"8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, 'How have we robbed you?' In your tithes and contributions." Lots of pastors use this to convince people to give money to the church. I don't feel it's talking specifically about money. What do you say?
AMP - 8 Will a man rob or defraud God? Yet you rob and defraud Me. But you say, In what way do we rob or defraud You? [You have withheld your] tithes and offerings.
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The tithe, as practiced by Israel, was goods given over to the Levites from the increase of one's labor, such as cattle or crops. Money was not part of this main tithe. (Duet 14:22, Lev 27:30-32) This tithe was not just payment for the Levites work as servants, but because they could not hold land or inherit and were dependent on these goods to service. The Levites, in turn, tithed a tenth of the goods they received to the High Priest. There was a second tithe as well. Rather than giving the goods over to the temple though, the family would save them up. Then, they would personaly partake of the goods or trade them to pay expenses at the annual feasts. For feasts requiring they go up to Jerusalem, if they lived far away, they were allowed to exchange the goods for money and rebuy new cattle and food once reaching Jerusalem. In addition to paying the family's own expenses at the feasts, they were to share with the Levites, the poor, and visiting strangers so that no one would be excluded. Every third year of seven, this tithe or perhaps an additional tithe, was given over to one's local town storehouse for distribution to the poor, the Levites, the widows, or anyone in need (Deut 14:28-29). To briefly summarize the tithe: - 10% of the increase of goods went to the levites for their living (who in turn tithed 10% to the high priests) since they did not work. This does not seem to have included money. - Another 10% was kept, saved up by the family, to be primarily spent during the feast of booths. It was a week long vacation, basically, and food was to be shared with the levite/poor/stranger. - Either another 10% was given every 3rd year, or the second 10% was given to the poor on the third year - either way these goods were stored up in the town storehouse for the poor. - A half shekel per person/4 drachmae went to the temple - that's about $5 in modern equivalent. - All service/maintenance for the temple was performed by the Levites. In Malachi and Nehemiah, a situation is described in which the people and priests were distorting and abusing the tithing system. Malachi 1 describes the people bringing lame or diseased animals to be sacrificed rather than giving of their first and best. The priests bore the brunt of God's anger, for they were allowing it and sacrificing the blemished animals. In addition to this habit of trying to sacrifice the worst animals rather than the best, Eliashib the priest had robbed God by giving the storeroom where the tithes were to be stored over to an enemy of Israel. Once Eliashib the priest was given charge of the storehouse, he failed in his duty to distribute the goods among the levites and priests. So, no matter how willing the people were to bring in the tithe of goods (Neh 12:44-47), they could not for there was no longer a place! (Mal 3:8) Not only that, Eliashib had actually removed what was already there. He removed the grain, wine, and oil, etc. Before he let Tobias the enemy of God take up residence in the storehouse! (Neh 13:4-7, Neh 2:10-19, Neh 6:10-19) Because the priests were not getting their daily food, they had gone "back to work" in the fields, and had stopped serving God in the temple (Neh 13:10). In these ways, the people had spurned the requirements of God in their actions and in their hearts.
My opinion is that: The first mention of Tithe in the Bible was in Genesis 14:18-20 NKJV:  Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.  And he blessed him and said: "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;  And blessed be God Most High, Who has delivered your enemies into your hand." And he gave him a tithe of all. At that time, the tithe Abram gave was part of the spoils of war. Later the tithe was instituted as law for Israel in Leviticus 27:30,32 NKJV  And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD's. It is holy to the LORD.  And concerning the tithe of the herd or the flock, of whatever passes under the rod, the tenth one shall be holy to the LORD. And so, the tithe consisted of seeds, fruit and flock- sheep, goats, cattle, etc. It has to be noted that in this period of history, the economy was mostly agrarian and monetary currency as we know of today was practically very limited. Trade was by barter - exchange of goods or in gold and silver and even human labour or slaves. In the NT, tithes or tithing was not emphasized very much because the practice was an already established one. However Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for neglecting the most important aspect of the law- justice, mercy and faith! And then added that these were equally important to the paying of tithes. Matthew 23:23 NKJV  "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone. Jesus said He came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV  "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. So tithing is for today, as it was in both the OT and NT times. Today however, people receive monetary rewards in the form of cash which is either paid out physically or deposited into their accounts. Therefore, to be obedient to the word God, you would have to pay it in cash/cheque or by credit card or whatever. However, for farmers and people who produce goods, you could also pay with the produce, which the Church or the recipient could use directly or convert into cash for usage. The blessings accompanying faithfulness in this area, like salvation, is better experienced than explained. It is true that some pastors over exploit this to satisfy their own selfishness and greed. The Bible is clear on what awaits such "wolves in sheep clothing." I would encourage you to be obedient in all aspects of the Christian life, including devotion to The Lord, Prayer, Fasting, righteous living, speaking the truth in love, etc, etc and the faithful paying of your tithes to The Lord, through your Church.
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