July 10 - Nehemiah 10:39

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

For the people of Israel and the sons of Levi shall bring the contribution of grain, wine, and oil to the chambers, where the vessels of the sanctuary are, as well as the priests who minister, and the gatekeepers and the singers. We will not neglect the house of our God.

This is one of those topics that pastors dread … asking their church members to give to the work of the church.  They will avoid it as long as possible, until the finance committee of the church insists that there be a fund drive to build the budget for the next year.  Then, they either end up apologizing because they need to ask for more money, or they get all arrogant and inform the congregation that it is their responsibility to open their pockets and give.  It is seldom a good-natured sermon series and often can be quite contentious, especially if there are needs greater than people are used to giving to.

Growing up as the daughter of a pastor, and then working with a variety of pastors, I’ve seen it all and it is never an easy task.

God called the Israelites to bring their first fruits … in verses 36-37, Nehemiah writes that they are to bring the first of their sons and their cattle, the firstborn of their herds and flocks, the first of their dough, their contributions, the fruit of every tree, the wine and the oil.

The Israelites were called to bring the first of everything. Before they could sell it or give it away, before they could turn it into a meal or store it away; before anything else, they were to bring their offering to the Lord’s house.

Why?  Because there was no way they could neglect the house of God.

As much as these items paid for upkeep for the actual building, the Temple was home to so many more things. In verse 39, we read that the contributions should come to the building where the vessels of the sanctuary were, but that is also where they would find the priests who ministered to the people … and the gatekeepers and the singers.

There was ministry happening in that temple and the gifts of the people were meant to support that ministry.

Can you imagine how our society would be transformed if our pastors and churches had enough funds to truly minister to those in need?  What would it look like if the churches, rather than our government cared so well for the poor that there was no longer any need?  What would it look like if our pastors didn't have to preach sermons each year in order to raise funds because the money was simply there.  They could do the type of ministry they dream of doing, caring for people, expanding the church’s reach into the world, sending people out to be missionaries … changing lives.

We will not neglect the house of God.  Nehemiah declared that the Israelites would not do so.  We must believe the same.