by Dan Goddard
(Deuteronomy 14:22-15:11) (Numbers 18:21-32)
Every three years, the Jewish people were commanded to give 10% of their annul income to the Levites; to provide for their needs as full time ministry personnel. The Levites in turn, gave a tithe of what they received; to Aaron the high priest, and to his sons for their service in the temple.
This was all part of the law that God gave to them through Moses. Under this law; obedience brought blessing, and disobedience brought a curse; and in many cases, the death penalty.
The average person could not go near the tent of meeting (God’s presence), or they would die for their sins. So, the Levites ministered to the Lord on behalf of the people. This was a full time job, thus they received a tithe of the general populations income; once every three years.
However; the Levites were also sinners, and needed sacrifice made for their sins. So, once a year, Aaron went into the Holy of Holies; to make a sacrifice for the whole Nation. Aaron, and his sons, received a tenth of what the Levites were given; to support them in their ministry to the Lord.
The law of giving tithes and offerings; had a three fold purpose:
1- To provide for a great feast of celebration; for God’s blessing and provision.
2- To provide for the Levites, and priests; who ministered to the Lord, on behalf of the Nation.
3- To provide for the poor, widows, and aliens living in the land, so that all might be blessed by God’s abundance.
So; as they people walked in obedience, the land was blessed, and all their needs were met in abundance!
Once a year, at a special feast, the people would gather in a designated city; to celebrate the harvest and blessing of God in their lives. They actually ate and drank a part of the tithe each year at this feast. As well, they shared the tithe with the Levites, and those who were destitute. They did this in recognition of the fact that: all they had; came from God; their provider.
This great feast was called “the Feast of Weeks” or “The Feast of the Harvest”, and was held 7 weeks after the harvest ended.
** The people were also instructed to bring “free will” offerings; above and beyond what the law required. (Deuteronomy 16:9-17)
We do not live under the Jewish Old Testament law! We live under the Grace of the New Testament!
This means, that we are no longer forced to give 10% of our annual income to the temple worshipers, and priests; to serve God for us, and make sacrifices, for our sin.
We no longer need to stone our children; if they are rebellious. We no longer need to be circumcised.
We no longer need to cry out “unclean” in the streets if we have pimples.
We no longer need to kill people for sexual sin, or for having their fortune told.
We no longer need a High Priest; who makes a sacrifice once a year, for our sin.
But! But! WE are still called to generously provide for those who give their lives to full time ministry, as well as for those who are in need around us!
God does not command us to do this by giving 10% of our salary to a church: but, by generously and lavishly giving as He leads us;
from a heart that is free (Above and beyond, the Law).
** God still blesses those who are generous and compassionate, and withholds His blessing, from those who do not have His heart!
God gave us the model of true generosity in the New Testament:
1- He gave Jesus, His own Son, as a sacrifice for our sins. Incredibly, through faith in Christ; our debt of sin is paid; in full.
2- Jesus, then rose from the dead, and became our “High Priest” interceding on our behalf, before the Father.
3- On the day of Pentecost, 7 weeks after Jesus rose from the dead, on the first day of “The Feast of Weeks”; when the Jewish People brought their Tithes and Offerings to Jerusalem to celebrate: The Father poured out the “Promised Gift of His Holy Spirit” on those who would become the “First Fruits of the Church”.
As a result of Jesus death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit being given, and a generous and compassionate life style among the first believers; a great revival broke out in Jerusalem, and spread around the world. (Acts 2:38-47)
** Discovering the heart of our Heavenly Father, and revealing His heart of Love to the nations; is the very heart of the Gospel.
** If we desire to see the Kingdom of God come, and His will be done on earth, as it is in heaven, then we must begin to live with the same spirit of generosity that he has shown us!
(1st John 3:16-20) (James 2:14-17)
** Generosity, celebration, and abandoned worship; are central to the Final Harvest on earth!
God gave us His very best: Holy Spirit.
Jesus gave us His very best: His own life.
What is the best that I can give; that will honor my Father?
We have been set free from the “Old Testament Law of Sin and Death”, which forced people to give 10% of their annual income, and celebrate a few required feasts. None of which, could force their hearts to be generous!
WE now live under the “Law of the Spirit of Life and Liberty”; administrated by Holy Spirit! (Romans 8:1-2)
How much generosity can Holy Spirit generate in my heart; if I allow Him?