Todays readings… Exodus 35, Psalm 92&93, 1 Corinthians 4&5
The drama of Moses in the mountain and then in dealing with those who made the golden calf is now in the past. We read today of preparations for making the Tabernacle: everyone had brought away from Egypt items of value – remember what you read in Ch. 12 v,35,36! “They plundered the Egyptians.”
Moses appeals to the people, “Whoever is of a generous heart, let him bring the LORD’s contribution: gold, silver, and bronze …yarns and fine twined linen …” [35 v.5] These will be the source materials needed to make the Tabernacle. The people “departed from the presence of Moses. And they came, everyone whose heart stirred him, and everyone whose spirit moved him, and brought the LORD’s contribution to be used for the tent of meeting, and for all its service, and for the holy garments. And so they came, both men and women. All who were of a willing heart …” [v.20-22]
We will read in ch. 36 that Moses is told, “The people bring much more than enough …” [v.5]; so many willing hearts! Now this was not tithing, these were freewill offerings. The institution of tithing is detailed in the next 3 books of Moses, see for example Deuteronomy 14 v.22-29. Tithing was for the running costs of the nation: the Levites duties were wide ranging being required to act as medicos, policemen, administration, etc., tithing was the income tax of the nation. The functioning of the tabernacle was the responsibility of Aaron and his sons and close relatives.
Many ‘Christian’ organisations demand tithes of their flock, claiming the Bible advocates this – and many become really wealthy – and its tax free! But there is no basis in God’s word for Christians to practice tithing – the evidence is all the other way!
There will be evidence of this when we come to Paul’s 2nd letter to the Corinthians next month. Paul writes of the attitude of the believers in Macedonia “in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity … they gave … beyond their means of their own freewill …” [8 v2,3] “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not … under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” [9 v.7]
Equally important is for believers to show the heart felt sincerity of their commitment to Christ by giving of their time and their abilities in different areas of service for Christ. Can it be that some, well blessed in the needs of this life, think that it is enough to be very generous when the collection bags come round and appeals are made – but that is all they do! We must each let our hearts stir us to use our talents (not just finances) in the service of the Lord wherever he creates opportunities for us – and there are many of them.