Second Tithe and Offerings at the Feast
by Larry Neff
Many in the Church have been saving “second tithe” or a “festival tithe” since they were children. I remember this well as a child traveling to Big Sandy from Portland, Oregon. It was a delight to spend a tithe—one tenth—of the money earned from picking strawberries and black raspberries on items an Oregon boy didn’t see all the time, such as sugarcane and watermelons in East Texas. This helped to make the early Feasts memorable and special to this day. God’s system of saving second tithe is truly a blessing. Our children can be learning these same values today.
Though there are many arguments people have contrived to argue against observing God’s festivals, we have proven to ourselves that the holy days are to be kept today. And just as there was a need in ancient times to finance the expenses one incurred in observing them, so there is a need today.
Observing the Feast in the manner indicated in Deuteronomy 14:22-26 requires more than minimal funding. We are commanded here to “spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.” This is a picture of the abundance of the world tomorrow. God’s Word especially emphasizes spending this tithe on the Feast and Last Great Day, though it is certainly valid to use a lesser portion of it for the other holy days.
How to spend festival tithe
Obviously the festival tithe should be spent on items relating to the Feast. So we should not buy our annual wardrobe with this tithe. But if we need a particular item of clothing for the Feast, such a purchase would certainly be appropriate. Buying a special item of clothing from second tithe can also be appropriate to give as a gift to a good friend or family member or even for oneself to add to the special nature of the Feast.
Decisions of this nature should be based on what we can afford and according to good, balanced judgment on the part of the individual as he or she considers the spiritual intent of God’s law. Decisions should not be legalistically legislated. We are all accountable to God as Spirit-led Christians to deal with His laws with the utmost integrity and a sincere effort to abide by their spirit and intent.
In budgeting our festival tithe, we should consider those whose circumstances in life have made it impossible for them to attend the Feast without assistance. Helping needy members attend is a practice we definitely intend to continue. To help these individuals be with us at the Feast, many contribute excess second tithe after the festival season is over. Most who attend the Feast are able to afford to contribute to this fund with proper planning.
Along with contributing excess second tithe, a practice was established long ago of giving a tenth of our second tithe—a tithe of the tithe—to the Church to pay for the many expenses it incurs in providing so much of what we enjoy at the Feast. These expenses include hall rent, office equipment, audio and video equipment, etc. If you send a contribution to the Festival Assistance Fund to help the needy or a tithe of your tithe to help pay for the cost of holding the Feast, please indicate your intent.
Another important financial matter involving the Feast is holy day offerings. The practice of the Church is to take up an offering on each of the annual holy days. This is based on Deuteronomy 16:16-17, where we are instructed to give as we are able and that we are not to come before God empty-handed. That requires planning and saving.
But there is a more important offering we give at the Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day and, for that matter, throughout the year. And that is the offering of ourselves. We are called on to be a “living sacrifice” (Romans 12:1-2). In this passage we are also admonished not to be “conformed to this world.”
Indeed, we go to the Feast to picture a new and better world, the world tomorrow. If these principles are deep within the core of our being, an outward expression will be generosity, within our means, toward God and His Work in our offerings. These offerings provide a very important boost in the income of the Church and help us to preach the gospel of the Kingdom of God (which we are there to foreshadow) to this world. So, let’s come to the Feast as living sacrifices and let our offerings express the dedication we have to our great God.
Please remember these financial aspects of the Feast of Tabernacles. They are integral elements of a well-observed Festival.