The children of Israel were waiting in the wilderness near Mt. Sinai when Almighty God descended in great glory to meet with them, for the purpose of delivering His commandments, statues, and ordinances to the nation of Israel. It was during this momentous event where Moses was summoned up to the Presence of God to receive these vital instructions from God, by as it were, face to face. As God was instructing Moses, He commanded him to take up a special offering from the children of Israel, and here is where we discover: how God raised an offering for His tabernacle and sanctuary.
Our text picks up the conversation between God and Moses in Exodus 25:1-2. Reading from the King James version, we are able to learn the basic elements of how God raised an offering when it says as follows:
(1)”And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,”
(2)”Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.”
Notice the criteria that God instructed Moses to use to receive the offering from each man. First, we see that each person had to be willing to give. They were NOT to be threatened into giving with the wrath of God, they were to only give willingly of their own accord. Furthermore, they were NOT to be shamed into giving, they were only to give from a willing place that says, ‘I want to give to the work of God.’
Next, we see the second element in how God raised an offering from the children of Israel. As God continued to instruct Moses in verse two, He explained to him that not only were they to only give if they were willing, but that it must come from the heart. God did not want an offering that was contrived from tricks or cons or from any other form of man’s manipulation. God only accepted an offering that was given from a willing heart.
What Can The Church Learn, Today, From How God Raised An Offering?
We as the the church of the Living God, must learn to raise our offerings, for the various necessities of the church, through honesty and by using godly means. Over the centuries, however, and all throughout church history, it has been noted that there have been men and women of God who would use almost any type of ungodly means of raising money for the needs of the church, that one can even think of.
They have been said to use:
- The Fear, of missing out on the will of God for not giving;
- The Fear of missing out on God’s blessings for not giving;
- Shame and embarrassment among fellow church members
- The threat of the Wrath of God, in biblical proportions, being rained down on all non-givers
All of these methods involve one particular element that CANNOT be found anywhere in God’s instructions to Moses in our text for raising an offering. That element is Manipulation. It is Not God’s will that His people should be manipulated into giving to the work of God!
That is not how He works!
How Do We Know This?
The Apostle Paul clearly taught what our attitude toward giving should be in 2 Corinthians 9:7, when he says,
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
Here, Paul was teaching that God Only wants us as Christians to give from a special place in the heart, WITHOUT grudge or compulsion, but very cheerfully. He wants His people to want to give and not to be forced to give. And He will, in fact, bless those who do so.
Is There Scripture that Backs Up The Minister Teaching About The Blessing Of God From Giving?
Most Definitely; the men and women of God should, in fact remind and teach the people of God that when they do give with the right attitude, God will respond in kind. In fact, Jesus taught in, Luke 6:38 that when we do give, it will be given right back to us, when He said,
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”
Yes, there is a place where we as the church must teach the blessedness of giving from a willing heart. Why? The reason for this is because there are clear promises in the Word of God about giving. But here is the catch, if you will: it involves giving, in general, to those in need as well as to the work of God.
Consider, for example, the way God commanded the children of Israel in Deuteronomy 15:10 to give to their servants during the year of release. He said,
“Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto.”
This scripture does not involve giving to a particular organization, but to a individual. This may not be popular to teach, but in this passage, the truth is the promise of God’s blessing being given to us in all of our works (as many ministers teach) only comes as we fairly give to a person or persons who has earned it as a loyal servant/s. Yes, this passage points out that God is actually concerned with the way His people treats their employees or treat people who work for them. If they have served us well and we decide to reward them handsomely upon their release, there is a promise of special blessings that God will give to us, in this particular case.
For anybody to use this scripture in any other way, is to misuse the Word of God for one’s own benefit.
In this verse, God instructs the employer to give generously without being grieved when they do give, and He promises that for giving willingly and cheerfully, God will, in turn, bless all the works and all that they put their hand to do, God will bless it.
There are other scriptural promises pertaining to how we should give to the poor. One, in particular that comes to mind is found in Proverbs 19:17 when it says,
“He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”
This scripture here is pretty much self-explanatory, if you have pity on the poor and give to them, in God’s eyes, its like lending to Him. Yes, when we give from a place of compassion to the poor, it is the same as lending to God. And be well aware, that God will not allow us to lend Him anything without repaying us for what we have given Him.
This is very important to know!
Should The Church, Then, Raise Money?
Yes, the church should take up offerings and raise money for its necessities, but not with false promises or false threats. Toward the beginning of the early church, we are taught by scripture that the Believers in Christ sold all that they had and brought the money to the Apostles. We find this in Acts 4:34-35, as it says,
(34)’Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,’
(35)’And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.’
Notice, here that these people didn’t just give a tithe, they gave almost everything they had; but not to build large, expensive buildings, but to build up each person in the church, as they had need. Literally, the purpose of giving, found here, was to provide for the needs of everyone in the church, so that each person could praise God, and serve God, and fellowship with other believers without worrying about their necessities.
That is not to say, that they did not continue to own houses and lands or silver and gold, but it demonstrated that the early church raised money to help others, in the church, who had need, and to give to the widows and orphans among them. The Apostle Paul, himself, the man who wrote, by the Holy Ghost, two-thirds of the New Testament, raised money for the poor saints in Jerusalem as we see in I Corinthians 16:1-4 when he wrote,
(1)”Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.”
(2)”Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
(3)”And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.”
(4)”And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.”
In these verses, again, we see that an offering is raised by a man of God, but notice the how and why the offering is raised. The Apostle Paul asked these people to set aside money on each Sunday for the purpose of giving the money to a designated person of their own choosing, who would, in turn, bring that offering to Jerusalem. Furthermore, the purpose of this particular offering was to help the poor saints who were in Jerusalem.
Now, on the other hand, we find that there are verses in the Bible that suggest that offerings were made to cover the operating expenses of the church, particularly the minister’s salary. Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote about those whose labor and work is the gospel in I Corinthians 9:13-16, he said,
(13)”Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?”
(14)”Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.”
(15)”But I have used none of these things: neither have I written these things, that it should be so done unto me: for it were better for me to die, than that any man should make my glorying void.”
(16)”For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
Paul is saying, By All Means, Pay Your Preacher, Because Jesus Commanded It. If he labors in the gospel, just as the priests in the Old Testament were paid by the offerings given for the operating expenses of the sanctuary or the temple, so should the preacher be paid a living wage from offerings given for the operating expenses of the church. Never-the-less, Paul did not take a salary from the offerings that he raised.
Paul was a tent maker by trade, and he continued to be so in order to receive a greater blessing from God. Plus, he admitted that he did, in fact, have the power to raise money for himself and his necessities, but he did not want to allow anybody to be able to brag that they paid Paul’s way. More than that, I personally think Paul did not want any one church fellowship to believe that they were his boss because they paid his salary. He wanted God to receive all the glory in his life.
In conclusion, we must remember to be wary and cautious with the way the church raises money now-a-days. Some use fundraising and offerings to finance everything But to help the needy people of the church. Yet, we do not find this in the early church from the apostles. Some people, now-a-days, even raise money for the right and correct reasons, but they do so using the wrong methods and the wrong means.
We must remember how God raised an offering is the way that we should raise an offering. God raised an offering only from people who were of a willing mind and a willing heart. He wanted those who gave to want to give. God did not threaten judgment, if His people did not give to finance His tabernacle. He did not threaten to cut people off, if they did not give. More importantly, God did not promise His people that He would make each person that gave a millionaire.
There was no manipulation in how God raised an offering. He expects those who have the charge over His people in the church to be honest and righteous in everything they do, particularly when it come to taking up an offering. We do a disservice to God and to His church when we use manipulative means to raise the money that we need.
Furthermore, we do a disservice to God and to His church when we decide to raise money to finance elaborate and expensive items, supposedly for the work of God, but really for our own benefit and greed. Yes, it may be difficult to raise needed funds from the church, honestly, without using some form of manipulation or the other; but this is what God expects of us. He wants us to be ministers in His Image.
Then, we must remember: Whom it is, Who is our Real Resource! Its not rich people, poor people, or influential people, but its God alone!
It is God who is the Source of our lives; God the Source of our strength; and God Who is the Source for all of our needs. And remember, that He promised to supply All of Our Needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). A-MEN