20 And Jacob vowed 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 raiment to put on, 21 So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: 22 And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
We have previously heard mention of tithing in the Old Testament, such as when Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, but these verses are, in my opinion, the clearest definition of what tithing actually is.
Tithing is a covenant. Jacob is entering into a solemn, two-way agreement with God. On the one hand Jacob is agreeing to give up one tenth (a tithe) of all he possesses to God, and in return God will sustain Jacob in all of the necessities of life: food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over one’s head.
Gifts and offerings to God are not bound but such clearly defined criteria, because they are not solemn covenants. But when we today speak of tithing, we are again referring to this idea of a two-way contract between us and God. And the parameters for us are the same as they were for Jacob. We give a tenth of our increase and we are cared for in our earthly needs. And, for what it’s worth, this is a covenant that I live, and I absolutely have seen God’s hand sustaining me and my family in all of the essentials.