Set apart a tithe of all the yield of your seed that is brought in yearly from the field. In the presence of the Lord your God, in the place that he will choose as a dwelling for his name, you shall eat the tithe of your grain, your wine, and your oil, as well as the firstlings of your herd and flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. But if, when the Lord your God has blessed you, the distance is so great that you are unable to transport it, because the place where the Lord your God will choose to set his name is too far away from you, then you may turn it into money. With the money secure in hand, go to the place that the Lord your God will choose; spend the money for whatever you wish—oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire. And you shall eat there in the presence of the Lord your God, you and your household rejoicing together. As for the Levites resident in your towns, do not neglect them, because they have no allotment or inheritance with you.
• Deuteronomy 14:22-27
In all my years in the church, I don’t think I’ve ever heard heard a pastor or teacher talk about one of the purposes the Law gives for people bringing tithes to the Lord and the sanctuary. Supporting the sanctuary and the Levites, who had no other means of earning a living, is a primary reason given for tithes in Leviticus and Numbers. But Deuteronomy 14 sets forth a different purpose.
According to this text, the Hebrew people were to tithe from their harvests annually, take the animals and crops (or the money they exchanged it for if they lived at a far distance), and there prepare a great feast that they themselves would enjoy. They were to share it with those who had no harvest stuffs to tithe.
The purpose was pure enjoyment. There were no bounds prescribed — “…spend the money for whatever you wish—oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever you desire.” This was to be a religious feast, enjoyed in the Lord’s presence, with one’s family and community. But no concerns are expressed about the possibility of over-indulgence. Indeed, it is encouraged: “Whatever you desire.”
I find it interesting that the ultimate reason for this tithing and feasting is “so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always” (v.23). Learning to let go and enjoy unbounded partying before the Lord is one way we learn to reverence God!
And so we’ve come to Mardi Gras 2020.
Have a blast.