TBU: The Bible Unpacked: Comprehensive Edition

II. Offerings

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Chapter 27  Part II

Offerings

Making offerings to God of money and/or goods is an integral part of worshiping God. Moreover, the Bible gives a number of good reasons to give offerings to God. It also gives guidelines on what to give and how to give to God. Additionally, the Bible emphasizes the need for our lives to please God in order for our offerings to be acceptable to him.

Note that this section contains many OT verses speaking of offerings required by the OT law. Some kinds of OT offerings, or sacrifices, were specifically for sin (cf. Offerings for Atonement for Sinners). These have no current application for Christians as Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for sin once and for all. In contrast, other types of offerings were given for reasons such as thanksgiving to God and for the service of God. These offerings have their parallels in Christian worship offerings today – in the giving of money and other resources to God. Moreover, many of the OT regulations concerning these offerings provide reasons for and important principles involved in giving to God that are applicable today.

Reasons to Give to God

We are required to give offerings to God

Ps 96:8  Praise the Lord’s glorious name; bring an offering and come into his Temple.  GNT

Ezek 20:40b  [God, speaking of/to the people of Israel:] There I will accept them, and there I will require your contributions and the choicest of your gifts, with all your sacred offerings.  ESV

Offerings are an important part of worshiping God

Isa 19:21  And the Lord will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the Lord in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the Lord and perform them.  ESV

Offerings acknowledge God’s provision for us . . .

Deut 16:9-10  [Moses, to the Israelites:] You must count seven weeks; you must begin to count them from the time you begin to harvest the standing grain. 10Then you are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks before the Lord your God with the voluntary offering that you will bring, in proportion to how he has blessed you.  NET

The people were to bring an offering of an amount that was in proportion to the size of the harvest that God had blessed them with. Today believers likewise offer a portion of what they have earned from their work.

. . . In fact, all we have to give God has been given to us by him and ultimately belongs to him

1Chr 29:14, 16  [David, to God:] But who am I and who are my people, that we should be in a position to contribute this much? Indeed, everything comes from you, and we have simply given back to you what is yours.16O Lord our God, all this wealth, which we have collected to build a temple for you to honor your holy name, comes from you; it all belongs to you.  NET

Offerings express thanksgiving to God for his deliverance

Ps 56:12-13  [David:] O God, I have taken vows before you; therefore I will offer thanksgiving sacrifices to you. 13For you have delivered me from death and my feet from stumbling, so that I may walk before God in the light of the living!  ISV

Offerings support the service of God

Ex 35:29  The Israelites brought a freewill offering to the Lord, every man and woman whose heart was willing to bring materials for all the work that the Lord through Moses had commanded them to do.  NET

Offerings are often to help the needy – bringing thanks and praise to God

2Cor 9:12-13  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] What you are doing is much more than a service that supplies God’s people with what they need. It is something that will make many others thank God. 13The way in which you have proved yourselves by this service will bring honor and praise to God. You believed the message about Christ, and you obeyed it by sharing generously with God’s people and with everyone else.  CEV

The Corinthians’ “service” was giving towards the needs of the poor believers in Jerusalem, as referred to in the latter part of v. 13. Such giving is effectively making offerings to God.

By giving to God, we ourselves will be blessed

Luke 6:38  Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.  NET

Phil 4:18-19  [Paul, to the Philippian believers:] For I have received everything, and I have plenty. I have all I need because I received from Epaphroditus what you sent – a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, very pleasing to God. 19And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  NET

Note: God has given us the ultimate gift – Jesus Christ himself

John 3:16  For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.  NET

2Cor 9:14-15  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] And in their prayers on your behalf they long for you because of the extraordinary grace God has shown to you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!  NET

Verse 14 speaks of the Corinthians’ generosity as being a manifestation of God’s extraordinary grace. By its insertion immediately following this, v. 15 suggests that God’s “indescribable gift” of his Son is a reason and motivating factor for Christians to give to God, in accordance with and in appreciation of his incredible gift to them.

 Questions for Section A

What to Give to God

Give the “firstfruits” to God

2Chr 31:5  As soon as the command was spread abroad, the people of Israel gave in abundance the firstfruits of grain, wine, oil, honey, and of all the produce of the field.  ESV

The OT speaks of giving to God the first portion of what we produce, often referred to as the “firstfruits”. Today many believers emulate this by giving to God a portion of their wage on first receiving it. This acknowledges God’s provision and goodness in a way that honors him (cf. Prov 3:9) – putting him first, rather than simply offering him the leftovers that we can spare. Note also that offering the firstfruits to God was a statement, made in faith, that the rest of the harvest would take place – a principle also applicable today.

Give the best to God . . .

Ex 23:19a  [A directive to the Israelites:] You must bring the best of the firstfruits of your land to the Holy Tent of the Lord your God.  NCV™

. . . Do not give what is inferior to God

Lev 22:20-21  [Directives to the Israelites:] You shall not offer anything that has a blemish, for it will not be acceptable for you. 21And when anyone offers a sacrifice of peace offerings to the Lord to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering from the herd or from the flock, to be accepted it must be perfect; there shall be no blemish in it.  ESV

Give all that you can

2Cor 8:2-3a  [Paul, speaking of the Macedonian churches:] They have been tested by great troubles, and they are very poor. But they gave much because of their great joy. 3I can tell you that they gave as much as they were able and even more than they could afford.  NCV™

Mark 12:41-44  Then he [Jesus] sat down opposite the offering box, and watched the crowd putting coins into it. Many rich people were throwing in large amounts. 42And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, worth less than a penny. 43He called his disciples and said to them, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has put more into the offering box than all the others. 44For they all gave out of their wealth. But she, out of her poverty, put in what she had to live on, everything she had.”  NET

It would appear that Jesus is speaking of the widow’s action as being exemplary.

The practice of giving an amount in proportion to one’s income – such as a tenth

1Cor 16:2  [Paul, to believers:] Every Sunday each of you must put aside some money, in proportion to what you have earned, and save it up, so that there will be no need to collect money when I come.  GNT

Deut 14:22  [A directive to the Israelites:] Set aside a tithe—a tenth of all that your fields produce each year.  GNT

Offer spiritual sacrifices to God

1Pet 2:5a  [Peter, to believers:] You also are like living stones, so let yourselves be used to build a spiritual temple—to be holy priests who offer spiritual sacrifices to God.  NCV™

Heb 13:15  Through him then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, acknowledging his name.  NET

 Questions for Section B

How to Give to God

Give in a way that is acceptable to God

Lev 19:5  [A directive to the Israelites:] When you sacrifice a fellowship offering to the Lord, offer it in such a way that will be accepted.  NCV™

Give willingly

2Cor 9:7  [Paul, to believers:] Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.  NET

Give joyfully

1Chr 29:17b  [David, to God:] In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.  ESV

Note that the first part of the verse speaks of making offerings with sincerity and honest intent.

Give generously

2Cor 9:5-6  [Paul, to the Corinthian believers:] Therefore I thought it necessary to urge these brothers to go to you in advance and to arrange ahead of time the generous contribution you had promised, so this may be ready as a generous gift and not as something you feel forced to do. 6My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.  NET

Note that in v. 5 Paul is speaking of a gift towards the support of needy believers.

Give regularly . . .

1Cor 16:2  [Paul, to believers:] On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come.  NET

This verse is quite probably speaking of money being brought to Christian gatherings held on the first day of every week.

. . . and give on special occasions

Num 29:39  [A directive to the Israelites:] “‘At your festivals you should bring these to the Lord: your burnt offerings, grain offerings, drink offerings and fellowship offerings. These are in addition to other promised offerings and special gifts you want to give to the Lord.’”  NCV™

1Ki 8:63  Solomon offered as peace offerings to the Lord 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep. Then the king and all the Israelites dedicated the Lord’s temple.  NET

Note: The practice of making of vows to God, which have to be kept

Deut 23:21-23  [Moses, to the Israelites:] When you make a vow to the Lord your God, don’t delay paying it, because the Lord your God will certainly demand payment from you, and then you will be guilty of sin. 22But if you refrain from making a vow, then you won’t be guilty. 23Be sure you do whatever you promise, because you have given your word voluntarily to the Lord your God.  ISV

Vows are voluntary promises made to God, usually as an act of worship, expressing devotion or thanksgiving. Regarding thanksgiving, vows may be made either in response to something one has received or as a promise to God if he would grant a request. A vow usually involves offering something to God, but can instead involve doing something or abstaining from something. The practice is not compulsory and is rarely mentioned in the NT.

 Questions for Section C

Righteousness and Making Offerings

We must live righteously to acceptably worship God . . .

Amos 5:7, 21, 23-24  [God:] You, Israel, turn justice into poison and throw righteousness on the ground.21I hate your festivals; I despise them. I’m not pleased with your religious assemblies.23Spare me the sound of your songs. I won’t listen to the music of your harps. 24But let justice flow like a river and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.  GW

Mal 3:3-4  He [the Messiah] will sit refining and purifying silver, purifying the children of Levi, refining them like gold and silver. Then they’ll bring an offering in righteousness to the Lord. 4Then the offering to the Lord by Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable as it was in the past, even as in former years.  ISV

. . . Our offerings are not acceptable to God if our lives do not please him

Jer 6:19b-20  [God, speaking of his unfaithful people:] For they have paid no attention to what I have said, and they have rejected my law. 20I take no delight when they offer up to me frankincense that comes from Sheba or sweet–smelling cane imported from a faraway land. I cannot accept the burnt offerings they bring me. I get no pleasure from the sacrifices they offer to me.  NET

Moreover, God desires righteousness more than offerings and sacrifices

Mark 12:33  And to love him [God] with all your heart, with all your mind, and with all your strength and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.  NET

1Sam 15:22  But Samuel answered [King Saul], “What pleases the Lord more: burnt offerings and sacrifices or obedience to his voice? It is better to obey than to sacrifice. It is better to listen to God than to offer the fat of sheep.  NCV™

We should in fact offer ourselves to God, in service to him

Rom 12:1  [Paul:] So then, my brothers and sisters, because of God’s great mercy to us I appeal to you: offer yourselves as a living sacrifice to God, dedicated to his service and pleasing to him.  GNT

 Questions for Section D

Pray for persecuted Christians