We're called to live on a circle in a square. A circle inside of a square is 79%. The math from the commands matches the illustration from agriculture. 2.5% is put in the hands of the Priest; then a tenth is given to the church; and a tenth for yourself, in the form of savings, but one third of that is given to the poor.
He doesn't want you just to go to heaven one day, he wants you to bring heaven to earth now. If your first fruits are in the right hands, your finances can't die. You sanctify everything else in your life by honouring the lord with your first fruits.
James 1.26 If anyone considers himself religious and does yet not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. Religion that our God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress. The religion our father sees as pure is generosity.
Leviticus 19:9-10. The issue is: Tzedakah, and developing a Tzedakah spirit.
The question then is: How do you define Tzedakah? There’s got to be a working definition of it.
There are 2 answers: one, there's this sort ethereal sort of: are you a generous person?
But they also have a working definition, a system for doing their money; and the name of their system is called Tzedakah. In other words, if you do your money this way, this is called Tzedakah.
So here is the entire system. I’m going tell you the end from the beginning, and then go back and show it to you in Scripture.
The first thing they do with their money, the first offering to be given; is called the highest offering, the holiest offering. In some places it’s called the high-holy offering (superlative highest and holy offering), is called Terumah.
It was the smallest offering as well. The smallest offering was actually the holiest offering, because it was the first offering, the primary offering; and it sanctified all other offerings.
In their world, to tithe, without offering Terumah, was just lunacy! The very thing that sanctified the tithe was the Terumah; and the Terumah was very small - it was 1/40th.
I was teaching this once in the South, and said: it was 1/40th; and one guy shouted from the back “Well who could afford to give 40% to something?” Um, to which my thought was: where did you go to school? 1/40th is not 40%, its 2.5%, or $25 on a $1000, set apart for the Lord as a Terumah offering.
You might hear this called the ‘Offering of First- fruits. In their culture, first-fruits had to become Terumah, in order to be sanctified. For it to become Terumah, two things had to happen: it had to be lifted high; and then it had to be placed into the hands of their pastor.
The 1/40th offering went straight to the ‘man of God’ in your life, went straight to your pastor. A pastor was never intended to live on a salary from the tithe. The pastor was intended to live on the Terumah of the people.
We're going to talk about that… relax! The Terumah offering is mentioned 3 times more often than the Tithe in the bible; and I'll show it to you ok. It’s mentioned 87 times!
The problem is: the English translators translate the same word 13 different ways! If you translate something 13 different ways, it dilutes its importance by a factor of 13, correct? I'm going to show you some of those ways.
Terumah was 1/40th, straight to the pastor. Next they would take a tenth of what was left, and they would give it to their church. I’m putting it into today’s terms: they would give it to their church.
Here’s how detailed they paid their tithes. They would harvest their crop. They would place their crop on top of the animals. Then they would just go 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10; move the animal out of line randomly, as a tithe; they would put him in a tithe pile, and then bring the whole tithe to the store house.
They would pay the next tenth to themselves. They were commanded to give the next tenth to themselves. The reason for this, for the confusion here is: if you take Strong’s concordance, and do a word study on the word ‘tithe’. In some places it says: “every year, bring a tithe of that years increase into my house, so there’s be food in my house, and the Levites take care of it...”
In other places it says: “every year you should bring a tenth and save it, store it up for your feast and your festivals, and an inheritance to your children’s children”.
So they were commanded, not only to give a tenth; but they were commanded to save a tenth, for a couple of reasons.
One: to save up for their feasts and festivals. But what was left over from their feast and festivals, they would trade it in for silver and gold; and save it up as an inheritance for their children’s children.
Which once again leads me to a question: if you’re over 55, and had saved 10% your whole life, how much money would you have? And then of course when you die, and leave that to your children, where are they starting? And then if they save 10% how much money do they have?