Dale Appleby

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Weekly Reflections

Gifts for the Lord? 9 May 10

Gifts for the Lord?

(Part 4 in a series about Giving in the Bible)

Some of the rules for looking after the poor sound a bit like “spare change” giving. Not all of them of course, though they would have the effect of restraining those who wanted to count every penny. But there is more to giving in the Old Testament.

The first-fruits were to be given to the Lord. This included their first-born – both human and animal. The sons, donkeys and unclean animals could be redeemed – all the rest were consecrated to the Lord. The first-fruits of the harvest also belonged to the Lord – to show the people’s thankfulness for the Lord’s goodness (Deut 26.1-11).

The offering of first-fruits included other offerings including a lamb and flour mixed with oil – representing all their produce (Lev 23.9-21).

But what did the Lord do with the consecrated animals and the first-fruits of the ground? He gave them to the Levites. The Levites also received the offerings (grain, fine flour, animals) – at least the offerings that were not burnt up (Num 18.8-32).

The Levites also received the remnants of the burnt offerings (Lev 6.24 – 7.10). In this way the tribe of Levi was provided for since they did not have any inheritance in the land. Their duty was to look after the sacrifices and the place of worship.

And as well the people gave tithes to the Lord. They were to tithe the crops, the fruit form the trees and the animals in the flock (Lev 27.30,32). There seem to be different arrangements for the tithes, possibly even three different tithes. It could be summarised like this:

a) In Leviticus 27:30-33 the tithe was for the Lord, but Numbers 18:21-24 says that the tithe was to be given to the Levites in return for their work in the Tent of Meeting. This seems to be the main idea. The tithes were used to provide for the Levites.

b) However in Deuteronomy 12:17-19, 14:22-27 the people were instructed to take their tithe each year to the sanctuary and eat it themselves in a great feast - a celebration of God's goodness. They were to include the Levites in the feast.

c) A third use of the tithe is seen in Deuteronomy 14:28-29; 26:12, where every third year the people were to lay up the tithe in their towns for the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless and the widows.

Dale                                                            to be continued...

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