As we read to this passage we are reminded, as indeed the Jewish people were reminded each time these words were read out, of just how much of a debt they owed to their heavenly Father. How they were rescued from a life of slavery in Egypt and guided through those difficult wilderness years into the promised land.
If we read the whole story of those hard times, then we find that the people of God werent always as faithful to their God as He was to them, and there were many times when they were tempted to follow other gods, as man today is also tempted when times are hard, or when spiritual help is not visibly available from the Christian church in their neighborhood, to follow after false doctrines or prophets.
But however often the people of God rejected Him, God never took his eyes off them, and eventually they turned back to Him and crossed the Red Sea into the promised land.
Now, in order that they might never forget that moment, a law is delivered to them. They are to take some of the first fruits of the harvest and offer it as a thank offering in the temple. This offering became the festival of Tabernacles or Booths, a celebration which included camping out in gardens and on roof-tops in tents or huts made out of branches. These tents (or tabernacles) were a reminder of those days spent living in tents in the desert.
The festival included a ceremony in which water was poured out and prayers made for good rains for the coming season.
It was at this festival that Jesus stood up and declared "Whoever is thirsty should come to me and drink. As the scripture says Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will pour out from his heart.'" Jesus knew how to drive a message home by making it relevant to the moment.
After the instructions regarding the giving which are spelt out in Deuteronomy, there follows almost a hymn of thanksgiving, confession and dedication, spelling out a summary of all that the people of Israel had been through - followed by words of assurance
"And you and the Levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household."
Lets look at this passage then in the light of our own worship, the reasons why we are here in this place today, singing hymns, saying prayers. Is it not an absolute truth that if we forget just how much we owe to our heavenly Father, how thankful we are that he has placed us in this wonderful country.
How thankful we are that he loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. How thankful we are that we can know his peace and his love in our lives, then if we lose any sense of why we are doing what were doing here, then our worship loses its life and vitality.
We need constantly to remind ourselves of all that God has done for us in our lives, both individually and as a congregation. And yes, we need to give as a token of our gratitude. The passage makes no mention of tithing or giving a tenth, but simply infers that the giving should be in proportion to that which has been given by God. And we are given the reassurance that a grateful giver will be blessed in the giving.