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In the Gates

Promptness in Giving

Exodus 22.29

You shall not delay to offer from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me.”

Numbers 3.11-13

Promptness in giving is what’s in view here. Israelites were expected to give on schedule as soon as the offerings came off the vine, tree, or stalk, or out of the flocks and herds.

Again, this passage speaks to the practices of giving of many believers, who pay all their bills and make all their purchases first, then, from whatever they have left over, they give to the Lord. God understood that His people might fall into this snare, and so He emphatically commanded them to give the offering at once, right off the top.

It’s not likely His opinion on this has changed.

God Himself substituted for the first-born of the sons of Israel. He took the Levites unto Himself in the place of the sons of Israel (Num. 3.11-13). Still, all the first-born sons were His, and each time a father or mother looked on that first-born son, he or she would be expected to look upon the Levites as their own family, an entire tribe given to the Lord and His service in lieu of the child who labored with his father in the fields.

The people of Israel doubtless knew that God had a right to the first-born. They remembered how He had dealt with the first-born of Egypt. But in the Levites they had a perpetual emblem of God’s grace and of His own ability to “substitute” offerings pleasing to Him in place of His sinful people.

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T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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