In Today's Scripture Reading:
Clean and unclean food; the Law of the tithe; dedication of the firstborn; three feasts to be observed; judges and justice
The prosperity of Israel in the promised land did not depend on advanced agricultural techniques but on its obedience to the Word of God (Deuteronomy 11:10-15). The Israelites were taught: Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed (harvest of what you sow) . . . year by year. . . . that thou mayest learn to fear (revere) the Lord thy God always (14:22-23).
Tithing reminded the Israelites that they, as well as the land, belonged to the Lord. Since all they possessed was the result of His loving provision, before all other considerations, their tithes to the Lord were to be given first. Furthermore, no Israelite could come before the Lord without an offering commensurate with his income. To merely bring leftovers or a small pittance of one's income would be an expression of disobedience and ingratitude.
The command was clear: They shall not appear before the Lord empty (empty-handed): Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which He hath given thee (16:16-17; compare 1 Corinthians 16:2).
The Israelites were not only taught to bring their tithes to the Lord as a spiritual and moral obligation, but they were to "rejoice" with a heartfelt appreciation for the privilege of honoring God with their tithes and offerings. The giving of tithes and offerings carried the promise that the Lord thy God may bless thee (Deuteronomy 14:29).
Five hundred years before the Law was given to Moses, Abraham, father of the faithful (Romans 4:11), paid a tenth (tithe) to Melchizedek . . . priest of the Most High God as an acceptable offering to the Lord (Genesis 14:18-20). Both tithing (Luke 18:12) and the giving of offerings (21:4; Acts 24:17) were still being practiced by Israel during New Testament times. Special offerings were collected by Paul for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem (Romans 15:26). Today, the Lord's ministries, missionaries, churches, Bible schools, translators, and other agencies are being sustained through the tithes and offerings of His people. Unexpected expenses test the sincerity of our faith. All of us were born selfish, self-centered, and desiring to keep everything for self. However, all of what we call our possessions, even ourselves, belongs to God the Creator of all things. Jesus said: Render (Give) therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's; and unto God the things that are God's (Matthew 22:21).
14:1 make any baldness, shave heads as the pagans do; 14:2 a peculiar people unto Himself, dedicated people not conformed to worldly standards but living to please God; 14:21 seethe, boil; 16:19 wrest judgment, pervert justice.
Through the year of release, which typifies Christ's forgiveness of our sins (Deuteronomy 15:1). This should teach us to forgive others, even as He has forgiven us (Matthew 6:14-15). Be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32).
Optional Reading: Luke 21
Memory Verse for the Week: Joshua 1:8