Image by Heidelbergerin from Pixabay
Waking early, the biblical concept of firstfruits was on my mind. So, I did a word search on the term in my online bible program, to see what popped up. Probably, the main reason behind this was today is my natal day, and I had been thinking about giving the Lord the "firstfruits" of it, after I rose from the bed and sat down with a cup of coffee.
Have you ever made pancakes? You make the batter, heat the griddle and then, after pouring out the first one make decisions about the thickness of the batter, perhaps adjusting the heat on the griddle...I had a friend, the baby in his family, who used to say, "The oldest child is like the first pancake, usually a flop, and you just throw it out!" I always thought that was funny, as I am "the first pancake" in my birth family's line-up.
However, the Bible gives special emphasis to "firstfruits". The concept is tied in closely with the first born, as the firstborn child is, in God's perfect design for families, the firstfruits of the mother's body.
We have this blueberry bush that yields early in the season, apparently, as I was getting berries off it in mid-June. However, after I picked the first two cups of berries, it seemed to stop bearing, for the most part. Not sure what happened there, but I looked in the days following and there was little there to harvest. Maybe the birds beat me to it....
Farmers will tell you that the first crops from the field are the ones they save for seeds for the following year, because the first ones contain the most potent seeds. They are, supposedly, the best of the best, of that crop yield.
In keeping with that line of thought, it makes sense that God would require His chosen people, the Hebrews, to bring to him a grain offering of the first crops of the season each spring.
14“Three times in the year you shall keep a feast to me. 15You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt. None shall appear before me empty-handed. 16You shall keep the Feast of Harvest, of the firstfruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field. You shall keep the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor. 17Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD.
Exodus 23:14-17 (ESV)
So, you see from this command of God that His people were to offer to Him on the altar the firstfruits of the harvest as well as some of the produce from the end of the harvest season, in the fall. This was done, in part to teach the people thankfulness, as it is God who provides, who is Jehovah-Jireh. This scripture passage above is the first time the term "firstfruits" is mentioned in the Bible. Note that God felt these times of harvest offering were so important, the offering had to be brought to either the Tent of Meeting (Temple predecessor) or, after it was built, the Temple in Jerusalem by each male head of household. Wow, pretty important, wouldn't you say?
Later, in Psalms 78:51 and 105:36, we see the psalmist referring to the firstborn children of the Egyptians, the descendants of Ham (Noah's son) as "firstfruits". The psalmist was hearkening back to when, at Passover that year, the angel of the Lord took the firstborn child of every household that was not "under the blood". Not time or space to fully explore that here, but many of you are familiar with that story.
In the New Testament, the apostles Paul (Romans 8:23, 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23), James (James 1:18) and John (Revelation 14:4) refer to firstfruits. Except for John's, the other references refer to Jesus being a type of firstfruits, as God raised Him from the dead on the first day of the Feast of First Fruits that year.1 And, Paul and James likened the early church members to being the firstfruits of the new Church, following right after Jesus Christ, who gave spiritual birth to His followers, through His message of truth, of salvation.
It has been the practice of Christians to gather in their churches on the first day of the week, giving the Savior the "firstfruits" of each week, and to commune with their Lord over the Word in the morning, giving Him the "firstfruits" of each day, the latter being an ongoing challenge for me.2
So, as I reflect back on these many years this morning (let's not say how many, please and thank you!), I am so grateful to be part of His "firstfruits of the Spirit" (Romans 8:23). Unlike that weird blueberry bush in our front yard, I pray to never "stop bearing."
I hope all of you have a blessed day. I may just go make some pancakes.....