I have heard Haggai preached as a variation of the Malachi curse routine from a couple of religion business owners. One was a self proclaimed “seer”, and the other a “Kingdom Law teacher”; they both falsely associated the situation described in Haggai 1:6 with a failure to pay tithe.
Here is the scripture they use: “Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.”
The assumption – the mental leap that the preachers make for you is that these bad things will happen to you if you do not start tithing your income to the preachers.
First off, the misuse of scripture like this to threaten others with a curse from God, for the purpose of personal enrichment is reminiscent of something a Haitian voodoo “holy man” would do shaking his chicken bones at some ignorant bystander (“Dem gonna be some bad juju on you, mon!… I mean really bad!”).
Secondly, they provide us with a very good example of how this type of person ignores the distinctive lines between the Old Covenant tithe, and various kinds of freewill giving; falsely homogenizing them all into one and the same activity.
Another example is in RJ Rushdoony’s article “Tithing and Social Financing” which states the same kind of deception: ” …and the man from Baal-shalisha gave his TITHE to Elisha and the school of the prophets on his own (2Kings 4:42– 44).”
Let’s look at the facts here:
The context of 2Kings is that this was a first fruit offering, not a tithe. The context of that scripture from Haggai is dealing with voluntary giving to
repair God’s house. The people were steeped in a habit of unconscionable self-interest, while God’s temple lay in shambles. Even though this is an Old Covenant scripture it has nothing to do with a tithe. Not a thing.
This scripture is dealing with materialistic selfishness versus respect and appreciation for God’s providence and instructions through willful giving. Freewill giving is not tithing and tithing is not freewill giving.
These two preachers (who of course are not the only ones) are exploiting the scriptural ignorance of their listeners, and I am not just being flippant with my remarks about the voodoo curse. This sort of self-proclaimed “anointed of God” preacher is playing on exactly the same kind of superstitious fear that a witch doctor would. It is all just a plain old con. A mafia type shake down – “Pay up, buddy, or my boy Yahweh here is gonna have to rough you up…”.
We hear this type of yellow preaching so often that we do not even think twice about it. We do not identify it as deception because we have been conditioned to think that this tithe-taking preacher is on “our side”, almost like family. This tends to dull our critical thinking ability and our gut feeling that normally would alert us to deception.
The tithe was never intended or used for temple building expenses, maintenance costs, or capital expenditures.
The second point is the plain fact is that, for the most part, any scriptural record of building, rebuilding, supplies for, or upkeep of God’s temple involved either an effort by the king (government funds), or freewill gifts and volunteerism on the part of the Israelites. There was no tithe involved in these efforts at all – ever. What are they going to do, build the temple out of zucchini and carrots? The true scriptural tithe is food, remember.
I say “for the most part” because God did have a tax designated for temple operations, but it is another commandment that is ignored by tithe promoters.
This tax is in Exodus 30:12-18 and it stipulates a half-sheckel (about a twenty-five cent silver quarter size) per adult, per year. This was a token amount as a ransom which again, acknowledged God’s sovereignty and protection. This is rarely collected today.
Nehemiah 10:35-39 for example, specifies tithes and first fruits for the Levites and priests; but verse 32-33 clearly identifies an agreed upon separate simple annual fee of a fifth ounce of silver (not ten percent, and not food items) for the operation and upkeep of the temple. The capital expenses and the support of labor (Levites) are two totally separate facets of temple management costs, and any qualified preacher who deals with Old Covenant Law certainly knows it.
Aside from that small tax for daily upkeep, everything else in the way of major repairs was done and paid for by freewill giving which is what Haggai was talking about.
The tithe was personal compensation of food to the tribe of Levi, not for anything else like building construction, maintenance or repairs, cd duplicators, radio airtime, or any other overhead expenses. Soliciting tithe money for such things is fraud. Soliciting tithe money for anything today is fraud because it has no scriptural validity.
As I said earlier, the tithe has never been intended for anything other than feeding the Levites. Read the following scriptures:
The building of the original tabernacle in the wilderness was funded by freewill offerings, not tithe (Exodus 25:1-9, 35:4-9, 35:21-29, 38:24-25 which is found in the Septuagint at 39:1). In fact the men and women had to be ordered to quit giving when the workmen had more than enough material to finish the work (Exodus 36:2)
The building of God’s temple at Jerusalem was funded with freewill offerings (1Chronicles 29:3-9, 17). No tithe involved.
Another example is 1Chronicles 26:26-27 “Which Shelomith and his brethren were over all the treasures of the dedicated things, which David the king, and the chief fathers, the captains over thousands and hundreds, and the captains of the host, had dedicated.
Out of the spoils won in battles did they dedicate to maintain the house of the LORD.”
The Septuagint interprets that last phrase as “that the building of the house of God would not be delayed”. Other translations are also to the effect that these votive offerings were earmarked specifically for the building, upkeep, or improvement of the temple itself. They apparently had a fund that they were accumulating over the years until they had enough to get the temple project underway. There is no tithe mentioned in 1Chronicles at all.
The restoration of the House of God was funded by freewill offerings of the heads of families (Ezra 2:68-69) and the King of Persia, of all people (Ezra 1:2-7, 7:15-16). The temple was restored in 2Chronicles 24:4-14 with voluntary donations. No tithe here either.
In fact 2Chronicles 24:6 and 24:9 refer to this type of freewill collection as “the command of Moses”, which refers back to the commandments in Exodus 25:1-9 and 35:4-29, which many would consider as part of God’s Law.
Luke 7:5 mentions that one of the centurion’s good works was that he “built a synagogue”. This was not tithe, but another example of freewill giving and the doing of good works for the benefit of others.
Acts 10:30-31 describes an angel telling Cornelius “Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms [no mention of tithe] are had in remembrance in the sight of God.”
So even if you ignore the implication that Cornelius was a giver not a tither, and assume that he tithed as well as gave alms, this verse tells us that it was the prayers and almsgiving that God remembered, not any alleged tithing.
Yet these scriptures somehow get “missed” by preachers who apparently have some kind of love affair with the tithe, and want that money to pay for everything from the capital expenses of their church business, to vacations, to blue-ray video players for every seat in their SUV so their grand kids can watch Disney movies on the trip to the mountain retreat. This is all a clear violation of the old tithe law and Biblical ethics.
Worse yet, these scriptures are by verbal legerdemain often misidentified as tithe scriptures because that is the most effective means of swaying anyone to the false belief that the Old Covenant tithe included cash.
Third and finally: Though Haggai 1:6 is unrelated to the tithe in any way, it is an excellent scripture that does provide a very valuable, timeless lesson on the concept of the wages of selfishness, greed, and disrespect toward God’s providence and His instructions. It is true that freewill giving done in a scriptural manner begets blessings. It is too bad that the preachers used this
valuable scripture in a bait-and-switch manner the way they did, and polluted its true message with this tithe lie. Ironically in their deception these preachers shamelessly demonstrated the very concept of self-serving covetousness and arrogance toward God that Haggai is warning against.
Why do they drag these freewill-related scriptures like Haggai 1:6 into a discussion on the tithe? Because they have to in order to make it look like they have lots of pro-tithe scriptures. A scripture like this is just too juicy and irresistible for them to not abuse in some way for their own purposes.
Apply the concept of humility and appreciation expressed through freewill generosity that Haggai is speaking of, and combine it with the Old and New Covenant scriptural instructions of “giving to God” by giving to your needy brethren; not to church businesses (See Chapter 25 “Tithing is Not “Giving to God”), and you will have an accurate application for today of this very simple, basic subject.