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Numbers 18

Duties of Priests and Levites (18:1–7)

A final source of support for the priests came from the tithes of the Levites. All Israelites were to give a tenth of their income and produce to the Lord for the support of the Levites (verse 21); the Levites, in turn, were to give a tenth of these tithes for the support of the priests63 (verses 26,28).

20 The Lord here reminds Aaron that he and his descendants will not have an inheritance in their land, that is, in the promised land. Rather, the Lord Himself will be the priests’ and Levites’ inheritance. The same is true for Christians: we have no earthly promised land, but we do have an inheritance with Christ in heaven.

21–24 Here the subject of tithes is discussed; a tithe is a tenth of one’s income or one’s produce. A tithe was to be given to the Lord in acknowledgement that everything mankind has ultimately comes from Him. The principle of the tithe was known in Abraham’s day (Genesis 14:20; Hebrews 7:4). The law of the tithe was the final law given in the book of Leviticus (see Leviticus 27:30–34 and comment).

In these verses we learn what the tithes of Israel were to be used for: the support of the Levites. Since the Levites, like the priests, would be given no allotment of land in Canaan, they had to be supported by the people, just as full-time Christian workers are supported today (see 1 Corinthians 9:3–14; 1 Timothy 5:17–18). The tithes of Israel were given first to the Lord, who then gave them to the Levites as their inheritance in place of land (verse 21). These tithes were, in effect, wages given to the Levites in return for their work of looking after the tabernacle. Jesus said, “. . . the worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7).

25–32 Here the Lord instructs the Levites that they, in turn, are to give a “tenth of their tenth” back to the Lord for the further support of the priests (verses 26,28). This principle applies equally to fully supported Christian workers today; they too must tithe.

The tithes the Levites offered would not include fresh produce, since they had no land. Therefore, they were to select the best part of the tithes they received and give them to the Lord; if they did this, their offering would be reckoned as “fresh produce” (verse 30) and thus acceptable to the Lord. In this way they would not be punished for presenting an unacceptable offering (verse 32).

Our own offerings to the Lord should also be the “best part” of all we have. God deserves nothing less.

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