A 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.