The Care of God, Part 1
January 15, 2006
This sermon was presented before the Load, Kentucky, Church of Christ, on January 15, 2006. God cares for His people, and has set forth the means to provide that care. I pray that we shall all learn His methods in caring for His children. Bernie Parsons
The Care of God, Part I
A sermon by Bernie Parsons
Part 1 in a series of five, presented at the Load, Kentucky, church of Christ on Sunday, 01/15/2006
One of the distinguishing characteristics of our Creator is His love and care for us. This was manifested early in the history of the people named Israel. God knows the ways of mankind, and knows that some will prosper in this life while others do not fare as well. He has always made provision for this. When the Law of Moses was established, finances were a key and integral part of the governance of the people.
First of all, for the creation of the tabernacle, a freewill offering was sought.
Exodus 35:4: “And Moses spake unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, saying, This is the thing which the LORD commanded, saying, 5: Take ye from among you an offering unto the LORD: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it, an offering of the LORD; gold, and silver, and brass, 6: And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats' hair, 7: And rams' skins dyed red, and badgers' skins, and shittim wood, 8: And oil for the light, and spices for anointing oil, and for the sweet incense, 9: And onyx stones, and stones to be set for the ephod, and for the breastplate.”
Freewill offerings also were given for construction of the temple at Jerusalem.
1 Chronicles 29:3: “Moreover, because I have set my affection to the house of my God, I have of mine own proper good, of gold and silver, which I have given to the house of my God, over and above all that I have prepared for the holy house, 4: Even three thousand talents of gold, of the gold of Ophir, and seven thousand talents of refined silver, to overlay the walls of the houses withal: 5: The gold for things of gold, and the silver for things of silver, and for all manner of work to be made by the hands of artificers. And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day unto the LORD? 6: Then the chief of the fathers and princes of the tribes of Israel, and the captains of thousands and of hundreds, with the rulers of the king's work, offered willingly, 7: And gave for the service of the house of God of gold five thousand talents and ten thousand drams, and of silver ten thousand talents, and of brass eighteen thousand talents, and one hundred thousand talents of iron. 8: And they with whom precious stones were found gave them to the treasure of the house of the LORD, by the hand of Jehiel the Gershonite. 9: Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy. 10: Wherefore David blessed the LORD before all the congregation: and David said, Blessed be thou, LORD God of Israel our father, for ever and ever. 11: Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. 12: Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all. 13: Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious name. 14: But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee, and of thine own have we given thee. 15: For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding. 16: O LORD our God, all this store that we have prepared to build thee an house for thine holy name cometh of thine hand, and is all thine own.”
A storehouse of the collected treasure contained the donations until the temple could be built. The idea of a storehouse continued when it came to the feeding and upkeep of the priests of the temple, and their families.
Deuteronomy 14:22: “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. 23: And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.”
Deuteronomy 14:27: “And the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. 28: At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: 29: And the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.”
Numbers 18:23: “But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance. 24: But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. 25: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 26: Thus speak unto the Levites, and say unto them, When ye take of the children of Israel the tithes which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then ye shall offer up an heave offering of it for the LORD, even a tenth part of the tithe. 27: And this your heave offering shall be reckoned unto you, as though it were the corn of the threshingfloor, and as the fulness of the winepress. 28: Thus ye also shall offer an heave offering unto the LORD of all your tithes, which ye receive of the children of Israel; and ye shall give thereof the LORD's heave offering to Aaron the priest. 29: Out of all your gifts ye shall offer every heave offering of the LORD, of all the best thereof, even the hallowed part thereof out of it. 30: Therefore thou shalt say unto them, When ye have heaved the best thereof from it, then it shall be counted unto the Levites as the increase of the threshingfloor, and as the increase of the winepress. 31: And ye shall eat it in every place, ye and your households: for it is your reward for your service in the tabernacle of the congregation.”
Deuteronomy 26:12: “When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; 13: Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:”
2 Chronicles 31:4: “Moreover he commanded the people that dwelt in Jerusalem to give the portion of the priests and the Levites, that they might be encouraged in the law of the LORD. 5: And as soon as the commandment came abroad, the children of Israel brought in abundance the firstfruits of corn, wine, and oil, and honey, and of all the increase of the fields; and the tithe of all things brought they in abundantly. 6: And concerning the children of Israel and Judah, that dwelt in the cities of Judah, they also brought in the tithe of oxen and sheep, and the tithe of holy things which were consecrated unto the LORD their God, and laid them by heaps. 7: In the third month they began to lay the foundation of the heaps, and finished them in the seventh month. 8: And when Hezekiah and the princes came and saw the heaps, they blessed the LORD, and his people Israel. 9: Then Hezekiah questioned with the priests and the Levites concerning the heaps. 10: And Azariah the chief priest of the house of Zadok answered him, and said, Since the people began to bring the offerings into the house of the LORD, we have had enough to eat, and have left plenty: for the LORD hath blessed his people; and that which is left is this great store. 11: Then Hezekiah commanded to prepare chambers in the house of the LORD; and they prepared them, 12: And brought in the offerings and the tithes and the dedicated things faithfully: over which Cononiah the Levite was ruler, and Shimei his brother was the next.”
There was an annual tithe, and a third year tithe. You see that not only the Levites, who were the priests, were given the tithe every third year into storage, to support them and their families, but that the widows and the fatherless were also allowed to draw from this stock that was “laid up within the gates”. Besides the third year tithe, each year, at the time of the three distinct feasts, the people were to bring freewill offerings to the priests.
Deuteronomy 16:16: “Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: 17: Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.”
The seventh year of crops was dedicated to the poor that they might prosper from it.
Exodus 23:10: “And six years thou shalt sow thy land, and shalt gather in the fruits thereof: 11: But the seventh year thou shalt let it rest and lie still; that the poor of thy people may eat: and what they leave the beasts of the field shall eat. In like manner thou shalt deal with thy vineyard, and with thy oliveyard.”
So far, we see an annual tithe, as well as a tithe every third year that went into the storehouse. We see three feasts a year in which freewill offerings were brought to the priest. We see a sabbath of fields and orchards, in which every seventh year the crops were given to the needy. Next, we shall examine the yearly harvest, in which the needy were also helped.
Deuteronomy 24:19: “When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands. 20: When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. 21: When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.”
Job, whom we know to be a righteous man, according to God’s own declaration, understood the importance of assisting those who were not as well off as he.
Job 29:11: “When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me: 12: Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. 13: The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy. 14: I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem. 15: I was eyes to the blind, and feet was I to the lame.16: I was a father to the poor: and the cause which I knew not I searched out.”
Job 31:13: “If I did despise the cause of my manservant or of my maidservant, when they contended with me; 14: What then shall I do when God riseth up? and when he visiteth, what shall I answer him? 15: Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb? 16: If I have withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the widow to fail; 17: Or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless hath not eaten thereof; 18: (For from my youth he was brought up with me, as with a father, and I have guided her from my mother's womb;) 19: If I have seen any perish for want of clothing, or any poor without covering; 20: If his loins have not blessed me, and if he were not warmed with the fleece of my sheep; 21: If I have lifted up my hand against the fatherless, when I saw my help in the gate: 22: Then let mine arm fall from my shoulder blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone.”
God also commanded the Israelites to loan, at no interest, to their poorer brethren.
Leviticus 25:35: “And if thy brother be waxen poor, and fallen in decay with thee; then thou shalt relieve him: yea, though he be a stranger, or a sojourner; that he may live with thee. 36: Take thou no usury of him, or increase: but fear thy God; that thy brother may live with thee. 37: Thou shalt not give him thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase.”
Deuteronomy 15:11: “For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy, in thy land. 12: And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. 13: And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: 14: Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him.”
Thus, God met the needs of the priests, who labored in the temple, and who taught the people the law of God, and served the people in all things spiritual. Furthermore, He met the needs of the poor Israelites, and even the strangers among them, by way of the tithe, and the storehouses. God met the needs of the poor among the Israelites by charging the wealthy among them to remember those who were needy.
Proverbs 14:31: “He that oppresseth the poor reproacheth his Maker: but he that honoureth him hath mercy on the poor.”
Proverbs 19:17: “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.”