Sabbath, February 5, 2005
• To remember that God is the owner of everything and that we have received the greatest gift from Him: His Son Jesus Christ.
• To give joyfully and to appreciate the privilege of being co-workers with God
• To understand that the poor and the rich each have their own missions, and that they should help one another.
THE SYSTEM OF TITHES IN THE OLD TIMES
1. Who was acquainted with the system of tithes and transmitted it to his descendants?
Genesis 14:20 And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.
Genesis 28:20-22 And Jacob vowed a vow, saying, If God will be with me, and will keep me in this way that I go, and will give me bread to eat, and raiment to put on, So that I come again to my father’s house in peace; then shall the Lord be my God: And this stone, which I have set for a pillar, shall be God’s house: and of all that thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto thee.
“But the tithing system did not originate with the Hebrews. From the earliest times the Lord claimed a tithe as His, and this claim was recognized and honored. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Genesis 14:20. Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and a wanderer, promised the Lord, ‘Of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’ Genesis 28:22. As the Israelites were about to be established as a nation, the law of tithing was reaffirmed as one of the divinely ordained statutes upon obedience to which their prosperity depended.” – Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 525.
2. What relationship is there between the forbidden tree, the Sabbath, and the tithe?
Genesis 2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates.
Leviticus 27:30, 32 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord…. And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.
“In the garden He caused to grow every tree that was pleasant to the eye or good for food; but among them He made one reserve. Of all else, Adam and Eve might freely eat; but of this one tree God said, ‘Thou shalt not eat of it.’ Here was the test of their gratitude and loyalty to God.…
“Houses and lands, food and clothing, He has placed in the possession of men. He asks us to acknowledge Him as the Giver of all things; and for this reason He says, Of all your possessions I reserve a tenth for Myself, besides gifts and offerings, which are to be brought into My storehouse. This is the provision God has made for carrying forward the work of the gospel.…
“The very same language is used concerning the Sabbath as in the law of the tithe: “The seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.… That specified portion of time, set apart by God Himself for religious worship, continues as sacred today as when first hallowed by our Creator. “In like manner a tithe of our income is ‘holy unto the Lord.’” – Counsels on Stewardship, pp. 65, 66.
SPIRITUAL REASONS FOR GIVING TITHES AND OFFERINGS
3. What purpose does the system of tithes and offerings serve?
(a) To acknowledge and thank God as the Owner and Giver of all that we have, including the greatest gift of all, His Son Jesus Christ.
Psalm 24:1 The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.
1 Chronicles 29:14 But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
“The system of tithes and offerings was intended to impress the minds of men with a great truth–that God is the source of every blessing to His creatures, and that to Him man’s gratitude is due for the good gifts of His providence.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 525.
(b) To be co-workers with the Lord, sustaining His work and participating in the proclamation of the gospel:
Numbers 18:21 And, behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tenth in Israel for an inheritance, for their service which they serve, even the service of the tabernacle of the congregation.
1 Corinthians 9:13, 14 Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.
“The Lord has ordained that the diffusion of light and truth in the earth shall be dependent upon the efforts and offerings of those who are partakers of the heavenly gift. He might have made angels the ambassadors of His truth; He might have made known His will, as He proclaimed the law from Sinai, with His own voice; but in His infinite love and wisdom He called men to become co-laborers with Himself, by choosing them to do this work.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 528.
(c) To promote generosity among the people of God and to uproot selfishness and avarice:
Isaiah 58:7 Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Romans 12:13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
“The Lord designed to bring man into close relationship with Himself and into sympathy and love with his fellow men by placing upon him responsibilities in deeds that would counteract selfishness and strengthen his love for God and man. The plan of system in benevolence God designed for the good of man, who is inclined to be selfish and to close his heart to generous deeds. The Lord requires gifts to be made at stated times, being so arranged that giving will become habit and benevolence be felt to be a Christian duty.” – Testimonies for the Church, vol. 3, p. 393.
PROMISES CONCERNING FAITHFULNESS
4. What blessings does God pour upon His children who are faithful in tithes, offerings, and the care of the poor?
Malachi 3:10-12 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.
Psalm 41:1-3 Blessed is he that considereth the poor: the Lord will deliver him in time of trouble. The Lord will preserve him, and keep him alive; and he shall be blessed upon the earth: and thou wilt not deliver him unto the will of his enemies. The Lord will strengthen him upon the bed of languishing: thou wilt make all his bed in his sickness.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
“The contributions required of the Hebrews for religious and charitable purposes amounted to fully one fourth of their income. So heavy a tax upon the resources of the people might be expected to reduce them to poverty; but, on the contrary, the faithful observance of these regulations was one of the conditions of their prosperity.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 527.
PROVISIONS FOR THE POOR
5. In His love and mercy, how did the Lord provide for the needy in ancient Israel? (From the many laws, three will be analyzed.)
(a) The gleanings of the harvest: Leviticus19:9, 10; Deuteronomy 24:19-21. “The law of God gave the poor a right to a certain portion of the produce of the soil. When hungry, a man was at liberty to go to his neighbor’s field or orchard or vineyard, and eat of the grain or fruit to satisfy his hunger.…
Leviticus19:9, 10 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the Lord your God.
Deuteronomy 24:19-21 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
“All the gleanings of harvest field, orchard, and vineyard, belonged to the poor.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 531.
(b) The sabbatical year:
Exodus 23:10, 11 And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.
Deuteronomy 15:1-10 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth ought unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the Lord’s release. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release; Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it: Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day. For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee. If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
“Every seventh year special provision was made for the poor. The sabbatical year, as it was called, began at the end of the harvest. At the seedtime, which followed the ingathering, the people were not to sow; they should not dress the vineyard in the spring; and they must expect neither harvest nor vintage. Of that which the land produced spontaneously they might eat while fresh, but they were not to lay up any portion of it in their storehouses. The yield of this year was to be free for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and even for the creatures of the field. Exodus 23:10, 11; Leviticus 25:5.…
“In the sabbatical year the Hebrew slaves were to be set at liberty, and they were not to be sent away portionless.…
“To the poor, the seventh year was a year of release from debt.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 531, 532.
(c) The year of the jubilee: Leviticus 25:8-10, 28. “After ‘seven sabbaths of years,’ ‘seven times seven years,’ came that great year of release–the jubilee.…
Leviticus 25:8-10, 28 And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years; and the space of the seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month, in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family… But if he be not able to restore it to him, then that which is sold shall remain in the hand of him that hath bought it until the year of jubile: and in the jubile it shall go out, and he shall return unto his possession.
“Certain classes of Hebrew slaves–all who did not receive their liberty in the sabbatical year–were now set free. But that which especially distinguished the year of jubilee was the reversion of all landed property to the family of the original possessor.…
“The provisions of the sabbatical year and the jubilee would, in a great measure, set right that which during the interval had gone wrong in the social and political economy of the nation.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 533, 534.
THE PROPER ATTITUDE OF THE RICH AND THE POOR CHRISTIAN
6. What is the ideal financial situation for a Christian?
Proverbs 30:8, 9 Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.
7. How should a Christian deal with his means, whether he is rich or poor?
(a) The rich:
1 Timothy 6:17-19Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
1 John 3:17 But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
Job 29:15, 16 I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the Lame. I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.
“The Lord would place a check upon the inordinate love of property and power. Great evils would result from the continued accumulation of wealth by one class, and the poverty and degradation of another. Without some restraint the power of the wealthy would become a monopoly, and the poor, though in every respect fully as worthy in God’s sight, would be regarded and treated as inferior to their more prosperous brethren. The sense of this oppression would arouse the passions of the poorer class. There would be a feeling of despair and desperation which would tend to demoralize society and open the door to crimes of every description. The regulations that God established were designed to promote social equality.…
“The law of mutual dependence runs through all classes of society. The poor are not more dependent upon the rich than are the rich upon the poor. While the one class ask a share in the blessings which God has bestowed upon their wealthier neighbors, the other need the faithful service, the strength of brain and bone and muscle, that are the capital of the poor.…
“There are many who urge with great enthusiasm that all men should have an equal share in the temporal blessings of God.… A diversity of condition is one of the means by which God designs to prove and develop character.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 534, 535.
(b) The poor:
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Titus 2:9, 10 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.
“Labor is apportioned to man. It was connected with the curse, because made necessary by sin. The physical, mental, and moral well-being of man makes a life of useful labor necessary. ‘Be not slothful in business,’ is the injunction of the inspired apostle Paul.” – Counsels on Stewardship, p. 120.
“No person, whether rich or poor, can glorify God by a life of indolence. All the capital that many poor men have is time and physical strength; and this is frequently wasted in love of ease and in careless indolence, so that they have nothing to bring to their Lord in tithes and in offerings. If Christian men lack wisdom to labor to the best account, and to make a judicious appropriation of their physical and mental powers, they should have meekness and lowliness of mind to receive advice and counsel of their brethren, that their better judgment may supply their own deficiencies. Many poor men who are now content to do nothing for the good of their fellow men, and for the advancement of the cause of God, might do much if they would. They are as accountable to God for their capital of physical strength as is the rich man for his capital of money.” – Counsels on Stewardship, p. 121.
8. How should we give so that our offering may be accepted by the Lord?
Deuteronomy 15:10 Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.
2 Corinthians 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
FOR OUR SPIRITUAL LIFE
• What kind of a debt do we have and how can we show our gratitude for the great gift we have received? Psalm116:12; Ephesians 2:8; Romans 8:12; Matthew 10:8.
• The main offering the Lord asks His children. Proverbs 23:26; Psalm 51:16, 17; 1 Samuel 15:22.
• What lessons of liberality and self-denial do we learn from the primitive church? Acts 4:32-35; The Acts of the Apostles, pp. 344, 345.
• Were the pecuniary duties of the Israelites limited to the tithe and the care of the poor? Exodus 30:14-16; 36:3; 2 Kings 12:4, 5; Ezra 3:5; Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 612, 613.
• The law of action and reaction in generosity: Proverbs 11:24; 2 Corinthians 9: 6; Testimony Treasures, vol. 1, (Spanish pp. 360, 361.)
• With what measure should one give? Deuteronomy 16:17; Matthew 25:16, 17, 20-23; Luke 21:2-4; Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 528.
• Did the Lord confirm the system of tithing in the New Testament?
• What can riches become when they are improperly used? 1 Timothy 6:10; Luke 12:16-21; Malachi 3:9.
• In which bank can a Christian’s capital be secure? Matthew 6:19-21; The Acts of the Apostles, p. 271.