Saturday, July 9, 2011

Thou Shalt Party

A lot of people (~500,000) at Woodstock.

God's Divine Command to Totally Have An Awesome Time

I was reading in Deuteronomy a while ago and I came across this passage. Now, I know many of you think Deuteronomy a boring book, but consider this: God commanded partying. Yup. You had to. You could not get out of the obligation of blowing 10%* of your income on a week-long party.

"Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always." Deuteronomy 14:22-23

But what if you're too far away from Jerusalem to carry your stuff? Not partying is not an option. God commands you to sell it, take the money,

"...And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household" Deuteronomy 14:26

Upon entering into Palestine, the Hebrew population was something like 2 million. If only half of them obeyed this command, it would be a party of epic proportions. And they'd be far from hungry, taking the best of their cattle, grain and wine to keep the festivities going.

Translate that into modern terms. This is the entire population of San Francisco, partying together about the same thing. This would be bigger than Woodstock (500,000 people), every year. People still define themselves by being at that event. Can you imagine the comradrie and identity that comes from doing this every year?

I remembered reading about Jesus as a boy travelling to a feast; Joseph and Mary lost him, and presumed he was with family. I always thought, "What bad parents!" But think about it: everyone they knew was at this party! There are hundreds of people he could have been with.

Not many people talk about this tithe. Usually it's the giving-money-to-the-church tithe. What would the Christian world look like if Christians spent 10% of their income specifically on celebrating together? We celebrate Christmas with family, for sure. But the idea here is to do it with every other family as well. Also, there's usually not nearly enough booze at Christian parties. God specifically, in Deuteronomy 14:26, commands that there be שכר "strong drink," (assuming that is what your soul lusteth after).

Imagine how strong this simple act of eating "before the Lord," made the community and the nation. Think of how this community would become something that people would want to join and hate to leave. We spend too much time talking about the scary kind of fearing God, but forget that it is also by celebration that we would "learn to fear the Lord thy God always."

*It has been brought to my attention that 'tithe' may or may not mean a literal 10%, but it does mean some amount of money set aside for this purpose.

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