The Real Meaning of the Tithe

by Joshua Tilghman on July 21, 2015

Thank_offering_unto_the_LordA few years ago I wrote an article entitled, The Spirit of the Tithe: It Was Never About Money. Today we’ll further discuss the real meaning behind the Old Testament Tithe. I would recommend you read the article above first if you still believe that tithing had anything to do with money. In that article I give good reasons as to why it could not. I have learned a few things since that last article years ago, so naturally I couldn’t give all the answers to tithing back then. But the original article still contains some good information and serves the purpose of freeing those who might feel guilty for not giving ten percent of their income to a pastor at a church. This article, however, will get to the real meaning of the tithe, from an esoteric viewpoint, which is the most important one. 🙂

In order to get to the bottom of the tithe, let’s go to the most famous scripture used to justify us giving ten percent of our money to a pastor. (By the way, I’m not saying that giving money to the church is always a bad thing. If you feel like doing it, fine. But never feel coerced by a pastor justified by a scripture). That being said, let’s look at our scripture:

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith of the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven and poor out a blessing, that there should not be room to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).

I have bolded important terms in the scripture above, all of them which we will discuss. There is great symbolic significance to all of them except the last phrase (I’ll explain later), and taken together, we can easily crack the true meaning of the tithe.

I am going to start with the words storehouse and mine house. Traditionally, the storehouse or the Lord’s house is taken to mean the physical temple in Jerusalem, and that the church is the modern equivalent of this temple. Not so. The New Testament clearly identifies the church and temple as us.

“What? Know ye not the your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you….” (1 Cor. 6:19).

But the real kicker is that the Old Testament does too, proving that the building that we are reading about in scriptures was never literal. Consider 1 Kings 6:7 if you’ve never done so critically before:

“And the house, when it was in building, was built of stone made ready before it was brought thither: so that there was neither hammer, nor axe, nor any tool of iron heard in the house while in building” (1 Kings 6:7).

No, this does not mean that they prepared all the stones before bringing them to the temple site. It’s a symbolic way of explaining that the temple (us) was built in silence, while in meditation and prayer before the Lord. Psalms 46:10 explains it like this:

“Be still, and know that I am God…”

In other words, it is through the stillness and silence of inner reflection, time in our prayer closet, and meditation that we come to know God, the higher nature within us. It is through these times of inner reflection that we receive from the spirit as opposed to the senses which interpret the outside world.

So now we’ve laid the groundwork. The only building that is not built with tools is the building of our own body and spirit, that which is us. We are the temple. We are also the storehouse. We are also the Lord’s house. Therefore when Malachi discusses bringing the tithe to the storehouse, he is referring to something that we bring internally to the Lord, the only place that the Lord can be found (Remember the scripture says that the Lord was found to Elijah not in the wind or rendering of the mountain, but the still small voice within).

Now let’s look at the tithe from Malachi 3:10. The root word signifies the number ten. In esoteric terms, ten symbolizes completion of a process, and in this instance, a process whereby one sets to elevate the lower nature to the higher. St. Gregory once said, “By the number ten, the sum of perfection is set forth.”

In other words, the Old Testament Tithe must not be regarded as bringing a tenth of anything physical, but it is a spiritual process whereby we attain perfection of the higher nature. The process of tithing is still a sacrifice on our part, but that sacrifice involves our lower natures (more on this in a moment).

So far we have come to understand that tithing is the act of bringing a sacrifice to the Lord, internally. Now let’s look that the word meat in the same scripture. Malachi states that we tithe so that there can be meat in the Lord’s house (which remember is us). If these scriptures were literal, none of this would make sense. Why would god wish to keep dead meat in the temple? Ridiculous. Meat, according to Gaskell, is a symbol of “…knowledge and higher emotion which conduce to the growth of the soul.”

This makes perfect sense when we consider another scripture from the Psalms:

“The eyes of all wait upon thee [the Lord]; and thou givest them their meat in due season” (Psalm 145:15).

In other words, when we wait upon the Lord, or go within meditation or prayer, the Lord provides us with meat in due season. That meat is knowledge and the ability to exhibit the higher emotions of the higher self. This comes in due season because practicing meditation and going within doesn’t yield immediate results. It takes time, and in due season, the true self, the Christ, begins to be discovered.

The picture should be coming together pretty clearly now, but Lets continue with the word blessing also within the same scripture. The blessing of God in Malachi is none other than the Divine Will of God flowing in you, operating through you. How do we access this blessing? This Divine Will of God? By giving tithes, which is sacrificing the lower nature for His higher nature.

So when we tithe, we are going within in order to receive meat (knowledge, higher emotions), and the blessing of God (The Divine Will of the Higher Self active in our lives). Another way of putting it is that we faithfully give our tithes, or sacrifice the lower nature by going within to our prayer closets to meditate, so that we can be still and KNOW God. It’s that simple!

As promised, let’s look at the last phrase in Malachi 3:10. Again, it states in the King James Version, “…that there should not be room enough to receive it.”

I almost laughed when I went back to the original. Almost the entire phrase is missing from the original manuscript except the Hebrew words for that, not, and enough, and even those words could be used as prepositions and conjugations that could alluding to multiple things. Perhaps the text originally does denote something of what King Jimmy added, and perhaps not. There doesn’t seem to be enough information there to make anything of it, although some linguistic scholars might prove me wrong.

I remember when the pastor of a church I used to attend equated that phrase to mean we were all going to attain physical abundance of such magnitude that we wouldn’t be able to receive it if we were faithful in tithing ten percent of our gross income in monetary terms. “The scriptures promise it!” he would argue, “so try God and see.” What a petty God he would be if he focused on material possessions when we all know that they don’t really bring us happiness very long. I don’t mean anything bad to this pastor. In many ways he was a good man and I appreciate the many good things he did for other people, but I also know that many members of the church sometimes stressed over this giving tithes thing because it was emphasized so much. And it was a deep held conviction of so many!

Let us remember the true meaning of the tithe going forth. It is our faithfulness to lay down sacrifices (of the lower nature) on the altar of our own hearts, within ourselves. It is the process of attaining perfection, which is a spiritual process that must continually seek. In due season you will reap a reward. That is true wealth.

Anyway, I hope these two posts on the tithe helped you clear some things up.

Blessings.

Kym July 21, 2015 at 9:08 pm

Joshua,
Thank you for your boldness regarding the tithe. We have been so brainwashed into believing that term means ten percent of our income that even those that don’t tithe, still believe that’s what it is. It’s funny how every single church in America practically, preaches Malachi 3:10 every single Sunday incorrectly, and would call it heresy to preach the correct meaning.
I love your site.
Kym

Joshua Tilghman July 23, 2015 at 11:02 am

Thanks, Kym. The way it was used in the Old Testament, even from the literal viewpoint, should give pastors today pause enough to question its purpose, even if they refuse to believe the esoteric concepts. For example, Malachi was clearly addressing priest only, not “all people” when talking about bring the tithe to the storehouse. We are to be priest and kings, so the esoteric concept fits perfectly. The traditional view makes no sense.

Dangerous Christian July 22, 2015 at 11:37 am

Even though you just gave every Evangelical pastor a heart attack, thanks for sharing this article. I always wondered about how tithing relates to those on the mystical/esoteric side of the fence. We’ve become so focused on the base we’ve forgotten about the weightier issues as Jesus spoke on.

Peace!

Joshua Tilghman July 23, 2015 at 11:05 am

You’re quite welcome. I understand that every Evangelical pastor needs to make a living, and the tithe supports that. And in so many ways they do a lot of good, but the higher purpose of the scriptures are missed by them. Seems sad, but everybody must progress as they are ready. It certainly took me a while to learn to let go of tradition.

Blessings.

Maryann July 23, 2015 at 11:05 pm

I agree with you and this is good reading. However speaking as one that would give often much-sometimes appreciated, sometimes abused, one day it occurred to me that it’s nice but God’s Word is not spread through just my giving. When someone supports a church or people/groups that are doing good works in the name of God, they are also sharing God’s love more powerfully. If those people abuse that money, I believe they will answer to God, but the givers are doing a good thing. Not to say we shouldn’t also financially (or with our efforts) support those in need/good works, and I usually don’t enough money to tithe 10% anyway. But to financially support efforts for God’s leaders or church programs to give “meat” to the people, is a great thing. Some of these church support groups have helped me tremendously, through donations/tithes that people contributed too and I thank these anonymous donors with gratefulness.

Bar July 30, 2015 at 10:55 am

I just found your site and am looking forward to digging in and reading more. I did a search on the 7 sacraments and 7 chakras and you came up first. I’m readying Myss’s book now. I was once a Christian and am now just very lost trying to find my way back feeling very alone in the process.

Joshua Tilghman July 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm

Barbara,

I understand the feeling. Went through that as well. You may even feel if the Bible doesn’t mean literally what it says, then all is lost. But it shouldn’t be that way because the alternatives are much better. God is within you and you’re never alone.

uchenna August 16, 2015 at 2:19 pm

Hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhm!
I need God’s intervention to be objective in this subject of discussion. Before now I believed the doctrine of tithe, but never practiced it bcos the churches or the pastors never used it for religious or humanity course; but have always been engulfed in guilt of not tighting especially whenever I experience any form of financial misfortune. This article really brought out some food for thought, but did the muslims also got it wrong by way of their Zakat?

Joshua Tilghman December 25, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Uchenna, not familiar with Zakat, so I cannot comment. But I understand your objections to tithing before. Sometimes the funds are spend in ridiculous ways.

Sam September 29, 2015 at 10:34 am

Your interpretations are always interesting Joshua, thank you for your work.

Another way I look at tithing comes from the perspective of an abundance mindset. When you freely give some of your resources away (food, money, etc) it reinforces the fact that there’s always more than enough.

Centuries ago the American Indians in the region where I live had a ritual of throwing some of their meat from the hunt into the fire. This was long before they were exposed to Christianity and can be seen as a form of tithing.

Perhaps there’s something intrinsic in human understanding about ‘tithing’ in that one of the best feelings we can have is freely giving something of value away without any expectation of return.

Joshua Tilghman December 22, 2015 at 8:30 pm

Thanks for the comment, Sam. I think there is much truth in it.

Mark October 2, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Excellent! Paul says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. (2) And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:1-2, KJV).

Malkuth, the 10th Sefirot, represents the material world, the physical body, and the senses. We are to present all of our physical essence (Malkuth) to God in an act of worship, or yielding, to attain our “crown”, or Kether, the 1st Sefirot.

When we sacrifice our “tenth” (10th Sefirot, Malkuth) to the storehouse we will, through daily meditation and prayer, become more like Christ, and thus “prove what is good, acceptable, and perfect” (1st Sefirot, Kether). Our conscious and subconscious will become unified.

This “blessing”, or consecration, is something that cannot be comprehended by our mind in its current state, “… that there shall not be room enough to receive it”.

Great post, sir!

Sal October 28, 2015 at 3:33 pm

I have been looking for this meaning of Mal 3:10 since about 2008. I knew there was a different meaning. I did the literal & all fell apart wow. I know the Kingdom is within will now always look there first ty.

Tony December 6, 2015 at 5:35 pm

Great article brother,
Romans 12 :1-2 just came to mind reading this article. Jesus really said a body you have prepared for me, lo l come to do your will. To go up, you have to give up. Any altar without sacrifice is powerless.

Melanie April 23, 2016 at 11:57 pm

Hello Joshua, I am new to this Blog. I came across your Blog two days ago and I have been reading and sharing this knowledge with everyone who cares to listen since then. Thank you for sharing.
Love, Peace, and Blessings
Melanie

Joshua Tilghman April 24, 2016 at 12:25 am

Melanie,

It’s a pleasure to have you here. Thanks for sharing!

WitnessMinistries360 August 31, 2016 at 8:33 am

The tithe substance to be sown is FAITH (NOT Money!)

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