Beginning of the End


The Blessing of Tithes and Offerings

In the Hebrew system one tenth of the people’s income was set apart to support the public worship of God. “All the tithe ... is the Lord’s. It is holy to the Lord.” (Leviticus 27:30). BOE 264.1

But the tithing system did not start with the Hebrews. From earliest times the Lord claimed a tithe as His. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, priest of God. Genesis 14:20. Jacob promised the Lord, “Of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You.” (Genesis 28:22). God is the source of every blessing to His creatures, and our gratitude is due to Him. BOE 264.2

The Lord declares, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.” (Haggai 2:8). It is God who gives us power to get wealth. To acknowledge that all things came from Him, the Lord directed that we should return a part of His abundance to Him. BOE 264.3

“The tithe ... is the Lord’s.” The form of expression is the same as in the Sabbath law: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 20:10). God reserved a specific part of our time and our money, and we cannot, without guilt, use either for our own interests. BOE 264.4

The tithe was to be devoted exclusively to the Levites who had been set apart for the service of the sanctuary. In no way, however, was this the limit of the contributions for religious purposes. The tabernacle, like the temple later, was built entirely by freewill offerings, and to provide for necessary repairs and other expenses, Moses directed that at certain times each person should contribute a half shekel for “the service of the tabernacle.” (See Exodus 30:12-16). From time to time, people brought sin offerings and thank offerings to God, and generous provision was made for the poor. BOE 264.5

The people were constantly reminded that God was the true owner of their fields, their flocks, and their herds. He sent them sunshine and rain for their planting time and harvest, and He made them managers of His goods. BOE 264.6

As the Israelites gathered at the tabernacle, loaded with the firstfruits of field and orchard and vineyard, they made a public acknowledgment of God’s goodness. When the priest accepted the gift, the offerer said, “My father was a Syrian, about to perish;” and he described the stay in Egypt and the affliction from which God had delivered Israel. “‘He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey;” and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which You, O Lord, have given me.’” (Deuteronomy 26:5, 9, 10). BOE 264.7