Many view Deuteronomy 14 as an example of the legalism in the Torah, but there is actually a much different picture of Jesus here. Yahweh is the one who blesses us! The blessing happens first, not after the tithe is given (vv. 22, 24). Tithing comes out of the joy in our hearts for God’s amazing grace to us. God chooses us, and we are His special treasure (v. 2). This is the basis for everything that follows. As we are God’s children, God wants the best for us, as well as for us to witness to everyone we meet about the God we serve.

Not only that, God desires us to rejoice with Him (v. 26)! As part of our time of rejoicing, we are to give to those less fortunate, including the Levites who minister before God in the temple (v. 27). Tithing is thus not about legalism but about rejoicing together with God as His children whom He has chosen.

In addition, part of rejoicing together with God involves eating together with Him. When the people were not willing to go up on the mountain to be with God, He called Moses and the elders to come up instead (Deut. 5:4; Exod. 24:9–11). Together, they ate and communed with God. This is what He longs to do with each of us! So, the dietary restrictions are for much more than health, since they also represent God’s desire to sup with us, and us with Him.

God also cares about animals, and the ideal diets throughout the Bible do not contain meat. While meat eating is not prohibited, God calls us to strive for the ideal of a whole-foods, plant-based diet, as in Eden and as will be in heaven. Animals will also return to their Edenic ideal in heaven (Isa. 11, 65). However, because of sin, meat-eating is allowed, but it is restricted to still value the life of the animal. Blood and fat are always forbidden, as are unclean animals. This makes clear that God is trying to point us away from meat as something that tastes good, and toward using meat only as necessary for nutritional purposes.

Diet matters in our relationship with God, and He blesses us when we choose to follow His instructions for health. Daniel experienced this firsthand, by eating whole plant foods (Dan. 1), and many scientific studies today are corroborating what Yahweh told us from the beginning. God cares about our health and animals, as well as desiring to make us as pure as possible in fellowship with Him.