Leviticus 7 reveals final directives for the ongoing support of the ministry at the tabernacle. If there is a worship service with offerings that is overseen by God-called ministers, then there is also the responsibility on the part of the worshipper to contribute to the material aspects of the worship service.
The meat from the peace offerings is one of the main means of supporting the work of the Lord. As an Israelite who is making his offering, he gave the breast and thigh of the animal to the priest as their portion of the offering. In Leviticus 7:35, the word “portion” occurs only in this passage in the whole Testament. “Portion” is directly translated as mishchah; the same term also means “anointing oil.” The word is carefully selected by the author because it is translated as “anointed” in verse 36.20 This verse pertains to the ordination service of the priests who received anointing oil as a sign of their unique role. Using the specific word “portion” means the author is attributing the portion of the gift exclusively to ordained ministers.
The order of distribution of the gifts communicated the divine means by which the practice aspects of the worship is provided for. In Leviticus 7, the worshipper by “his own hands” brought the gifts to the Lord (v. 30). The worshipper sets apart the fat with the breast and lifting up the breast heavenward. This motion represents the declaration that these gifts were transferred from earth to the divine realm.
The officiating priest was then described to burn up the fat, which was the portion that was reserved exclusively for the Lord. The worshipper personally hands over the breast part to the priestly family for their portion. The worshipper also took the right thigh and gave it directly to the officiating priest for his personal portion. The distribution of the animal’s parts communicated the way by which God supported operation of the sanctuary, which we can relate to the famous Christian saying, “if it’s God’s will, it’s God’s bill.”
The layperson was offering contributions to the Lord, not to the priest per se. However, it was the Lord who reassigned the select portions for his ministers so that they can obtain their daily livelihood. This provision for the servants at the tabernacle was continually supplied by the Lord (vv. 34, 36). The truth of the matter is the priests had no other means of income, since they did not own land. As most pastors today, they were totally dependent upon the Lord to provide their needs. How did the Lord provide for them? He used the contributions to Him to be shared with His ministers.
The New Testament Scripture supports this pattern of ministry support in the pragmatic aspect of sharing the Gospel. Paul acknowledged that Christians in the New Testament church must give to the Lord all they are and all they have. They give out of the means as the Lord has provided for us (2 Cor. 8:3-5; 9:9-11). Such gifts to the lord would be used to sustain His ministers and to enable the church’s mission. Paul’s epistles showed how he taught his churches to give liberally from their resources (1 Cor. 9:13, 14; also Gal. 6:6; 1 Tim. 5:17, 18).
As believers, we benefit from the bodily sacrifice of Christ and from the worship of the Lord by His church. We have the duty to make a contribution to the work of the Lord. However, some church members are simply disobedient to this call and neglect the work of the Lord. It’s a heart issue that each individual Christian must deal with. How can we say we have truly given ourselves, our families, and our destinies into the hands of the Lord, if we cannot entrust the Lord with our finances? Is money even an issue to the God of the Universe?
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