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Thursday, October 04 2018
Contributor: Alex Alajiki
In our last lesson, we considered if giving to the poor is a good investment. The word of God is very clear about the consequences of neglecting the poor in Prov.21:13 “If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered”. God’s blessing is also attached to helping the poor in
Prov. 19:17: “He who is gracious and lends a hand to the poor lends to the LORD, And the LORD will repay him for his good deed.”
We also must not make the mistake of thinking giving to the poor brings less blessing unlike giving to the work of the ministry. Every God instructed giving goes with specific blessing.
We shall be studying about firstfruit today. The origin of this practice in the old testament and it application in the new testament for present day believers.
1. FirstFruit in the old testament; Exo. 23:19a, Lev.23:9-14
“The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.”
“And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 10 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest. 11 He shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted on your behalf; on the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12 And you shall offer on that day, when you wave the sheaf, a male lamb of the first year, without blemish, as a burnt offering to the Lord. 13 Its grain offering shall be two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, an offering made by fire to the Lord, for a [b]sweet aroma; and its drink offering shall be of wine, one-fourth of a hin. 14 You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God; it shall be a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.”
Firstfruits was a Jewish feast held in the early spring at the beginning of the grain harvest. Firstfruits was a time of thanksgiving for God’s provision. It was a divine instruction from God to Moses.
Every time we obey God’s instructions there are always blessings attached to obedience.
Prov.3:9-10 “Honour the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
God not wanting to appear to man as a Dictator, grants man the freewill to enjoy virtually endless benefits ONLY on the condition of total obedience, to the giver of these benefits -The Almighty GOD.
a) FIRSTFRUIT OFFERING must be taken to God’s house (Exodus 23:19; 34:26);
b) FIRSTFRUIT OFFERING must be delivered to the Priest of the Nation (Lev.23:10; Numbers 18:42) otherwise known as the High Priest as at then in Israel (Numbers 3:32);
c) FIRSTFRUIT OFFERING shall apply to all a man engages in for livelihood (Deuteronomy 18:4);
d) FIRSTFRUIT OFFERING must be accompanied with worship (Deuteronomy 26:10);
It must be offered once and during each cycle of harvest, which was yearly in biblical time (Nehemiah 10:35). It must however be noted that in situations of multiple planting seasons within one year,
e) FIRSTFRUIT OFFERING becomes due after each harvest exercise;
“Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ.”
“I urge you, brethren you know the household of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.”
Paul here, was writing to believers who understood the meaning and significance of the firstfruit offering according to the old testament law.
In the New Testament, the firstfruits offering is mentioned seven times, always symbolically. Paul calls Epaenetus and the household of Stephanas “the firstfruits of Achaia” (Rom. 16:5; 1 Corin. 16:15).
His meaning is that, just as the firstfruits offering was the first portion of a larger harvest, these individuals were the first of many converts in that region.
James calls believers “a kind of firstfruits of His creatures” (Jam. 1:18). Just like the sheaf of grain was set apart for the Lord, so are believers set apart for God’s glory.
The concept of firstfruits is not used in the New Testament in reference to financial giving.
1 Cor.15:20 refers to our resurrected Christ has firstfruits; “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”
The final mention of firstfruits in the Bible is in Rev.14:4;
“These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were [c]redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.”
This is referring to the 144,000 Jewish witnesses who will spread the Gospel during the Tribulation. They will have a special role in Heaven and are claimed by God and Jesus as special representatives of those who are saved.
However, just like there are no specific teachings on tithing in the new testament, but the reference of Jesus to it in Matt.23:23, believers who obey the practice of tithing will continue to harvest the benefits.
So also is the practice of firstfruits offering, When we honour the Lord with the firstfruits of our increase, the blessing attached will follow our obedience. Prov. 3:9-10;
“Honour the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; 10 So your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.”
Firstfruits can be our first income in the beginning of the year, the difference between our old and new income during a raise. It can also be a portion we are willing to honour God with during a windfall, sudden increase or multiplication.
In summary, firstfruit offering is a recognition of God as our source. 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 under no further obligation than to give cheerfully and liberally (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).