Were God’s people allowed to spend their tithes on food and feasting (Deut. 12:5-7)?

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“But you shall seek the place where the LORD your God chooses… There you shall take … your tithes… And there you shall eat before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice in all to which you have put your hand, you and your households, in which the LORD your God has blessed you” (Deut. 12: 5-7).

The first tithe and second tithes

The first tithe was used exclusively for the support of the Levites “the tithes of the children of Israel… I have given to the Levites as an inheritance” (Num. 18:24). But the second tithe of Deut. 12:5-7, was used for the sacred feasts (Lev. 23), or for the charity to the orphans, the poor, and the “strangers” that lived among the Hebrews (Deuteronomy 16:11-14).

The purpose of the second tithe

The second tithe was permitted to be eaten, only in the vicinity of the sanctuary and not in the homes of the people. Because this meal was not a sacrificial one, ceremonial cleanliness was not needed as in the sacrificial meal (Deut. 12:22; Lev. 7:20).

Further details of this second tithe were given in Deut. 14:24–29: “But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses … is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you, then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand… And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires… you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.”

God designed that the second tithe would encourage the practice of true religion. And He ordained that the Levites, should be invited to these feasts for they were without territorial inheritance among the Israelites (Deut. 12:12, 18).  For the Lord was their portion (Duet. 10:9).  In addition to the levites, the fatherless and widows were also invited to these celebrations (Deut. 16:11, 14; 24:17, 19; 26:12).

God’s provisions for the needy

Thus, a generous spirit was to be shown to God’s servants and those who were in need (Deut. 12:7, 12, 18; 14:29). The efforts were to bring gladness and happiness to both the giver and the receiver. It was the will of God to distribute cheer and joy among His children.

And the Lord gave other laws for assisting the needy (Lev. 19:9, 10; 23:22). Those who didn’t own a land were given the privilege of gleaning from the fields, farms and the orchards. The landowner was to spare the gleanings, and thus help the poor and provide for their needs, and at the same time could bless his own heart with God’s favor (Prov. 11:24). These laws were applicable the first 6 years of the 7-year cycle during which harvests were grown.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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