COMMITMENT

Tithe and the Storehouse in the Bible

The Israelites showed little interest in the question of the storehouse for the tithe. For them, tithe belonged to the Lord, He had decided how it was to be used, who should receive it, and where it was to be stored. They simply followed the divine instruction. The place where tithe was kept did not determine how tithe was to be used and who could benefit from it. Since tithe

belonged to the Lord, He had already decided these matters for the people. It

was housed in a particular place in order to facilitate its collection and

distribution. That place was the temple.



The Treasure Rooms in the Temple

The Israelites showed little interest in the question of the storehouse for the tithe. For them, tithe belonged to the Lord, He had decided how it was to be used, who should receive it, and where it was to be stored. They simply followed the divine instruction.

The

temple was the safest place to keep the tithe because the Levites and priests

who officiated in the temple, would benefit from it. Besides, temples in the

ancient Near East were well protected in case of war. Tithe is associated with

the temple in a number of passages (Num. 18:21, 24; Deut. 12:5, 6). Perhaps the

classical identification of the temple as the place where tithe was stored is

Malachi 3:10 (NASB): “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse

[bet ha’otsar, “treasure house”], so that there may be food

in My house [bayit, “temple, house, palace”] . . .” This text

clearly establishes that the storehouse for tithe was in the “house” of the

Lord, that is to say His temple. The implication is that the collection and

distribution of tithe were centralized.



Collection and Distribution

There

is not much information in the Old Testament as to how tithe was collected. The

law simply required the Israelites to bring it to the Lord. The Levites were

responsible to collect (e.g. 2 Chron. 31:12-13) and distribute it (v. 15). In

the time of Nehemiah, those who lived near Jerusalem brought the tithe to the

temple while the others took it to the towns of the Levites (Neh. 10:37). The

Levites then sent the tithe and the tithe of their tithe to the storehouse in

Jerusalem (v. 39). The system was very similar to what we find in the church

today.



The Storehouse Today

In

the Old Testament the Lord identified the temple as the storehouse for the

tithe. Today, the Lord guided us through the study of the Bible and the

guidance of His Spirit to identify the treasury in the local Conference as the

place where tithe is to be placed. When referring to the treasury in the office

of the Conference, Ellen G. White states: “Faithful stewards are to place the

Lord’s money in His treasury” (Review & Herald, February

4, 1902, par. 7). She unambiguously states that God “requires this portion to

be placed in His treasury” (Testimonies

for the Church,
Vol. 6, p.

386). In order to facilitate the collection of God’s tithe, church members

bring it to the local church. Tithe belongs to the world church, not to the

local congregation, and its distribution has a positive impact on the global

church. Its centralization contributes to the unity of the church.

Ángel Rodríguez
Dr. Ángel Manuel Rodríguez (TH.D.), is the recently

retired Director of the Biblical Research Institute. He was elected as Director

of the Institute beginning January 1, 2002 until his retirement in June 2011.

He also served as an associate director beginning in 1992. Born in Puerto Rico, he has served as

president of Antillian College and academic vice president of Southwestern

Adventist University. He is a

member of the American Society of Biblical Literature and the American Academy

of Religion. He is the author of

several books and has a monthly column in Adventist World.

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