I’ve been giving some thoughts to the concept of tithing and what most believers understand to be offerings, and couldn’t help but re-evaluate what I’d always known and believed.
In the evening quail came up and covered the camp, and in the morning dew lay around the camp. And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as frost on the ground. When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the LORD has given you to eat. (Exodus 16:13-15, ESV)
Recently on Facebook and Google+, I asked the following question:
Did Israel have to “sow” to receive their provision of manna every day?
The responses were just as I thought, people said no, but only a few elaborated to explain how God, through and through, provided and all they did was gather.
Now think of this if you will; Israel, the people of God did nothing to cause God to give it to them.
There was nothing in their own actions which God reacted to. They merely gathered the harvest, which appeared like dew on the ground in the morning whenever they woke up each day during the whole time they were in the wilderness until they entered their promised land.
God specifically designed this substance in order to teach Israel a lesson about Himself regarding His provision. It was there every day; they could trust that God would provide it and not forget to one day, nor would He change his mind and make them fend for themselves. Its characteristics changed miraculously on the sixth day–its shelf life lasted longer, so they wouldn’t have to gather any more of it on the seventh day, but after that it went back to only lasting one day. I know of no other food or substance on the earth that operates this way or whose expiration date changes based on the day you bought it or obtained it.
Manna is not like bread, which you need to sow seed in order to obtain. With bread, you need to sow seed to create wheat, and grains, and so forth, and then you must go through a process (a type of works) in order to kneed the dough, bake it and prepare it. Human effort is still required for almost any other food on the planet, through either the creation of it, or the preparation of it.
Not so with manna.
It was simply provided. What seed can man so in order to yield a crop of manna? There’s no store on the planet that sells ‘manna seed’. Almost anything and everything man eats, comes from the earth, whether meat he hunts or crops he sows and reaps.
Yet this manna came from the sky.
Everything about its existence was miraculous and simply… provided by God.
Manna From Heaven That Satisfies
One of my favorite things to think about regarding the manna is that God designed this food to be something humans would desire, since it is said of it that it tasted sweet. He didn’t make some bland tasting vegetable show up every morning but instead something similar in taste to cake, possibly.
Because that’s what God is like — He’s good!
But since God could have designed this food any way He wanted, why did He design something where man could do nothing himself, nor sow any seed in order to obtain it? Since most things in the Old Testament are a type and a shadow of something in the New Testament, and it’s said of Jesus that He was manna that came down from heaven, we notice something interesting. The same way we’re told by Jesus that whoever comes to Him will not hunger, and whoever believes in Him will never thirst (John 6:35b), Israel came to follow God in the wilderness and never lacked and never went hungry. Manna was there every morning until they reached the promised land, and then it was a land flowing with milk and honey and abundance.
I like what Dave Roberson says of this in that, a Savior cannot come from a spiritually dead gene pool. There was nothing man could do to save himself. God had to send a Savior — no religious effort on our part. No formulas.
Many believers undoubtedly understand this to be talking about salvation, and God providing Jesus to pay for our sins on the cross and we merely receive. But they stop there and don’t understand this at all when it comes to money. We stop there and listen to pastors in pulpits all over the place talk about sowing your ‘seed money’ in order to reap something (usually finances) from God. That’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard, and yet people gobble it up and give with those very motives in place.
Can you imagine picking a few pennies off the ground, and then offering them to God and saying “here, I’m sowing this, now I expect my 100-fold return”? He provided those pennies in the first place, and you think giving them back to Him will make Him give you a multiplied amount of them in return for the effort (works) on your part?
Hello! The whole earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof (1 Cor 10:26, Psalm 24:1)!
As believers, when we give financially or give of our time, it’s because it helps what we’re giving to. A lot of churches pay their pastors and staff from the offerings and donations received. Missionaries tend to live on support and need it since, as I can attest to firsthand, often times they’re on visas that don’t permit them to work in those countries they find themselves in. Or they are doing something full time and it doesn’t pay the bills. This I understand, but beloved, please make sure you’re not falling for some kind of “tithe or else you get under a Malachi curse“. Friend, if you’re believing any of that stuff or you’re puzzled or maybe offended at this post, consider what Jesus himself said:
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. (Matthew 6:25-34, ESV, emphasis mine)
And yet lot of what passes as teaching about giving, tithing and offerings advocates doing these very things–sow so you will reap, tithe so you can get God to provide.
Job 41:11 says basically Who has first given to me, that I should repay him? Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine.”
So stop acting like God owes you because you followed all the rules you were taught about what He’ll give you because you put that cheque in the offering bucket for that minister that told you 100 fold return was coming.
August 13th, 2013 Edit:
Our most recent episode of the Fire On Your Head podcast covers this subject more in depth:
If you’d like to subscribe to the Fire On Your Head Podcast, visit our directory in iTunes, on Stitcher Radio or visit FireOnYourHead.com for more subscription options. Check out this episode in our Libsyn directory.