Numbers: giving out of what was given…

Cover to Cover

Reading: Numbers 16:36-19:22

Focus: Numbers 18:21-32

In some corporate businesses, employees are encouraged to buy shares in the company. To encourage the practice, employees are given shares each year in the company as part of their wages. By doing so, the company seeks to encourage its employees to invest further by buying more shares in the company. In some sense, such a practice results in the employee paying their own wage. It encourages productivity and ownership of the company by its own employees.

For ministry workers, pastors, missionaries, people who are supported by the church and its congregations, it can seem a bit weird that the offerings of the congregations distributed to ministry workers is then offered back into the church. The pastor who puts in his offering, puts his own wage back into the pool from which his wages are paid. However, it is a practice of ownership, involvement, and vested interest in the church which supports them.

Interestingly, the practice finds itself with parallels in the practice of the Levites. In Israel, the Levites were not given property as the other tribes were, rather they were designated for the service in the Tabernacle (later, the Temple). For their share in God’s provision, they were to receive as their wage the offerings given by the rest of the Israelites. However, even out of their wages given from the offerings, they were to give a portion of that to the priesthood, the descendants of Aaron. Even though they themselves received from the offerings, they were still to give their share of offerings.

The principle driving this practice (v. 29): “You must present as the LORD’s portion the best and holiest part of everything given to you.” Regardless of how one is provided for, be it wage, ministry support, government social services, etc. it is still all God’s provision for you. After all, all things still belong to Him regardless of the means of their distribution and provision. So, even as ministry workers, pastors, missionaries, supported through the offerings of the contribution, it doesn’t change the fact that it still belongs to God. “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21)

Next Reading: Numbers 20:1-22:21