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God’s Tax

The tithe is God’s tax. It is required of men by God as their landlord, because, as the Bible repeatedly declares, “The earth is the Lord’s.”

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony,
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California Farmer: 227:7 (Oct. 7, 1967): 28.

The tithe is God’s tax. It is required of men by God as their landlord, because, as the Bible repeatedly declares, “The earth is the Lord’s” (Exod. 9:29; Ps. 24:1, etc.). God requires the tithe as His tax, but not, as Jesus Christ declared, at the expense of “the weightier matters of the law, judgment [justice], mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matt. 23:23), that is, tithing must go hand in hand with godly morality.

The basic premise of the tithe is thus that “The earth is the Lord’s,” and He bestows it upon men in return for the tithe and the obedience of faith. Where men and nations neglect their duty to God, the result is judgment.

Because “The earth is the Lord’s,” it cannot be claimed by the state, taxed by the state, or seized by the state. Such actions are the mark of a tyrant (1 Sam. 8:11–18). The story of Naboth and his vineyard is a classic case of the tyranny of an expropriating state and ruler.

The tithe belongs to God, not to the church. “And all the tithe of the land … is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord” (Lev. 27:30). The church has no right to equate itself with God. When the church is faithful to its Lord, then and then only is it entitled to receive the tithe. If men give to a church that denies Jesus Christ, which preaches an anti-Christian social gospel, and which proclaims another plan of salvation, to give to that church is not to give a tithe to God but against Him. It means participating in an anti-Christian enterprise.

Malachi declared that denying God His due was robbing Him, and it results in “a curse,” whereas, yielding God His due results in so great “a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Mal. 3:8–10). What belongs to God must be rendered to God, to truly godly religious causes, even as that which belongs to Caesar, to the state, must be rendered to Caesar (Mark 12:17).

In the Old Testament the tithe went to the support of the priests and Levites. The function of these men was more than what we today call religious: it included education and many other social functions, all from a strictly religious perspective. The tithe thus provided for, among other things, both religious nurture and worship, and for schools. The teaching function of priests and Levites is often cited in Scripture.

The purpose of the tithe was to render unto God His due, but it also served to protect property. The tithe was a manifest witness that God is the Lord over property, and not the state, and property is subject to the laws of God, not the laws of the state. Biblical law strictly protects property rights. As H. B. Rand noted in the Digest of the Divine Law,

Nowhere in the Bible is there any indication that property rights are to ever be abolished. On the contrary, such rights are emphasized and safeguards are placed around that property to protect a man in his possessions. Liberty for the individual is non-existent apart from freedom of possession and the protection of personal holdings and property, with adequate compensation for its loss or destruction.[1]

[1] Howard B. Rand, Digest of the Divine Law (Merrimac, MA: Destiny, 1943).

R. J. Rushdoony
  • R. J. Rushdoony

Rev. R.J. Rushdoony (1916–2001), was a leading theologian, church/state expert, and author of numerous works on the application of Biblical law to society. He started the Chalcedon Foundation in 1965. His Institutes of Biblical Law (1973) began the contemporary theonomy movement which posits the validity of Biblical law as God’s standard of obedience for all. He therefore saw God’s law as the basis of the modern Christian response to the cultural decline, one he attributed to the church’s false view of God’s law being opposed to His grace. This broad Christian response he described as “Christian Reconstruction.” He is credited with igniting the modern Christian school and homeschooling movements in the mid to late 20th century. He also traveled extensively lecturing and serving as an expert witness in numerous court cases regarding religious liberty. Many ministry and educational efforts that continue today, took their philosophical and Biblical roots from his lectures and books.

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