SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- The final chapter of Leviticus deals with things promised to God, such as servants, animals, houses, or land. At times, money could be given to God instead of the promised item. When this happened, adding a fifth of the items value was usually required.
- These promised items were generally given as acts of worship and thanks to God, and were offered over and above the required sacrifices.
- In verse 30 God demands a tithe of everything the Israelites bring in. A tithe means ten percent. (Also see Numbers 18:1-29; Deuteronomy 12:6-18; 14:22-29; 26:12). Putting these passages together, most scholars believe the Israelites actually paid three tithes:
- Ten percent paid to the Levites (see Numbers 18:21). The Levites then gave a tenth of that to the priests.
- Ten percent with the sacred meal (see Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
- Ten percent paid every three years t the poor (see Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- In America we consider it a priority and our inalienable right to pursue happiness. God is not overly concerned with our happiness. Throughout this book of Leviticus it has become very obvious that he wants our priority to be pursuing holiness. The command to be holy has echoed throughout this book (for instance, see, 11:45, 19:2, 20:7, 20:26, 21:8, 21:15, 22:9, 22:16, 22:32) and throughout the rest of the Bible (for instance, see Matthew 5:48, Romans 12:1, 1 Peter 1:15-16). God wants our lives set apart and devoted to him, and he will settle for nothing less.
- In this chapter we see that a huge part of living a holy life is giving to God. The Israelites were commanded to give (three!) tithes to God, and many made special vows to dedicate servants or animals or houses or land over and above that!
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- If you were given a holiness report card based on the first four months of this year, what grade do you think you'd receive for your personal holiness? Why? What is it that's holding you back from a greater level of holiness? What do you need to change to have more holiness in your life?
- In the Old Testament God demanded ten percent. In the New Testament, God demands that we give "generously" (see Romans 12:8, 2 Corinthians 9:5-6, 2 Corinthians 9:11, and 1 Timothy 6:18). Think about that. If for centuries God demanded a minimum of ten percent, then God had Jesus give his life for us, and then God says, "Now give generously," do you think he meant less than ten percent? Why would God give Jesus and then lower what it means to be generous? Well, obviously, he wouldn't. So what do you think you'd have to give for God to consider it generous?