From Eternity Past


Chapter 50—The Blessing of Tithes and Offerings

In the Hebrew economy one tenth of the income of the people was set apart to support the public worship of God. “All the tithe ... is the Lord's: it is holy unto the Lord.” Leviticus 27:30. EP 377.1

But the tithing system did not originate 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 Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.” Genesis 28:22. God is the source of every blessing to His creatures, and to Him man's gratitude is due. EP 377.2

The Lord declares, “The silver is Mine, and the gold is Mine.” Haggai 2:8. It is God who gives men power to get wealth. As an acknowledgment that all things came from Him, the Lord directed that a portion of His bounty should be returned to Him. EP 377.3

“The tithe ... is the Lord's.” “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” Exodus 20:10. God reserved a specified portion of man's time and of his means, and no man could, without guilt, appropriate either for his own interests. EP 377.4

The tithe was to be exclusively devoted to the Levites who had been set apart for the service of the sanctuary. But this was by no means the limit of the contributions for religious purposes. The tabernacle, as afterward the temple, was erected wholly by freewill offerings; and to provide for necessary repairs and other expenses, Moses directed that each should contribute a half shekel for “the service of the tabernacle.” See Exodus 30:12-16. From time to time, sin offerings and thank offerings were brought to God. And liberal provision was made for the poor. EP 377.5

The people were constantly reminded that God was the true proprietor of their fields, their flocks, and their herds. He sent them sunshine and rain for their seedtime and harvest, and He made them stewards of His goods. EP 378.1

As the men of Israel, laden with the firstfruits of field and orchard and vineyard, gathered at the tabernacle, there was a public acknowledgment of God's goodness. When the priest accepted the gift, the offerer said, “A Syrian ready to perish was my father”; and he described the sojourn in Egypt and the affliction from which God had delivered Israel. “He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which Thou, Jehovah, hast given me.” Deuteronomy 26:5, 9, 10. EP 378.2