Continued from part three.
Inevitably, when talking about the blessings that come from paying tithing, a speaker will quote the following scripture:
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 3: 8-12)
In fact, so pervasive is the use of this scripture, that I’ve heard tithing talks where it is the only scripture used. It is practically a guarantee that these verses are quoted, even if D&C 119 is never mentioned, at all. We are taught on every level, that Malachi contains the expected blessings that come from paying tithing. But does it?
Normally, the Lord puts the blessings that come from obedience to a law in the same area as where the law is stated. For example, the modern charge to keep the Lord’s day (Sunday) holy is found in D&C 59: 9-14. Then in verses 15-19 of the same section the Lord details the expected blessings to be received upon obeying this law:
And inasmuch as ye do these things with thanksgiving, with cheerful hearts and countenances, not with much laughter, for this is sin, but with a glad heart and a cheerful countenance—verily I say, that inasmuch as ye do this, the fulness of the earth is yours, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air, and that which climbeth upon the trees and walketh upon the earth; yea, and the herb, and the good things which come of the earth, whether for food or for raiment, or for houses, or for barns, or for orchards, or for gardens, or for vineyards; yea, all things which come of the earth, in the season thereof, are made for the benefit and the use of man, both to please the eye and to gladden the heart; yea, for food and for raiment, for taste and for smell, to strengthen the body and to enliven the soul. (D&C 59: 15-19)
Likewise, the Word of Wisdom, written in D&C 89, contains the promised blessings that will be received, blessings that are enumerated in the very same section:
And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; and shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; and shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen. (D&C 89: 18-21)
The revelation on tithing, section 119, follows the same pattern. Written in the 6th verse of the revelation are the promised blessings that come from obeying this particular law:
And I say unto you, if my people observe not this law, to keep it holy, and by this law sanctify the land of Zion unto me, that my statutes and my judgments may be kept thereon, that it may be most holy, behold, verily I say unto you, it shall not be a land of Zion unto you. (D&C 119: 6)
The purpose and blessing of living the law of tithing, then, is to sanctify the land of Zion (or stake of Zion) unto the Lord, that his statutes and his judgments may be kept on the land, and that it may, indeed be a land of Zion (or stake of Zion) unto us. That is the stated blessing. That is the stated purpose. Sanctification of the land upon which we live.
Additionally, the Lord mentions two penalties for not living the law of tithing. One is mentioned above in verse 6, namely, that the land of Zion upon which we live (or the stake of Zion to which we pertain, see verse 7) will not be a bona fide land of Zion and will not be a bona fide stake of Zion. In other words, it will be the land of Zion in name only, having no sanctification and hence no power. “They draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” (JS—H 1: 19.) And the unsanctified stake of Zion in which we live will also be a stake of Zion in name only, with no godly powers attending it.
The second penalty for not living the law of tithing is mentioned in verse 5:
Verily I say unto you, it shall come to pass that all those who gather unto the land of Zion shall be tithed of their surplus properties, and shall observe this law, or they shall not be found worthy to abide among you. (D&C 119: 5)
There are only two punishments a religious society can inflict upon its members: disfellowship or excommunication. (See D&C 134: 10.) Regardless of whether this particular penalty means excommunication or disfellowship, we currently inflict neither penalty upon non-exempt people who do not pay tithes.
All of this brings me to the following questions: Why do the leaders never mention the Lord’s stated purpose and blessing of the law of tithing, found in D&C 119? Why do the leaders never enact the penalties associated with non-payment of tithes for those who are not exempt? And why is Malachi 3: 8-12 the scripture of choice when talking about the importance of tithing and the promised blessings upon the people who obey this law?
I have my own ideas as to why I think the leaders speak the way they do in relation to tithing. But they are only ideas, speculation. I do not know the real answer, but I still find it awfully strange that this section is virtually avoided.
Now, one last thing. Malachi 3: 8-12 is talking about a different law of tithing, which existed under the Mosaic law, which has absolutely no relation and nothing to do with our present law of tithing, found in D&C 119. This was a tithing known as the “whole tithe,” which in our KJV of the Bible is translated “all the tithes,” which was collected once every three years, stored at home, and used to feed the Levites and the poor. For a detailed understanding of Old Testament tithing, visit the following online web page:
The blessings associated with that particular law of Moses were specific to that people, just as the blessings associated with our D&C 119 law of tithing are specific to our people. Why the mix-up by our priesthood leaders?
Admittedly, the language of Malachi 3: 8-12 is so powerful, that it is natural for a person (who wants to instill a desire in people to pay tithing) to lay hold on it and assume (and teach) that it applies equally to the law of tithing stated in D&C 119. In my own opinion, though, I find the blessing of D&C 119: 6 quite appealing, as I desire that my land is sanctified.
In conclusion, I want to bring one more thing to your attention. I quoted Malachi 3: 8-12 and D&C 59: 15-19 in their entirety because both promised blessings appear similar and I wanted to show the similarities. The Lord promised his latter-day saints “the fulness of the earth” for keeping his day holy. He essentially promised the same thing to the ancient Jews for paying the mosaic “whole tithe” law. Why do we need to resort to a law of Moses blessing when we have already been promised the same things for fulfilling a law of Christ? It is strange, indeed.
Previous Tithes and Offerings article: The law of tithing (part three)