A Voice in the
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Re: Return the "best" to God

"Every offering of all the holy things of the children of Israel, which
they bring to the priest, shall be his." (Num5:9)

"This shall be yours of the set apart, holy, things from the fire:
every offering of theirs, every grain offering and every sin offering
and every trespass offering which they return to Me, shall be set
apart, holy, for you and your sons." (Num18:9)

Just a short little observation here on God's design for the support of
His ministers.

Paul says to Timothy, "Let the elders who lead well be counted worthy
of double honor, especially those who labor in the Word and doctrine."
(1Tim5:17) In the next verse he speaks of the laborer's "wages".
Indeed, in Numbers, these offerings the Levites were to keep for
themselves were called "wages", in exchange for their service in the
holy things of the tabernacle, altar and sacrifices.  (Num18:31)

As Israel contemplated going into the promised land, God said of the
Levites, "You shall have no inheritance in their land...I am your
portion and your inheritance among the children of Israel." (Num18:20)
They were given cities and land around the cities, but these cities
were scattered throughout the other tribes. There was no "territory of
Levi".

As many ministers today strive for financial security in these days, an
old tradition has tended to go by the wayside. It used to be that
ministers did not own their own homes. Churches had "parsonages". In
other countries they are called "manses" and other terms. But the house
the minister lived in belonged to, and was the property of the local
congregation. When the man came to be their pastor, he and his family
would move into the parsonage. Perhaps the "salary" was not all that
great, but he didn't have to pay "rent". And too, people tended to
bring food stuffs to fill the pantry. Often, people have been known to
give ministers various things they need, like cars, clothes, or other
things, as the Lord would lead in whatever situation. This tradition
followed in the Levitical system.

The minister is given the "charge" of God's Word and Doctrine. The 
early apostles did not wish to be bogged down with humanitarian 
concerns in order that they could devote themselves to the Word.
(Ac6:4) When God's people support God's ministers, it frees them up to
devote themselves totally to God's Word. If the man of God also must be
concerned about paying the bills, or where the next meal is coming
from, it diverts his attention and focus from his primary calling: to
proclaim, "Thus says Jehovah" and to feed the "flock". (Ac20:28, 1Pt5:2)

The priests ate of the sacrifices; and God commanded not to "muzzle"
the ox that treads out the grain. (De25:4)

Now, as I was going through Numbers recently, reading about this, it 
was also the season where my garden produce was coming ripe. Since I 
planted two varieties of corn next to each other (with different 
maturation dates), I had a steady stream of fresh corn for supper every
night for a little over three weeks.  Fresh tomatoes, zucchini,
cucumbers. Get home from work, go out to the garden and pick that
evening's supper. Just before my own corn started coming, I happened to
buy a couple ears at the grocery store, and I'll tell you, there is
nothing like... store-bought doesn't hold a candle to... fresh-picked
corn, boiled, buttered, salted. Yum!!

When Israel gave their offerings, they were to give "the first of your
ground meal you shall give unto Jehovah". (Num15:21) When they brought
their produce to offer, they were commanded, "All the best of the oil,
all the best of the new wine and the grain, the firstfruits which they
offer unto Jehovah, I have given them to you." (Num18:12)  God repeats
this a few times: "Of all your gifts you shall offer up every heave
offering of Jehovah, from all the BEST OF THEM, the consecrated part of
them...the BEST OF IT...the BEST OF IT." (vs29,30,32)

Under God's plan, the Levites might not have had possessions of a
territory, but if God's people were being obedient, it was like they
were having "fresh picked corn" all the time! God's ministers were not
given the old stuff that had been sitting around, getting stale (and
starchy like store-bought).  It was to be only the "first" pickings,
the "best". Paul said that the worker was worthy of his wages. Like we
also observed from the study in 1Timothy, God's minister is "special",
and is supposed to be supported as such.

How many of God's servants today have this sense from God's people?  
Well, how many ministers today are truly -God's- servants? Many of them 
are more concerned about their stock portfolio. The last congregation 
with whom I fellowshiped, before coming "out of her" (Rev18:4), the 
pastor confided in me that he had lost his vision for the ministry, but 
was staying in the 'position' because he was secured of his monthly 
salary they paid him. Well, awhile after I left, I heard that the Lord 
had removed him. And what of the men-of-God today who are faithful to
the Lord? How many of them are struggling along, often living
month-to-month, hand-to-mouth, because God's children are hording their
wealth? And yet, in spite of that, God does send His ravens to feed His
prophets (1Kg17:4). He has those "couples" who build a room for the
prophet to live in. (2Kg4:9-11) Or widows of Zarephath. (1Kg17) And in
some cases, they wear animals skins and eat locusts and wild honey.
(Mt3:4) But God sees to their needs.

But what is the attitude of God's children? Oh, God will take care of
them; I don't need to do anything...after all, I've got bills to pay!

Well, it's not our wealth. It belongs to God in the first place. Did
you notice the wording in the opening passage? The people were to bring
their offerings; but God says about the offerings, "..which they RETURN
TO Me.." (Num18:9) As if to say (if we dare put words in God's mouth),
I've given you all this...now, give a little back and support those who
minister. And give them the "first" and "best". It is set apart, holy.
Giving to God's ministers is not giving to men, but to God. No, the
ministers are not "God", but they are His special representatives; set
apart, holy, to special service under which most would never endure.
Treat them as such.

Amen!
Q/A -"Faith Promise" Giving?