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.