March 6

Read Deuteronomy 14 -- 16

In Today 's Reading:

Clean and unclean food; the law of the tithe; dedication of the firstborn; three festivals to be observed; judges and justice

The prosperity of Israel in the promised land did not depend on advanced agricultural techniques, but on obedience to the word of God (Deuteronomy 11:10-15). The Israelites were taught: Be sure to set aside a tithe of all your crops . . . year by year. . . . Then you will learn to fear the LORD your God always (14:22-23).

Tithing reminded the people that they, as well as the land, belonged to the Lord, who should occupy first place in their lives. Since all they possessed was the result of His loving provision, before all other considerations, their tithes to the Lord were to be given first. Furthermore, no Israelite could come before the Lord without an offering commensurate with his income. To merely bring leftovers or a small pittance of one's income would be an expression of disobedience and ingratitude.

The command was clear: No one is to present himself before the LORD empty-handed. Each shall come with a gift in his hand, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has bestowed on you (16:16-17).

The Israelites were not only taught to bring their tithes to the Lord as a spiritual and moral obligation, but they were to "rejoice" with a heartfelt appreciation for the privilege of honoring God with their tithes and offerings; then the LORD your God will bless you (14:29).

Five hundred years before the law was given to Moses, Abraham, father of the faithful (Romans 4:11), paid a tenth (tithe) as an acceptable offering to the Lord. That principle continued throughout the Old Testament, and includes all believers today who are called Abraham's sons (Galatians 3:7). Today, the Lord's ministries, missionaries, churches, Bible schools, Bible publishers, translators, and other agencies are being sustained through the tithes and offerings of His people. Unexpected expenses test the sincerity of our faith. All of us were born selfish and self-centered, desiring to keep everything for self. However, all of what we call our possessions, even ourselves, belongs to God. Jesus said: Therefore, give back to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's (Matthew 22:21).

Christ Revealed:

Through the year of release, which typifies Christ's forgiveness of our sins (Deuteronomy 15:1). This should teach us to forgive others, even as He has forgiven us. And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ (Ephesians 4:32).

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Sen. Christopher Bond (MO) · Country: Slovenia (2 million) in southeastern Europe · Major languages: Slovenian and Serbo-Croatian · Freedom of religion · 81% Roman Catholic; 1% Muslim · Prayer Suggestion: Ask for courage to praise the Lord before unbelievers (Psalms 96:3-5).

Optional Reading: Luke 21

Memory Verse for the Week: Matthew 5:13