Thursday, 23 June 2022
“…and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.” -Deut. 26:10
‘Firstfruits’ was a Jewish feast held in the early spring at the beginning of the grain harvest. Leviticus 29:9-13 institutes the ‘Firstfruits offering’ – a time of thanksgiving for God’s provision. The people were to bring a sheaf of grain to the priest, who would wave it before the Lord. A burnt offering, a meal offering, and a drink offering were also required at that time. Deuteronomy 26:1-11 gives more detail on the procedure of firstfruits. No grain was to be harvested at all until the firstfruits offering was brought to the Lord (Lev.23:14).
In Deuteronomy 26:1-11, Moses commanded the Israelites to give thanks to God for delivering them from slavery in Egypt. They were to give thanks by giving God the ‘Firstfruits’ of the harvest. ‘Firstfruits’ refers to the first portion of the harvest given to God. They could not take anything for themselves until they gave the firstfruits to God. By doing this Israel acknowledged that all good things come from God and that everything belongs to God. Giving the firstfruits was also a way of expressing trust in God’s provision; just as He provided the first fruits, so He would provide the rest of the crops that were needed. Note that the ‘Feast of Firstfruits’ was instituted when the nation of Israel was still wandering, without land or crops. It was observed in faith that God would lead the people to the land He had promised. We see in the Bible that Israel was also described as the “firstfruits of God’s harvest” (Jeremiah 2:3).
How do we demonstrate thanks to God? One way of giving thanks is, by giving unto God and for His kingdom works. As it says in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God …”, everything begins with God— even in the case of harvest. When Israelites celebrated Thanksgiving, it was an offering to God with the first fruits of their labour, as an act of worship. It was also an act of thanksgiving and dedication of themselves and their possessions to God. They showed real commitment to lead a life, living in God’s way.
When we worship God, we ought to worship Him in Spirit and Truth. True Worship will automatically flow when we are filled with an attitude of True thanks giving. True thanks giving means thanking God for everything what He had done for us including our talents and abilities which is nothing but the gifting from God. Consider the entire gifting as God’s investment in our lives; hence God expect to yield its returns from His investments in our lives. In other words, we are to use our talents and abilities to do God’s work in our surroundings and circumstances for the expansion of His kingdom. When we thank God for His wonderful and marvelous blessings, we should not show any stringency in blessing our fellow beings.
The best example of True thanks giving can be seen in the Parable of the Ten Lepers, in Luke 17:11-19. Jesus healed ten lepers when they cried out to Him. He commanded them to go and show themselves to the priest in the temple, but only one of them came back and gave Jesus thanks. We are to be like the one who returned and gave thanks, and not like the other nine who were ungrateful. We need to give to God out of the blessings that He showered on us. This is the kind of True thanks giving that God expects!
The firstfruits offering found its fulfillment in Jesus. “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Cori.15:20). Jesus’ resurrection has paved the way for our resurrection. In summary, firstfruits symbolizes God’s harvest of souls, it illustrates giving to God from a grateful heart, and it sets a pattern of giving back to Him the first and the best of what He has given us. Not being under the Old Testament Law, the Christian is to give cheerfully and liberally.
The Blessedness: “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7