Hezekiah turns to another of the commands of the Lord once the Passover celebration is completed. He addresses the tithe for the support of the Levites.
Many from Israel had joined Judah in the celebration of the Passover. When it finally ended the people were still on fire for the Lord. It was time to take their new commitment back into their communities. The first thing they did was to cut, pull, and tear down EVERY high place or altar “throughout all Judah and Benjamin, and in Ephraim and Manasseh, until they had destroyed them all” (verse 1b). They didn’t stop until this task was finished.
The land is clean of the abominations of other gods. Hezekiah wants more. He wants the Levites to be the teachers of the Law that God had instructed them to be. But in order for this to happen they needed the people to step up and renew their commitment of support so the Levites could dedicate themselves to study and teaching. The tithe needed to be restarted. This was God’s plan from the beginning.
A renewed people hear Hezekiah’s command and willingly comply. They have much to give because the Lord has been blessing them. Since returning to the Lord, His blessings are apparent everywhere you look. The crops in the fields are strong and bursting at the seams. The herds are multiplying with every passing day. The trees are loaded with produce. The vines are bursting with flavor filled fruit. The households are teaming with new life; physically and spiritually. There is PLENTY to be thankful for and with.
The people begin bringing their tithes to Jerusalem. For FOUR months people come to Jerusalem, loaded with a tenth of their increase and begin laying it at the feet of the priests. At first the Levites were overjoyed that they would be able to stop their own daily toil and devote themselves to the words of the Lord. Their tables were full and so were their hearts. As time went on, so much came in that the Levites could not use it as fast as the people brought it. Day by day and hour by hour piles of goods began to grow. With no one knowing what to do with the abundance, the piles just kept growing.
As Hezekiah is out walking one day he pays closer attention to the piles that have accumulated. He knows that much of what stands here in the courtyard will spoil unless it is put away carefully. He instructs the priests to clear out rooms in the Temple to store what has been brought. He also instructs them to begin distributing the abundance to the Levites scattered throughout Judah. No Levite, or his family, will go hungry again. The Lord has provided plenty for ALL.
Would seeing piles of goods encourage others to give or would some feel there was enough without their contribution? Probably both reactions. How many would give out of a feeling of guilt? How many out of a sense of duty? How many out of love, for his fellow man or for the Lord?
Hezekiah himself provided from his own possessions for the needs of the burnt offerings. From his fields came the morning and evening burnt offerings as well as those for the Sabbaths, the new moon, and the appointed feasts. This was his pleasure to supply to the Lord. He didn’t feel the least bit ‘relieved of his duty’ to the Lord by seeing or knowing what others were bringing. He WANTED to be the one to supply this for the Lord.
I wonder how this would go over today. There are so many different causes vying for our attention and donations today. There isn’t one central place to give that will distribute the contributions to all the services that need them. Instead, each competing organization makes its plea to the public and depends on their ability to convince individuals of their worthiness and need. My husband and I have consented to several of these pleas, mainly because God has blessed us with the ability to do so.
I don’t want to get into a lesson concerning the tithe and whether Christians are required to keep it now, but I will say that I am blessed when I give. God seems to make what I have go farther when I give a portion of it away. But be careful where you give because you become tied spiritually to the works of where you put your support.
Thank You Father for the opportunities You have brought into my life that I can support. Thank You for the blessings You have provided that fulfill all the needs (and many wants) of me and my family. Help me be a good steward of all You have brought into my life, including time.