lord thy God always. And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the Lord thy God shall choose to set his name there, When the Lord thy God hath blessed thee; then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind Up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the Lord thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou and thine household, and the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him: for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee." - (Deu. xiv. 22 ,27).
This is a second tenth part of all the increase. This is not called the Lord's tithe, nor was it devoted to the maintenance of the Levites and priests, but was to be consumed by the family, together with some poorer brethren and some of the Levites, in feasting before the Lord in the place where he should appoint his worship to be offered.
III - The Third Tithe.
"At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: and the Levite, because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest." - (Deu. xiv. 28, 29; see also, xxvi. 12, 13).
This appears to be a third tenth of all increase, which was required only every third year, and was devoted at home to the entertainment of the Levites, strangers, fatherless and widows residing in each one's more immediate neighborhood. That it was to be consumed at home, seems to mark it as a tithing distinct and separate from the other two, yet it is but fair to state that by some this is regarded as identical with the second tithing, being distinguished only in this, that upon each third year it was diverted from its general use to a special or particular purpose.