32 “We assume the responsibility for carrying out the commands to give a third of a shekel each year for the service of the house of our God: 33 for the bread set out on the table; for the regular grain offerings and burnt offerings; for the offerings on the Sabbaths, at the New Moon feasts and at the appointed festivals; for the holy offerings; for sin offerings to make atonement for Israel; and for all the duties of the house of our God.34 “We—the priests, the Levites and the people—have cast lots to determine when each of our families is to bring to the house of our God at set times each year a contribution of wood to burn on the altar of the Lord our God, as it is written in the Law.35 “We also assume responsibility for bringing to the house of the Lord each year the firstfruits of our crops and of every fruit tree.36 “As it is also written in the Law, we will bring the firstborn of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of our God, to the priests ministering there.37 “Moreover, we will bring to the storerooms of the house of our God, to the priests, the first of our ground meal, of our grain offerings, of the fruit of all our trees and of our new wine and olive oil. And we will bring a tithe of our crops to the Levites, for it is the Levites who collect the tithes in all the towns where we work. 38 A priest descended from Aaron is to accompany the Levites when they receive the tithes, and the Levites are to bring a tenth of the tithes up to the house of our God, to the storerooms of the treasury. 39 The people of Israel, including the Levites, are to bring their contributions of grain, new wine and olive oil to the storerooms, where the articles for the sanctuary and for the ministering priests, the gatekeepers and the musicians are also kept.“We will not neglect the house of our God.”
Not only did they commit themselves to submit to the Word of God, to live separated from the world and to savor the Sabbath but they also commit to:
- Supporting God’s work – Vs 32-39
Verse 39 sums up their commitment: “We will not neglect the house of our God.” The temple in Jerusalem stood at the heart of their religious, moral and spiritual life. In symbolic terms it proclaimed the presence and power of God among His people. What is interesting to note is that the bulk of their words are tied to tithing and it’s here that we learn several important things about giving.
- It was responsible giving. Look at verse 32 and verse 35 where the people say that “they assume responsibility…” They owned it and gave what they owned because they saw it as their privilege not as a pain. Are you being responsibility with God’s riches?
- It was an act of obedience, they didn’t practice “impulse giving” but instead gave as an expression of practical obedience. Those who love Him will do what He says. Verse 32 says they were “carrying out the commands to give.” God had been good to His people, and generosity is the appropriate response.
- It was systematic. Not only was it obedient it was orderly. There was nothing haphazard about their giving. Verse 32 says that they were to bring a third of a silver shekel each year. Verse 34 states that lots were drawn to determine when families were to bring a contribution of wood at set times each year. Verse 35 tells us that first fruits were brought each year. There was an orderliness about these offerings. The New Testament teaches systematic giving as well in 1 Corinthians 16:2: “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income…”
- It was proportionate. The reference to the wood offering provided an opportunity for many of the poor people in Israel to bring a gift to God that would demand time rather than treasures. The temple needed a regular supply of firewood to keep the sacrificial fires burning and everyone, regardless of income, could gather wood and take it to the temple.
- It was sacrificial. They were to bring to God’s house the “first fruits.” To offer the first of their crops was to declare that God was the giver of all things, that everything belongs to Him, and that He is worthy of the best we can offer Him. While not everyone can give the same amount, everyone can make the same sacrifice. Not equal giving, but equal sacrifice. They gave the first and best of everything to God. They didn’t give God their leftovers. What about you are you giving God your treasure or your trash? Is the first thing you consider in every paycheck your giving to God? When it comes to giving, we can do it:
- Because we have to that’s law
- Because we ought to that’s obligation
- Because we want to that’s grace
They were saying, “We will give. We will give of ourselves, of our crops, of our money. We will commit ourselves and our commitment will be backed up with action.” That is the only kind of commitment that really counts because words are cheap. If you want to know how completely committed to Christ and His cause a person is all you have to do is look at their friendships, their calendar, and their checkbook. Many of us never come to the point of getting serious in our walk with God simply because we never get specific with Him. We hear sermons and sense the Spirit’s tug at our heart, but until we decide to be completely committed to Him, we won’t be.