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Shemot/Exodus 25:2 "Speak to the Sons of Israel and they shall take to Me a portion"
Here at the start of the instructions concerning the building of the Mishkan, Adonai tells Moshe to speak to the people about the materials that will be needed for the construction of the Tent of Meeting. The L-rd goes on to stress that the gifts are to come only from those whose hearts motivate them to give. Nevertheless, the words used to describe this process are not necessarily those we would expect: , they shall take, and , portion. In other contexts, means 'raising' or 'that which is raised' and is used to describe the wave offerings that are waved before the L-rd but become the portion for the cohanim, eaten by them and their families, but here, as the parasha is going to go on and detail, the gifts are to be precious metals, different coloured wools, linen and animal skins. Similarly, if the materials are to be a free-will offering, the use of the word , they shall take, seems unusual.Rashi explains it to mean 'setting aside', separating the portion to be given from the rest of each person's other possessions.
Rav Sha'ul uses the same words when he writes to the congregation in Corinth, "On the first day of every week let each one of you put aside and save, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come", (1 Cor 16:2, NASB), in order to prepare a gift of support to be sent to the believers in Jerusalem. See, here too, that the offering is to be a free-will offering as there is to be no public collection or exhortation when Rav Sha'ul gets there, simply a gathering up of that which people have already decided in their hearts to give and set on one side for that purpose.
In these days there is considerable debate about the requirements to tithe, whether the tithe is to be seen as a minimum or maximum, whether collections should be formally taken or boxes discretely provide for people to use, let alone where the offerings are to be given: to a local congregation or to other organisations who compete for our financial support. Some people seem to resent the principle of tithing as a discipline, of being required (or expected) to give away a portion of their money.
Understanding three scriptural principles will help us in our attitude to our finances. The first is that, "G-d loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7, NASB) - G-d is more interested in the state of our hearts and the way we give than how much or how often we give. Secondly, "all things come from You, and from Your hand have we given You" (1 Chr 29:14, NASB - rather than resenting the smaller proportion of our money that we give, focus on the larger proportion that we use for ourselves and the fact that it all comes from and belongs to G-d anyway. Thirdly, "it is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35, NASB) - G-d's blessing follows those who give and make the kingdom economy flow.
Further Study: Read in full 2 Corinthians 9:7, 1 Chronicles 29:14 and Acts 20:35
Application: How is our attitude to money challenged by the words of Scripture? Do we regularly set aside the L-rd's portion and freely lift it before Him as a pleasing and fragrant offering of our lives and love for Him?
© Jonathan Allen, 2004
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