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Avoiding Assumptions in Application pt 2

by | Feb 10, 2022 | Giving, Sermon Supplements, Studying Scripture

NOTE: This is a continuation of the blog post: To Tithe or Not To Tithe. This post discusses one of the false assumptions many teachers make when applying Scripture inaccurately. By examining these assumptions in the context of tithing we will see examples of their use and guard against using these assumptions in regard to other subjects.

False Assumption 2

Examples of human actions should be considered normal and consistently performed unless Scripture clearly says it only happened once.

This assumption is very critical for holding up the argument for the tithe. In order for us to take these examples that are specifically mentioned as a ‘universal law’, we must assume that it was a normal way of life and not special circumstances.

As we mentioned before, the circumstances of Abraham’s tithe were very specific. It was made from the spoils of war, not from his personal wealth or increase.  Abraham didn’t even keep any of the rest of the spoils.

Notice that Abraham viewed the spoils of war not as his own possessions but rather as belonging to the king of Sodom. He had promised the Lord that he would not keep any of it though it was freely offered to him. The tithe he made was not of his increase, as those who teach the tithe requirement apply it. 

God had increased Abraham greatly over the years. God even used Abraham’s sin regarding his wife 2 times, with Pharoah and with Abimelech, to increase his wealth. Plus, Genesis 24:1 says that the Lord blessed Abraham in all things. Abraham certainly had gained much from the Lord and if God required a tithe, it should have been paid since Abraham was obedient to God. 

and blessed be God Most High,
who has delivered your enemies into your hand!”

And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. And the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the persons, but take the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’

Genesis 14:20-23 (ESV)

Yet with all of this blessing, we have no other example of Abraham paying tithes to God. We cannot simply assume what Scripture does not declare. There is no record of Abraham’s obedient, continual practice of tithing, especially one that does not include special circumstances as we see in Genesis 14.

So the Abrahamic example doesn’t pass the assumptions test.

But wait… didn’t Jacob tithe too?

Then Jacob made 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 clothing to wear, so that I come again to my father’s house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God, and this stone, which I have set up for a pillar, shall be God’s house. And of all that you give me I will give a full tenth to you.”

Genesis 28:20-22 (ESV)

This is the other example that proponents of a required tithe will point to. It’s one thing to have one patriarch tithing, but two examples give a little more weight to the argument. 

For context, this is when Jacob was sent from home to live with Laban after he stole Esau’s birthright. Jacob stops at a place he later names Bethel after a dream he has where God promises to bless him. Here we see him not actually giving a tithe, but making a vow that he will give a tithe of all that God increases him with.

Despite the vow being made, we have no proof in Scripture that Jacob ever actually followed through on his vow. A vow does not in itself prove the action was ever performed. To assume the vow was fulfilled is natural, but to use that assumption as the basis for teaching that someone else should follow the example is simply not being true to what Scripture actually says.

We must be careful to not assume that the good actions or good promises of fallen men were consistently and completely fulfilled unless Scripture states this. Even Paul admitted that the good things he desired to do, he often found himself not doing because of his flesh. I’m not saying we should think the worst of people, but rather be true to the actual Scriptural evidence both of good obedient specific actions as well as man’s fallen nature and not assume a level of continued success that Scripture does not validate.