Should the Church Teach Tithing?
A Theologian's Conclusions about a Taboo Doctrine
Russell Earl Kelly, PHD
www.tithing-russkelly.com
 

EZEKIEL'S PROPHETIC TEMPLE

By Russell Earl Kelly, PHD, March 31, 2009

 

Ezekiel, chapters 40 to 48, is a very detailed description of a future Temple during which the Prince (the Messiah) will reside in Israel (45:7 to 46:18).

 

The many changes strongly suggest that tithing will no longer exist in this (millennial) temple of the Kingdom Age in Israel.

 

1.  DIRECT GIVING TO THE PRINCE:

During the Old Covenant, in First Samuel 8:14-17, the first tithe went to the king.  The king received the best tenth of the "fields," "vineyards," "olives." "servants," "sons," "asses" and "sheep." The king owned choice land in each of the 12 tribes.

 

This is greatly changed in Ezekiel's prophecy.

(1) The Prince will own land about 50 miles long and 8.3 miles wide from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River. It is West and East of the 8.3 mile square occupied by the Levites, Priests and city (45:7-8).

(2) The people will give the Prince set portions of their crops and oil which are NOT tithes (45:13-14).

(3) The people will also give only ONE sheep out of 200 to the Prince (45:16). This is NOT a tithe.

(4) The Prince will be responsible for providing the required daily, Sabbath, monthly and seasonal burnt offerings for the people and nation (45:17-25).

 

2.  NO LEVITICAL CITIES: In the Old Covenant the Levites and priests were specifically given the tithe because they had "no inheritance" in the land of Israel --because they were NOT allowed to own or inherit property. This is repeated often in Numbers 18:20-28; Deuteronomy 12:12; 14:27, 29; 18:1-2; Joshua 13:14, 33; 14:3; 18:7; and Ezekiel 44:28. They lived in loaned land provided by the tribes in 48 cities (Joshua 20-21; Numbers 35).

 

This primary reason for receiving tithes does not exist in Ezekiel's (millennial) kingdom. Both the Levites and priests own their own land (45:3-4 priests; 45:5 Levites). Oddly, 45:4 reads "the holy portion of the land shall be for the priests." This is not said of the Levites' land or other land in Israel.

 

There may also be no need for the Levitical cities during the Kingdom Age if there are no poor requiring ministry and no cities of refuge.

 

3.  LEVITES DOWNGRADED: In the Old Covenant the Levites assisted the priests in many areas of ritual (Num 1:50; 8:11-15; 18: 21-24).

 

In Ezekiel's prophecy many of the Levites and priests have been guilty of leading Israel astray and have been DOWNGRADED with much less responsibility (44:10, 12). They will be limited to guards at the gates and killing the burnt offerings for the people (44:11, 13). Since they now own their own property (45:5) and no longer fully assist the priests (44:11, 13), they no longer require the first full Levitical tithe.

 

4.  PRIESTHOOD REDUCED: In the Old Covenant the priests were the whole family of Aaron. In Ezekiel's prophecy the priests are only the Aaronic family of Zadok (44:15-31).

 

Since the Kingdom Age priests now own their own property (45:3-4) and are also limited to only one family of Aaron (44:15) they no longer require tithes.

 

5.  PRIESTLY SUSTENANCE: In the Old Covenant the sustenance of the Levites and priests clearly included tithes. The Levite servants-to-the-priests received the first whole Levitical tithe and the Levites, in turn, tithed a tenth of what they received (1%) to the priests (Num 18:21-28; Neh 10:37-38).

 

The priests also received sustenance from freewill offerings (Num 18:9), portions of sin, trespass offerings, heave and wave offerings (Num 18:9-11, 19), firstfruits of oil and wine (Num 18:12), firstfruits (Num 18:13), all vow offerings (Num 18:14), all firstborn clean animals (Num 18:15-19) and the (five sanctuary-shekel) redemption price of all firstborn sons and unclean animals (Num 18:15-19). Most commentators agree that these far exceeded the priests' portion of the tithes.

 

In Ezekiel's prophecy tithes are not specifically named! No sustenance from the Levites is discussed. Sustenance for the priests will include (1) parts of sacrificial offerings (44:29), (2) dedicated vows (44:29), (3) firstfruits (44:30) and (4) freewill contributions (44:30) (44:28-31). In 44:30 the KJV reads "oblations," NKJ "sacrifice," NAS "contribution" and the NIV "special gifts." This last item is most often a reference to freewill offerings.

 

OTHER CHANGES IN EZEKIEL'S TEMPLE:

 

6. TEMPLE MOVED: In the Old Covenant the Temple was located inside Jerusalem which was part of Judah on the border with Benjamin. 

 

In Ezekiel's prophecy the Temple will be located wholly inside the land now owned by the priests which is 8.3 miles long by 3.3 miles wide (45:1-3).

 

7.  JERUSLAEM GONE: In the Old Covenant Jerusalem was not one of the Levitical cities and did not have Levitical lands surrounding it. 

 

In Ezekiel's prophecy the central city has a new name and has farmland on each side of it for the use of its inhabitants from all the tribes (45:6; 48:15-20). The new name is "The LORD is There" (48:35).

 

8.  In the Old Covenant there was originally a valley in the middle of Jerusalem (which was later filled in). There was also a valley east, south and west of the city. See old maps.

 

In Zechariah 14:4 Messiah will return and the Mount of Olives will split from East to West to create a very great valley. It is likely that this valley will also separate the Temple from the new city.

 

9.  WATER FLOWS FROM TEMPLE: In the Old Covenant water was brought into the Temple for much ceremonial washing of priests and animals.

 

In Ezekiel's Temple miracle water is provided by God. It begins as a trickle flowing out of the Most Holy Place and becomes deeper (reverse of normal) (47:1-12). (1) Flows south of altar and south of east gate (47:1-2). (2) Ankle deep 1000 cubits from east gate; river 4000 cubits away (47:3-5). (3) Trees on river bank have new fruit every month (47:7). (4) River reaches Gulf of Aquiba; purifies Dead Sea (47:8). New fresh sea teeming with fish (47:9). Salt still available; land transformed (47:11). Leaves of trees have healing use (47:12).

 

10.  12 TRIBES HAVE DIFFERENT TERRITORIES

 

 

7 tribes north beyond Damascus; 48:1-7; Dan, Ashur, Naphthali, Manasseh, Ephraim, Reuben, Judah

 

Prince land   Levites' land                       8.3 mi (E-W) x 3.3 mi    Prince land  Jordan-Med. Sea

Prince land   Priests-TEMPLE-Priests     8.3 mi (E-W) x 3.3 mi    Prince land  Jordan-Med Sea

Prince land   farmland-CITY-farmland       8.3 mi (E-W) x 1.75 mi  Prince land  Jordan-Med Sea

 

5 tribes south to Egypt; 48:8-22; Benjamin, Simeon, Issachar, Zebulon, Gad

 

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