Summary: God has established principles for His people to guide their giving. The principles are outlined even as Israel journeyed on the exodus.

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me. And this is the contribution that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue and purple and scarlet yarns and fine twined linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, goatskins, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones, and stones for setting, for the ephod and for the breast piece. And let them make me a sanctuary, that I may dwell in their midst. Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.’” [1]

It is easy to imagine that our offerings are given to support the church; and to be sure, our gifts do underwrite the work of the congregation. The needs of a congregation are admittedly great; at any given moment the membership will know that the congregation faces substantial needs. The contributions of the people do underwrite the ministries of the church. The congregation determines through the budget adopted how moneys entrusted to the congregation will be distributed; then, the leadership must administer those funds to carry out the ministries God has assigned.

For any congregation, a large portion of received moneys are used for pastoral support, ensuring that those who labour full-time in service to the congregation are free to fulfill the tasks that God has assigned. The smaller the congregation, the greater the proportion that must be set aside for ministerial support. Some moneys go to maintenance of the properties and a portion is used to ensure our ability to provide relief to the needy. Some of the funds are transferred to various missionary causes to assist in the advance of the work of the Kingdom. Therefore, the gifts are, in fact, supporting the church.

However, in the text before us you will note that when Moses was directed by God to receive the offerings of the People of God for the Sanctuary, God emphasised that the contributions were offered to Him. Moreover, God emphasised the operation of His Spirit moving the heart of the people so that participation was voluntary and not coerced. Additionally, it was vital that the people remember that what they gave was for a great purpose. Giving, according to the Word of God, was to God and not in support of His work. What was true in Moses’ day is equally true today.

This provides the outline of our message today. The message is a challenge to review our worship through giving. Why do we give? What motivates us to give and what do we hope to see accomplished through the act of giving? Far too often, we slip into the fallacy of taking offerings because we “need” money, and not because we seek to glorify God. I want to change that. I want us to find what pleases God and then courageously do that thing.

CONTRIBUTIONS ARE MADE TO THE LORD. The wording of this divine command is revealing. “Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for Me a contribution.” God called the people to take a contribution for Him. One Bible states, “You are to take My offering from everyone whose heart stirs him to give.” [2] Another translation reads, “Tell the Israelites to choose something to give Me as a special contribution. You must accept whatever contribution each person freely gives.” [3]

One point is so obvious that it is easily overlooked. Throughout the Word of God the emphasis on giving is always that one’s giving is to be presented to the Lord. We perhaps build a building, support the labourers or minister to the needy, but always we are giving to the Lord. One hundred eighty-one times the Bible speaks of “an offering” presented to the LORD, and eleven times it stresses that “offerings” are to be presented to God. To be certain, many of those offerings are sacrifices, but we must not forget that our gifts represent a sacrifice to honour God. Once, the Bible speaks of a “contribution” made to God, and eleven times it refers to a “contribution” made to the LORD.

When the people presented their peace offerings before the LORD at the Tabernacle, even though the presentations were destined for the exclusive use of the priests and Levites, those same presentations were spoken of as “their contribution to the LORD” [see EXODUS 29:28]. Repeatedly, God treats these offerings as a “contribution to the LORD” [see LEVITICUS 22:15]. God plainly speaks of “the tithe” as “a contribution to the LORD” [NUMBERS 18:24-29].

I suspect that at the first, the concept that the people thought that contributing to the LORD rather than contributing to support the Tabernacle was novel. The reason I say this concept was likely unusual was that Moses was so frequently compelled to remind the people that they were contributing to the Lord. Though the patriarchs had deliberately presented offerings to honour God, the Israelites at the time of the Exodus had never in conscious history made a contribution to the LORD.

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