Where is the Storehouse?
The heart of the matter rests with the definition of the word, “storehouse.” The term storehouse, was the ancient place where food was stored and dispensed. So likewise,…
Rod believers are sometimes asked, as if committing a crime, why don’t you pay your tithe to the Church? The inference is, that if you do not support the General Conference with your tithe, then one is in gross violation of God’s Word and hence disqualified as authentic.
But is this correct? Is returning one’s tithe to a self-supporting ministry in violation of the command: “Bring ye all the tithe into the storehouse”? (Malachi 3: ).
While it is true that the vast majority of committed Rod-believing Seventh-day Adventists return their tithes to a self-supporting Association who embraces and disseminates the message, they do not consider it contrary to God’s clear instruction in Malachi. The reasons are not that difficult. As we will see, there has been a misunderstanding concerning the matter.
The heart of the matter rests with the definition of the word, “storehouse.” The term storehouse, was the ancient place where food was stored and dispensed. So likewise, in the figurative sense, it must be a place from which spiritual food is dispensed, and that food, of course, has to be present truth. Truth, in other words, that is needed for the time. It is what Jesus termed, “meat in due season.” (Matthew 24: ). As the servant of the Lord put it, “In every age there is a new development of truth, a message of God to the people of that generation. . . .”
Therefore, as Seventh-day Adventists, we do not return our tithes to another denomination which does not believe or teach the Third Angel’s Message. That simply could not be the storehouse because although they may be proclaiming some truth, they are not promulgating the message adapted for the time.
On the other hand, the storehouse does not necessarily represent one entity. Its definition could include more than one if they are dispensing the present truth! In other words, God has not designated one sole entity to receive the tithe. Ellen White wrote:
“The Lord has not specified any regular channel through which means should pass.”
“Those who have had experience in the work of God should be encouraged to follow the guidance and counsel of the Lord. Do not worry lest some means shall go direct to those who are trying to do missionary work in a quiet and effective way. All the means is not to be handled by one agency or organization. . . .
“The Lord has made us individually His stewards. We each hold a solemn responsibility to invest, our ourselves. God does not lay upon you the burden of asking the conference, or an counsel of men, whether you shall use your means as you see fit to advance the work of God.”
Ellen White did not always return her tithes to the General Conference. In 1905, she wrote this letter to an Elder Watson.
“I wish to say to you, be careful how you move. You are not moving wisely. The least you have to speak about the tithe that has been appropriated to the most needy and the most discouraged field, the more sensible you will be.
It has been presented to me for years that my tithe was to be appropriated by myself to aid the white and colored ministers who were neglected, and did not receive sufficient to properly support their families. . . .
“I myself appropriated my tithe to the most needy cases brought to my notice. I have been instructed to do this, and as the money is not withheld from the Lord’s treasury, It is not matter that should be commented upon, for it will necessitate my making known these matters, which I do not desire to do, because it is not best.
* “Some cases have been kept before me for years, and **I have supplied their needs from the tithe**, as God has instructed me to do, and if any person shall say to me, Sister White, will you appropriate my tithe where you know it is most needed? I shall say ‘Yes,’ and I will; and I have done so. I commend these sisters who have placed their tithe where it is most needed to help to do a work that is being left undone “. . .
I send this letter to you so that you shall not make a mistake. Circumstances alter cases. I would not advise that any one make a practice of gathering up the tithe money. But for years there have now and then been persons who have lost confidence in the appropriation of the tithe who have placed the tithe in my hands and said if I did not take it they would themselves appropriate it to the family of the most needy minister they could find. I have taken the money, given them a receipt for it and told them how it was appropriated.”*