Joshua 13:14, 33 – If We Paid Our Pastors Today in Food, Would They Starve?

Posted: June 27, 2017 in Book of Numbers
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Joshua 13:14, 33

An Allotment for the Tribe of Levi

What if we paid our preachers today in food as were the priestly clan, the Levites, were paid in ancient Israel? Would they starve to death? In ancient Israel, the Levites subsisted through the remains of the offerings brought to the altar of the tabernacle and later, the Temple. The Levites would receive the tithes (10% offerings) required of the Israelites, be they oil, wine, grain, or anything else. [Numbers 18:11-18] The parts of the sacrificial offerings not burnt up were also for the Levites– the choice meats and grains. While the Levites would have no inheritance in the land, they had something better promised: “The priests, who are Levites–indeed the whole tribe of Levi–are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the offerings made to the LORD by fire, for that is their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the LORD is their inheritance, as he promised them.” [Deut 18:1-2]. Again, I would ask the question, what if we paid our preacher’s in food, would they starve to death?

 

How are you living your life with regard to your local temple of the Lord? If the pastors of the church you go to dependent on what you offered up to the Lord, would they starve? Sure, there are preachers out there that live high on the hog off the blood, sweat and tears of their parishioners. Sure, there are megachurch pastors who live in million dollar homes and so on. But the vast majority of pastors in my home state (and it is representative of the national average) of South Carolina make an average of $41, 044 per year (according to Indeed.com, the jobsearch website). As well, the average pastor in South Carolina has a graduate degree from a seminary or similar graduate school. The average salary of pastor with a graduate degree is about what an entry level college graduate earns on their first day on the job of their first job nowadays. Why is that we pay our pastors, who have gone to the trouble of dedicating their lives to the care and well-being of God’s children and have sacrificed a great deal of money to get their post-graduate degrees so poorly. It was also noted in a recent survey by the Lifeway Research, the Christian research firm, that the 60% of all pastors work more than 50 hours per week. So, we expect much from our pastors with meetings, meetings, meetings, church functions, vistitations, and the like and then we pay them worse that a kid fresh out of college. Why is that?

 

It comes down to the fact that we offer up defective animal sacrifices to the Lord in our way in our day. In Malachi, the prophet bemoaned how the people of Israel had fallen so far in the reverence that they showed the Lord in their sacrifices. The people were offering up their leftover animals (the defective, the puny, the diseased) to the Lord instead of their best. Are we not offering up the same to the Lord as modern Christians?

 

In John and Sylvia Ronsvalle’s book Behind the Stained Glass Windows: Money Dynamics in the Church, they found that on average more than 50% of regular churchgoers to not give to the church at all. If our pastors were paid in food and it depended on you, would they starve? According to that same book, only three percent (3%) of all churchgoers who attend church on a regular basis actually tithe. Oh, we confuse terms a lot as Christians. We say we tithe when we give less than 10%. We call any donation a tithe. On average American Christians donate less than 2% of their income to their local church. 2% or less is not a tithe. It is an offering. So on any given Sunday in church, there’s a 50/50 chance that the person sitting beside you that you see every Sunday and who is at every church event that the church has does not give a dime…AT ALL…to support the ministries of the church. There’s even greater likelihood that that the person who sits on the other side of you claims to tithe (10% or more of their income) but actually his “tithe” is less than 2% of his annual income. If our pastors depended on each one of us individually to bring them food (like in ancient Israel), would they starve?

Most pastors are not Creflo Dollar complaining that they do not have a private jet. Most pastors are hard working, God fearing men who give their all every day to their church regardless of what they are paid. Most pastors are the hardest working people you’ll ever meet. Many put in 50-60 hours per week in their job and preach on Sunday. When you compare their average salaries to the hours they work. We get quite a bargain in most pastors. They all know that if you are expecting big monetary rewards, this is not the place. Most would tell that they would rather see the church donations go into ministry rather than their salaries. They love the Lord and would be unhappy doing anything else. So, don’t get me wrong about this blog being about paying our pastors more. The blog is about honoring the Lord our God with our income. Yes, the pastors get paid from it. But the way we honor God with our finances reflects His true position in our lives.

 

We are commanded to tithe. We are commanded to give God our best to the Temple, not our leftovers. We are commanded to give the best of our flock, not the least and weak of our flocks. We are to give the best of our crops not the diseased crops. We are to give our tallest stalks of corn not the smallest. Today, we are to give the best of our money not the least. We are give it off the top not the bottom. How the ancient Israelites got this all screwed up by the end of the Old Testament as bemoaned by Malachi and how we are just like them is what I thought of this morning as I read these two verses.

 

14 But to the tribe of Levi he gave no inheritance, since the food offerings presented to the Lord, the God of Israel, are their inheritance, as he promised them…33 But to the tribe of Levi, Moses had given no inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as he promised them.

 

In these two verses, we see that the tribe of Levi was dedicated to serving God. The Levites needed more time and more mobility than a landowner could possibly have. Giving them land would have saddled them with responsibilities that would hinder their service to God. Instead, God arranged for other tribes to meet the Levites needs through donations. When we do not give our best we do not honor God. When we do not honor God, our Levites, our pastors, suffer. When pastors leave the ministry, it is just as often that they simply cannot make ends meet as often as it is from burnout or some moral lapse. More and more pastors are becoming bi-vocational pastors because of the sheer economics of donations to churches in America. That’s like requiring the Levites to work at the temple plus be a farmer in ancient Israel. We think most ministers get paid these whopping salaries because of poor representatives like Creflo Dollar, but the reality is that most ministers are just getting by. When we give we are to be honoring the Lord our God because He commanded us to do so. When we give to the Lord our God, we are honoring Him. Your giving is not a political referendum on whether you like the pastor or not. When give to the Lord and honor Him and are being obedient to Him, yes, the pastor gets fed. That’s the way God intended it.

 

If we paid the pastor in food today like in ancient Israel? Would our pastor starve?

 

Amen and Amen.

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Comments
  1. Reblogged this on all4the1 and commented:
    Dear Reader, allow me to share this with you. Not my words, but those of my husband who is Passionate (with a capital P) about living out biblical financial principles and teaching others about honoring God with your finances.

    I confess that we didn’t always live this way, trusting God and honoring Him with the first fruits of His blessings. But choosing to do things Gods way, first in our relationship and then with our money, has led us places I can’t describe.

    If you’re a giver, awesome! If you’re a tither, fist bump! If you’re not, I encourage you to Google what God says about money, giving and the tithe and pray about how to start becoming generous.

    Blessings to you!

    Liked by 1 person

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