"Thou shalt surely tithe all the increase of thy seed,
that which cometh forth from the field year by year.
And thou shalt eat before Jehovah thy God,
in the place which he shall choose, to cause his name to dwell there,
the tithe of thy grain, of thy new wine, and of thine oil,
and the firstlings of thy herd and of thy flock;
that thou mayest learn to fear Jehovah thy God always.
And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it,
because the place is too far from thee,
which Jehovah thy God shall choose, to set his name there,
when Jehovah thy God shall bless thee;
then shalt thou turn it into money,
and bind up the money in thy hand,
and shalt go unto the place which Jehovah thy God shall choose:
and thou shalt bestow the money for whatsoever thy soul desireth,
for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink,
or for whatsoever thy soul asketh of thee;
and thou shalt eat there before Jehovah thy God,
and thou shalt rejoice, thou and thy household."
This passage startles me. There is more to be startled by than even this, if you read the chapters around this one.
A tithe is a tenth. The Lord said the tithe was His -- and then told them to eat it. Told them to celebrate. To rejoice. To honor Him in this feasting and abundance and luxuriousness of food. 'And if the journey to where I want to fellowship with you is too long to haul all that cargo, sell it and buy whatever you want to eat with Me.' He said this would teach them to always revere Him.
I have always thought of a tithe as the first tenth of our increase, given completely out of our control, and of which we receive no part. It startles me that the Lord says, 'This is Mine -- come eat it in front of Me.' And the Sabbath is like it. 'This is My day. Rest. Stop your working and your striving and your hoarding, and worship.'
And the incredible freedom He gave in choosing the ingredients. Dare I even notice it? Nothing unclean, but whatever your soul craves. Eat it before the Lord -- in His presence, with His blessing.