Moses tells the people how to honor the Lord with their yield. They are to bring a tithe to the place God chooses as His own.
A portion of everything that God blessed Israel with was to be set aside to honor Him with. The practice that Moses commands here is different from what I had learned. I was always taught that a tenth of your increase belonged to God and was to be given to the church. But that’s not what Moses says. “And before the Lord your God, in the place that He will choose, to make His name dwell there, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, of your wind, and of your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (verse 23).
The tithe was to be taken to the place where God would have His Tabernacle make its permanent residence and then eaten by the one who brought it in the presence of the Lord. It wasn’t given away but consumed by the one who God blessed with the increase. If it was too far to travel with the tithe the person was to sell it and bring the money to God’s Tabernacle. Once there he could “spend the money for whatever you desire” and eat that before the Lord and rejoice. This rejoicing was for the favor that God had shown the individual and his family. They were celebrating God’s blessing.
Every three years the tithe was to be put into the storehouses within their own towns. It wasn’t brought to the Tabernacle. The local widow, orphans and Levites were to consume this tithe as they had no other means of support. This was how God cared for those without means.
I wonder if God had people rotating years or if everyone was on the same three year cycle. If they were on the same cycle He would have to make what was brought into the storehouses enough to last three years. This would also mean that the people would only be required to go to the Tabernacle two of every three years. Did God still have them celebrate or commemorate their blessings during this off year?
I can just imagine the size of feasts that went on at the time of the tithe. These would have been for the Holy days observances. The Feast of First Fruits and Pentecost would certainly qualify. Each family would be sharing their joy at what the Lord had done for them that year. No wonder it got so noisy and busy in Jerusalem at feast times.
I’m curious how we got from the system Moses gave to the people to what we have today. Our system would resemble the third year requirements more than other years. Our tithes and offerings are given to the local church where they then are to care for the community of believers and those in need. This change probably happened with the birth of the church. In Acts 2 we are told that the people met together and supported one another by selling what they had and bringing it to the elders who distributed it to those in need.
I personally don’t have a “home church” to go to because of my husband’s health. What we do instead is to give where we feel God directs us. We have three charities and a couple of family members we regularly give to. We also like to help out whenever God puts a need on our hearts. In all we do we thank God for all He has blessed us with and that we can bless others. It isn’t much in the grand scheme of things but it is what we feel He has called us to do. As long as He is in it and is the driving force behind your desire to give I don’t think it really matters where you direct your “increase” to.
I think the main thing God was calling the people to do with the tithe is to stop and recognize its source. Thank Him for all He has blessed you with in this life. Honor Him by being faithful in setting aside time to give thanks. We have received SO MUCH from Him the least we can do is acknowledge it and rejoice in His mercies.
Thank You Father for ALL You have given me. You have given me SO MUCH MORE that I could ever ask for. The MOST IMPORTANT gift You gave me is Jesus. His gift alone is more than I ever deserve. But You have also blessed me financially with enough food to fill me, a home to protect me from the elements, electricity for heat, water to drink, and family to share it all with. Thank You for allowing me to share what You have given me with others in need too. Thank You for touching my heart for those in need and showing me where to direct what You have provided. I am grateful that my giving doesn’t have to follow someone else’s standards. That You speak to my heart and direct my paths. Please don’t let me become jaded or hardened to the needs around me. Thank You for the hearts of my children too Father who are always watching out for one another. Please bless them as they turn to You for help in the direction for their lives.