22 “You shall surely tithe all the produce from what you sow, which comes out of the field every year. 23 You shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God, at the place where He chooses to establish His name, the tithe of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the firstborn of your herd and your flock, so that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always. 24 If the distance is so great for you that you are not able to bring the tithe, since the place where the Lord your God chooses to set His name is too far away from you when the Lord your God blesses you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, and bind the money in your hand and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. 26 You may spend the money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen, or sheep, or wine, or strong drink, or whatever your heart desires; and there you shall eat in the presence of the Lord your God and rejoice, you and your household. 27 Also you shall not neglect the Levite who is in your town, for he has no portion or inheritance among you. 28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithe of your produce in that year, and shall deposit it in your town. 29 The Levite, because he has no portion or inheritance among you, and the alien, the orphan and the widow who are in your town, shall come and eat and be satisfied, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
God desires the nations to come to Him. God also desires that His people feast and celebrate before Him and rejoice. When God delivers these desires in the form of commands it is one command, not two. Evangelism and Feasting are to take place together. When people are called to faith in Jesus, God is inviting them to a Feast. In the Old Testament, the Feast of Booths is the ideal Feast that not only symbolized the salvation of Israel from Egypt, but also the conversion of the nations, which is why non-Israelites (strangers) were invited.
There is rich symbolism in the Feast of Booths. First, the Israelites were to go to Jerusalem and build little shelters called a sukkoth, which is made of tree branches that had fruits on them, and they were to live in them for seven days. During this week, God commanded them to feast on rich foods and wine and strong drink, and to sacrifice 70 bulls for the salvation of the 70 nations of the world (Gen. 10). Interestingly, the story of the Bible begins in a garden, and ends in a garden-city. During the Feast of Booths, imagine Jerusalem filled with tents covered in tree branches, and vines, and fruits. Jerusalem would look like a garden-city. The Feast of Booths was an acted out celebratory prophecy of the conversion and salvation of the whole world.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the Feast of Booths. He ate and drank with sinners, and celebrated and rejoiced with them, all the while bringing them closer to God. This is a good paradigm for us to adopt as our own. Our feasts and celebrations should not just be for the sake of the Church, but for those outside of the Church, whom God is calling to His Banquet. Evangelism and discipleship are more effective in the context of feasting and hospitality.
Some questions to consider - Who have you invited to your house for dinner who is not a Christian? Are our celebrations and feasts intentionally centered around the gospel? Are we willing to be called gluttons and drunkards for the salvation of our neighbors? and Are we willing to bring unsaved people into our community in order to patiently bring them to God? How many unbelieving friends or co-workers, or neighbors do you know? Are you praying for their salvation? Are you rejoicing with feasting that God saved you, and has promised to save the whole world, and is in the process of doing so as we speak? Are you seeking to be actively involved in that process?
Our feasting before the Lord is a reflection of our belief in the promise of God to save the whole world. Do we believe Him? Who we invite to our celebrations and feasts will answer that for us.