DID YOU KNOW (10)
…That revelation follows generosity.
So far we have discovered from God’s instruction to His people under the old covenant, that householders have an obligation to care for certain groups of people over and above their own families. These groups were those who had no land of their own and, therefore, depended on the generosity of God’s people to provide for them.
The first two groups were those of the tribe of Levi whom God had chosen to be the priestly tribe. They would serve Him exclusively from the high priest to those who ministered in the temple daily. Without the support and generosity of the people, they would have nothing with which to take care of their families.
The third group for which the people were responsible was the family unit. God did not neglect them in His economic system. The farmer was to set aside one tenth, called the second or family tithe, of the remainder of his harvest for the family – the equivalent of a retirement policy or emergency fund. In Israelite life, they were to take this portion to the temple or, if they lived too far away, they could sell it and take the money to the temple where they could buy food and have a celebration as a family. In real terms, it was an extra portion of their provision to use for whatever purpose they needed it.
Translated into today’s terms, this portion of our income would form our retirement savings. Although it is not much in monthly terms, over the period of one’s working life, it would represent a more-than-adequate investment to take care of one’s old age. It would also be a nest-egg for any emergency not covered by one’s monthly income.
In God’s wisdom, He recognised the need to make provision for the time when one can no longer work. It is foolishness to suppose that, if we spend everything we earn now and make no provision for the future that “God will provide”. Yes, He does provide, but He does it in the form of a “tithe” to oneself to save for the future.
Lastly, there was the third tithe – provision for the poor, the widow, the orphan and the alien. Every third year, the householder was to give his family tithe to the poor. He was to take this portion to the temple where it was stored and from which the needy were fed. In this way, there should have been no one in Israel for whom no provision was made.
To recap, Israelite families who had the land given to their ancestors when they conquered the Promised Land under Joshua, were to make provision for four groups of people from their annual harvests; the first-fruits of their crops to the high priest which was calculated as one fortieth of their crop – called the terumah offering; one tenth of the balance to the storehouse for the priests and Levites – called the first tithe; one tenth of the balance again to be set aside for the family – called the second tithe; and finally, every third year the family tithe was given to the poor – called the third tithe. The balance of their harvests was theirs to enjoy.
Now we come to the exciting bit. Included in God’s indictment against Israel for failure to fulfil their responsibility was a promise.
“Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord. But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’
“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.” But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house… (Mal.3:7b-10a).
“…Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates (windows) of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the Lord Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land.” (Mal. 3:10b).
Can you see the promises wrapped up in being generous? God made three promises to His people if they would willingly share their bounty with those in need according to His instructions.
- He will open the windows of heaven and pour out more blessing than we can contain. Unfortunately, once again we interpret this to mean an abundance of the increase of material things – whatever that increase means to us; more crops, more money, more wealth. However, reading it from a Hebraic perspective, what do windows do? Windows let in light and air – i.e., breath, spirit, or revelation.
When we obey God by providing for those who cannot care for themselves, He promises us more revelation of spiritual truth and understanding than we can ever handle.
- He also promised His people that their crops would be protected from pests and crop failure. He would take care of their physical needs as well.
- Thirdly, the nations around them would recognise that God was blessing them. They would be the objects of supernatural favour. This is, in the end, God’s purpose that His blessing on His people, both material and spiritual would shine the light back on Him and He would get the glory.
Generosity breaks the hold that money and possessions has on us. When our money no longer has power over us, we are free to receive and understand more of God and His ways than we ever dreamed possible,
Scripture is taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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