I'm beginning a Bible study to find out just how God funded ministries in the Bible. I've collected a list of references, and so far I've identified 19 methods or ways God raised funds for His work. I am just starting to buckle down to a more in-depth study.
This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but the first three Bible references are all about God's command that His people, the Israelis, were to tithe - give one tenth - of their profits, produce, or income to the Levite tribe as they has been assigned to serve Him full-time on behalf of the whole nation.
The references are: Numbers 18:21-24, Deut. 13:22-29, and 2 Chron. 31:1-4.
In each instance I'm asking myself these questions;
1. Who is the provider and who is the receiver in this instance?
2. What is the relationship to each other?
3. How was the need made known?
4. Was an appeal made, and if so, how?
5. Was there a suggested amount to give or donate?
In the first instance (Numbers) God told Moses, to explain to the people that they were to support the Levites so they could spend all their time serving Him, and them, in the tabernacle. This was to facilitate their own worship and sacrifices to God.
In the second instance, (Deuteronomy), Aaron, the High Priest, was to repeat this command to the people.
In the 2 Chronicles passage, Hezekiah was king, and they had just had a revival and restored worship in the temple. Hezekiah assigned the Levites to their work again, and told the people that they were to support them by bringing in the first tenth of all their crops and produce and new animals, grain, new wine, oil and honey.
The people obeyed and lo and behold, they piled up heaps of stuff. Just heaps and heaps!
This reminds me of something I have heard from time to time, but it is not really mentioned as often as it possibly should be; that is that if the members of a church were to bring in their tithes faithfully, the ministry of the church would thrive. There would be enough for salaries for all the staff that would be needed, including the support of missionaries abroad. There would be enough to give to the poor connected to the church.
I believe I'm part of such a church right now. In fact, I've been blessed by gifts from the Benevolent Fund several times. Whenever a need is presented to the congregation, there is a fresh outpouring of extra gifts. It really does work just as God said.
Although I don't believe tithing is mandated to the New Testament church, generosity and sharing is, and a tithe is a good starting point. We can always give more if our hearts brim up with a desire to give.