Leviticus 27

Leviticus 27 has God giving instruction about giving to his people.  He addresses both the consecration/dedication/vow or in other words gifting of something to God, and also ends with a reminder about tithing.  Money is not off limits when we consider how we walk with Jesus.  It is a core part of our life – after all we all trade our most precious gift of time in exchange for money as we go to work each day.  So God addresses the topic often in scripture because He knows how much it can control what we do and how we live if it is not put in proper perspective.

Let’s start with the last part of the chapter first and look at tithing.  “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord”.  Tithing is not a gift at all.  It is simply returning to God what is already His.  I’ve come to believe that tithing is not really about the money or amount – it is about us realizing that all we have belongs to God in the first place.  It is an attitude that God desires that we have – being open handed with what He has given to us – and trusting Him enough to return 10% to Him.  Tithing is basic table stakes for a believer.  It isn’t optional and shouldn’t require a lot of thought or contemplation.  It is simply giving God what is His.

The majority of this chapter addresses things above and beyond the tithe using the concept of a vow.  There are various words used to describe that vow, but that is basically what is happening here.  We see examples of people vowing to give their animals, crops, homes, land – all sorts of stuff – to the priests who carefully value and receive it for use in their ministry.  The chapter outlines the process and how things are to be valued and what the cost is to reclaim something that has previously been given – a 20% buy back cost over the valuation of what was provided.  Simply viewed, offering a vow is practicing a kind of “credit card” act of worship. It is a promise to worship God with a certain offering in the future, motivated by gratitude for God’s grace in the life of the giver. The reason for the delay in making the offering was that the giver was not able, at that moment to make the offering. The vow was made, promising to offer something to God if God would intervene on behalf of the individual, making the offering possible. In many instances, the vow was made in a time of great danger or need.

There also is provision for a person to vow himself or another person to God where someone could make “a special vow to the Lord involving the valuation of persons”.  It is assumed that these persons would either serve in ministry related to the tabernacle, or would at least serve the priests, likely helping take care of some of the workload that may involve the fields and property the priests were responsible to care for.  It seems that the value of each person is to be determined by the category into which they fall, corresponding to their age and sex. Their worth seems to be their “market value,” what the person would bring in the market place based on their ability to do the hard work that was required. So it is not demeaning of women or of the young or elderly, but only a recognition of what value this person had in the market place.

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