Q. I have been told there are 3 tithes mentioned in the Old Testament(one being the 10% that many Christians practice). Would you please explain what the other 2 are and do they have relevance today?
A. It appears that there were 3 tithes mentioned in the Torah. The first, called the Lord’s tithe, consisted of the 10% of the harvest that went to support the priests and Levites since they were given no inheritance of land. (Numbers 18:21) Then there was a 2nd tithe on the remaining 90% that the people consumed themselves each year at the Feast of Tabernacles in a nationwide celebration of God’s provision. (Deut. 14:22-27) It was called the Festival tithe. The 3rd tithe was the tithe for the poor. It was given every third year to help the poor and indigent. (Deut 14:28-29) There is a difference of opinion on this one, some believing that the 3rd tithe was the same as the 2nd, but was given to the poor instead of being consumed at the feast one year out of three.
Today the vast majority of those who teach that tithing is still required by God are usually referring to the Lord’s tithe, saying its purpose is to support all the Lord’s work in the world today.
Since the other tithes were designed to recognize and celebrate the Lord’s provision (Festival tithe) and promote a spirit of generosity among God’s people (Tithe for the Poor) some (myself included) believe that true financial blessing comes only to those who voluntarily and joyfully maintain the spirit of the 2nd and 3rd tithes in their giving by going beyond the Lord’s Tithe.
As it is with all things pertaining to the Lord, it’s the motives of our heart that really matter. Those who give sparingly and begrudgingly are missing both the point of giving and the blessings associated therewith. “With the measure you use it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38)