Bible Study Guides – The Laborer Worthy of His Hire

February 26, 2006 – March 4, 2006

Key Text

“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that [there shall] not [be room] enough [to receive it].” Malachi 3:10.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 3, 381–408.


“We are to praise God by tangible service, by doing all in our power to advance the glory of His name. God imparts His gifts to us that we also may give, and thus make known His character to the world. Under the Jewish economy, gifts and offerings formed an essential part of God’s worship. The Israelites were taught to devote a tithe of all their income to the service of the sanctuary. Besides this they were to bring sin offerings, free-will gifts, and offerings of gratitude. These were the means for supporting the ministry of the gospel for that time. God expects no less from us than He expected from His people anciently. The great work for the salvation of souls must be carried forward. In the tithe, with gifts and offerings, He has made provision for this work. Thus He intends that the ministry of the gospel shall be sustained. He claims the tithe as His own, and it should ever be regarded as a sacred reserve, to be placed in His treasury for the benefit of His cause. He asks also for our free-will gifts and offerings of gratitude. All are to be devoted to the sending of the gospel unto the uttermost parts of the earth.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 300.

1 In what words does Christ indicate that the gospel worker should be properly sustained? Matthew 10:10, last part; 1 Timothy 5:17, 18.

note: “In his first letter to the church at Corinth, Paul gave the believers instruction regarding the general principles underlying the support of God’s work in the earth. . . .

“The apostle here [1 Corinthians 9:7–14] referred to the Lord’s plan for the maintenance of the priests who ministered in the temple. Those who were set apart to this holy office were supported by their brethren, to whom they ministered spiritual blessings. . . . One tenth of all the increase was claimed by the Lord as His own, and to withhold the tithe was regarded by Him as robbery.

“It was to this plan for the support of the ministry that Paul referred when he said, [1 Timothy 5:18 quoted].

“The payment of the tithe was but a part of God’s plan for the support of His service. Numerous gifts and offerings were divinely specified.” The Acts of the Apostles, 335–337.

2 To whom do all things belong? Psalms 24:1; 50:10–12. What part of one’s income has the Lord claimed as His? Leviticus 27:30, 32.

note: “All should remember that God’s claims upon us underlie every other claim. He gives to us bountifully, and the contract which He has made with man is that a tenth of his possessions shall be returned to God. The Lord graciously entrusts to His stewards His treasures, but of the tenth He says: This is Mine. Just in proportion as God has given His property to man, so man is to return to God a faithful tithe of all his substance. This distinct arrangement was made by Jesus Christ Himself.

“This work involves solemn and eternal results, and it is too sacred to be left to human impulse. We should not feel free to deal with this matter as we choose. In answer to the claims of God, regular reserves should be set apart as sacred to His work.” Testimonies, vol. 6, 384.

3 How did Abraham acknowledge the ownership of God and his obligations to Him? Genesis 14:17–20. Under what circumstances did Jacob recognize a similar obligation? Genesis 28:20–22.

note: “The tithing system did not originate with the Hebrews. From the earliest times the Lord claimed a tithe as His, and this claim was recognized and honored. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God. Genesis 14:20. Jacob, when at Bethel, an exile and a wanderer, promised the Lord, ‘Of all that Thou shalt give me I will surely give the tenth unto Thee.’ Genesis 28:22. As the Israelites were about to be established as a nation, the law of tithing was reaffirmed as one of the divinely ordained statutes upon obedience to which their prosperity depended.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 525.

4 After Israel was delivered from Egyptian bondage, what definite commands were given concerning their payment of tithe? Leviticus 27:30–34. In what other way were the claims of God to be acknowledged by His people? Exodus 23:19, first part; Proverbs 3:9.

note: “The system of tithes and offerings was intended to impress the minds of men with a great truth—that God is the source of every blessing to His creatures, and that to Him man’s gratitude is due for the good gifts of His providence. . . .

“Even before the tithe could be reserved there had been an acknowledgment of the claims of God. The first that ripened of every product of the land was consecrated to Him. The first of the wool when the sheep were shorn, of the grain when the wheat was threshed, the first of the oil and the wine, was set apart for God. So also were the first-born of all animals. . . .

“Thus the people were constantly reminded that God was the true proprietor of their fields, their flocks, and their herds; that He sent them sunshine and rain for their seedtime and harvest, and that everything they possessed was of His creation, and He had made them stewards of His goods.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 525, 526.

5 What resulted when on one occasion the children of Israel failed to bring in the tithe to the Lord’s treasury? Nehemiah 13:10. How was this neglect then corrected? Verses 11, 12.

note: “During his [Nehemiah] absence from Jerusalem, evils crept in that threatened to pervert the nation. Idolaters not only gained a foothold in the city, but contaminated by their presence the very precincts of the temple. . . .

“On returning from Persia, Nehemiah learned of the bold profanation and took prompt measures. . . .

“Not only had the temple been profaned, but the offerings had been misapplied. This had tended to discourage the liberalities of the people. They had lost their zeal and fervor, and were reluctant to pay their tithes. The treasuries of the Lord’s house were poorly supplied; many of the singers and others employed in the temple service, not receiving sufficient support, had left the work of God to labor elsewhere.” Prophets and Kings, 669, 670.

6 What resulted in Haggai’s day from neglect of support for the house of God? What followed the loyal action of Israel? Haggai 1:7–11; 2:18, 19.

note: “A striking illustration of the results of selfishly withholding even freewill offerings from the cause of God was given in the days of the prophet Haggai. After their return from the captivity in Babylon, the Jews undertook to rebuild the temple of the Lord; but meeting determined opposition from their enemies, they discontinued the work; and a severe drought, by which they were reduced to actual want, convinced them that it was impossible to complete the building of the temple. . . .

“God intended that His people Israel should be light bearers to all the inhabitants of the earth. In maintaining His public worship they were bearing a testimony to the existence and sovereignty of the living God. And this worship it was their privilege to sustain, as an expression of their loyalty and their love to Him. The Lord has ordained that the diffusion of light and truth in the earth shall be dependent upon the efforts and offerings of those who are partakers of the heavenly gift. He might have made angels the ambassadors of His truth; He might have made known His will, as He proclaimed the law from Sinai, with His own voice; but in His infinite love and wisdom He called men to become colaborers with Himself, by choosing them to do this work.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 527, 528.

7 Of what are God’s people accused by the Lord through the prophet Malachi? Malachi 3:8, 9. What does God invite them to do? What is the result of obedience and faithfulness in returning to God His own? Verses 10–12.

note: “God called for men in the Mosaic dispensation to give the tenth of all their increase. He committed to their trust the things of this life, talents to be improved and returned to Him. He has required a tenth, and this He claims as the very least that man should return to Him. He says: I give you nine tenths, while I require one tenth; that is Mine. When men withhold the one tenth, they rob God. Sin offerings, peace offerings, and thank offerings were also required in addition to the tenth of the increase.

“All that is withheld of that which God claims, the tenth of the increase, is recorded in the books of heaven against the withholders, as robbery. Such defraud their Creator; and when this sin of neglect is brought before them, it is not enough for them to change their course and begin to work from that time upon the right principle. This will not correct the figures made in the heavenly record for embezzling the property committed to them in trust to be returned to the Lender. Repentance for unfaithful dealing with God, and for base ingratitude, is required.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 394.

8 How did Christ recognize the obligation to pay tithe? Matthew 23:23.

note: “A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. When fastings and prayers are practiced in a self-justifying spirit, they are abominable to God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposed sacrifice—all proclaim to the world the testimony that the doer of these things considers himself righteous. These things call attention to the observer of rigorous duties, saying, This man is entitled to heaven. But it is all a deception. Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 388.

9 How great a task has been committed to those who preach the gospel? Matthew 28:18–20.

note: “Very precious to God is His work in the earth. Christ and heavenly angels are watching it every moment. As we draw near to the coming of Christ, more and still more of missionary work will engage our efforts. The message of the renewing power of God’s grace will be carried to every country and clime, until the truth shall belt the world. Of the number of them that shall be sealed will be those who have come from every nation and kindred and tongue and people. From every country will be gathered men and women who will stand before the throne of God and before the Lamb.” Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 532.

10 What principle does the apostle Paul set forth concerning the support of laborers? What is said of the support of those who minister the Word of God? 1 Corinthians 9:7–14. What would be the result if all God’s children paid a faithful tithe?

note: “The apostle here [1 Corinthians 9:7–14] referred to the Lord’s plan for the maintenance of the priests who ministered in the temple. Those who were set apart to this holy office were supported by their brethren, to whom they ministered spiritual blessings.” The Acts of the Apostles, 336.

11 In the message of the first angel, how is God’s ownership of the world definitely acknowledged? Revelation 14:7.

note: “In the last days of this earth’s history, God’s covenant with His commandment-keeping people is to be renewed. . . .

“They will turn from every idol that binds them to earth, and will ‘worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.’ [Revelation 14:7.]” Prophets and Kings, 299, 300.

12 What will be the attitude of the remnant church toward all God’s requirements? Revelation 14:12.

note: “In the time of the end every divine institution is to be restored. The breach made in the law at the time the Sabbath was changed by man, is to be repaired. . . . In clear, distinct lines they are to present the necessity of obedience to all the precepts of the Decalogue. Constrained by the love of Christ, they are to co-operate with Him in building up the waste places. They are to be repairers of the breach, restorers of paths to dwell in.” Prophets and Kings, 678.