Tithe and Systematic Benevolence

Research into finding out what are now God’s Tithing Requirements for His People.
T1 Tithe in the Old Testament
T2 Tithe in the New Testament
T3 Tithe in Spirit of Prophecy
T4 What happened in the early Seventh-day Adventist Church?
T5 Why God originated Tithe / Systematic Benevolence for mankind.
T6 Occupations in the Old Testament that are NOT of an agricultural (i.e. a tithing) nature.
T7 What happened to Systematic Benevolence in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
T8 Is there a statement / inspired instruction by Ellen G. White that God has approved of the change from the Systematic Benevolence method of tithing?
T9 Miscellaneous extracts, including those from the internet, which are deemed useful.
T10 Spiritual logic
T11 SDA Tithe for year 2010
T12 Definitions
T13 Was tithe on the gross or nett income in the early SDA church?
T14 Tithe / Systematic Benevolence for the young and elderly
T15 Tithe and debt
T16 Tithe and non payment
T17 Tithe – is it only 10%?
T18 God’s care for the poor
T19 Other statements
T20 Where should I send my tithe?
T21 TITHE CONCLUSIONS – READ THIS FIRST IF IN A HURRY – THEN STUDY FROM SECTION T1 AT A MORE SUITABLE TIME – BUT PLEASE MAKE TIME TO STUDY IT.
Section T1
Tithe in the Old Testament
This part of the research will be based upon the King James Version [KJV] Bible.
As Malachi chapter 3 verses 8 – 10 are often quoted before the collection of tithes and offerings in churches, the research will start with this book.
MALACHI
1:1: The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
1:2: I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob,
1:3: And I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness.
1:4: Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.
1:5: And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.
1:6: A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
1:7: Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.
1:8: And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.
1:9: And now, I pray you, beseech God that he will be gracious unto us: this hath been by your means: will he regard your persons? saith the LORD of hosts.
1:10: Who is there even among you that would shut the doors for nought? neither do ye kindle fire on mine altar for nought. I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD of hosts, neither will I accept an offering at your hand.
1:11: For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.
1:12: But ye have profaned it, in that ye say, The table of the LORD is polluted; and the fruit thereof, even his meat, is contemptible.
1:13: Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it! and ye have snuffed at it, saith the LORD of hosts; and ye brought that which was torn, and the lame, and the sick; thus ye brought an offering: should I accept this of your hand? saith the LORD.
1:14: But cursed be the deceiver, which hath in his flock a male, and voweth, and sacrificeth unto the LORD a corrupt thing: for I am a great King, saith the LORD of hosts, and my name is dreadful among the heathen.
2:1: And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
2:2: If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
2:3: Behold, I will corrupt your seed, and spread dung upon your faces, even the dung of your solemn feasts; and one shall take you away with it.
2:4: And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
2:5: My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name.
2:6: The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips: he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.
2:7: For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
2:8: But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
2:9: Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
2:10: Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?
2:11: Judah hath dealt treacherously, and an abomination is committed in Israel and in Jerusalem; for Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved, and hath married the daughter of a strange god.
2:12: The LORD will cut off the man that doeth this, the master and the scholar, out of the tabernacles of Jacob, and him that offereth an offering unto the LORD of hosts.
2:13: And this have ye done again, covering the altar of the LORD with tears, with weeping, and with crying out, insomuch that he regardeth not the offering any more, or receiveth it with good will at your hand.
2:14: Yet ye say, Wherefore? Because the LORD hath been witness between thee and the wife of thy youth, against whom thou hast dealt treacherously: yet is she thy companion, and the wife of thy covenant.
2:15: And did not he make one? Yet had he the residue of the spirit. And wherefore one? That he might seek a godly seed. Therefore take heed to your spirit, and let none deal treacherously against the wife of his youth.
2:16: For the LORD, the God of Israel, saith that he hateth putting away: for one covereth violence with his garment, saith the LORD of hosts: therefore take heed to your spirit, that ye deal not treacherously.
2:17: Ye have wearied the LORD with your words. Yet ye say, Wherein have we wearied him? When ye say, Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the LORD, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?
3:1: Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.
3:2: But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap:
3:3: And he shall sit as a refiner and purifer of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
3:4: Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.
3:5: And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
3:6: For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
3:7: Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
3:8: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
3:9: Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
3:10: Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
3:11: And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
3:12: And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.
3:13: Your words have been stout against me, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, What have we spoken so much against thee?
3:14: Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?
3:15: And now we call the proud happy; yea, they that work wickedness are set up; yea, they that tempt God are even delivered.
3:16: Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.
3:17: And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
3:18: Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
4:1: For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
4:2: But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
4:3: And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
4:4: Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
4:5: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
4:6: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
Consider Malachi 3:8:
3:8: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Now establish who is/are “ye“.
2:1: And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
2:2: If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
In the above, the “ye” definitely refers to the priests who were obviously doing something displeasing to God.
Now establish whether the “ye” in 3:8 still relates to the priests.
This is done by carefully reading between 2:2 & 3:8; alternatively we can use the printed KJV marginal references:
3:7: Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. 1But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
1 1:6
1:6: A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, 2O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
2 2:1
2:1: And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
The above proves that there is no change – the priests, and not the tithe paying people, are still the “ye” of Malachi 3:8-10.
Comparing 3:9 with 2:2 God says, through Malachi his prophet, that the priests have robbed Him:
3:9: Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
2:2: If ye will not hear, and if ye will not lay it to heart, to give glory unto my name, saith the LORD of hosts, I will even send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings: yea, I have cursed them already, because ye do not lay it to heart.
Malachi 2:8: But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
The wording in Malachi 3:9 is “even this whole nation”. There is no Hebrew word for “even” and as such “it may have been supplied by the translators to clarify the meaning”. While there are many words in the KJV Bible without a Hebrew word in this case ambiguity exists as the phrase could imply that the priests had robbed God and also the whole nation; alternatively that God had been robbed by the priests and the whole nation. There are many instances [1 given below] where Spirit of Prophecy cites that man has robbed God and so, although the priests were principally to blame, the whole nation was subsequently involved with robbing God – hence ‘ye‘ is both singular and plural.
“Very recently I have had direct light from the Lord upon this question, that many Seventh-day Adventists were robbing God in tithes and offerings, and it was plainly revealed to me that Malachi has stated the case as it really is. Then how dare any man even think in his heart that a suggestion to withhold tithes and offerings is from the Lord? Where, my brother, have you stepped out of the path? O get your feet back in the straight path again.” [Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers 60 (1923)] [Counsels on Stewardship 83.4 (1940)]
Next is to to fully understand how God had been robbed.
3:8: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In 3tithes and offerings.
3 Nehemiah 13:10,12
13:10: And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
13:12: Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
Also in Malachi:
2:7: For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
2:8: But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted 4the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
4 Nehemiah 13:29
13:29: Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.
Now go to the book of Numbers to find out about “the covenant of Levi”?
25:10: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
25:11: Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.
25:12: Wherefore say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace:
25:13: And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.
So “the covenant of Levi” was given to the Levite Phinehas (a grandson of Aaron) and his seed for his part in eliminating the worship of Baal-peor (Numbers 25:3) from the camp of Israel and was to be a “covenant of an everlasting priesthood”. Exodus also has a reference to “everlasting priesthood”:
40:12: And thou shalt bring Aaron and his sons unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, and wash them with water.
40:13: And thou shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments, and anoint him, and sanctify him; that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
40:14: And thou shalt bring his sons, and clothe them with coats:
40:15: And thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the priest’s office: for their anointing shall surely be an everlasting priesthood throughout their generations.
40:16: Thus did Moses: according to all that the LORD commanded him, so did he.
Now compare Nehemiah [the 13th chapter in particular] which explains what Nehemiah did when he went back to Jerusalem and gives a clearer picture of the message in Malachi with respect to what had taken/was taking place.
In the Biblical extract that follows, the salient areas of the research have been underlined and also text put in bold.
[The books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi cover the same period in history; the books of Nehemiah and Malachi being written to the same people. They cover the time period from 536 B.C. to about 400 B.C.]
NEHEMIAH
12:27: And at the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem they sought the Levites out of all their places, to bring them to Jerusalem, to keep the dedication with gladness, both with thanksgivings, and with singing, with cymbals, psalteries, and with harps.
12:28: And the sons of the singers gathered themselves together, both out of the plain country round about Jerusalem, and from the villages of Netophathi;
12:29: Also from the house of Gilgal, and out of the fields of Geba and Azmaveth: for the singers had builded them villages round about Jerusalem.
12:30: And the priests and the Levites purified themselves, and purified the people, and the gates, and the wall.
12:31: Then I brought up the princes of Judah upon the wall, and appointed two great companies of them that gave thanks, whereof one went on the right hand upon the wall toward the dung gate:
12:32: And after them went Hoshaiah, and half of the princes of Judah,
12:33: And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,12:33: And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,12:33: And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,12:33: And Azariah, Ezra, and Meshullam,
12:34: Judah, and Benjamin, and Shemaiah, and Jeremiah,
12:35: And certain of the priests’ sons with trumpets; namely, Zechariah the son of Jonathan, the son of Shemaiah, the son of Mattaniah, the son of Michaiah, the son of Zaccur, the son of Asaph:
12:36: And his brethren, Shemaiah, and Azarael, Milalai, Gilalai, Maai, Nethaneel, and Judah, Hanani, with the musical instruments of David the man of God, and Ezra the scribe before them.
12:37: And at the fountain gate, which was over against them, they went up by the stairs of the city of David, at the going up of the wall, above the house of David, even unto the water gate eastward.
12:38: And the other company of them that gave thanks went over against them, and I after them, and the half of the people upon the wall, from beyond the tower of the furnaces even unto the broad wall;
12:39: And from above the gate of Ephraim, and above the old gate, and above the fish gate, and the tower of Hananeel, and the tower of Meah, even unto the sheep gate: and they stood still in the prison gate.
12:40: So stood the two companies of them that gave thanks in the house of God, and I, and the half of the rulers with me:
12:41: And the priests; Eliakim, Maaseiah, Miniamin, Michaiah, Elioenai, Zechariah, and Hananiah, with trumpets;
12:42: And Maaseiah, and Shemaiah, and Eleazar, and Uzzi, and Jehohanan, and Malchijah, and Elam, and Ezer. And the singers sang loud, with Jezrahiah their overseer.
12:43: Also that day they offered great sacrifices, and rejoiced: for God had made them rejoice with great joy: the wives also and the children rejoiced: so that the joy of Jerusalem was heard even afar off.
12:44: And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.
12:45: And both the singers and the porters kept the ward of their God, and the ward of the purification, according to the commandment of David, and of Solomon his son.
12:46: For in the days of David and Asaph of old there were chief of the singers, and songs of praise and thanksgiving unto God.
12:47: And all Israel in the days of Zerubbabel, and in the days of Nehemiah, gave the portions of the singers and the porters, every day his portion: and they sanctified holy things unto the Levites; and the Levites sanctified them unto the children of Aaron.
13:1: On that day they read in the book of Moses in the audience of the people; and therein was found written, that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God for ever;
13:2: Because they met not the children of Israel with bread and with water, but hired Balaam against them, that he should curse them: howbeit our God turned the curse into a blessing.
13:3: Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
13:4: And before this, Eliashib the priest, having the oversight of the chamber of the house of our God, was allied unto Tobiah:
13:5: And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.
13:6: But in all this time was not I at Jerusalem: for in the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes king of Babylon came I unto the king, and after certain days obtained I leave of the king:
13:7: And I came to Jerusalem, and understood of the evil that Eliashib did for Tobiah, in preparing him a chamber in the courts of the house of God.
13:8: And it grieved me sore: therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber.
13:9: Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.
13:10: And I perceived that the portions of the Levites had not been given them: for the Levites and the singers, that did the work, were fled every one to his field.
13:11: Then contended I with the rulers, and said, Why is the house of God forsaken? And I gathered them together, and set them in their place.
13:12: Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
13:13: And I made treasurers over the treasuries, Shelemiah the priest, and Zadok the scribe, and of the Levites, Pedaiah: and next to them was Hanan the son of Zaccur, the son of Mattaniah: for they were counted faithful, and their office was to distribute unto their brethren.
13:14: Remember me, O my God, concerning this, and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God, and for the offices thereof.
13:15: In those days saw I in Judah some treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sheaves, and lading asses; as also wine, grapes, and figs, and all manner of burdens, which they brought into Jerusalem on the sabbath day: and I testified against them in the day wherein they sold victuals.
13:16: There dwelt men of Tyre also therein, which brought fish, and all manner of ware, and sold on the sabbath unto the children of Judah, and in Jerusalem.
13:17: Then I contended with the nobles of Judah, and said unto them, What evil thing is this that ye do, and profane the sabbath day?
13:18: Did not your fathers thus, and did not our God bring all this evil upon us, and upon this city? yet ye bring more wrath upon Israel by profaning the sabbath.
13:19: And it came to pass, that when the gates of Jerusalem began to be dark before the sabbath, I commanded that the gates should be shut, and charged that they should not be opened till after the sabbath: and some of my servants set I at the gates, that there should no burden be brought in on the sabbath day.
13:20: So the merchants and sellers of all kind of ware lodged without Jerusalem once or twice.
13:21: Then I testified against them, and said unto them, Why lodge ye about the wall? if ye do so again, I will lay hands on you. From that time forth came they no more on the sabbath.
13:22: And I commanded the Levites that they should cleanse themselves, and that they should come and keep the gates, to sanctify the sabbath day. Remember me, O my God, concerning this also, and spare me according to the greatness of thy mercy.
13:23: In those days also saw I Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab:
13:24: And their children spake half in the speech of Ashdod, and could not speak in the Jews’ language, but according to the language of each people.
13:25: And I contended with them, and cursed them, and smote certain of them, and plucked off their hair, and made them swear by God, saying, Ye shall not give your daughters unto their sons, nor take their daughters unto your sons, or for yourselves.
13:26: Did not Solomon king of Israel sin by these things? yet among many nations was there no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God made him king over all Israel: nevertheless even him did outlandish women cause to sin.
13:27: Shall we then hearken unto you to do all this great evil, to transgress against our God in marrying strange wives?
13:28: And one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite: therefore I chased him from me.
13:29: Remember them, O my God, because they have defiled the priesthood, and the covenant of the priesthood, and of the Levites.
13:30: Thus cleansed I them from all strangers, and appointed the wards of the priests and the Levites, every one in his business;
13:31: And for the wood offering, at times appointed, and for the firstfruits. Remember me, O my God, for good.
Nehemiah tells us that after the dedication of the wall of Jerusalem and while he was away from Jerusalem, a deterioration occurred with a turning away from God and His law.
Eliashib, the high priest, had formed an alliance (probably via marriage) with Tobiah [an Ammonite – see Nehemiah 2:10] and given him the great chamber and at least one other chamber to live in.
Likewise, “one of the sons of Joiada, the son of Eliashib the high priest, was son in law to Sanballat the Horonite” and there were “Jews that had married wives of Ashdod, of Ammon, and of Moab”.
Consequently, the “meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters” could not occur; likewise the “offerings of the priests”.
In the above verse (Nehemiah 13:5) confirms what should have been brought into the great chamber.
Upon Nehemiah’s return to Jerusalem the great chamber was returned to it’s original use.
The book of Moses was read to the people who were reminded “that the Ammonite and the Moabite should not come into the congregation of God”.
13:3: Now it came to pass, when they had heard the law, that they separated from Israel all the mixed multitude.
Solemnly and publicly the people of Judah had pledged themselves to obey the law of God. But when the influence of Ezra and Nehemiah was for a time withdrawn, there were many who departed from the Lord. Nehemiah had returned to Persia. During his absence from Jerusalem, evils crept in that threatened to pervert the nation. Idolaters not only gained a foothold in the city, but contaminated by their presence the very precincts of the temple. Through intermarriage, a friendship had been brought about between Eliashib the high priest and Tobiah the Ammonite, Israel’s bitter enemy. As a result of this unhallowed alliance, Eliashib had permitted Tobiah to occupy an apartment connected with the temple, which heretofore had been used as a storeroom for tithes and offerings of the people. [Prophets and Kings 669.1 (1917)]
Because of the cruelty and treachery of the Ammonites and Moabites toward Israel, God had declared through Moses that they should be forever shut out from the congregation of His people. See Deuteronomy 23:3-6. In defiance of this word, the high priest had cast out the offerings stored in the chamber of God’s house, to make a place for this representative of a proscribed race. Greater contempt for God could not have been shown than to confer such a favor on this enemy of God and His truth. [PK 669.2]
On returning from Persia, Nehemiah learned of the bold profanation and took prompt measures to expel the intruder. “It grieved me sore,” he declares; “therefore I cast forth all the household stuff of Tobiah out of the chamber. Then I commanded, and they cleansed the chambers: and thither brought I again the vessels of the house of God, with the meat offering and the frankincense.” [PK 670.1]
Not only had the temple been profaned, but the offerings had been misapplied. This had tended to discourage the liberalities of the people. They had lost their zeal and fervor, and were reluctant to pay their tithes. The treasuries of the Lord’s house were poorly supplied; many of the singers and others employed in the temple service, not receiving sufficient support, had left the work of God to labor elsewhere. [PK 670.2]
Nehemiah set to work to correct these abuses. He gathered together those who had left the service of the Lord’s house, “and set them in their place.” This inspired the people with confidence, and all Judah brought “the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil.” Men who “were counted faithful” were made “treasurers over the treasuries,” “and their office was to distribute unto their brethren.” [PK 670.3]
From pages 78-79 of Volume 4 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary:
“On the 25th Elul (September 21 in 444B.C.) the work was finished (Neh. 6:15). The wall was dedicated by an impressive ceremony. Two processions were formed, one led by Ezra, the other by Nehemiah. Starting at the Valley Gate, both companies went on top of the walls in opposite directions until they met near the northeastern corner of the city, and jointly entered the Temple to give praises to God for the help received in their work, and to celebrate the day with sacrifices (Neh. 12:27-43).
After Nehemiah had completed his main task and given Jerusalem a fortified wall, he settled down to a fruitful and peaceful work of governorship. For 12 years he served his people during his first term of office (Neh. 5:14). Although Nehemiah was the secular head of Jedea in the first place, and worked in the social interests of the nation, he was also deeply interested in the spiritual welfare of his people. We find him abolishing a number of abuses of power and wealth by forcing the usurers to make proper restitution and to promise not to take advantage of their poor fellow citizens, by buying and liberating Jewish slaves, by refusing to accept any payments for himself, and by defraying from his own means his official expenses (Neh. 5:1-19). No governor, Nehemiah tells us, had ever been so unselfish and socially minded as he, and he expected to receive a divine reward for his kindness (Neh. 5:15, 19).
He also took measures to repopulate Jerusalem, when after the completion of the wall he saw that the capital was an almost empty city. A census was taken, and it was decided to bring one out of every ten of the rural population of Judea to Jerusalem. Many others also were encouraged to move to the capital (Neh. 7:4, 5; 11:1,2).
The religious needs of the people were met by great mass meetings. The first series of these is described in Neh. 8-10. Ezra and other leaders read and explained the law to the people. The result was a real spiritual revival, eventuating in a covenant signed by laity and ministers. All promised to follow the law of Moses, to keep themselves free of mixed marriages with pagans, to keep the Sabbath, to meet the expenses of the Temple upkeep and other religious services, and to care for other necessary matters.
All these events seem to have taken place during the first few months of Nehemiah governorship. As to the remainder of his 12-year period we are left in the dark, and the only further word, found in Neh. 13, deals with some measures he was forced to take after his return to Jerusalem at the beginning of his second term of office. Unfortunately, we do not know the date of Nehemiah’s second arrival, nor the length of his second term as governor of Judea.
Some time must have elapsed after his departure at the expiration of his first term before he came back, since he found certain unfortunate conditions and practices in Judea, which must have taken some time to develop. His arch-enemy Tobiah, had been given living quarters in one of the buildings of the Temple compound, the Levites were engaged in agricultural pursuits to make a living because no tithe had been paid by the people for some time. Merchandise was being sold in Jerusalem by foreigners on the Sabbath, and pagan wives were once more found in Jewish families.
These conditions are also severely rebuked by the prophet Malachi, whose prophecies must have been delivered about this time. Immediately after his arrival, Nehemiah vigorously went to work to change the situation. He threw Tobiah’s furniture out of the Temple, and gathered the Levites, putting them back to work in the Temple and guaranteeing them their income from the tithe. He induced the people to pay their tithes regularly, took strong measures to prevent any further transgression of the Sabbath commandment, and caused the foreign wives to be expelled (Neh. 13:1-31).
With the description of these measures the historical records of the book of Nehemiah and of the Old Testament come to an end.”
Looking at the above text, which has been underlined, it is not clear as to the order of the apostasies although the following is plausible:
In Old Testament times, the direction of the people was frequently a reactant of decisions taken by those who were knowledgeable and in authority.
E.g.: “Ezra and other leaders read and explained the law to the people.”
Even today there are leaders and followers – e.g. royalty or government often dictate the way of life adopted by the people.
When this aspect of human nature occurs, one would have to think very hard to find many instances where the reverse happens i.e. where actions of the people have brought about hierarchy changes.
Therefore it is probable that:
The initial apostasy was with Eliashib, the high priest, allowing Tobiah (generally accepted by scholars as having become a relative by marriage) to live in the converted great chamber of the Temple.
Having seen the actions of Eliashib, Jewish families / priests felt free to marry with pagans; a son of Joiada, the son of Eliashib, was son in law to Sanballet the Horonite (Neh. 13:28).
With the great chamber (and other chambers) of the Temple no longer available to store tithes, tithing ceased.
The Levites returned to ‘agricultural pursuits to make a living’.
Returning to Malachi:
2:7: For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
2:8: But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
2:9: Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.
This last verse adds further weight to the probable sequence of apostasy outlined above.
The passage below is one that confirms the tithe was to be paid by God’s people when in the ‘promised land:
Deuteronomy
12:1: These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.
12:2: Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
12:3: And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
12:4: Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
12:5: But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:
12:6: And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:
12:7: And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.
12:8: Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
12:9: For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.
12:10: But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
12:11: Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:
Below are all the references to “tenth” & “tith” [concerning tithe, tithes and tithing] within the Old Testament of the KJV Bible:
Genesis 14:20: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Genesis 28:20: 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 raiment to put on,
28:21: So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
28:22: 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.
Leviticus 27:30: 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 unto the LORD.
27:31: And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
27:32: 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.
27:33: 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.
Numbers 18:20: And the LORD spake unto Aaron, Thou shalt have no inheritance in their land, neither shalt thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.
18:21: And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
18:22: Neither must the children of Israel henceforth come nigh the tabernacle of the congregation, lest they bear sin, and die.
18:23: But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.
18:24: But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.
18:25: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
18:26: Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe.
18:27: And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress.
18:28: Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD’s heave offering to Aaron the priest.
Deuteronomy 12:6: And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:
12:7: And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.
12:8: Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
12:9: For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.
12:10: But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
12:11: Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:
12:12: And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you.
12:13: Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
12:14: But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
12:15: Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
12:16: Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.
12:17: Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
Deuteronomy 14:22: Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year.
14:23: 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.
14:24: 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:
14:25: 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:
14:26: 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,
14:27: And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
14:28: 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:
14:29: 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.
Deuteronomy 26:12: When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
1 Samuel 8:10: And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king.
8:11: And he said, This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: He will take your sons, and appoint them for himself, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and some shall run before his chariots.
8:12: And he will appoint him captains over thousands, and captains over fifties; and will set them to ear his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and instruments of his chariots.
8:13: And he will take your daughters to be confectionaries, and to be cooks, and to be bakers.
8:14: And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.
8:15: And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.
8:16: And he will take your menservants, and your maidservants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work.
8:17: He will take the tenth of your sheep: and ye shall be his servants.
2 Chronicles 31:2: And Hezekiah appointed the courses of the priests and the Levites after their courses, every man according to his service, the priests and Levites for burnt offerings and for peace offerings, to minister, and to give thanks, and to praise in the gates of the tents of the LORD.
31:3: He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD.
31:4: Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD.
31:5: And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the fields; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly.
31:6: And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps.
31:7: In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month.
31:8: And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel.
31:9: Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps.
31:10: And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store.
31:11: Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them,
31:12: And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.
Nehemiah 10:37: And that we should bring the firstfruits of our dough, and our offerings, and the fruit of all manner of trees, of wine and of oil, unto the priests, to the chambers of the house of our God; and the tithes of our ground unto the Levites, that the same Levites might have the tithes in all the cities of our tillage.
10:38: And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house.
Nehemiah 12:44: And at that time were some appointed over the chambers for the treasures, for the offerings, for the firstfruits, and for the tithes, to gather into them out of the fields of the cities the portions of the law for the priests and Levites: for Judah rejoiced for the priests and for the Levites that waited.
Nehemiah 13:5: And he had prepared for him a great chamber, where aforetime they laid the meat offerings, the frankincense, and the vessels, and the tithes of the corn, the new wine, and the oil, which was commanded to be given to the Levites, and the singers, and the porters; and the offerings of the priests.
Nehemiah 13:12: Then brought all Judah the tithe of the corn and the new wine and the oil unto the treasuries.
Amos 4:4: Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:
Malachi 3:8: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
3:9: Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
3:10: Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Finally, the first Biblical reference to money occurs in Genesis:
17:12: And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
Section T2
Tithe in the New Testament
Searching for ” tith”, “tenth” and “ten [relating to this subject]” yields the following:
Matthew 23:23: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Luke 11:42: But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
Luke 18:9: And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
18:10: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
18:11: The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
18:12: I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
18:13: And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
18:14: I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
Hebrews 7:1: For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
7:2: To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
7:3: Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
7:4: Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
7:5: And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
7:6: But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
7:7: And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
7:8: And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
7:9: And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, payed tithes in Abraham.
7:10: For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchisedec met him.
In the above search, Matthew 23:23 and Luke 11:42 relate to the scribes and Pharisees being ‘woed’ by Jesus for their tithing actions (while neglecting more important matters), Luke 18:12 is within a parable being told by Jesus while the references from Hebrews relate to Abraham’s events in the Old Testament book of Genesis.
With the exception of the above the New Testament is silent with respect to tithe payment, but note:
1 Corinthians
16:1: Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
16:2: Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
[Reference is made to the above text later.]
Section T3
Tithe in Spirit of Prophecy
Firstly, proof that God used Ellen White as a messenger:
http://www.whiteestate.org/about/
From the time she was 17 years old until she died 70 years later, God gave her approximately 2,000 visions and dreams. The visions varied in length from less than a minute to nearly four hours.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellen_G._White
Ellen Gould White (born Harmon) (November 26, 1827 – July 16, 1915) was a prolific author and an American Christian pioneer. She, along with other Sabbatarian Adventist leaders, such as Joseph Bates and her husband James White, formed what is now known as the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Visions
From 1844 to 1863 White experienced between 100 to 200 visions, typically in public places and meeting halls. In later life, the visions occurred at home during the night.[16]
Physical phenomena during visions
J. N. Loughborough, who had seen White in vision fifty times since 1852, and her husband, James White, listed several physical characteristics that marked the visions:
1. “In passing into vision, she gives three enrapturing shouts of “Glory!” which echo and re-echo, the second, and especially the third, fainter but more thrilling than the first, the voice resembling that of one quite a distance from you, and just going out of hearing.”[17]
2. For a few seconds she would swoon, having no strength. Then she would be instantly filled with superhuman strength, sometimes rising to her feet and walking about the room. She frequently moved hands, arms, and head in gestures that were free and graceful. But to whatever position she moved a hand or arm, it could not be hindered nor controlled by even the strongest person. In 1845, she held her parents 18.5 pound Family Bible in her outstretched left hand for half an hour. She weighed 80 pounds at the time.[18]
3. She did not breathe during the entire period of a vision that ranged from fifteen minutes to three hours. Yet, her pulse beat regularly and her countenance remained pleasant as in the natural state.[17]
4. Her eyes were always open without blinking; her head was raised, looking upward with a pleasant expression as if staring intently at some distant object. Several physicians, at different times, conducted tests to check her lack of breathing and other physical phenomena.[17]
5. She was utterly unconscious of everything transpiring around her, and viewed herself as removed from this world, and in the presence of heavenly beings.[17]
6. When she came out of vision, all seemed total darkness whether in the day time or a well-lighted room at night. She would exclaim with a long-drawn sigh, as she took her first natural breath, “D-a-r-k.” She was then limp and strengthless.[17]
Mrs. Martha Amadon added: “There was never an excitement among those present during a vision; nothing caused fear. It was a solemn, quiet scene.“[17]
16. ^ White, Arthur L. 1985, “Chapter 7 – (1846-1847) Entering Marriage Life”, Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827-1862, pages 123-24
17. ^ White, Arthur L. 1985, “Chapter 7 – (1846-1847) Entering Marriage Life”, Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827-1862, pages 122-123
18. ^ White, Arthur L. 1985, “Chapter 7 – (1846-1847) Entering Marriage Life”, Ellen G. White: The Early Years, Vol. 1 1827-1862, page 92
Volume 6 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary: pages 17-95.
By reading the above pages, which cover ‘The Early Christian Church’ and ‘Roman History in New Testament Times’, there is no mention of a requirement to tithe.
Extract from page 24:
The Common Purse. While in fellowship with their Lord before the ascension the disciples had subsisted from a common purse, maintained by contributions (Luke 8:2, 3) and drawn upon for food and alms (John 4:8; 6:5-7), with Judas as the treasurer (ch. 13:29).
The same economy was used in the infant church. There was a common treasury, contributed to by all who wished, in any amount they desired. Fellowship among these early Christians was spiritual, theological, fraternal, and economic. It was effective throughout all the relationships of the believers with one another.
This ability of the church to find, under God, its own means of supporting itself, put Christ’s followers in the position of being no longer dependant upon the Jewish economy. The church became self-sufficient.
The above underlined text confirms how the early church functioned.
Extract from 3 Testimonies for the Church page 393; Review and Herald 25.8.1874; Signs of the Times 29.4.1875; 1 SDA Bible Commentary page 1093; Counsels on Stewardship page 69:
The tithing system reaches back beyond the days of Moses. Men were required to offer to God gifts for religious purposes before the definite system was given to Moses, even as far back as the days of Adam. In complying with God’s requirements, they were to manifest in offerings their appreciation of His mercies and blessings to them. This was continued through successive generations, and was carried out by Abraham, who gave tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. The same principle existed in the days of Job. Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and penniless wanderer, lay down at night, solitary and alone, with a rock for his pillow, and there promised the Lord: “Of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.” God does not compel men to give. All that they give must be voluntary. He will not have His treasury replenished with unwilling offerings.”
Extract from Review and Herald 16.5.1882:
“Many persons will meet all inferior demands and dues, and leave to God only the last gleanings, if there be any. If not, his cause must wait till a more convenient season. Such was not the course pursued by Abraham. Upon his return from a successful military expedition, he was met by Melchizedek, “king of Salem, and priest of the most high God.” This holy man blessed Abraham, in the name of the Lord, and the patriarch gave him tithes of all the spoils as a tribute of gratitude to the Ruler of nations.
Extract from Patriachs and Prophets page 136:
Another who came out to welcome the victorious patriarch was Melchizedek, king of Salem, who brought forth bread and wine for the refreshment of his army. As “priest of the most high God,” he pronounced a blessing upon Abraham, and gave thanks to the Lord, who had wrought so great a deliverance by his servant. And Abraham ‘gave him tithes of all.’
Genesis
14:17: And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale.
14:18: And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
14:19: And he blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:
14:20: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Extract from Review and Herald 8.12.1896:
God has a claim on us and all that we have. His claim is paramount to every other. And in acknowledgment of this claim, he bids us render to him a fixed proportion of all that he gives us. The tithe is this specified portion. By the Lord’s direction it was consecrated to him in the earliest times. The Scriptures mention tithing in connection with the history of Abraham. The father of the faithful paid tithes to Melchisedec, “priest of the Most High God.” Jacob also recognized the obligation of tithing. When, fleeing from his brother’s wrath, he saw in his dream the ladder connecting heaven and earth, the gratitude of his heart found expression in the vow to God: “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment 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.
Extract from Signs of the Times 18.3.1886:
“These offerings were continued through successive generations. The principle was not unknown in the days of Job. Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and a penniless wanderer, promised the Lord, “Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”
“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.” In accordance with the custom of commemorating important events, Jacob set up a memorial of God’s mercy, that whenever he should pass that way he might tarry at this sacred spot to worship the Lord. And he called the place Bethel, or the “house of God.” With deep gratitude he repeated the promise that God’s presence would be with him; and then he made the solemn vow, “If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment 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.” [Patriarchs and Prophets 187.2 (1890)]
Jacob was not here seeking to make terms with God. The Lord had already promised him prosperity, and this vow was the outflow of a heart filled with gratitude for the assurance of God’s love and mercy. Jacob felt that God had claims upon him which he must acknowledge, and that the special tokens of divine favor granted him demanded a return. So does every blessing bestowed upon us call for a response to the Author of all our mercies. The Christian should often review his past life and recall with gratitude the precious deliverances that God has wrought for him, supporting him in trial, opening ways before him when all seemed dark and forbidding, refreshing him when ready to faint. He should recognize all of them as evidences of the watchcare of heavenly angels. In view of these innumerable blessings he should often ask, with subdued and grateful heart, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?” Psalm 116:12. [PP 187.3]
Extract from Patriachs and Prophets page 525; Review and Herald 10.9.1889:
“But the tithing system did not originate with the Hebrews. From the earliest times the Lord claimed a tithe as his, and this claim was recognized and honored. Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedec, the priest of the most high God. Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and wanderer, promised the Lord, “Of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.” As the Israelites were about to be established as a nation, the law of tithing was re-affirmed,as one of the divinely ordained statutes upon obedience to which their prosperity depended.”
Extract from Testimonies for the Church Volume Three page 404 / 405:
“The special system of tithing was founded upon a principle which is as enduring as the law of God. This system of tithing was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out to the end of time. Our heavenly Father did not originate the plan of systematic benevolence to enrich Himself, but to be a great blessing to man. He saw that this system of beneficence was just what man needed.”
SoP Summary:
The tithing system reaches back to the days of Adam.
Men were required to offer to God gifts for religious purposes before the definite system was given to Moses.
The tithing system reaches back beyond the days of Moses. Men were required to offer to God gifts for religious purposes before the definite system was given to Moses, even as far back as the days of Adam.
Melchizedek was “king of Salem, and priest of the most high God.” – “It was Christ that spoke through Melchizedek” – Review & Herald, February 18,1890 extract.
Abraham gave him tithes of all the spoils as a tribute of gratitude to the Ruler of nations.”
God has a claim on us and all that we have. The tithe is this specified portion.
Jacob also recognized the obligation of tithing – when at Bethel, an exile and a penniless wanderer, promised the Lord, “Of all that thou shalt give me, I will surely give the tenth unto thee.”
As the Israelites were about to be established as a nation, the law of tithing was re-affirmed, as one of the divinely ordained statutes upon obedience to which their prosperity depended.”
Section T4
What happened in the early Seventh-day Adventist Church?
1859 “Systematic Benevolence” plan of giving adopted.
1860 Name “Seventh-day Adventist” adopted.
In the extracts that follow, the salient areas of the research have been underlined; also text has been put in bold.
Extracts from Chapter 25 [Financial Support for The Cause of God] of Ellen G. White: The Early Years Volume 1 (1827-1862):
NB: ‘The Early Years’ was written after October 1966 by Arthur L. White – a grandson of Ellen G. White and a secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate.
The Support of the Ministers
The church was growing; as it spread to the West, families of means accepted the message. For some it was difficult to grasp their responsibility in giving financial support to the cause they loved. During the years 1857 and 1858, the situation became desperate. There was no church organization; there was no church treasury. Those who felt called to enter the ministry faced great sacrifices, for they were dependent upon the gifts placed in their hands as they moved from place to place heralding the message. Dedication and sacrifice were called for.
[text omitted as irrelevant to this tithing study]
The Promise of a Way Out
Things had reached a state where a permanent plan had to be found to provide financial resources for the growing church. It was in these circumstances (according to J. N. Loughborough, who was to become known somewhat as a historian among the pioneers, and at the time was very closely associated with James and Ellen White) that “Sister White stated to her husband, ‘The Lord has shown me that, if you will call the ministers together, and have J. N. Andrews come down from Waukon, and hold a Bible class, you will find that in the Scriptures there is a complete plan to sustaining the work of the ministry.'”–PUR, Oct. 6, 1910. [Pacific Union Recorder]
James White did call for Andrews to come to Battle Creek for such a study, which took place in mid-January, 1859.[* DEPENDING ON HIS MEMORY FOR THE DATES OF THIS CIRCUMSTANCE, LOUGHBOROUGH FIXED IT EARLY IN 1858. CONTEMPORARY RECORDS PLACE IT EARLY IN 1859.] White, who had planned to spend most of January on a trip north, stayed by in Battle Creek. Loughborough wrote concerning the conclusions of the study:
The Bible class was held in Battle Creek for two days, and at the end of it our brethren said, “The tithing system is just as binding as it ever was.” They said, however, in first introducing it, “Let us call it Systematic Benevolence on the tithing principle.”–Ibid.
As the details of this development are presented it is important to keep in mind that the church was without organization but was held together by strong leaders, one of whom possessed the special guidance of the Holy Spirit. These, working together close to the publishing office, kept in touch through the Review with the churches and with scattered believers throughout the East and the Midwest. The steps taken by the Battle Creek church provided an example to the other churches. The framework of an organizational structure was coming into being. At this point, however, the leaders of the cause could speak in an official way only for the Battle Creek church, of which they were members. Progressive actions of the Battle Creek church were carefully reported in the Review and Herald and thus carried to all Sabbathkeeping Adventists.
The Development of the Plan of Systematic Benevolence
As reported by J. N. Loughborough, several workers, including J. N. Andrews, who was summoned for the purpose, met for two days in Battle Creek to study a Bible-based system of finance for the emerging church. The plan developed was brought to the Battle Creek church in a business meeting the following Sunday night.
James White reported:
The Battle Creek church assembled January 16 in the evening to consider the subject of a system of benevolence which would induce all to do something to sustain the cause of present truth, and thereby fully sustain the cause, and at the same time relieve some who have given beyond their real ability.
Brethren Andrews and Frisbie were present, and spoke upon the subject. Others also freely expressed their views; all seemed deeply interested in the subject.
Brethren Andrews, Frisbie, and White were chosen to prepare an address on Systematic Benevolence, founded upon the declarations of Holy Scripture.–Review & Herald, Feb. 3, 1859.
Two weeks later, January 29, after the hours of the Sabbath were passed, the church came together to hear the reading of the address.
The report was adopted by a unanimous vote, and it was voted to publish it in the Review and Herald.
The Address
The address carried a heading giving the proper setting of the matter: “From the Church of God at Battle Creek, to the Churches and Brethren and Sisters in Michigan.” It opened with the words:
Dear Brethren and Sisters: We wish to call your attention to a plan of Systematic Benevolence to support the proclamation of the third angel’s message, which may be in harmony with the plain declarations of Holy Scripture.–Ibid.
With the citing of New Testament support, a scriptural framework was assembled for the projected procedures, and it was suggested that “we gather from these facts some instruction relative to our own duty.” The pioneers of the Seventh-day Adventist Church could have gone more easily to the Old Testament and brought in the obligation of the tithe, but at this juncture, regardless of the attractiveness of the tithe, they were not sure that it was not one of those ceremonial obligations that ceased at the cross. In the occasional mention of organization they were looking to the New Testament with its seven deacons, not to the Old Testament with the appointment by Moses of the seventy. In finance they were looking to the New Testament and Paul’s counsel in 1 Corinthians 16:2 that “upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, “rather than to Malachi’s direction to “bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house” (Mal. 3:10). They conceded that the tithing system was a good plan, and it did have a strong bearing on the conclusions reached and set before the church. Here is the argument set forth in the address:
If Paul found it essential to complete success that method should be observed in raising means for benevolent purposes, it is certainly not unreasonable to conclude that we should find the same thing beneficial in promoting a similar object. As Paul wrote by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we may rest assured that his suggestions were not only safe to follow, and calculated to ensure success, but also that they were in exact accordance with the will of God. We shall not therefore displease Him by adopting the suggestions of His servant Paul.–Ibid.
The next paragraph delineated the points supported by Scripture, which it was thought should form the basis for the plan Sabbathkeeping Adventists ought to follow:
“Upon the first day of the week let everyone of you lay by him in store as God hath prospered him.” This implies: 1. A stated time for the business, viz., the first day of the week. 2. The concurrent action of each individual, for he adds, “Let every one of you” lay by him in store. 3. This is not a public collection, but a private act of setting apart for the Lord a portion of what one possesses. 4. The amount to be given is brought home to the conscience of each individual by the language, “as God hath prospered him.”–Ibid.
The next point made was “How may we reduce to practice these excellent suggestions?” It was thought that with few exceptions the following plan could be adopted:
1. Let each brother from 18 to 60 years of age lay by him in store on the first day of each week from 5 to 25 cents.
2. Each sister from 18 to 60 years of age lay by her in store on the first day of each week from 2 to 10 cents.
3. Also, let each brother and sister lay by him or her in store on the first day of each week from 1 to 5 cents on each and every $100 of property they possess. . . .
The lowest sums stated are so very small that those in the poorest circumstances (with very few exceptions of some widows, infirm, and aged) can act upon this plan; while those in better circumstances are left to act in the fear of God in the performance of their stewardship, to give all the way up to the highest sums stated, or even more, as they see it their duty to do.–Ibid.
To implement the plan, the pioneers suggested:
Each church may choose one of their number whose duty it shall be to take the names of those who cheerfully act upon this plan, and also the sums they propose to give each week, and collect these sums on the first of each month, and dispose of them according to the wishes of the church. Those scattered, and not associated with any church, can act for themselves or for their households, in the same manner.–Ibid.
This plan, developed by leading men in the church, became known from the outset as “Systematic Benevolence.” They were pleased that it placed the burden of church support in an equitable way upon all believers. In time refinements and developments in applying and servicing the plan were made. As for the Battle Creek church, to which this plan was primarily addressed:
J. P. Kellogg was . . . chosen collector and treasurer for the Battle Creek church, and Elder James White was chosen corresponding secretary to correspond with the brethren scattered abroad who may wish to address him upon the subject of Systematic Benevolence.–Ibid.
A week later, White reported to the readers of the Review that forty-six in Battle Creek had already signed up, declaring what they intended to do. It looked good to him, and he stated:
It is time that all shared the blessings of the cheerful giver. God loves such. . . . Let this work of giving be equally distributed, and let the cause be fully sustained, and all share the blessing. This system carried out properly will serve to unite in prompt action, in sympathy and love, the waiting people of God.–Ibid., Feb. 10, 1859.
White was cheered by the response of some of the churches. The first to respond was Hillsdale, Michigan. They also had a question:
Brother I. C. Vaughn writes from Hillsdale, Michigan, that the church in that place “are acting on the Systematic Benevolence plan, and like it much,” and inquires, “What is to be done with the money at the end of the month?“–Ibid., March 3, 1859.
White rather quickly came up with a practical answer. This related to the very purpose of instituting the plan. He responded:
We suggest that each church keep at least $5 in the treasury to help those preachers who occasionally visit them, and labor among them. This seems necessary. . . . Such is the scarcity of money, that our good brethren very seldom are prepared to help a messenger on his journey. Let there be a few dollars in every church treasury. Beyond this, the debt on the tent enterprise, et cetera, claims the proceeds of Systematic Benevolence in this state [Michigan].–Ibid.
Extracts from Chapter 25 [The Call for a School] of Ellen G. White: Volume 2 The Progressive Years (1862-1876):
NB: ‘The Progressive Years’ was written after October 1966 by Arthur L. White – a grandson of Ellen G. White and a secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate.
Our system of supporting the cause by means of Systematic Benevolence appears to be the best that could be devised. It bears very lightly upon the poor man, drawing only about 1 percent annually of the little which he possesses. And when this system is applied to the wealthy–when we consider that they profess to believe that the end of all things is at hand; and that they have but a little time to use their means, and when we consider that the system calls for only about one tenth of their increase–they should be the very last to complain of the system.
The last merciful message is intrusted to God’s humble, faithful servants of this time. God has led along those who would not shun responsibility, and has laid burdens upon them, and has through them presented to his people a plan of systematic benevolence in which all can engage, and work in harmony. This system has been carried out, and has worked like magic. It liberally sustains the preachers and the cause. As soon as the preachers ceased their opposition, and stood out of the way, the people heartily responded to the call, and prized the system. Everything is made convenient and easy for the preachers, that they may work, free from embarrassment. Our people have taken hold with a will and an interest which is not to be found among any other class. And God is displeased with preachers who now complain, and fail to throw their whole energies into this all-important work. They are without excuse, yet some are deceived, and think that they are sacrificing much, and are having a hard time, when they really know nothing about suffering, self-denial, or want. They may often be weary, so would they be if they were dependent on manual labor for a support. [Gospel Workers 92 61.3 (1892)]
The Biblical basis of Systematic Benevolence:
1 Corinthians 16:2: Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
Upon the first day of the week – Frequency & timing
let every one of you – Participates
lay by him in store – Payment of tithe and offerings criteria
as God hath prospered him – Proportion to be paid.
Section T5
Why God originated Tithe / Systematic Benevolence for mankind.
The special system of tithing was founded upon a principle which was as enduring as the law of God. This system of tithing was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out to the end of time. Our Heavenly Father did not originate the plan of systematic benevolence to enrich himself, but to be a great blessing to man. He saw that this system of beneficence was just what man needed. [Review & Herald, December 15, 1874 par. 25]
Selfishness is the strongest and most general of human impulses, the struggle of the soul between sympathy and covetousness is an unequal contest; for while selfishness is the strongest passion, love and benevolence are too often the weakest, and as a rule the evil gains the victory. Therefore in our labors and gifts for God’s cause, it is unsafe to be controlled by feeling or impulse. To give or to labor when our sympathies are moved, and to withhold our gifts or service when the emotions are not stirred, is an unwise and dangerous course. If we are controlled by impulse or mere human sympathy, then a few instances where our efforts for others are repaid with ingratitude, or where our gifts are abused or squandered, will be sufficient to freeze up the springs of beneficence. [Review & Herald, December 7, 1886 par. 5]
Systematic benevolence looks to you as needless; you overlook the fact that it originated with God, whose wisdom is unerring. This plan He ordained to save confusion, to correct covetousness, avarice, selfishness, and idolatry. This system was to cause the burden to rest lightly, yet with due weight, upon all. The salvation of man cost a dear price, even the life of the Lord of glory, which He freely gave to lift man from degradation and to exalt him to become heir of the world. God has so ordained that man shall aid his fellow man in the great work of redemption. He who excuses himself from this, who is unwilling to deny himself that others may become partakers with him of the heavenly benefit, proves himself unworthy of the life to come, unworthy of the heavenly treasure which cost so great a sacrifice. God wants no unwilling offering, no pressed sacrifice. Those who are thoroughly converted and who appreciate the work of God will give cheerfully the little required of them, considering it a privilege to bestow. [1T 545.3 (1855-1868)]
NB: Avarice means extreme greed for wealth or material gain.
The system of benevolence was arranged to prevent that great evil, covetousness. Christ saw that in the prosecution of business the love of riches would be the greatest cause of rooting true godliness out of the heart. He saw that the love of money would freeze deep and hard into men’s souls, stopping the flow of generous impulses and closing their senses to the wants of the suffering and the afflicted. “Take heed,” was His oft-repeated warning, “and beware of covetousness.” “Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” The oft-repeated and striking warnings of our Redeemer are in marked contrast with the actions of His professed followers who evidence in their lives so great eagerness to be rich and who show that the words of Christ are lost upon them. Covetousness is one of the most common and popular sins of the last days, and has a paralyzing influence upon the soul. [Testimonies for the Church Volume 3 page 547.2 (1872-1875)]
Constant, self-denying benevolence is God’s remedy for the cankering sins of selfishness and covetousness. God has arranged systematic benevolence to sustain His cause and relieve the necessities of the suffering and needy. He has ordained that giving should become a habit, that it may counteract the dangerous and deceitful sin of covetousness. Continual giving starves covetousness to death. Systematic benevolence is designed in the order of God to tear away treasures from the covetous as fast as they are gained and to consecrate them to the Lord, to whom they belong. [3T 548.1]
This system is so arranged that men may give something from their wages every day and lay by for their Lord a portion of the profits of every investment. The constant practice of God’s plan of systematic benevolence weakens covetousness and strengthens benevolence. If riches increase, men, even those professing godliness, set their hearts upon them; and the more they have, the less they give to the treasury of the Lord. Thus riches make men selfish, and hoarding feeds covetousness; and these evils strengthen by active exercise. God knows our danger and has hedged us about with means to prevent our own ruin. He requires the constant exercise of benevolence, that the force of habit in good works may break the force of habit in an opposite direction. [3T 548.2]
The offerings of little children may be acceptable and pleasing to God. In accordance with the spirit that prompts the gifts will be the value of the offering. The poor, by following the rule of the apostle and laying by a small sum every week, help to swell the treasury, and their gifts are wholly acceptable to God; for they make just as great, and even greater, sacrifices than their more wealthy brethren. The plan of systematic benevolence will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things, and especially will it prove a blessing to the rich by guarding them from indulging in extravagances. [3T 412.1]
Have you confessed Christ by faithfully tithing the mint, the anise, and the rue? When we give the Lord the tithe, we are only giving Him that which is His own, to withhold which is theft and robbery. When we withhold the tithe we keep back that which God designs shall sustain His work on the earth. For this work of redemption God gave the richest gift of heaven; can we not give one tenth of what we have? Many have forgotten God, and have kept back the tithe. Does your account book reveal that you have dealt faithfully with your Lord? Are you poor? Then give your little. Have you been blessed with abundance? Then be sure to lay aside that which the Lord registers as His own. [Manuscript Releases Volume 12 page 228.2 (1990)]
Collating the above bold text statements:
The special system of tithing was founded upon a principle which was as enduring as the law of God. This system of tithing was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out to the end of time. Our Heavenly Father did not originate the plan of systematic benevolence to enrich himself, but to be a great blessing to man. He saw that this system of beneficence was just what man needed.
Selfishness is the strongest and most general of human impulses, the struggle of the soul between sympathy and covetousness is an unequal contest; for while selfishness is the strongest passion, love and benevolence are too often the weakest, and as a rule the evil gains the victory.
Systematic benevolenceoriginated with God, … . This plan He ordained to save confusion, to correct covetousness, avarice, selfishness, and idolatry. This system was to cause the burden to rest lightly, yet with due weight, upon all.
Constant, self-denying benevolence is God’s remedy for the cankering sins of selfishness and covetousness. God has arranged systematic benevolence to sustain His cause and relieve the necessities of the suffering and needy. … Continual giving starves covetousness to death. Systematic benevolence is designed in the order of God to tear away treasures from the covetous as fast as they are gained …
The plan of systematic benevolence will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things, and especially will it prove a blessing to the rich by guarding them from indulging in extravagances.
If riches increase, men, even those professing godliness, set their hearts upon them; and the more they have, the less they give to the treasury of the Lord. Thus riches make men selfish, and hoarding feeds covetousness; and these evils strengthen by active exercise. God knows our danger and has hedged us about with means to prevent our own ruin.
Are you poor? Then give your little. Have you been blessed with abundance? Then be sure to lay aside that which the Lord registers as His own.
Summary of above:
The special system of tithing / the plan of systematic benevolence is enduring as the law of God and will be a blessing to those who carry it out to the end of time.
God ordained systematic benevolence to save confusion, to correct covetousness, avarice, selfishness, and idolatry.
Selfishness is the strongest and most general of human impulses.
Systematic benevolence will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things.
Systematic benevolence blesses the rich by guarding them from indulging in extravagances.
Riches make men selfish, and hoarding feeds covetousness; and these evils strengthen by active exercise.
God has arranged systematic benevolence to sustain His cause and relieve the necessities of the suffering and needy.
Are you poor? Then give your little. Have you been blessed with abundance? Then be sure to lay aside that which the Lord registers as His own.
Note: The way the last statement is worded proves that God wants a 10% tithe from those who He has financially blessed but accepts that the poor are unable to return this amount to Him.
The following shows how ‘financially blessed’ man[kind] spends God’s tithe money:
Man, finite man, though using for himself the talents which God has reserved to publish salvation, to send the glad news of a Saviour’s love to perishing souls, and hedging up the way by his selfishness, inquires, “Wherein have we robbed thee?” God answers, “In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.” The whole world is engaged in robbing God. With the money he has lent them they indulge in dissipation, in amusements, revelings, feasting, and disgraceful indulgences. But God says, “I will come near you to judgment.” The whole world will have an account to settle in that great day when every one shall receive sentence according to his deeds. [SpTA09 – Special Testimonies for Ministers and Workers — No. 9 71.3 (1897)]
The payment of the tithe was but a part of God’s plan for the support of His service. Numerous gifts and offerings were divinely specified. Under the Jewish system the people were taught to cherish a spirit of liberality both in sustaining the cause of God and in supplying the wants of the needy. For special occasions there were freewill offerings. At the harvest and the vintage, the first fruits of the field–corn, wine, and oil–were consecrated as an offering to the Lord. The gleanings and the corners of the field were reserved for the poor. The first fruits of the wool when the sheep were shorn, of the grain when the wheat was threshed, were set apart for God. So also were the first-born of all animals, and a redemption price was paid for the first-born son. The first fruits were to be presented before the Lord at the sanctuary and were then devoted to the use of the priests. [The Acts of the Apostles 336.3 (1911)]
By this system of benevolence the Lord sought to teach Israel that in everything He must be first. Thus they were reminded that God was the proprietor of their fields, their flocks, and their herds; that it was He who sent them the sunshine and the rain that developed and ripened the harvest. Everything that they possessed was His; they were but the stewards of His goods. [AA 337.1]
Section T6
Occupations in the Old Testament that are NOT of an agricultural (i.e. a tithing) nature.
By reference to The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible the following were found:
Ambassadors, anvil i.e. blacksmiths, apothecaries, archers, servants, armed guards, army/armies, ashes/furnace i.e. metal workers, astrologers. magicians, ax/axe (makers) i.e. metal workers, badger’s skins i.e. clothe makers, barber’s sharp knife i.e. hairdressers, bill of divorcement i.e. a legal system, bottles i.e. glass makers, dead bodies/burying place i.e. grave diggers, etc.,
There are also makers of balances i.e. scales, barrels, brass, baskets and beds of gold, silver and ivory, shovels, basons, snuffers, golden bells, bellows, benches of ivory, bird cages, ferry boat i.e. also implies boats, books, shields/ bucklers, spears, bowls, bracelets, cymbals, linen breeches, bricks/ brick kiln, buckets, hewn stone, and candles.
Also bondmaids, bondmen, bondservant, bondwomen, horsemen, bowmen, builders and carpenters are mentioned.
Shekels – implying that a monetary system was in existence – also the buying of corn, food, bondmen, timber, hewn stone, wine, milk, threshing floor, and fields is mentioned
Beside the above there are the singular / plural references to the building of alters, barns, cities, houses, palaces, temples, towers and walls.
The above list has been gathered from searching through words beginning with ‘A‘ and ‘B‘ – in the Old Testament, there were many occupations NOT of an agricultural (i.e. a tithing) nature.
However, while the Old Testament has no record of non-agricultural people paying tithe, Spirit of Prophecy records [in 1903] in Education page 44 and paragraph 2:
The consecration to God of a tithe of all increase, whether of the orchard and harvest field, the flocks and herds, or the labor of brain or hand, the devotion of a second tithe for the relief of the poor and other benevolent uses, tended to keep fresh before the people the truth of God’s ownership of all, and of their opportunity to be channels of His blessings. It was a training adapted to kill out all narrowing selfishness, and to cultivate breadth and nobility of character.
Section T7
What happened to Systematic Benevolence in the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Testimonies for The Church Volume 4 and Chapter 41 [Sacredness of Vows] page 469 (1876-1881)
God provided bread for His people in the wilderness by a miracle of mercy, and He could have provided everything necessary for religious service; but He did not, because in His infinite wisdom He saw that the moral discipline of His people depended upon their co-operating with Him, every one of them doing something. As long as the truth is progressive, the claims of God rest upon men to give of that which He has entrusted to them for this very purpose. God, the Creator of man, by instituting the plan of systematic benevolence, has made the work bear equally upon all according to their several abilities. Everyone is to be his own assessor and is left to give as he purposes in his heart.
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers and Chapter 1 [The Church of Christ] page 27 (1923)
Results of United Effort
Our work was not sustained by large gifts or legacies; for we have few wealthy men among us. What is the secret of our prosperity? We have moved under the orders of the Captain of our salvation. God has blessed our united efforts. The truth has spread and flourished. Institutions have multiplied. The mustard seed has grown to a great tree. The system of organization has proved a grand success. Systematic benevolence[* SEE APPENDIX.] was entered into according to the Bible plan. The body has been “compacted by that which every joint supplieth.” As we have advanced, our system of organization has still proved effectual.
Extracts from Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 1,1875:
If systematic benevolence was universally adopted, according to God’s plan, and the tithing system carried out as faithfully by the wealthy as it is by the poorer classes, there would be no need of repeated and urgent calls for means at our large religious gatherings. There has been a neglect, in the several churches, of keeping up the plan of systematic benevolence, and the result has been an impoverished treasury and a backslidden church.
[text omitted as irrelevant to this tithing study]
Systematic action in giving in accordance with the plan keeps open the channel of the heart in liberal gifts. We place ourselves in connection with God, that he may use us as channels that his gifts may flow through us to others. The poor will not complain of systematic benevolence; for it touches them lightly. They are not neglected and passed by, but are favored with acting a part in being co-workers with Christ, and will receive the blessing of God as well as the wealthy. In the very process of laying aside the littles as they can spare them, they are denying self and cultivating liberality of heart. They are educating themselves to good works, and are meeting the design of God in the plan of systematic benevolence as effectually as the more wealthy who give of their abundance.
In the days of the apostles, men went everywhere preaching the word. New churches were raised up. Their love and zeal for Christ led them to acts of great denial and sacrifice. Many of these Gentile churches were very poor; yet the apostle declares that their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. Their gifts were extended beyond their power. Men periled their lives and suffered the loss of all things for the truth’s sake.
Ellen G. White: Volume 3 The Lonely Years 1876-1891 Chapter 7 [The Tide Turns] page 92
The Tithe
Another matter receiving consideration at the time was the basis for calculating the tithe. In 1858, a plan known as “Systematic Benevolence” had been recommended as a means of providing support for the work of the ministry. It called for regular contributions and the tithe. The tithe was to be figured on the basis of the church member’s property holdings. It was thought that property should yield 10 percent income per year, and this amount should be regarded as the amount to be tithed. But more and more, church members were working for pay rather than farming their own land, and Canright and White saw that to ascertain the tithe on the basis of property holdings, namely 1 percent of property values per year, excused those who had incomes other than from property.
[Text continues:]
Through 1877 and 1878, articles in the Review canvassed the subject. Four extended editorials signed J. W. appeared in the Review during August and September, 1878 (August 29 to September 19). In these articles James White cited several cases of attitudes toward personal possessions and the support of the cause of God, representing both liberality and stinginess, giving only initials as identification of persons concerned.
Both CD Rom & Google Internet searches have been made to find each of these 4 documents but without success.
Other searches:
Extract from Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 15, 1874:
Systematic benevolence should not be made systematic compulsion. It is freewill offerings that are acceptable to God. True Christian benevolence springs from the principle of grateful love.
Spiritual Gifts Volume 4B and Chapter 6 [Slackness Reproved] page 51 (1864):
I was pointed back to the children of Israel anciently. God required of them all a sacrifice, both poor and rich, according as he had prospered them. The poor were not excused because they had not the wealth of their rich brethren. They were required to exercise economy and self-denial, that they come not before the Lord empty-handed. And those who were so poor that it was utterly impossible for them to bring an offering to the Lord, if sickness or misfortune had deprived them of the ability to bestow, those who were wealthy were required to help them to a humble mite, that they come not before the Lord empty-handed. This arrangement preserved a mutual interest.
Testimonies for The Church Volume 4 and Chapter 41 [Sacredness of Vows] page 475 (1876-1881):
The plan of systematic benevolence was of God’s own arrangement, but the faithful payment of God’s claims is often refused or postponed as though solemn promises were of no significance. It is because church members neglect to pay their tithes and meet their pledges that our institutions are not free from embarrassment. If all, both rich and poor, would bring their tithes into the storehouse, there would be a sufficient supply of means to release the cause from financial embarrassment and to nobly carry forward the missionary work in its various departments. God calls upon those who believe the truth to render to Him the things that are His. Those who have thought that to withhold from God is gain will eventually experience His curse as the result of their robbery of the Lord. Nothing but utter inability to pay can excuse one in neglecting to meet promptly his obligations to the Lord.
Extract from Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 1, 1875:
The offerings of little children may be acceptable and pleasing to God. In accordance with the spirit that prompts the gifts will be the value of the offering. The poor, by following the rule of the apostle in laying by every week a small sum, help to swell the treasury, and the gifts are wholly acceptable with God; for they are making just as great sacrifices as their more wealthy brethren, and even greater. The plan of systematic benevolence will prove a safeguard to every family against temptations to spend means for needless things, and especially will it prove a blessing to the rich in guarding them from indulging in extravagances.
Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, May 9, 1893:
This matter of giving is not left to impulse. God has given us definite instruction in regard to it. He has specified tithes and offerings as the measure of our obligation. And He desires us to give regularly and systematically. Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, Concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him. Let each regularly examine his income, which is all a blessing from God, and set apart the tithe as a separate fund, to be sacredly the Lord’s. This fund should not in any case be devoted to any other use; it is to be devoted solely to support the ministry of the gospel. After the tithe is set apart, let gifts and offering be apportioned, “as God hath prospered” you.
Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, May 16,1893:
In the Bible system of tithes and offerings the amounts paid by different persons will of course vary greatly, since they are proportioned to the income. With the poor man, the tithe will be a comparatively small sum, and his gifts will be according to his ability. But it is not the greatness of the gift that makes the offering acceptable to God; it is the purpose of the heart, the spirit of gratitude and love that it expresses. Let not the poor feel that their gifts are so small as to be unworthy of notice. Let them give according to their ability, feeling that they are servants of God, and that He will accept their offering.
1863 General Conference organized and first session held; first steps in health reform taken.
1878 The 10% tithing system replaced the systematic benevolence plan.
Section T8
Is there a statement / inspired instruction by Ellen G. White that God has approved of the change from the Systematic Benevolence method of tithing?
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and alte*’ – No records found.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and approv*’ – 1 record found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and bles*’ – 94 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and chang*’ – 24 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and guid*’ – 5 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and lead’ – 6 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and leading’ – 4 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and led’ – 7 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and pleased’ – 2 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and pleasing’ – 4 records found but see below:
Ellen G. White: The Early Years Volume 1 1827-1862 Chapter 25 [Financial Support for The Cause of God] page 393
NB: ‘The Early Years’ was written after October 1966 by Arthur L. White – a grandson of Ellen G. White and a secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate.
Systematic Benevolence was early endorsed by Ellen White, and she linked it with the tithe. First she assured the church in June, 1859, “The plan of systematic benevolence is pleasing to God” (1T, p. 190), and then in January, 1861, in a Testimony article entitled Systematic Benevolence, she wrote: “Rob not God by withholding from Him your tithes and offerings.” The article closed with Malachi 3:8-11 quoted in full (Ibid., pp. 221, 222). At the outset there was no separation of tithes from offerings. The demand for funds was mainly for the support of the ministers and the evangelistic outreach.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and taught’ – 17 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and teach’ – 28 records found but not relevant to actual search but see below:
The Adventist Home and Chapter 63 [Instructing Children How to Earn and Use Money] page 389 (1952):
Teach Children to Pay Tithe and Offerings. –Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as His own, but He tells us how it should be reserved for Him. He says, Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God’s portion be first set apart. The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul in regard to gifts present a principle that applies also to tithing. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Parents and children are here included.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and God or Lord and teach*’ – 48 records found but not relevant to search.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘tithe and occupatio*’ – No records found.
SoP CD Rom search on ‘benevolence and end’ – 26 records found – not relevant to actual search but see below:
Extract from Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, December 15, 1874:
There are many who have looked upon the Jewish nation as a people to be pitied, because they were constantly taxed for the support of their religion; but God, who created man and provided him with all the blessings he enjoys, knew what was for his best good. And he has, through his blessing, made their nine-tenths worth more to them than the entire amount without his blessing. If any through their selfishness robbed God or brought to him an offering not perfect, disaster and loss were sure to follow them. God reads the motives of the heart. He is acquainted with the purposes of men, and will mete out to them in his own good time as they have merited.
The special system of tithing was founded upon a principle which is as enduring as the law of God. This system of tithing was a blessing to the Jews, else God would not have given it them. So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out to the end of time. Our heavenly Father did not originate the plan of systematic benevolence to enrich Himself, but to be a great blessing to man. He saw that this system of beneficence was just what man needed.
Those churches who are the most systematic and liberal in sustaining the cause of God are the most prosperous spiritually. True liberality in the follower of Christ identifies his interest with that of his Master. In God’s dealing with the Jews and His people to the end of time, He requires systematic benevolence proportionate to their income. The plan of salvation was laid by the infinite sacrifice of the Son of God. The light of the gospel shining from the cross of Christ rebukes selfishness and encourages liberality and benevolence. It is not to be a lamented fact that there are increasing calls to give. God in His providence is calling His people out from their limited sphere of action to enter upon greater enterprises. Unlimited effort is demanded at this time when moral darkness is covering the world. Worldliness and covetousness are eating out the vitals of God’s people. They should understand that it is His mercy which multiplies the demands for their means. The angel of God places benevolent acts close beside prayer. He said to Cornelius: “Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God.”
SoP CD Rom search on ‘187* and tithe’ – 5 records found but not relevant to search but see below:
1 record found in the Appendix – notes added by the Ellen G. White Estate in 1962 (or 1944? or 1923?) and therefore deemed not relevant to actual search.
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers and [Appendix Notes] page 523
THUS SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE EMBODIED FREEWILL OFFERINGS AND A TITHE RECKONED ON WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A FAIR INCOME FROM PROPERTY HELD. THE METHOD OF RECKONING THE TITHE WAS, IN THE YEAR 1876, DISCERNED TO BE ACTUALLY ONE TENTH OF THE INCOME TO THE INDIVIDUAL FROM WHATEVER SOURCE IT MIGHT COME, AND THIS LED TO A CONCEPT WHICH WOULD REACH OUT TO A MUCH LARGER NUMBER THAN THOSE WHO WERE PROPERTY HOLDERS. A PAMPHLET ENTITLED “SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, OR THE BIBLE PLAN OF SUPPORTING THE MINISTRY,” PUBLISHED IN 1878 BY THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION, STATES THE MATTER CONCISELY IN A QUESTION AND AN ANSWER:
The full statement reads as follows:
PAGE 27. SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE: IN 1859 THE LEADING BRETHREN AMONG THE SABBATH-KEEPING ADVENTISTS CAME TO SEE THE NECESSITY OF A SYSTEMATIC PLAN OF SUPPORTING THE WORK OF GOD, AND FROM A CONFERENCE AT WHICH THIS MATTER WAS STUDIED, THERE CAME RECOMMENDATIONS:
“1. LET EACH BROTHER FROM EIGHTEEN TO SIXTY YEARS OF AGE LAY BY HIM IN STORE ON THE FIRST DAY OF EACH WEEK FROM FIVE TO TWENTY-FIVE CENTS.
“2. EACH SISTER FROM EIGHTEEN TO SIXTY YEARS OF AGE LAY BY HER IN STORE ON THE FIRST DAY OF EACH WEEK FROM TWO TO TEN CENTS.
“3. ALSO, LET EACH BROTHER AND SISTER LAY BY HIM OR HER IN STORE ON THE FIRST DAY OF EACH WEEK FROM ONE TO FIVE CENTS ON EACH AND EVERY $100 OF PROPERTY THEY POSSESS.”– REVIEW AND HERALD, FEB. 3, 1859, P. 84. ADOPTED BY THE GENERAL CONFERENCE, JUNE 4, 1859.
AS FURTHER CLARIFICATION OF INVOLVEMENTS OF POINT 3, JAMES WHITE, IN THE GOOD SAMARITAN OF JANUARY, 1861, EXPLAINED:
“WE PROPOSE THAT THE FRIENDS GIVE A TITHE, OR TENTH OF THEIR INCOME, ESTIMATING THEIR INCOME AT 10 PERCENT ON WHAT THEY POSSESS.”
IN THE REVIEW AND HERALD OF APRIL 9, 1861, JAMES WHITE EXPLAINED HOW THE BRETHREN IN MICHIGAN APPLIED THIS.
“THEY REGARD THE USE OF THEIR PROPERTY WORTH THE SAME AS MONEY AT 10 PERCENT. THIS 10 PERCENT THEY REGARD AS THE INCREASE OF THEIR PROPERTY. A TITHE OF THIS WOULD BE 1 PERCENT, AND WOULD BE NEARLY 2 CENTS PER WEEK ON EACH $100, WHICH OUR BRETHREN, FOR CONVENIENCE SAKE, ARE UNANIMOUS IN PUTTING DOWN.”
THUS SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE EMBODIED FREEWILL OFFERINGS AND A TITHE RECKONED ON WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED A FAIR INCOME FROM PROPERTY HELD. THE METHOD OF RECKONING THE TITHE WAS, IN THE YEAR 1876, DISCERNED TO BE ACTUALLY ONE TENTH OF THE INCOME TO THE INDIVIDUAL FROM WHATEVER SOURCE IT MIGHT COME, AND THIS LED TO A CONCEPT WHICH WOULD REACH OUT TO A MUCH LARGER NUMBER THAN THOSE WHO WERE PROPERTY HOLDERS. A PAMPHLET ENTITLED “SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE, OR THE BIBLE PLAN OF SUPPORTING THE MINISTRY,” PUBLISHED IN 1878 BY THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST PUBLISHING ASSOCIATION, STATES THE MATTER CONCISELY IN A QUESTION AND AN ANSWER:
“‘HOW MUCH OUGHT I TO GIVE FOR THE SUPPORT OF THE GOSPEL?’
“‘AFTER CAREFULLY VIEWING THE SUBJECT FROM ALL POINTS, WE ANSWER, A TITHE OF ALL OUR INCOME.'”
Conclusion to the above CD Rom searches: No statement / inspired instruction given by Ellen G. White has been found to show that God has approved of the change from the Systematic Benevolence method of tithing. The statement “In God’s dealing with the Jews and His people to the end of time, He requires systematic benevolence proportionate to their income.” was found in Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald 15.12.1874 / Testimonies for The Church Volume 3 – this implies that there will be ‘no change‘.
Extracts from page 190 & 191 of Testimonies for the Church Volume One (1855-1868):
The plan of systematic benevolence[* SEE APPENDIX.] is pleasing to God. I was pointed back to the days of the apostles, and saw that God laid the plan by the descent of His Holy Spirit, and that by the gift of prophecy He counseled His people in regard to a system of benevolence.
[text omitted as irrelevant to this tithing study]
There is order in heaven, and God is well pleased with the efforts of His people in trying to move with system and order in His work on earth. I saw that there should be order in the church of God, and that system is needed in carrying forward successfully the last great message of mercy to the world. God is leading His people in the plan of systematic benevolence, and this is one of the very points to which God is bringing up His people which will cut the closest with some. With them this cuts off the right arm, and plucks out the right eye, while to others it is a great relief. To noble, generous souls the demands upon them seem very small, and they cannot be content to do so little. Some have large possessions, and if they lay by them in store for charitable purposes as God has prospered them, the offering seems to them like a large sum. The selfish heart clings as closely to a small offering as to a larger one, and makes a small sum look very large.
Extracts taken from the Appendix of Testimonies for the Church Volume 1:
AS AN AID TO AN UNDERSTANDING OF THE CIRCUMSTANCES WHICH LED TO THE GIVING OF CERTAIN TESTIMONIES, THE FOLLOWING NOTES HAVE BEEN PREPARED BY THE TRUSTEES OF THE ELLEN G. WHITE PUBLICATIONS.
[text omitted as irrelevant to this tithing study]
SYSTEMATIC BENEVOLENCE WAS NOT PRESENTED AS A PERFECTED PLAN, FOR IT WAS ALSO STATED THAT “GOD IS LEADING HIS PEOPLE” IN THE MATTER, AND “IS BRINGING” THEM UP. (PAGE 191.) AS PLANS FOR SUPPORT OF THE WORK AND THE MINISTRY BROADENED, THE SPIRIT OF LIBERALITY WAS ENCOURAGED MORE AND MORE UNTIL AT LENGTH LIGHT FROM THE SCRIPTURES REVEALED THE SYSTEM OF TITHES AND OFFERINGS AS THEY ARE KNOWN IN THE CHURCH TODAY.
Reviewing the underlined text on page 191, it is by no means definite that the interpretation cited by ‘THE ELLEN G. WHITE PUBLICATIONS’ is correct. Also the ‘TITHES AND OFFERINGS AS THEY ARE KNOWN IN THE CHURCH TODAY’ has not been upheld by the Scriptures. In fact, having obtained a clear understanding of God’s tithing requirements for the rich and poor, the message behind the whole paragraph on page 191 is obvious and does not imply that there will be an “all change” tithing system in (what was then) the future.
Note the above page 190/191 extracts that have been put in bold text.
Section T9
Miscellaneous extracts, including those from the internet, which are deemed useful.
In the extracts that follow, areas deemed useful have either been underlined or put in bold.
http://www.whiteestate.org/issues/Tithe-H&U.html
Extract from the Highlights of the Beginning of the Tithing System by Arthur L. White – a grandson of Ellen G. White and a secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate:
There were many references to systematic benevolence and the tithe through the late 1860s and the 1870s. Ellen White, in Testimony No. 24, written in 1874 and published in January 1875, devotes 28 pages to “Tithes and Offerings,” followed by five pages under the title of “Systematic Benevolence.” (3T 381-413.)
In 1876 the conviction came to leading brethren that there were defects in the plan, especially in the basis on which the tithe was reckoned. The following comes from a special session of the General Conference held early that year:
“Remarks were then made by Brother Canright on the subject of systematic benevolence. Taking certain well-ascertained facts as a basis, he showed that if all would come up to the Bible plan of S.B., the amount within our ranks would reach the sum of $150,000 yearly, instead of about $40,000 as it now is. The Lord says, ‘Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,’ and until this is done, the Lord will not be ‘proved,’ to see whether He will not pour out a blessing so that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Brother White followed with lengthy and stirring remarks on the same subject.
“Brother Canright offered the following resolutions on the subject of systematic benevolence, which were unanimously adopted by the conference and congregation:
Resolved, That we believe it to be the duty of all our brethren and sisters, whether connected with churches or living alone, under ordinary circumstances, to devote one-tenth of all their income from whatever source, to the cause of God. And further
Resolved, That we call the attention of all our ministers to their duty in this important matter to set it plainly and faithfully before all their brethren and urge them to come up to the requirements of the Lord in this thing.
“Moved and carried that the chairman appoint a committee of three, himself to be one of that committee, to prepare a tract upon the subject of systematic benevolence. The Chair appointed D. M. Canright and U. Smith to act with him as that committee.”–Minutes of the Special Session of the General Conference, published in Review & Herald, April 6, 1876, p. 108.
http://www.christiandiscussionforums.org/v/showthread.php?p4427083#post4427083
“Gradually during the 1870s. . .Dudley M. Canright published a series of Review articles. . .
he argued “that a tithe, or one-tenth, of all income of his people shall be given to support his servants in their labors” (Review & Herald, Feb.17, 1876).
Canright shared his arguments at the General Conference session. . .As a result of his presentations, the session resolved that it was the duty of all members “under ordinary circumstances, to devote one-tenth of all their income…to the cause of God” (Review & Herald, Apr. 6, 1876).
Extract from Chapter 4 [Meeting Two Major Problems] of Ellen G. White: Volume 2 The Progressive Years 1862-1876:
The Tide Begins to Turn
With President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, effective January 1, 1863, the tide in the war began to turn. When a national fast was appointed for April 30, 1863, Seventh-day Adventists felt they could join in its observance, for the government was lining up more in harmony with the testimony of Isaiah 58. In early July a decisive battle was fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, with the Union forces gaining the victory.
There were still many difficult days ahead, but the provision that by paying $300 a drafted Seventh-day Adventist could gain freedom from military service brought relief till well into 1864. The newly organized church had a breathing spell. Yet such a payment was equivalent to somewhat more than the wages for a year
Extract from the Spalding and Magan Collection – page 117 and with respect to women (1985):
Proof-readers in the office receive their wages, two dollars and a half and three dollars a week.
This amounts to an annual income of $130 – $156.
In Section T4, systematic benevolence was found to be as follows:
1. Let each brother from 18 to 60 years of age lay by him in store on the first day of each week from 5 to 25 cents.
2. Each sister from 18 to 60 years of age lay by her in store on the first day of each week from 2 to 10 cents.
3. Also, let each brother and sister lay by him or her in store on the first day of each week from 1 to 5 cents on each and every $100 of property they possess. . . .
Concerning 1 and 2 above:
For Brothers who are not getting an income from their property [land]:
5 cents / week = $2.60 / annum which, for a $300 annual income amounts to 0.867%.
25 cents / week = $13 / annum which, for a $300 annual income amounts to 4.333%.
For Sisters who are not getting an income from their property [land]:
2 cents / week = $1.04 / annum which, for a $130 annual income amounts to 0.8%.
10 cents / week = $5.20 / annum which, for a $130 annual income amounts to 4%.
This compares well with the Spirit of Prophecy text also found in Section T4:
Our system of supporting the cause by means of Systematic Benevolence appears to be the best that could be devised. It bears very lightly upon the poor man, drawing only about 1 percent annually of the little which he possesses. And when this system is applied to the wealthy–when we consider that they profess to believe that the end of all things is at hand; and that they have but a little time to use their means, and when we consider that the system calls for only about one tenth of their increase–they should be the very last to complain of the system.
Concerning 3 above:
For Brothers and Sisters who are getting an income from their property [land]:
1 cent / week = $0.52 / annum which, for $100 property amounts to 0.52%.
5 cents / week = $2.60 / annum which, for $100 property amounts to 2.6%.
This compares with the SoP text found in Section T6:
Another matter receiving consideration at the time was the basis for calculating the tithe. In 1858, a plan known as “Systematic Benevolence” had been recommended as a means of providing support for the work of the ministry. It called for regular contributions and the tithe. The tithe was to be figured on the basis of the church member’s property holdings. It was thought that property should yield 10 percent income per year, and this amount should be regarded as the amount to be tithed. But more and more, church members were working for pay rather than farming their own land, and Canright and White saw that to ascertain the tithe on the basis of property holdings, namely 1 percent of property values per year, excused those who had incomes other than from property.
Extracts from ‘The Early Years’ [1827-1862], which was written after October 1966 by Arthur L. White – a grandson of Ellen G. White and a secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate:
We meant just what the churches are adopting in Michigan [referring to his statement published in the Good Samaritan]; viz., they regard the use of their property worth the same as money at 10 percent. This 10 percent they regard as the increase of their property. A tithe of this would be 1 percent, and would be nearly 2 cents per week on each $100, which our brethren, for convenience sake, are unanimous in putting down. . . .
Next come the personal donations. Let the young men who have no taxable property come up nobly here, also the young women.–Review & Herald, April 9, 1861.
From pages 230-231 of Volume 10 Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary:
CANWRIGHT, DUDLEY MARVIN (1840-1919). A onetime SDA minister and writer who renounced his church affliation and acquired prominence as the “champion” of theological opposition to SDA teachings. Ordained to the SDA ministry in 1865, he became a forceful preacher and a polemic writer of considerable ability. He took a prominent part in church administration and for two years was a member of the General Conference Committee. Capable and successful, he became intolerant of the opinion of others and chafed under the administrative control of his fellow ministers and the close guidance of testimonies from Ellen G. White. He also showed instability of temperament, losing heart and doubting his faith when disagreeable experiences came to him. Several times before his separation from the church he left the ministry, then returned and carried on with great vigor. A vision of greater achievement in the service of a cause more popular than that of SDA’s finally led him to resign and sever his connection with the church in February, 1887.
[text continues but is irrelevant to this tithing study]
http://www.whiteestate.org/about/estate.asp
Extracts:
The Ellen G. White® Estate, Incorporated, is an organization created by the last will and testament of Ellen G. White to act as her agent in the custody of her writings, handling her properties, “conducting the business thereof,” “securing the printing of new translations,” and the “printing of compilations from my manuscripts.” Her will, dated Feb. 9, 1912 (printed in its entirety as Appendix N in Messenger of the Lord, by Herbert E. Douglass) named five church leaders to serve as a board of trustees: Arthur G. Daniells, president of the General Conference; William C. White, her son; Clarence C. Crisler, a secretary; Charles H. Jones, manager of the Pacific Press; and Francis M. Wilcox, editor of the Review and Herald. Four of the five were members of the Executive Committee of the General Conference.
[text omitted as irrelevant to this tithing study]
At the death of Ellen White, July 16, 1915, this self-perpetuating board began to function. It soon sold Ellen White’s real estate, consisting mainly of Elmshaven, her home property near St. Helena, California, then began the continued care of her literary properties. Under the terms of the will, such responsibilities fell into three areas: (1) possession of the copyrights to her writings and the care and promotion of her books in the English language; (2) preparation of manuscripts for, and the promotion of the translation and publication of her writings in other languages; and (3) custody of the files of manuscripts and other files, and the selection of matter from the Ellen G. White manuscript files for publication. The board now carries a fourth responsibility, which has developed naturally through the years–acquainting Seventh-day Adventists and others with Mrs. White and her work.
[text omitted as irrelevant to this tithing study]
Relationship to General Conference. Through the years a close working relationship has obtained between the White Estate trustees and the General Conference. Most of the trustees are members of the General Conference Executive Committee.
[text continues but is irrelevant to this tithing study]
Section T10
Spiritual logic
Isaiah 1:18: Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
1 Corinthians 2:9: But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.
2:10: But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
2:11: For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.
2:12: Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
2:13: Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
With the above in mind, the Christian mind is able to establish what God requires of man.
Consider the cost of living – just those basic essential items in today’s world – not the luxuries that modern life offers.
Let us add all these up and call it ‘X’
Now consider the income coming into a household.
Assume that this also amounts to ‘X’
Adding a tithe to the essentials total would imply:
the non payment of bills, or
a drastic reduction [over 50%] in food, or
the selling of items, or
entertaining debt.
For a family in this position the payment of a [10%] tithe would create a heavy and non sustainable burden.
But “God loveth a cheerful giver.” – would that tithe payer find it easy to be cheerful?
But God, who owns everything, would provide – so pay your [10%] tithe in faith! – so should that tithe payer pay?
Remember that God will answer the prayers of his people only when they are unable to do something themselves.
Can we expect God always to intervene when we knowingly do something that just does not add up?
10% tithe plus ‘X’ does not equal ‘X’ it is greater than ‘X’ and will lead to problems.
So how should the willing tithe payer proceed?
Remember Jacob, when an exile and penniless wanderer, God told him in a dream that he would be abundantly blessed:
Genesis 28:20: 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 raiment to put on,
28:21: So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the LORD be my God:
28:22: 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.
So how should the willing tithe payer with an income of ‘X’ proceed?
“Lord, I want to pay a tithe, but at the moment I can’t, please guide and bless me so that I can pay the tithe”
Now consider a household with an income of ‘2X’
Tithe payment becomes much easier to pay and the tithe payer can more readily be cheerful in his giving.
Now consider a household with an income of ‘3X’
Tithe paying is even more easier to pay – he can afford the 10% tithe and probably even a second 10% tithe without incurring hardship.
From the above 3 households it is obvious that the wealthier one becomes the easier it is to pay a tithe.
Naturally God is aware of this fact and He would be unjust if He required those less fortunate to carry a heavier burden than those who were more fortunate.
So what is the fairest solution for God to choose for mankind?
Systematic Benevolence!
Testimonies for The Church Volume 4 and Chapter 41 [Sacredness of Vows] page 469 (1876-1881):
God, the Creator of man, by instituting the plan of systematic benevolence, has made the work bear equally upon all according to their several abilities. Everyone is to be his own assessor and is left to give as he purposes in his heart.
Extract from Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 1, 1875:
The poor will not complain of systematic benevolence; for it touches them lightly. They are not neglected and passed by, but are favored with acting a part in being co-workers with Christ, and will receive the blessing of God as well as the wealthy. In the very process of laying aside the littles as they can spare them, they are denying self and cultivating liberality of heart. They are educating themselves to good works, and are meeting the design of God in the plan of systematic benevolence as effectually as the more wealthy who give of their abundance.
Section T11
SDA Tithe for year 2010
From Google searches the following sites were found:
http://www.adventist.org/world-church/facts-and-figures/
Seventh-day Adventist World Church Statistics
Summary of Statistics as of December 31, 2010
Church Membership……………………………………………………………………………………………… 16,923,239
Contributions……………………………………………………………………………………………………. In US Dollars
Tithe……………………………………………………………………………………………………………… $2,037,618,294
Tithe Per Capita………………………………………………………………………………………………………… $127.20
Total Tithe and Offerings………………………………………………………………………………….. $2,900,945,610
Total Tithe and Offerings Per Capita…………………………………………………………………………….. $181.09
NB: From the above figures the Total Offerings is 42.37% of Total Tithe.
This Tithe information is broadly in agreement with the site below which gives:
15,902,970 members and
$ 1,939,046,360 total tithe.
http://www.aiias.edu/gti/files/gti_2010.pdf
Via a Global Tithe Index (GTI) analysis [which is an instrument that facilitates country-by-country comparisons
of tithe returns on a basis that puts all countries on an equal footing by being based upon the Gross Domestic Product per capita for each country] the 1st site confirms that 10 European countries are in the top 13 with 20 European countries being in the top 30 – 105 being the total number of countries considered.
In the bottom 30 of the GTI list is Albania – the last European country at 29th from bottom – with 13 Middle /Inter- and South American countries, 12 African countries and 4 Asian countries.
In the bottom 53 of the GTI list Albania remains the only European country with 21 Middle /Inter- and South American countries, 22 African countries and 9 Asian countries.
The above facts should speak for themselves but they have also been analysed as follows:
Country / Continent
% of total SDA church membership
% of total SDA church tithe
Africa
38.6
5.27
Asia
17.61
6.04
Europe
2.3
11.04
Middle /Inter- and South America
32.39
28
North America
7.09
45.79
Pacific
2.02
3.87
% Total
100.01
100.01
The above list immediately identifies Africa then Asia as being low % tithe paying areas.
As nearly 60% of the total SDA tithes come from 2 countries to correctly understand the American figures a further breakdown is required:
Country / Continent
% of total SDA church membership
% of total SDA church tithe
Brazil only
7.97
17.54
Remainder of Middle /Inter- and South America
24.41
10.46
USA only
6.67
42.34
Remainder of North America
0.42
3.45
The remainder of Middle /Inter- and South America countries can now be seen as being in low % tithe paying areas.
The above is conclusive evidence that SDA members in affluent countries are more able to pay and do pay a higher percentage in their tithe than those living in countries where poverty is higher.
Why? – because, relating it to income, it makes common sense – see Section T10 on Spiritual Logic.
This is Systematic Benevolence in practice – even with a ‘10% tithe for all members’ being the SDA church requirement.
Extract from Ellen G. White: The Progressive Years 1862-1876 by Arthur L. White [written after October 1966]:
Our system of supporting the cause by means of Systematic Benevolence appears to be the best that could be devised. It bears very lightly upon the poor man, drawing only about 1 percent annually of the little which he possesses. …
The Global Tithe Index (GTI) analysis showed that the average tithe percentage paid by church members in each country ranged from 5.86% to 0.09% [or 0.16% as certain figures from India were qualified within the report]; the average being 1.68%.
Dividing the total tithes of $1,939,046,360 by the total potential tithes of $14,151,440,340 gives a percentage figure of 1.37%.
Hence tithing is well below the 10% figure that the church organisation is trying to get from each member and very near to the Systematic Benevolence figure of 1% for a world full of SDA church members where ALL are classified as poor.
The Systematic Benevolence method of tithing [which was based upon New Testament scripture] was changed by the SDA church organisation, which was faced with financial problems through many of the rich people not paying their portion of the tithe, to one where 10% was expected from every church member. This, Dudley M. Canright had argued in 1876, would bring in more revenue to the church. James Springer White followed Dudley Marvin Canright “with lengthy and stirring remarks” prior to the General Conference voting to accept the 10% system.
A Neglected Work.–We are to give the message of warning to the world, and how are we doing our work? Are you, brethren, preaching that part of the truth that pleases the people, while other parts of the work are left incomplete? Will it be necessary for someone to follow after you, and urge upon the people the duty of faithfully bringing all the tithes and offerings into the Lord’s treasury? This is the work of the minister, but it has been sadly neglected. The people have robbed God, and the wrong has been suffered because the minister did not want to displease his brethren. God calls these men unfaithful stewards. –Review and Herald, July 8, 1884. [Evangelism 252.2 (1946)]
So what has actually happened?
For a time, these two assertive and high ranking people, were able to bring in more money to the SDA church. But the greed of man to acquire more money is a powerful one and at sometime, and certainly today, the SDA church now suffers as a result of that meeting.
God’s message to his people is usually swift, convincing and to the point and despite the following publicity of Arthur L. White – a grandson of James and Ellen G. White and a secretary of the Ellen G. White Estate, the SDA church is now loosing tithe money from insisting upon 10% from every member.
Extract from the Highlights of the Beginning of the Tithing System by Arthur L. White:
With the tithing system, as with several other lines of truth which became fundamental Adventist doctrine, our pioneers did not see it in all its beauty and completeness at the very outset. They were endeavoring to find a system of finance which harmonized with Gospel Order. The Lord led them only as fast as they could see, accept, and follow unfolding Bible-based truth.
A Google search on the above bold text statement shows that this only occurs here and in parallel documents by Arthur L. White.
It is difficult to see how “The plan of systematic benevolence is pleasing to God” and then accept that He will guide His church into a different tithing system without giving any clear instruction:
Malachi 3:6: For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
James 1:17: Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
The wealthy chose not to pay their tithe and the SDA church chose to change the rules rather than convict the wealthy that they needed God’s blessings.
There are many SDA church members who cannot afford a 10% [gross] tithe but, if aware, would accept and pay a tithe based upon God’s method of Systematic Benevolence which relates to their financial circumstances.
Section T12
Definitions
Google
Tithe
Noun
One tenth of annual produce or earnings, formerly taken as a tax for the support of the church and clergy.
Verb
Pay or give as a tithe.
Synonyms
tenth
http://www.answers.com/topic/tithe
Noun
1a. A tenth part of one’s annual income contributed voluntarily or due as a tax, especially for the support of the clergy or church.
1b. The institution or obligation of paying tithes.
2. A tax or assessment of one tenth.
3a. A tenth part.
3b. A very small part.
http://www.thefreedictionary.com/tithe
Noun
1. (Christianity / Ecclesiastical Terms) (often plural)Christianity a tenth part of agricultural or other produce, personal income, or profits, contributed either voluntarily or as a tax for the support of the church or clergy or for charitable purposes
2. (Historical Terms) any levy, esp of one tenth
3.a tenth or very small part of anything
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tithe
Noun
1 Sometimes, tithes. the tenth part of agricultural produce or personal income set apart as an offering to God or for works of mercy, or the same amount regarded as an obligation or tax for the support of the church, priesthood, or the like.
2 any tax, levy, or the like, especially of one-tenth.
3 a tenth part or any indefinitely small part of anything.
http://www.nairaland.com/viaro/posts/1
MacMillan’s Modern Dictionary – 1938 edition: Tithe – tenth part, or any small part, of produce, profits, or the like paid as a tax or as a voluntary contribution, esp. for religion or charitable use.
http://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/tithing
Noun
1. often plural (Christianity) a tenth part of agricultural or other produce, personal income, or profits, contributed either voluntarily or as a tax for the support of the church or clergy or for charitable purposes
2. any levy, esp of one tenth
3. a tenth or very small part of anything
From the above definitions Tithe is a tenth but it can mean less than a tenth via it’s “indefinitely / very small part” meaning.
Systematic
Adjective
Done or acting according to a fixed plan or system; methodical.
Synonyms
systematical – methodical – regular – orderly
Benevolence
Noun
An inclination to perform kind, charitable acts.
A kindly act.
A gift given out of generosity.
From the above definitions Systematic Benevolence means ‘acts of generosity performed according to a fixed plan or system’.
Section T13
Was tithe on the gross or nett income in the early SDA church?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxation_history_of_the_United_States
The history of taxation in the United States begins with the colonial protest against British taxation policy in the 1760s, leading to the American revolution. The independent nation collected taxes on imports (“tariffs”), whiskey, and (for a while) on glass windows. States and localities collected poll taxes on voters and property taxes on land and commercial buildings. There are state and federal excise taxes. State and federal inheritance taxes began after 1900, while the states (but not the federal government) began collecting sales taxes in the 1930s. The United States imposed income taxes briefly during the Civil War and the 1890s, and on a permanent basis from 1913. There have been no export taxes, taxes on trade between states, or taxes on charities and religious bodies, and no value added tax.
http://econweb.umd.edu/~wallis/MyPapers/PTFinal.pdf
The property tax has always been the mainstay of local government finance in the United States. When the first comprehensive census of governments was taken in 1902, property taxes comprised 73 percent of all revenues collected by local governments. In 1992, property taxes comprise 40 percent of the revenues collected by local governments. Comparable numbers are not available for the 19th century, but what we do know suggests that local governments relied heavily on the property tax throughout the century.
In the early 19th century, states began abandoning their property taxes, just as they would in the early 20th century. Events then forced them to resume property taxation in the 1840s. The 19th century decline in state property taxes occurred before comprehensive government accounts were collected, and as a result are not as well studied or understood as more recent events.
http://suite101.com/article/us-tax-system-history-in-the-19th-century-a82835
U.S. Tax System History in the 19th Century
Taxes that were used to raise money for the Wars were later repealed and would later be replaced by the income tax.
Americans often resisted taxation during the 19th century except during wartime. Once the wars were over, they insisted that Congress repeal the Acts that gave the Federal Government the right to levy taxes.
When Thomas Jefferson became President in 1802, all direct taxes were abolished and during the following ten years no internal revenue taxes other than excises were in force. Until the War of 1812, this remained the only tax. But when money was needed for the War of 1812, Congress imposed additional excise taxes, raised some custom duties, and raised money by issuing Treasury notes. These were repealed by Congress in 1817 which prevented the Federal Government from collected the taxes for the next 44 years. The only way revenue could be raised were from high custom duties and through the sale of public lands. When Thomas Jefferson became President in 1802, all direct taxes were abolished and during the following ten years no internal revenue taxes other than excises were in force. Until the War of 1812, this remained the only tax. But when money was needed for the War of 1812, Congress imposed additional excise taxes, raised some custom duties, and raised money by issuing Treasury notes. These were repealed by Congress in 1817 which prevented the Federal Government from collected the taxes for the next 44 years. The only way revenue could be raised were from high custom duties and through the sale of public lands.
Civil War Taxation
The Revenue Act of 1861 was passed by Congress to fund the Civil War. Excise taxes were restored and a tax on personal incomes was imposed. Income was taxed at 3 percent on all incomes higher than $800. Collections did not start until the following year. As the Civil War continued, it became obvious to Congress that the Union’s debt was growing at the rate of $2 million daily and additional revenue was needed. Congress passed a law on July 1, 1892 placing new excise taxes on items such as:The Revenue Act of 1861 was passed by Congress to fund the Civil War. Excise taxes were restored and a tax on personal incomes was imposed. Income was taxed at 3 percent on all incomes higher than $800. Collections did not start until the following year. As the Civil War continued, it became obvious to Congress that the Union’s debt was growing at the rate of $2 million daily and additional revenue was needed. Congress passed a law on July 1, 1892 placing new excise taxes on items such as:
playing cards
gunpower
feathers
telegrams
iron
leather
pianos
yachts
billiard tables
drugs
patent medicines
whiskey
legal documents
license fees collected for almost all professions and trades.
Important features of the 1862 law were:
A two-tiered rate structure.
Taxable incomes up to $10,000 were taxed at 3 percent.
Income over $10,000 were taxed at 5 percent.
A standard deduction of $600 and a variety of deductions were permitted. These included rental houses, repairs, losses and other taxes paid.
Taxes were withheld by employers to make sure of payment.
After the end of the Civil War the need for Federal revenue declined and most taxes imposed during its duration were repealed. The main source of revenue were those coming from taxation of liquor and tobacco. In 1872, the income tax was abolished.
Spanish American War Taxation
When the flat rate income tax was imposed in 1895, it was immediately challanged. According to the Constitution, Congress could only impose direct taxes only if they were levied in proportion to each State’s population. In 1895 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the flat tax unconstitutional because it was a direct tax and not apportioned to the population of each state. The Federal Government then began to rely heavily on high tariffs.
In 1899, the War Revenue Act was passed to raise money for the Spanish-American War through the sale of bonds, taxes on recreational facilities used by workers, and doubled the taxes on beer, tobacco, and chewing gum. The Act expired in 1902, leaving the Federal Government to look elsewhere to provide money to operate.
From Colonial times, through the American Revolution, the War of 1812, the Civil War and Spanish American War, all or most of the taxes imposed during wartime were later repealed or overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court. The debate about how to raise money for the needs of the Federal Government would continue into the 20th century.
Summary of above:
The property tax has always been the mainstay of local government finance in the United States.
The United States imposed income taxes briefly during the Civil War and the 1890s, and on a permanent basis from 1913.
Therefore, for most of the time, early SDA church workers received their wages in gross format.
Notwithstanding the above,God has declared that the tithe is to be paid first:
Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as his own, but he tells us how it should be reserved for him. He says, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of thine increase.” This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves, and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God’s portion be first set apart. The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul, in regard to gifts, present a principle that applies also to tithing. “On the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Parents and children are here included. Not only the rich, but the poor are addressed. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart [through the candid consideration of God’s prescribed plan], so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The gifts are to be made in consideration of the great goodness of God to us. [Review & Herald, November 10, 1896 par. 6]
God’s requirements come first. We are not doing His will if we consecrate to Him what is left of our income after all our imaginary wants have been supplied. Before any part of our earnings is consumed, we should take out and present to Him that portion which He claims. In the old dispensation an offering of gratitude was kept continually burning upon the altar, thus showing man’s endless obligation to God. If we have prosperity in our secular business, it is because God blesses us. A part of this income is to be devoted to the poor, and a large portion to be applied to the cause of God. When that which God claims is rendered to Him, the remainder will be sanctified and blessed to our own use. But when a man robs God by withholding that which He requires, His curse rests upon the whole. [4T 477.1 (1876-1881)]
First the Tithe–Then Offerings
This matter of giving is not left to impulse. God has given us definite instruction in regard to it. He has specified tithes and offerings as the measure of our obligation. And He desires us to give regularly and systematically. . . . Let each regularly examine his income, which is all a blessing from God, and set apart the tithe as a separate fund, to be sacredly the Lord’s. This fund should not in any case be devoted to any other use; it is to be devoted solely to support the ministry of the gospel. After the tithe is set apart, let gifts and offerings be apportioned, “as God hath prospered” you.–Review & Herald, May 9, 1893. [CS 80.3 (1940)]
God’s reserved resources are to be used in no such haphazard way. The tithe is the Lord’s, and those who meddle with it will be punished with the loss of their heavenly treasure, unless they repent. Let the work no longer be hedged up because the tithe has been diverted into various channels other than the one to which the Lord has said it should go. Provision is to be made for these other lines of work. They are to be sustained, but not from the tithe. God has not changed; the tithe is still to be used for the support of the ministry. The opening of new fields requires more ministerial efficiency than we now have, and there must be means in the treasury. [GW 227.2 (1915)]
The minister should, by precept and example, teach the people to regard the tithe as sacred. He should not feel that he can retain and apply it according to his own judgment because he is a minister. It is not his. He is not at liberty to devote to himself whatever he thinks is his due. He should not give his influence to any plans for diverting from their legitimate use the tithes and offerings dedicated to God. They are to be placed in His treasury, and held sacred for His service as He has appointed. [GW 225.1]
Those who go forth as ministers have a solemn responsibility devolving upon them which is strangely neglected. Some enjoy preaching, but they do not give personal labor to the churches. There is great need of instruction concerning the obligations and duties to God, especially in regard to paying an honest tithe. Our ministers would feel sadly aggrieved if they were not promptly paid for their labor; but will they consider that there must be meat in the treasure house of God wherewith to sustain the laborers? If they fail to do their whole duty in educating the people to be faithful in paying to God His own, there will be a shortage of means in the treasury to carry forward the Lord’s work. [9T 250.1 (1909)]
Section T14
Tithe / Systematic Benevolence for the young and elderly
While the early SDA church had a Systematic Benevolence tithing method for members from 18 to 60 years of age, God ordained the tithing system to “save confusion, to correct covetousness, avarice, selfishness, and idolatry” [1T 545.3].
The Adventist Home and Chapter 63 [Instructing Children How to Earn and Use Money] page 389:
Teach Children to Pay Tithe and Offerings. –Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as His own, but He tells us how it should be reserved for Him. He says, Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God’s portion be first set apart. The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul in regard to gifts present a principle that applies also to tithing. “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Parents and children are here included. [AH 389.1 (1952)]
From the above it is clear that tithing applies to all, irrespective of age, and provides the safeguard that mankind constantly requires to combat sin while remembering that God is the provider of all.
Section T15
Tithe and debt
In the arrangement of Systematic Benevolence, some have not come up and united in this work, and have excused themselves because they were not free from debt. They plead that they must first “owe no man anything.” But being in debt does not excuse them. I saw that they should render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. Some feel conscientious to “owe no man anything,” and think that God can require nothing of them until their debts are all paid. Here they deceive themselves. They fail to render to God the things that are God’s. Every one must bring to the Lord a suitable offering. Those who are in debt should take the amount of their debts from what they possess, and give a proportion of the remainder. [4bSG 51.2 (1864)]
The man who has been unfortunate, and finds himself in debt, should not take the Lord’s portion to cancel his debts to his fellow men. He should consider that in these transactions he is being tested, and that in reserving the Lord’s portion for his own use he is robbing the Giver. He is debtor to God for all that he has, but he becomes a double debtor when he uses the Lord’s reserved fund in paying debts to human beings.“Unfaithfulness to God” is written against his name in the books of heaven. He has an account to settle with God for appropriating the Lord’s means for his own convenience. And the want of principle shown in his misappropriation of God’s means will be revealed in his management of other matters. It will be seen in all matters connected with his own business. The man who will rob God is cultivating traits of character that will cut him off from admittance into the family of God above. [6T 391.1 (1901)]
The True Reason for Withholding
I saw that some have excused themselves from aiding the cause of God because they were in debt. Had they closely examined their own hearts, they would have discovered that selfishness was the true reason why they brought no freewill offering to God. Some will always remain in debt. Because of their covetousness, the prospering hand of God will not be with them to bless their undertakings. They love this world better than they love the truth. They are not being fitted up and made ready for the kingdom of God.–1T 225.1 (1855-1868). [CS 93.1 (1940)]
Section T16
Tithe and non payment
Many, many have lost the spirit of self-denial and sacrifice. They have been burying their money in temporal possessions. There are men whom God has blessed, whom He is testing to see what response they will make to His benefits. They have withheld their tithes and offerings until their debt to the Lord God of hosts has become so great that they grow pale at the thought of rendering to the Lord His own,–a just tithe. Make haste, brethren, you have now the opportunity to be honest with God; delay not.Gen. Conf. Daily Bulletin, Feb. 28, 1893. [CS 97.2 (1940)]
A tithe of all our increase is the Lord’s. He has reserved it to Himself, to be employed for religious purposes. It is holy. Nothing less than this has He accepted in any dispensation. A neglect or postponement of this duty, will provoke the divine displeasure. If all professed Christians would faithfully bring their tithes to God, His treasury would be full.–R. & H., May 16, 1882. [CS 67.2]
A Word to Ministers and Elders
The Lord will not hold guiltless those who are deficient in doing the work that he requires at their hands,–in seeing that the church is kept wholesome and healthy spiritually, and doing all their duty; in allowing no neglect which will bring the threatened curse upon his people. A curse is pronounced upon all who withhold the tithe from God. [Banner, April 12, 1905 par. 6]
The Back Tithe is God’s Property
Many have long neglected to deal honestly with their Maker. Failing to lay aside the tithe weekly, they have let it accumulate, until it amounts to a large sum, and now they are very reluctant to make the matter right. This back tithe they keep, using it as their own. But it is God’s property, which they have refused to put into His treasury.R. & H., Dec. 23, 1890. [CS 96.2]
Withheld Tithes Because of Lack of Confidence
The tithe is sacred, reserved by God for Himself. It is to be brought into His treasury to be used to sustain the gospel laborers in their work. For a long time the Lord has been robbed because there are those who do not realize that the tithe is God’s reserved portion. [CS 93.2]
Some have been dissatisfied, and have said, “I will not longer pay my tithe; for I have no confidence in the way things are managed at the heart of the work.” But will you rob God because you think the management of the work is not right? Make your complaint, plainly and openly, in the right spirit, to the proper ones. Send in your petitions for things to be adjusted and set in order; but do not withdraw from the work of God, and prove unfaithful, because others are not doing right.9T 249. [CS 93.3]
I saw that in the arrangement of Systematic Benevolence hearts will {be} tested and proved. It is a constant, living test. It brings one to understand his own heart, whether the truth or the love of the world predominates. Here is a test for the naturally selfish and covetous. They will put down their possessions at very low figures. Here they dissemble. Said the angel, “Cursed be he that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully.” Angels are watching the development of character, and the doings of such are carried to heaven by the heavenly messengers. Some will be visited of God for these things, and their increase will be brought down to their figures. “There is that scattereth and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty. The liberal soul shall be made fat; and he that watereth shall be watered also himself.” Proverbs 11:24, 25. [4bSG 53.1 (1864)]
Possessions as Well as Income to Be Tithed
As did Abraham, they are to pay tithe of all they possess and all they receive. A faithful tithe is the Lord’s portion. To withhold it is to rob God. Every man should freely and willingly and gladly bring tithes and offerings into the storehouse of the Lord, because in so doing there is a blessing. There is no safety in withholding from God His own portion.– MS 159, (1899). [CS 66.4 (1940)]
Long years intervened before Jacob dared to return to his own country; but when he did, he faithfully discharged his debt to his Master. He had become a wealthy man, and a very large amount of property passed from his possessions to the treasury of the Lord. [CS 98.3]
Many in our day fail where Jacob made a success. Those to whom God has given the greatest amount have the strongest inclination to retain what they have, because they must give a sum proportionate to their property. Jacob gave the tenth of all that he had, and then reckoned the use of the tenth, and gave the Lord the benefit of that which he had used for his own interest during the time he was in a heathen land, and could not pay his vow. This was a large amount, but he did not hesitate; that which he had vowed to God he did not regard as his, but as the Lord’s. [CS 99.1]
God gives to us regularly, freely, abundantly. Every earthly blessing is from His hand. What if the Lord should cease to bestow His gifts upon us? What a cry of wretchedness, suffering, and want would go up from the earth! We need daily the unfailing flow of Jehovah’s goodness. [9T 49.4 (1909)]
Section T17
Tithe – is it only 10%?
Voluntary offerings and the tithe constitute the revenue of the gospel. Of the means which is entrusted to man, God claims a certain portion–a tithe; but He leaves all free to say how much the tithe is, and whether or not they will give more than this. They are to give as they purpose in their hearts. But when the heart is stirred by the influence of the Spirit of God, and a vow is made to give a certain amount, the one who vowed has no longer any right to the consecrated portion. He has given his pledge before men, and they are called to witness to the transaction. At the same time he has incurred an obligation of the most sacred character to co-operate with the Lord in building up His kingdom on earth. Promises of this kind made to men would be considered binding. Are they not more sacred and binding when made to God? Are promises tried in the court of conscience less binding than written agreements with men? [5T 149.1 (1882-1889)]
Chap. 89 – Giving What You’ve Got
The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself. Proverbs 11:25. [TDG 97.1 (1979)]
Liberality is one of the directions of the Holy Spirit, and when the professed people of God withhold from the Lord His own in tithes and offerings, they meet with spiritual loss. The Lord does not reward a stinted liberality. He calls upon the people to honor Him with their substance, and with the first-fruits of all their increase. [TDG 97.2]
It is not possible to lay down rules for every case; for in many instances such a course would distress the giver. The circumstances in which some are placed, and which are of God’s appointment, are to be considered. The Lord expects a man to impart of what he has and not of what he has not. With some a tenth of the income would not properly represent the proportion they should give to the Lord, while to others it is a fair return. [TDG 97.3]
The above clearly shows that God recognises that the poor cannot pay a 10% tithe and accepts less from them while those who have been financially blessed could give more than 10%. This agrees with the Systematic Benevolence method of tithing which God gave to the early SDA church. This also agrees with the definition of the word ‘Tithe‘ found under Section T12.
So why are the poor trying to pay a 10% tithe?
As to the amount required, God has specified one tenth of the increase. This is left to the conscience and benevolence of men, whose judgment in this tithing system should have free play. And while it is left free to the conscience, a plan has been laid out definite enough for all. No compulsion is required. [3T 394.1 (1872-1875)]
In the balances of the sanctuary the gifts of the poor, made from love to Christ, are not estimated according to the amount given, but according to the love which prompts the sacrifice. The promises of Jesus will as surely be realized by the liberal poor man, who has but little to offer, but who gives that little freely, as by the wealthy man who gives of his abundance. The poor man makes a sacrifice of his little, which he really feels. He really denies himself of some things that he needs for his own comfort, while the wealthy man gives of his abundance, and feels no want, denies himself nothing that he really needs. Therefore there is a sacredness in the poor man’s offering that is not found in the rich man’s gift, for the rich give of their abundance. God’s providence has arranged the entire plan of systematic benevolence for the benefit of man. His providence never stands still. If God’s servants follow His opening providence, all will be active workers. [3T 398.3]
Extracts from Second Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, January 1, 1875:
The poorare educating themselves to good works, and are meeting the design of God in the plan of systematic benevolence as effectually as the more wealthy who give of their abundance.
Section T18
God’s care for the poor
To promote the assembling of the people for religious service, as well as to provide for the poor, a second tithe of all the increase was required. Concerning the first tithe, the Lord had declared, “I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel.” Numbers 18:21. But in regard to the second He commanded, “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.” Deuteronomy 14:23, 29; 16:11-14. This tithe, or its equivalent in money, they were for two years to bring to the place where the sanctuary was established. After presenting a thank offering to God, and a specified portion to the priest, the offerers were to use the remainder for a religious feast, in which the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow should participate. Thus provision was made for the thank offerings and feasts at the yearly festivals, and the people were drawn to the society of the priests and Levites, that they might receive instruction and encouragement in the service of God. [PP 530.1 (1890)]
Every third year, however, this second tithe was to be used at home, in entertaining the Levite and the poor, as Moses said, “That they may eat within thy gates, and be filled.” Deuteronomy 26:12. This tithe would provide a fund for the uses of charity and hospitality. [PP 530.2]
And further provision was made for the poor. There is nothing, after their recognition of the claims of God, that more distinguishes the laws given by Moses than the liberal, tender, and hospitable spirit enjoined toward the poor. Although God had promised greatly to bless His people, it was not His design that poverty should be wholly unknown among them. He declared that the poor should never cease out of the land. There would ever be those among His people who would call into exercise their sympathy, tenderness, and benevolence. Then, as now, persons were subject to misfortune, sickness, and loss of property; yet so long as they followed the instruction given by God, there were no beggars among them, neither any who suffered for food. [PP 530.3]
The law of God gave the poor a right to a certain portion of the produce of the soil. When hungry, a man was at liberty to go to his neighbor’s field or orchard or vineyard, and eat of the grain or fruit to satisfy his hunger. It was in accordance with this permission that the disciples of Jesus plucked and ate of the standing grain as they passed through a field upon the Sabbath day. [PP 531.1]
All the gleanings of harvest field, orchard, and vineyard, belonged to the poor.“When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field,” said Moses, “and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it. . . . When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again. . . . When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 24:19-22; Leviticus 19:9, 10. [PP 531.2]
Every seventh year special provision was made for the poor. The sabbatical year, as it was called, began at the end of the harvest. At the seedtime, which followed the ingathering, the people were not to sow; they should not dress the vineyard in the spring; and they must expect neither harvest nor vintage. Of that which the land produced spontaneously they might eat while fresh, but they were not to lay up any portion of it in their storehouses. The yield of this year was to be free for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and even for the creatures of the field. Exodus 23:10, 11; Leviticus 25:5. [PP 531.3]
But if the land ordinarily produced only enough to supply the wants of the people, how were they to subsist during the year when no crops were gathered? For this the promise of God made ample provision. “I will command My blessing upon you in the sixth year,” He said, “and it shall bring forth fruit for three years. And ye shall sow the eighth year, and eat yet of old fruit until the ninth year; until her fruits come in ye shall eat of the old store.” Leviticus 25:21, 22. [PP 531.4]
The observance of the sabbatical year was to be a benefit to both the land and the people. The soil, lying untilled for one season, would afterward produce more plentifully. The people were released from the pressing labors of the field; and while there were various branches of work that could be followed during this time, all enjoyed greater leisure, which afforded opportunity for the restoration of their physical powers for the exertions of the following years. They had more time for meditation and prayer, for acquainting themselves with the teachings and requirements of the Lord, and for the instruction of their households. [PP 532.1]
In the sabbatical year the Hebrew slaves were to be set at liberty, and they were not to be sent away portionless. The Lord’s direction was: “When thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty. Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.” Deuteronomy 15:13, 14. [PP 532.2]
The hire of a laborer was to be promptly paid: “Thou shalt not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land: . . . at his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it.” Deuteronomy 24:14, 15. [PP 532.3]
Special directions were also given concerning the treatment of fugitives from service: “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee. He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.” Deuteronomy 23:15, 16. [PP 532.4]
To the poor, the seventh year was a year of release from debt. The Hebrews were enjoined at all times to assist their needy brethren by lending them money without interest. To take usury from a poor man was expressly forbidden: “If thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.” Leviticus 25:35-37. If the debt remained unpaid until the year of release, the principal itself could not be recovered. The people were expressly warned against withholding from their brethren needed assistance on account of this: “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren, . . . thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. . . . Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee.” “The poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land,” “and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth.” Deuteronomy 15:7-9, 11, 8. [PP 532.5]
None need fear that their liberality would bring them to want. Obedience to God’s commandments would surely result in prosperity. “Thou shalt lend unto many nations,” He said, “but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.” Deuteronomy 15:6. [PP 533.1]
After “seven sabbaths of years,” “seven times seven years,” came that great year of release–the jubilee.“Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound . . . throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” Leviticus 25:9, 10. [PP 533.2]
“On the tenth day of the seventh month, in the Day of Atonement,” the trumpet of the jubilee was sounded. Throughout the land, wherever the Jewish people dwelt, the sound was heard, calling upon all the children of Jacob to welcome the year of release. On the great Day of Atonement satisfaction was made for the sins of Israel, and with gladness of heart the people would welcome the jubilee. [PP 533.3]
As in the sabbatical year, the land was not to be sown or reaped, and all that it produced was to be regarded as the rightful property of the poor. Certain classes of Hebrew slaves–all who did not receive their liberty in the sabbatical year–were now set free. But that which especially distinguished the year of jubilee was the reversion of all landed property to the family of the original possessor. By the special direction of God the land had been divided by lot. After the division was made no one was at liberty to trade his estate. Neither was he to sell his land unless poverty compelled him to do so, and then, whenever he or any of his kindred might desire to redeem it, the purchaser must not refuse to sell it; and if unredeemed, it would revert to its first possessor or his heirs in the year of jubilee. [PP 533.4]
The Lord declared to Israel: “The land shall not be sold forever: for the land is Mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with Me.” Leviticus 25:23.The people were to be impressed with the fact that it was God’s land which they were permitted to possess for a time; that He was the rightful owner, the original proprietor, and that He would have special consideration made for the poor and unfortunate. It was to be impressed upon the minds of all that the poor have as much right to a place in God’s world as have the more wealthy. [PP 534.1]
Such were the provisions made by our merciful Creator, to lessen suffering, to bring some ray of hope, to flash some gleam of sunshine, into the life of the destitute and distressed. [PP 534.2]
The Lord would place a check upon the inordinate love of property and power. Great evils would result from the continued accumulation of wealth by one class, and the poverty and degradation of another. Without some restraint the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God’s sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethrenThe sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established were designed to promote social equality. The provisions of the sabbatical year and the jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation. [PP 534.3]
These regulations were designed to bless the rich no less than the poorThey would restrain avarice and a disposition for self-exaltation, and would cultivate a noble spirit of benevolence; and by fostering good will and confidence between all classes, they would promote social order, the stability of government. We are all woven together in the great web of humanity, and whatever we can do to benefit and uplift others will reflect in blessing upon ourselves. The law of mutual dependence runs through all classes of society. The poor are not more dependent upon the rich than are the rich upon the poor. While the one class ask a share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon their wealthier neighbors, the other need the faithful service, the strength of brain and bone and muscle, that are the capital of the poor. [PP 534.4]
Great blessings were promised to Israel on condition of obedience to the Lord’s directions.“I will give you rain in due season,” He declared, “and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. And your threshing shall reach unto the vintage, and the vintage shall reach unto the sowing time: and ye shall eat your bread to the full, and dwell in your land safely. And I will give peace in the land, and ye shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid: and I will rid evil beasts out of the land, neither shall the sword go through your land. . . . I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be My people. . . . But if ye will not hearken unto Me, and will not do all these commandments; and . . . ye break My covenant: . . . ye shall sow your seed in vain, for your enemies shall eat it. And I will set My face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies: they that hate you shall reign over you; and ye shall flee when none pursueth you.” Leviticus 26:4-17. [PP 535.1]
There are many who urge with great enthusiasm that all men should have an equal share in the temporal blessings of God. But this was not the purpose of the Creator. A diversity of condition is one of the means by which God designs to prove and develop character. Yet He intends that those who have worldly possessions shall regard themselves merely as stewards of His goods, as entrusted with means to be employed for the benefit of the suffering and the needy. [PP 535.2]
Christ has said that we shall have the poor always with us, and He unites His interest with that of His suffering people. The heart of our Redeemer sympathizes with the poorest and lowliest of His earthly children. He tells us that they are His representatives on earth. He has placed them among us to awaken in our hearts the love that He feels toward the suffering and oppressed. Pity and benevolence shown to them are accepted by Christ as if shown to Himself. An act of cruelty or neglect toward them is regarded as though done to Him. [PP 535.3]
If the law given by God for the benefit of the poor had continued to be carried out, how different would be the present condition of the world, morally, spiritually, and temporally! Selfishness and self-importance would not be manifested as now, but each would cherish a kind regard for the happiness and welfare of others; and such widespread destitution as is now seen in many lands would not exist. [PP 536.1]
The principles which God has enjoined, would prevent the terrible evils that in all ages have resulted from the oppression of the rich toward the poor and the suspicion and hatred of the poor toward the rich. While they might hinder the amassing of great wealth and the indulgence of unbounded luxury, they would prevent the consequent ignorance and degradation of tens of thousands whose ill-paid servitude is required to build up these colossal fortunes. They would bring a peaceful solution of those problems that now threaten to fill the world with anarchy and bloodshed.[PP 536.2]
By reading the statements above it is clear that the world’s treatment of the poor is greatly different from God’s way.
I was pointed back to the children of Israel anciently. God required of them all, both poor and rich, a sacrifice according as He had prospered them. The poor were not excused because they had not the wealth of their rich brethren. They were required to exercise economy and self-denial. And if any were so poor that it was utterly impossible for them to bring an offering to the Lord, if sickness or misfortune had deprived them of the ability to bestow, those who were wealthy were required to help them to a humble mite, that they come not before the Lord empty-handed. This arrangement preserved a mutual interest. [1T 220.1 (1855-1868)]
Section T19
Other statements
The length and usefulness of life do not consist in the amount of our earthly possessions. Those who use their wealth in doing good will see no necessity for large accumulations in this world; for the treasure which is used to advance the cause of God and which is given to the needy in Christ’s name is given to Christ, and He lays it up for us in the bank of heaven in bags which wax not old. He who does this is rich toward God, and his heart will be where his treasures are secured. He who humbly uses what God has given for the honor of the Giver, freely giving as he has received, may feel the peace and assurance in all his business that God’s hand is over him for good, and he himself will bear the impress of God, having the Father’s smile. [3T 546.2 (1872-1875)]
Every extravagance should be cut out of our lives; for the time which we have to work is none too long. All around us we see suffering humanity. Families are in want of food; little ones are crying for bread. The houses of the poor lack proper furniture and bedding. Many live in mere hovels, which are almost destitute of all conveniences. The cry of the poor reaches to heaven. God sees; God hears. But many glorify themselves. While their fellow men are poor and hungry, suffering for want of food, they expend much on their tables, and eat far more than they require. What an account men will by and by have to render for their selfish use of God’s money! Those who disregard the provision God has made for the poor, will find that they have not only robbed their fellow men, but that in robbing them, they have robbed God, and have embezzled his goods. [SpTA09 68.2 (1897)]
In the days of the apostles, men went everywhere preaching the word. New churches were raised up. Their love and zeal for Christ led them to acts of great denial and sacrifice. Many of these Gentile churches were very poor, yet the apostle declares that their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. Their gifts were extended beyond their ability to give. Men periled their lives and suffered the loss of all things for the truth’s sake. [3T 413.1 (1872-1875)]
Christ set his own feet in the path of self-denial and sacrifice, which all his disciples must travel, if they would be exalted with him at last. He took to his own heart the sorrows which man must suffer. The minds of worldly men frequently become gross. They can only see earthly things, which eclipse the glory and value of the heavenly. Men will compass land and sea for earthly gain, and endure privation and suffering to obtain their object, yet will turn away from Heaven’s attractions and not regard eternal riches. Men who are in comparative poverty are usually the ones who do the most to sustain the cause of God. They are generous with their little. They have strengthened their generous impulses by continual liberalities. When their expenditures pressed close upon the income, their passion for earthly riches had no room or chance to strengthen. But many, when they begin to gather earthly riches, commence to calculate how long it will be before they can be in possession of a certain sum. In their anxiety to amass wealth for themselves, they fail to become rich toward God. Their benevolence does not keep pace with their accumulation. As their passion for riches increases, their affections are bound up with their treasure. The increase of their property strengthens the eager desire for more, until their giving to the Lord a tenth is considered by some a severe and unjust tax. Inspiration has said, “If riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” Many have said, “If I were as rich as such an one, I would multiply my gifts in the treasury of God. I would do nothing else with my wealth but use it in the advancement of the cause of God.” God has tested some of these by giving them riches; but with the riches came the fiercer temptation, and their benevolence was far less than in the days of their poverty. A grasping desire for greater riches absorbed their minds and hearts, and they committed idolatry. [Review & Herald, December 15, 1874 par. 20]
In proportion as the love of Christ fills our hearts and controls our lives, covetousness, selfishness, and love of ease will be overcome, and it will be our pleasure to do the will of Christ, whose servants we claim to be. Our happiness will then be proportionate to our unselfish works, prompted by the love of Christ. [3T 382.3 (1872-1875)]
The plan of systematic benevolence [SEE APPENDIX.] is pleasing to God. I was pointed back to the days of the apostles, and saw that God laid the plan by the descent of His Holy Spirit, and that by the gift of prophecy He counseled His people in regard to a system of benevolence. All were to share in this work of imparting of their carnal things to those who ministered unto them in spiritual things. They were also taught that the widows and fatherless had a claim upon their charity. Pure and undefiled religion is defined, To visit the widows and fatherless in their affliction, and to keep unspotted from the world. I saw that this was not merely to sympathize with them by comforting words in their affliction, but to aid them, if needy, with our substance. Young men and women to whom God has given health can obtain a great blessing by aiding the widow and the fatherless in their affliction. I saw that God requires young men to sacrifice more for the good of others. He claims more of them than they are willing to perform. If they keep themselves unspotted from the world, cease to follow its fashions, and lay by that which the lovers of pleasure spend in useless articles to gratify pride, and give it to the worthy afflicted ones, and to sustain the cause, they will have the approval of Him who says, “I know thy works.” [1T 190.1 (1855-1868)]
The contributions required of the Hebrews for religious and charitable purposes amounted to fully one fourth of their income. So heavy a tax upon the resources of the people might be expected to reduce them to poverty; but, on the contrary, the faithful observance of these regulations was one of the conditions of their prosperity. On condition of their obedience God made them this promise: “I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field. . . . And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 3:11. [PP 527.1]
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] He whose body is the temple of the Holy Spirit will not be enslaved by a pernicious habit. His powers belong to Christ, who has bought him with the price of blood. His property is the Lord’s. How could he be guiltless in squandering this intrusted capital? Professed Christians yearly expend an immense sum upon useless and pernicious indulgences, while souls are perishing for the word of life. God is robbed in tithes and offerings, while they consume upon the altar of destroying lust more than they give to relieve the poor or for the support of the gospel. If all who profess to be followers of Christ were truly sanctified, their means, instead of being spent for needless and even hurtful indulgences, would be turned into the Lord’s treasury, and Christians would set an example of temperance, self-denial, and self-sacrifice. Then they would be the light of the world. [GC88 475.1 (1888)]
Never should the laborer who raises up little companies here and there, give the impression to those newly come to the faith, that God does not require them to work systematically in helping to sustain the cause by their personal labors and by their means. Frequently those who receive the truth are among the poor of this world; but they should not make this an excuse for neglecting those duties which devolve upon them in view of the precious light they have received. They should not allow poverty to prevent them from laying up a treasure in heaven. The blessings within reach of the rich are also within their reach. If they are faithful in using what little they do possess, their treasure in heaven will increase according to their fidelity. It is the motive with which they work, not the amount they do, that makes their offering valuable in the sight of Heaven. [GW 222.1 (1915)]
All should be taught to do what they can for the Master; to render to Him according as He has prospered them. He claims as His just due a tenth of their income, be it large or small; and those who withhold this, commit robbery toward Him, and cannot expect His prospering hand to be with them. Even if the church is composed mostly of poor brethren, the subject of systematic benevolence should be thoroughly explained, and the plan heartily adopted. God is able to fulfil His promises. His resources are infinite, and He employs them all in accomplishing His will. And when He sees a faithful performance of duty in the payment of the tithe, He often, in His wise providence, opens ways whereby it shall increase. He who follows God’s arrangement in the little that has been given him, will receive the same returns as he who bestows of his abundance. [GW 222.2]
The same is true also of those who cheerfully employ their talents of ability in the cause of God, while those who fail to improve that which has been given them will incur the same loss as if that little had been much. It was the man who had only one talent, but who hid that talent in the earth, that received the condemnation of the Lord. [GW 223.1]
God’s plan in the tithing system is beautiful in its simplicity and equality. All may take hold of it in faith and courage, for it is divine in its origin. In it are combined simplicity and utility, and it does not require depth of learning to understand and execute it. All may feel that they can act a part in carrying forward the precious work of salvation. Every man, woman, and youth may become a treasurer for the Lord, and may be an agent to meet the demands upon the treasury. . . . [GW 223.2]
Great objects are accomplished by this system. If one and all would accept it, each would be made a vigilant and faithful treasurer for God; and there would be no want of means with which to carry forward the great work of sounding the last message of warning to the world. [–“Testimonies for the Church,” Vol. III, pages 388, 389] . . . [GW 223.3]
A mere assent to the truth is not enough. There must be prayerful labor with those who embrace the truth, until they shall be convicted of their sins and shall seek God and be converted. Then they should be instructed in regard to the claims of God upon them in tithes and offerings. They must learn that the tithing system is binding upon God’s people in these last days as truly as it was upon ancient Israel. The tract and missionary work should be presented before them. Nothing should be kept back. But all points of truth should not be given abruptly in the first few lectures; gradually, cautiously, with his own heart imbued with the spirit of the work of God, the teacher should give meat in due season. [GW92 98.2 (1892)]
A Test of Gratitude and Loyalty.
“Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” This scripture teaches that God, as the giver of all our benefits, has a claim upon them all; that his claim should be our first consideration; and that a special blessing will attend all who honor this claim. [Review & Herald, November 10, 1896 par. 1]
Herein is set forth a principle that is seen in all the dealings of God with men. The Lord placed our first parents in the garden of Eden. He surrounded them with everything that could minister to their happiness, and he bade them acknowledge him as the possessor of all things. In the garden he caused to grow every tree that was pleasant to the eye or good for food; but among them he made one reserve. Of all else, Adam and Eve might freely eat, but of this one tree God said, “Thou shalt not eat of it.” Here was the test of their gratitude and their loyalty to God. [RH, November 10, 1896 par. 2]
So the Lord has imparted to us heaven’s richest treasure in giving us Jesus. With him he has given us all things richly to enjoy. The productions of the earth, the bountiful harvests, the treasures of gold and silver, are his gifts. Houses and lands, food and clothing, he has placed in the possession of men. He asks us to acknowledge him as the giver of all things, and for this reason he says, Of all your possessions I reserve a tenth for myself, besides gifts and offerings, which are to be brought into my storehouse. This is the provision God has made for carrying forward the work of the gospel. [RH, November 10, 1896 par. 3]
It was by the Lord Jesus Christ himself, who gave his life for the life of the world, that this plan for systematic giving was devised. He who left the royal courts, who laid aside his honor as commander of the heavenly hosts, who clothed his divinity with humanity, in order to uplift the fallen race, who for our sake became poor, that we through his poverty might be rich, has spoken to men, and in his wisdom has told them his own plan for sustaining those who bear his message to the world. [RH, November 10, 1896 par. 4]
The Lord has devised this plan because it is best for us. Satan is constantly working to foster in men worldliness, covetousness, and avarice, that he may ruin their souls and hinder the work of God. The Lord is seeking to cultivate in us gratitude and liberality. He desires to free us from selfishness, which is so offensive to him, because so contrary to his character. In carrying out God’s plan, men may by his grace so relate themselves to him and to their fellow men that they will be registered in the books of heaven as colaborers with Christ in the plan of redemption. [RH, November 10, 1896 par. 5]
Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as his own, but he tells us how it should be reserved for him. He says, “Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first-fruits of thine increase.” This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves, and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God’s portion be first set apart. The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul, in regard to gifts, present a principle that applies also to tithing. “On the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Parents and children are here included. Not only the rich, but the poor are addressed. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart [through the candid consideration of God’s prescribed plan], so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The gifts are to be made in consideration of the great goodness of God to us. [RH, November 10, 1896 par. 6]
And what more appropriate time could be chosen for setting aside the tithe and presenting our offerings to God? On the Sabbath we have thought upon his goodness. We have beheld his work in creation as an evidence of his power in redemption. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness for his great love. And now, before the toil of the week begins, we return to him his own, and with it an offering to testify our gratitude. Thus our practise will be a weekly sermon, declaring that God is the possessor of all our property, and that he has made us stewards to use it to his glory. Every acknowledgment of our obligation to God will strengthen the sense of obligation. Gratitude deepens as we give it expression; and the joy it brings is life to soul and body. [RH, November 10, 1896 par. 7]
Such [referring to the experience of Abraham and Jacob in paying tithe] was the practice of patriarchs and prophets before the establishment of the Jews as a nation. But when Israel became a distinct people, the Lord gave them definite instruction upon this point: “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 unto the Lord.” This law was not to pass away with the ordinances and sacrificial offerings that typified Christ. As long as God has a people upon the earth, his claims upon them will be the same. [Review & Herald, May 16, 1882 par. 26]
A tithe of all our increase is the Lord’s. He has reserved it to himself to be employed for religious purposes. It is holy. Nothing less than this has he accepted in any dispensation. A neglect or postponement of this duty, will provoke the divine displeasure. If all professed Christians would faithfully bring their tithes to God, his treasury would be full. They would have no occasion to resort to fairs, lotteries, or parties of pleasure, to extort means from worldlings for the support of the gospel. [RH, May 16, 1882 par. 27]
The very same language is used concerning the Sabbath as in the law of the tithe: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Man has no right nor power to substitute the first day for the seventh. He may pretend to do this; “nevertheless, the foundation of God standeth sure.” The customs and teachings of men will not lessen the claims of the divine law. God has sanctified the seventh day. That specified portion of time, set apart by God himself for religious worship, continues as sacred today as when first hallowed by our Creator. In like manner a tithe of our income is “holy unto the Lord.” The New Testament does not re-enact the law of the tithe, as it does not that of the Sabbath; for the validity of both is assumed, and their deep spiritual import explained. [RH, May 16, 1882 par. 28]
Pay Tithe and Simplify Personal Wants.–With many of the workers the spirit of self-sacrifice has greatly diminished because they have lost their first love. Many are grasping for higher wages; but if they were laborers together with God, their wants would be more simple; for they spend money needlessly for things which they would not desire if their hearts were sanctified by the truth. Look at the example given you in the life of Christ. There are those in the office who have withheld their tithe from the treasury, claiming that they could not see the requirement in the Word of God. But why could they not see it? It was because selfishness was firmly rooted in the heart. They did not deny self, and make their offering to God. For years they have practiced robbery toward God; but does not the Lord keep a record of all their doings? Most assuredly, for it is written that every man shall be rewarded according as his works have been, judged according to the deeds done in the body, whether they are good or whether they are evil. The Lord will not pass over the embezzlement of His goods. He is testing men to see who will be fit subjects for His kingdom above; for if they disregard His claims here, they will disregard them in the kingdom of heaven. Suppose that all who profess to be followers of Christ should withhold from the Lord His entrusted goods, and appropriate His talents to their own use and for the advancement of their own glory, how would the work of God move forward in the world? How would those in other nations ever receive the message of truth? The Lord does not rain down money from heaven, but He honors man by entrusting to him His treasures, and He tells him what he must do. Read carefully and prayerfully the instruction the Lord has given to you in Malachi 3:8-12.–Lt 31, 1891. [SpTWWPP 39, 40.] [PM 111.3 (1983)]
Section T20
Where should I send my tithe?
So God requires a systematic benevolent tithe / freewill offering to be paid but to whom? Clearly He was pleased around it’s introduction in 1859 when such money was used to reimburse the preachers and pay for the cost associated with the debt on the tent enterprise, etc. for the meetings.
An unselfish equality is to be shown in dealing with the working forces in home and foreign lands. More and more we must realize that the means which is brought to the Lord’s treasury in the tithes and gifts of our people, should be used for the support of the work, not only at home, but in foreign fields. Those living in places where the work has long been established, should bind about their supposed wants, so that the work in new fields may go forward. In the institutions that have been long established there is sometimes a desire to grasp more and still more advantages. But the Lord declares that this should not be. The money in His treasury is to be used in building up the work all over the world. [GW 455.2 (1915)]
The usual practice is for SDA church members to pay their tithes and offerings into their local church organisation. However, should they live in an affluent country then from the above statement they could choose to forward their tithes and offerings to less fortunate ones / those most in need:
http://www.adventiststewardship.com/article/4/frequently-asked-questions
How is the tithe distributed?
Within the SDA church tithe is received by the local congregation and sent on to the local conference/mission/field office. This is the central “storehouse” for distribution in keeping with Church Policy.
How is the tithe used?
While the distribution percentages vary somewhat in different conferences, the largest portion of the tithe is used to support the ministry of local churches through pastoral salaries, as well as evangelism and additional services provided to the local church.
http://www.aiias.edu/gti/files/gti_2010.pdf
The 2010 Global Tithe Index figures for countries at the bottom of the list:
Bangladesh
Angola
Central African Rep.
Nicaragua
Venezuela
Gabon
El Salvador
Mozambique
India [bottom]
The latest GTI figures available at the time of preparing this research / document are those for 2011:
http://www.aiias.edu/gti/files/gti_2011.pdf
The 2011 Global Tithe Index figures for countries at the bottom of the list:
Bangladesh
Venezuela
Nicaragua
Central African Rep.
Gabon
El Salvador
Mozambique
India [bottom]
[Angola being higher in the 2011 tables than in 2010]
Analysing the 2011 GTI figures gives the following:
African Countries
38.82% of Total Members
5.67% of Total Tithes
6.85 Ratio of Members / Tithe
Asian Countries
17.81% of Total Members
5.93% of Total Tithes
3.00 Ratio of Members / Tithe
European Countries
2.20% of Total Members
10.85% of Total Tithes
0.20 Ratio of Members / Tithe
Inter/South American Countries
32.18% of Total Members
30.87% of Total Tithes
1.04 Ratio of Members / Tithe
North American Countries
6.91% of Total Members
42.43% of Total Tithes
0.16 Ratio of Members / Tithe
Pacific Countries
2.07% of Total Members
4.25% of Total Tithes
0.49 Ratio of Members / Tithe
While India [which was qualified within the 2010 report] is at the bottom of both GTI lists the African countries are in most need.
Consider Mozambique for instance:
GTI ratio of 2.00% [2011] implies that the SDA church is receiving a 0.2% tithe from each member.
http://www.ruralpovertyportal.org/country/home/tags/mozambique
Mozambique is one of the world’s poorest countries. Despite its impressive economic growth rates and the encouraging development progress made by the government in recent years, poverty continues to be severe and widespread. According to the national household survey conducted in 2008-2009, the number of Mozambicans living in absolute poverty had been reduced to 54 per cent from 70 per cent in 1997. However, the vast majority of the rural population still lives on less than US$1.25 a day and lacks basic services such as access to safe water, health facilities and schools.
NB: Total rural population being 61.6% of Mozambique’s total population [2010].
http://www.adventistyearbook.org/ViewAdmField.aspx?AdmFieldID=MZUM
Churches, 1,002; membership, 289,828; population, 23,702,000
NB: Average membership / church = 289 and population:member ratio = 81.8
Email:
mozambiqueunion@gmail.com
Mail address:
Caixa Postal 1468
Maputo
Mozambique
Tel. No.
258 (2) 1427-200
http://publishing.gc.adventist.org/files/pdf/PLD%20Volume6,%20No.7.pdf
Mozambique has a population of more than 20 million, yet only 25 literature evangelists currently serve the Mozambique Union Mission. The growth potential for the Publishing Ministry in Mozambique is tremendous in light of its 290,000 Adventist Church members.
Although Mozambique has been reviewed, tithe could beneficially be sent to almost all of the African / Asian countries.
Section T21
Tithe conclusions
Many people read the conclusions of a report first and then sign off.
It has been the aim of the writer of this research document to be fully in agreement with God’s Word – the KJV Bible and the Spirit of Prophecy.
As such the writer advises the reader to reflect upon the whole document and not just these conclusions.
The special system of tithing was founded upon a principle which was as enduring as the law of God. … So also will it be a blessing to those who carry it out to the end of time. Our Heavenly Father … saw that this system of beneficence was just what man needed. [3T 404.4 (1872-1875)]
Systematic benevolence looks to you as needless; you overlook the fact that it originated with God, whose wisdom is unerring. This plan He ordained to save confusion, to correct covetousness, avarice, selfishness, and idolatry. [1T 545.3 (1855-1868)]
Constant, self-denying benevolence is God’s remedy for the cankering sins of selfishness and covetousness. God has arranged systematic benevolence to sustain His cause and relieve the necessities of the suffering and needy. He has ordained that giving should become a habit, that it may counteract the dangerous and deceitful sin of covetousness. Continual giving starves covetousness to death. Systematic benevolence is designed in the order of God to tear away treasures from the covetous as fast as they are gained and to consecrate them to the Lord, to whom they belong. [3T 548.1]
God’s requirements come first. … Before any part of our earnings is consumed, we should take out and present to Him that portion which He claims. … When that which God claims is rendered to Him, the remainder will be sanctified and blessed to our own use. But when a man robs God by withholding that which He requires, His curse rests upon the whole. [4T 477.1 (1876-1881)]
God has a claim on us and all that we have. His claim is paramount to every other. And in acknowledgment of this claim, he bids us render to him a fixed proportion of all that he gives us. The tithe is this specified portion. … [CS 71.1 (1940)]
As to the amount required, God has specified one tenth of the increase. This is left to the conscience and benevolence of men, whose judgment in this tithing system should have free play. And while it is left free to the conscience, a plan has been laid out definite enough for all. No compulsion is required. [3T 394.1]
It is not possible to lay down rules for every case; for in many instances such a course would distress the giver. The circumstances in which some are placed, and which are of God’s appointment, are to be considered. The Lord expects a man to impart of what he has and not of what he has not. With some a tenth of the income would not properly represent the proportion they should give to the Lord, while to others it is a fair return. [TDG 97.3 (1979)]
Definition: Tithe is a tenth but it can mean less than a tenth via it’s “indefinitely / very small part” meaning.
God’s care for the poor
Section T18 showed that the world’s treatment of the poor is greatly different from God’s way.
Are you poor? Then give your little. Have you been blessed with abundance? Then be sure to lay aside that which the Lord registers as His own. [12MR 228.2 (1990)]
Note: The way the last statement is worded proves that God wants a 10% tithe from those who He has financially blessed but accepts that the poor are unable to return this amount to Him.
Extract from Chapter 25 [The Call for a School] of Ellen G. White: Volume 2 The Progressive Years 1862-1876:
Our system of supporting the cause by means of Systematic Benevolence appears to be the best that could be devised. It bears very lightly upon the poor man, drawing only about 1 percent annually of the little which he possesses.
Voluntary offerings and the tithe constitute the revenue of the gospel. Of the means which is entrusted to man, God claims a certain portion–a tithe; but He leaves all free to say how much the tithe is, and whether or not they will give more than this. [5T 149.1 (1882-1889)]
Hence a tithe will range from about 1% [or more] for the poor to 10% [or more] for those who have been financially blessed by God.
There are many SDA church members who cannot afford a 10% [gross] tithe but, if aware, would accept and pay a tithe based upon God’s method of Systematic Benevolence which relates to their financial circumstances.
In the balances of the sanctuary the gifts of the poor, made from love to Christ, are not estimated according to the amount given, but according to the love which prompts the sacrifice. The promises of Jesus will as surely be realized by the liberal poor man, who has but little to offer, but who gives that little freely, as by the wealthy man who gives of his abundance. The poor man makes a sacrifice of his little, which he really feels. He really denies himself of some things that he needs for his own comfort, while the wealthy man gives of his abundance, and feels no want, denies himself nothing that he really needs. Therefore there is a sacredness in the poor man’s offering that is not found in the rich man’s gift, for the rich give of their abundance. God’s providence has arranged the entire plan of systematic benevolence for the benefit of man. His providence never stands still. If God’s servants follow His opening providence, all will be active workers. [3T 398.3 (1872-1875)]
The length and usefulness of life do not consist in the amount of our earthly possessions. Those who use their wealth in doing good will see no necessity for large accumulations in this world; for the treasure which is used to advance the cause of God and which is given to the needy in Christ’s name is given to Christ, and He lays it up for us in the bank of heaven in bags which wax not old. He who does this is rich toward God, and his heart will be where his treasures are secured. He who humbly uses what God has given for the honor of the Giver, freely giving as he has received, may feel the peace and assurance in all his business that God’s hand is over him for good, and he himself will bear the impress of God, having the Father’s smile. [3T 546.2]
Every extravagance should be cut out of our lives; for the time which we have to work is none too long. All around us we see suffering humanity. Families are in want of food; little ones are crying for bread. The houses of the poor lack proper furniture and bedding. Many live in mere hovels, which are almost destitute of all conveniences. The cry of the poor reaches to heaven. God sees; God hears. But many glorify themselves. While their fellow men are poor and hungry, suffering for want of food, they expend much on their tables, and eat far more than they require. What an account men will by and by have to render for their selfish use of God’s money! Those who disregard the provision God has made for the poor, will find that they have not only robbed their fellow men, but that in robbing them, they have robbed God, and have embezzled his goods. [SpTA09 68.2 (1897)]
If riches increase, men, even those professing godliness, set their hearts upon them; and the more they have, the less they give to the treasury of the Lord. Thus riches make men selfish, and hoarding feeds covetousness; and these evils strengthen by active exercise.[3T 548.2]
“Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? for ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” [1 Corinthians 6:19, 20.] He whose body is the temple of the Holy Spirit will not be enslaved by a pernicious habit. His powers belong to Christ, who has bought him with the price of blood. His property is the Lord’s. How could he be guiltless in squandering this intrusted capital? Professed Christians yearly expend an immense sum upon useless and pernicious indulgences, while souls are perishing for the word of life. God is robbed in tithes and offerings, while they consume upon the altar of destroying lust more than they give to relieve the poor or for the support of the gospel. If all who profess to be followers of Christ were truly sanctified, their means, instead of being spent for needless and even hurtful indulgences, would be turned into the Lord’s treasury, and Christians would set an example of temperance, self-denial, and self-sacrifice. Then they would be the light of the world. [GC88 475.1]
Pay Tithe and Simplify Personal Wants.With many of the workers the spirit of self-sacrifice has greatly diminished because they have lost their first love. Many are grasping for higher wages; but if they were laborers together with God, their wants would be more simple; for they spend money needlessly for things which they would not desire if their hearts were sanctified by the truth. Look at the example given you in the life of Christ. There are those in the office who have withheld their tithe from the treasury, claiming that they could not see the requirement in the Word of God. But why could they not see it? It was because selfishness was firmly rooted in the heart. They did not deny self, and make their offering to God. For years they have practiced robbery toward God; but does not the Lord keep a record of all their doings? Most assuredly, for it is written that every man shall be rewarded according as his works have been, judged according to the deeds done in the body, whether they are good or whether they are evil. The Lord will not pass over the embezzlement of His goods. He is testing men to see who will be fit subjects for His kingdom above; for if they disregard His claims here, they will disregard them in the kingdom of heaven. Suppose that all who profess to be followers of Christ should withhold from the Lord His entrusted goods, and appropriate His talents to their own use and for the advancement of their own glory, how would the work of God move forward in the world? How would those in other nations ever receive the message of truth? The Lord does not rain down money from heaven, but He honors man by entrusting to him His treasures, and He tells him what he must do. Read carefully and prayerfully the instruction the Lord has given to you in Malachi 3:8-12.–Lt 31, 1891. [SpTWWPP 39, 40.] [PM 111.3 (1983)]
The man who has been unfortunate, and finds himself in debt, should not take the Lord’s portion to cancel his debts to his fellow men. He should consider that in these transactions he is being tested, and that in reserving the Lord’s portion for his own use he is robbing the Giver. He is debtor to God for all that he has, but he becomes a double debtor when he uses the Lord’s reserved fund in paying debts to human beings.“Unfaithfulness to God” is written against his name in the books of heaven. He has an account to settle with God for appropriating the Lord’s means for his own convenience. And the want of principle shown in his misappropriation of God’s means will be revealed in his management of other matters. It will be seen in all matters connected with his own business. The man who will rob God is cultivating traits of character that will cut him off from admittance into the family of God above. [6T 391.1 (1901)]
The Back Tithe is God’s Property
Many have long neglected to deal honestly with their Maker. Failing to lay aside the tithe weekly, they have let it accumulate, until it amounts to a large sum, and now they are very reluctant to make the matter right. This back tithe they keep, using it as their own. But it is God’s property, which they have refused to put into His treasury.R. & H., Dec. 23, 1890. [CS 96.2 (1940)]
The 2010 Global Tithe Index (GTI) analysis showed that the average tithe percentage paid by church members in each country ranged from 5.86% to 0.09% [or 0.16% as certain figures from India were qualified within the report]; the average being 1.68%.
Dividing the total tithes of $1,939,046,360 by the total potential tithes of $14,151,440,340 gives a percentage figure of 1.37%.
Hence tithing is well below the 10% figure that the church organisation is trying to get from each member and very near to the Systematic Benevolence figure of 1% for a world full of SDA church members where ALL are classified as poor.
SDA members in affluent countries are more able to pay and do pay a higher percentage in their tithe than those living in countries where poverty is higher – this is common sense and is Systematic Benevolence in practice.By collecting a small percentage tithe from a very large number of SDA church members who currently don’t pay a tithe because they cannot afford to pay the church’s “10% for all members” figure, the church treasury would obtain a very large sum of tithe money.Given that a tithe payment would range from 1% through to 10% or more, the average tithe payment should easily exceed 2%. 1.37% from 2% gives 0.63% more tithe money i.e. $890 million USD more; and more than a 2% world average should easily be possible.

There is big tithing revenue at stake – no wonder God was well pleased with His church when it adopted Systematic Benevolence.

However, more revenue must not remain with those that have most – tithe money must also boost the work in foreign lands – especially those countries where poverty is high; see the GW 455.2 statement below. In such countries, this redirected tithe money is able to do much more.

Still convinced that a flat rate tithe of 10% is what God wants everybody to pay? If so, then let God tell you how He directed Moses regarding His law by accepting the principles of Systematic Benevolence:

Leviticus

5:6 And he shall bring his trespass offering unto the LORD for his sin which he hath sinned, a female from the flock, a lamb or a kid of the goats, for a sin offering; and the priest shall make an atonement for him concerning his sin.

5:7 And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.

5:11 But if he be not able to bring two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, then he that sinned shall bring for his offering the tenth part of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering; he shall put no oil upon it, neither shall he put [any] frankincense thereon: for it [is] a sin offering.

12:8 And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Deuteronomy

16:10 And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give [unto the LORD thy God], according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee:

16:16 Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

16:17 Every man [shall give] as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.

Luke

2:24 And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

http://www.adventiststewardship.com/article/4/frequently-asked-questions
How is the tithe distributed?
Within the SDA church tithe is received by the local congregation and sent on to the local conference/mission/field office. This is the central “storehouse” for distribution in keeping with Church Policy.
How is the tithe used?
While the distribution percentages vary somewhat in different conferences, the largest portion of the tithe is used to support the ministry of local churches through pastoral salaries, as well as evangelism and additional services provided to the local church.
An unselfish equality is to be shown in dealing with the working forces in home and foreign lands. More and more we must realize that the means which is brought to the Lord’s treasury in the tithes and gifts of our people, should be used for the support of the work, not only at home, but in foreign fields. Those living in places where the work has long been established, should bind about their supposed wants, so that the work in new fields may go forward. In the institutions that have been long established there is sometimes a desire to grasp more and still more advantages. But the Lord declares that this should not be. The money in His treasury is to be used in building up the work all over the world. [GW 455.2 (1915)]
Tithe, when not given to the local church, could beneficially be sent to almost all of the African / Asian countries.
God’s plan in the tithing system is beautiful in its simplicity and equality. All may take hold of it in faith and courage, for it is divine in its origin. In it are combined simplicity and utility, and it does not require depth of learning to understand and execute it. All may feel that they can act a part in carrying forward the precious work of salvation. Every man, woman, and youth may become a treasurer for the Lord, and may be an agent to meet the demands upon the treasury. . . . [GW 223.2]
2 Corinthians 9:7: Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
Whenever God’s people, in any period of the world, have cheerfully and willingly carried out his plan in systematic benevolence, and in gifts and offerings, there has been a standing promise that prosperity should attend all their labors just in proportion as they obeyed his requirements. When they acknowledged the claims of God, and complied with his requirements, honoring him with their substance, their barns were filled with plenty. But when they robbed God in tithes and in offerings, they were made to realize that they were not only robbing him, but themselves; for God limited his blessings to them, just in proportion as they limited their offerings to him. [Review & Herald, August 25, 1874 par. 50]
Finally, as a result of undertaking this research, it is apparent that there are many documents (e.g. Review & Herald publications) which have not been released by the Ellen G. White Estate – they obviously exist because extracts have be used by Arthur L. White.