THIS IS VERY EYE-OPENING. PLEASE READ ALL OF THIS.
Friends, are we actually making offerings to God? Or are we just going through the form of sending money to our favorite ministries? Have we been really worshiping the one true God? We are actually to present our offerings, in our hand, to God in prayer!
The time to do this is between the end of Sabbath and the beginning of our work the new week. Now, in our largely cashless society, it might be writing down our offerings on paper and presenting it to Him. But whether it is cash, a check, or a written vow of what we promise to give Him, we are to make an actual offering to God by our Lamb in heaven. This is not make believe; this is real offering required of us in the Law. We are to participate in it, sacrificing a large portion of our increase by the merits of the Lamb who offers it to God.
What actual offerings do we give? It is far beyond the first tithe. It is even beyond two tithes, or 20 percent.Before either of these, we are to offer the first-fruits. Then, after our tithes we are to offer to the poor among us who belong to God. Sister White wrote several times that this amounted to fully one-fourth of the Jewish income and that we should not be offering less than that today. (Just look up the words “fourth” and “income” in the the EGW database.) In my research on the first-fruits offering, I found that a quarter tithe was a common amount; thus, the poor offering would be similar to that to yield the one fourth of income as God’s portion.
Going the Extra Mile
But we are to go beyond even that, especially if God has increased us with great abundance. What the Law requires is only the minimum! If we only ask the minimum of what we should do for God so that we are not robbing Him, we probably have a legal religion, not an agape love experience. Beyond the systematic offerings of God’s portion just mentioned, the Law includes supplementary offerings. These are namely the sin offering, the trespass offering, the vow offering, the free-will offering, the whole burnt offering (for consecration or surrender), and the thank offering.
This last one – the thank offering – Sister White specifically states that we should give each week along with God’s portion. Would it not be appropriate to include with this monetary offering the offering of our lips, thanking God for the past week’s blessings? I was not aware of this regular thank offering until I just read this quote from 4 Testimonies; however, I have more information on all these offerings in Part 3 of my video series, “Love: Sacrificial or Sentimental?”. Please watch this series if you have not yet.
All of the offerings are thank offerings in a broad sense, and every time we give them it will change our hearts to be more thankful; then we will be joyful instead of sadventists. Not only this, but God will pour out blessings upon us from heaven as He promised through the prophet Malachi. All of the offerings are also our first-fruits in a broad sense because we offer them before we use any of our income and before we do any further work. Thus, these bookend offerings give all of them their meaning.
Making Vows to God
There is one more item to cover, and this is in regards to the last quote in 4 Testimonies. The chapter before it is entitled “Sacredness of Vows.” Vows to God are mentioned throughout the Scriptures. They are promises we make to God – either in our home or in a written note submitted to the church – that we will give a certain amount as an offering. The reason we don’t hear about these anymore is because we have let money-changers come into our churches. And this is the one thing that caused Jesus to rise up in holy indignation when he flipped over the money tables in the temple area. And what did He say to them?
“It is written, My house shall be called the House of Prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves” (Matthew 21:13).
Would He say the same of our churches today? Have our churches become dens of sermonizing and money-changing? Have our mid-week prayer meetings just become more opportunities for sermonizing? And on Sabbaths do we spend more than a few short minutes of prayer as a body? No wonder we are like dry bones. God’s blessings are withheld from us because we are not offering up to Him our prayers and offerings of our increase.
No Money-Changing in God’s House
In our pioneer days, money was never brought into our church services. One or more persons either volunteered or were paid to go home to home to collect offerings from the members each week. Then that which was laid aside on the first day of the week was given to the money carrier. They found that people gave tenfold when they collected money in this manner compared to the people handing their money to the church treasurer of their own accord.
But either way, money was not exchanged during church service. Money is not to be handled on the holy Sabbath day. The offerings had already been made to God on the first day of the week at the family altar. The only thing that was done in the House of God concerning money was vows, and these vows were considered as binding, not to be broken under any circumstances. We have the story of Ananias and Sapphira as a warning regarding this.
I call our people to repentance of our robbery of God. Let us cease to withhold His portion of our income, including our offerings. Instead let us present them all to Him with a thankful, cheerful heart through the Sacrifice of Christ. The early and latter rain will continue to be withheld from us until we obey; and no matter how much climate laws are pushed, it will not yield any prophetic Sunday laws until God’s people repent and are prepared for the crisis.
The Quotes from the Spirit of Prophecy
When to Present Our Offerings
The directions given by the Holy Spirit through the apostle Paul, in regard to gifts, present a principle that applies also to tithing. “On the first day of the week, let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him.” Parents and children are here included. Not only the rich, but the poor are addressed. “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart [through the candid consideration of God’s prescribed plan], so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.” The gifts are to be made in consideration of the great goodness of God to us.
And what more appropriate time could be chosen for setting aside the tithe and presenting our offerings to God? On the Sabbath we have thought upon his goodness. We have beheld his work in creation as an evidence of his power in redemption. Our hearts are filled with thankfulness for his great love. And now, before the toil of the week begins, we return to him his own, and with it an offering to testify our gratitude. Thus our practise will be a weekly sermon, declaring that God is the possessor of all our property, and that he has made us stewards to use it to his glory. Every acknowledgment of our obligation to God will strengthen the sense of obligation. Gratitude deepens as we give it expression; and the joy it brings is life to soul and body.
— Review and Herald, 11/10/1896
How to Present Offerings, and How to Use Them
God’s requirements come first. We are not doing His will if we consecrate to Him what is left of our income after all our imaginary wants have been supplied. Before any part of our earnings is consumed, we should take out and present to Him that portion which He claims. In the old dispensation an offering of gratitude was kept continually burning upon the altar, thus showing man’s endless obligation to God. If we have prosperity in our secular business, it is because God blesses us. A part of this income is to be devoted to the poor, and a large portion to be applied to the cause of God. When that which God claims is rendered to Him, the remainder will be sanctified and blessed to our own use. But when a man robs God by withholding that which He requires, His curse rests upon the whole.
— 4 Testimonies, p. 477