Remember that old song that used to be sung, “Give me that old-time religion”? I’m kind of curious as to why that person wrote that song. Did that person like the old way of things or was ministry much simpler than it had been before? There’s one thing for certain is that it’s much more complicated now.
I keep myself involved in forums, blogs, groups, and debates about the tithing subject. So I come across many questions about tithing here and there. I came across this challenge. Someone asked me to support my reasons for freewill, spirit-led giving. They said that much of the support that they’ve heard came from verses that talked about giving offerings to foreign lands for missions, and that this had nothing to do with support for local ministry. They believed tithing should be in place to support the local ministry. They disagreed with my stance that spirit-led giving to lead the way for church support not tithing.
I’ve been realizing more and more that I have to use the old testament in order to proclaim what is right for the new testament. I have much to learn, but I’m starting to wonder if you can’t support a new testament thought without old testament proof, then you ought to question your thoughts. For instance, if I can’t prove from the OT that the tithe is not relevant to the church then I ought to reconsider my thoughts.
There are three areas in the old testament that I use to support freewill, spirit-led offerings for the new testament. One of them digs into the conditional tithing covenant of Jacob, and the other deals with the freewill gifts given on the OT day of Pentecost. Finally, the one I am going to get into below is the passage in Exodus 35:20-35. I used this passage below to answer how freewill, and spirit-led offerings can support local ministry. The passage below is about 15 verses, but you only need to read a couple to see what I’m referrring to:
Exodus 35:20 Then the whole Israelite community withdrew from Moses’ presence, and everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering to the LORD for the work on the Tent of Meeting, for all its service, and for the sacred garments. All who were willing, men and women alike, came and brought gold jewelry of all kinds: brooches, earrings, rings and ornaments. They all presented their gold as a wave offering to the LORD. Everyone who had blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen, or goat hair, ram skins dyed red or hides of sea cows brought them. Those presenting an offering of silver or bronze brought it as an offering to the LORD, and everyone who had acacia wood for any part of the work brought it. Every skilled woman spun with her hands and brought what she had spun—blue, purple or scarlet yarn or fine linen. And all the women who were willing and had the skill spun the goat hair. The leaders brought onyx stones and other gems to be mounted on the ephod and breastpiece. They also brought spices and olive oil for the light and for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense. All the Israelite men and women who were willing brought to the LORD freewill offerings for all the work the LORD through Moses had commanded them to do.
Then Moses said to the Israelites, “See, the LORD has chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and he has filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts– to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood and to engage in all kinds of artistic craftsmanship. And he has given both him and Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, the ability to teach others. He has filled them with skill to do all kinds of work as craftsmen, designers, embroiderers in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen, and weavers—all of them master craftsmen and designers.
To me, this is a beautiful picture of how God intends his Church to function. Israel was not commanded to tithe until they settled in the promised land, so this passage is prior to the tithe requirement. How many times is willing in there? How many times is freewill mentioned? How many times does it mention that God has filled his people with gifts and skills and abilities? This passage proves that God is capable of equipping his people to finance and support the local ministry of God without incorporating the structure of the law to do it. We act as if the church’s hands will be tied behind our backs if we don’t require tithing. Can it get any plainer than this? Can we stop whining about how people need to tithe when actually we just have people that are not willing to listen to the Spirit of God?
I don’t know about you, but I want this old-time religion. The question is are you and I willing? So what about you? Do you think this passage portrays a good example for us to follow today?