March 7, 2015

Giving back to God

Numbers 7:1–47
John 14:1–31
Psalm 8:1–9

The members of a church we used to attend were generous when the offering plate was passed, but had another practice that was puzzling; they donated used furniture and other items to furnish the building. These were second-hand cast-offs no longer wanted and far from being in the best condition. I’m not sure that I understand this, but today’s reading reminded me of it.

“He who offered his offering the first day was Nahshon the son of Amminadab, of the tribe of Judah. And his offering was one silver plate whose weight was 130 shekels, one silver basin of 70 shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, both of them full of fine flour mixed with oil for a grain offering; one golden dish of 10 shekels, full of incense; one bull from the herd, one ram, one male lamb a year old, for a burnt offering; one male goat for a sin offering; and for the sacrifice of peace offerings, two oxen, five rams, five male goats, and five male lambs a year old. This was the offering of Nahshon the son of Amminadab.” (Numbers 7:12–17)

Each chief of each of the twelve tribes gave the same offering. A shekel is about 2/5 of an ounce, so 200 shekels would be about 80 ounces. Today’s price of silver is about $16 an ounce x 80 = $128.00 in US dollars. The gold at 10 shekels or about 4 ounces prices out today at more than $4600.00. A bull could cost at least $5000 today (ranchers, please correct me if I used the wrong market prices website), a ram or a lamb could easily be $600, a goat could be $100 and up . . . so do the math. These people were instructed by God that every animal sacrifice and offering to the Lord was to be unblemished, the best of the flock. This particular offering was at the consecration of the temple, but it was not the only offering. They were continual.

Of course the offerings are types/shadows of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, God seems to be saying that whatever we give Him, whether five loaves and two fishes, or several thousand dollars worth of gold, silver, and livestock, it should be from the top of the pile, not the bottom.

The second reading speaks to me about motivation. If I am giving anything to God, it should be an expression of how I value Him. He says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments . . . .Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him . . . . If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him . . . . You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I.” (John 14:15, 21, 23, 28)

I get it. If I love God, I will obey Him, but it suggests more than that. I love my hubby so I do my best for Him. I love God so I give Him the leftovers? Oh my. This is sad.

A tee-shirt says something about the wearer’s worth because of these words across the back of it: “God does not make junk.” Certainly this is true. The psalmist considered creation and said the same thing. However, he came to a different conclusion.

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3–4)

Seeing the perfections of God humbled the psalmist rather than making him proud of himself. From all the above, humility and gratitude ought to be the effect of seeing the wonder of God and what He has done for me. I know that He gave me His best. I see it in creation. I see it in the offering of His Son for my sin. Giving back my best is not about earning His favor, but about saying thanks, and saying, “I love You.” 

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