We’re continuing our study of Mosaic law in our Sunday School class, and this past week we delved into some of the festivals and feasts. In particular, we read about firstfruits.
In Exodus 12, God instituted the first Passover, and the Angel of Death passed over the obedient Israelites. In Exodus 13, God laid out the ritual of consecration of the firstborn – all the firstborn of God’s people were His. Exodus 13.2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine.
In Exodus 23, God gives direction for three festivals each year: Feast of Unleavened Bread, Feast of Harvest (the firstfruits of thy labors), and the Feast of Ingathering. These were to be solemn feasts to the Lord.
The premise of firstfruits is that we are to give back to God the first whatever-it-is that He gives us, whether it be income, friends, harvest, children, time, or other resources. God allows for payment to redeem the firstborn, because He does not ask us to kill our young.
Israel was precious to God, His firstborn of His peoples: Jeremiah 2.3 Israel was holiness unto the LORD, and the firstfruits of his increase: all that devour him shall offend; evil shall come upon them, saith the LORD. God desired to protect His people from evil.
God promises blessings when we remember Him and give Him thanks.
Why does God want to bless us when we give Him the first part of what He gives us? He wants us to trust Him. He wants to give us hope and assurance. He wants us to see that we can trust Him, that He wants the best for us, that He wants to take care of us.
Romans 8.22-25 We know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until the present time. Not only that, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved; but hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he can already see? But if we hope for what we do not yet see, we wait for it patiently.
We can’t see God; we can’t necessarily see His immediate blessings when we offer to Him, when we sacrifice, when we honor Him. But we hope! The more we obediently place our trust in Him, the more we are able to wait patiently for His blessings, because we learn that He is always faithful.
So let’s take this to a personal, spiritual level: I am the only one of me. God created in me a firstling: the first of its kind to be produced or to appear. There has never been, and never will be, another me.
John 12.24-26 Truly, truly, I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a seed; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life will lose it, but whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, My servant will be as well. If anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.
Do you see what Jesus is saying in this passage? He repeats it in other passages. Luke 9.23, 24: And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. Mark 8.35: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and for the gospel will save it. Luke 17.33: Whoever tries to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will preserve it. Matthew 16.25: For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.
Because we have the Holy Spirit within us, and because we have the mind of Christ, and because God’s mercies are new every morning; we have the opportunity to die to self every day, to give God the firstfruits. We can sacrifice our flesh to the Lord, so that it may go well with us.
Think again on Proverbs 3.9, 10 Honor the LORD with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your harvest; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine. Honor the Lord with all He gives us, even our own selves. He will bless in so many ways, we will overflow! We will gain hope and assurance of His great provision and lovingkindness.