Putting First Fruits Into Action | Part 2
FIRST FRUITS VS. TitheMany have thought that the tithe, our giving of a tenth of our increase, is the same as first fruits. But the Bible references first fruits, firstlings, or devoted things 32 times, and mentions the tithe 32 times. However, Genesis chapter 4, is the first time that God talks about first fruits, or firstlings, with Cain and Abel. The first time we see the tithe mentioned is in Genesis 14:18-20, when Abraham tithed to Melchizedek. They are distinctly different, although the tithe is the first tenth of your income, not just any tenth!
In Deuteronomy 14:22-23, the people receive this instruction: “Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.”
Nehemiah 10:38-39 explains it further, “And the priest the son of Aaron shall be with the Levites, when the Levites take tithes: and the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes unto the house of our God, to the chambers, into the treasure house. For the children of Israel and the children of Levi shall bring the offering of the corn, of the new wine, and the oil, unto the chambers, where are the vessels of the sanctuary, and the priests that minister, and the porters, and the singers: and we will not forsake the house of our God.” From this passage, we learn that:
The church is the redeeming agency in the earth.
The tithe is processed through the church.
The church is the storehouse of heaven.
There is a price to pay for neglecting the house of God.
Let’s take a look at some of the basic principles of tithing based on Scripture. First, we are
commanded to bring all the tithes—the first tenth of the whole or “of any income,” the complete
and perfect tithe. “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine
house and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows
of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive
it” (Malachi 3:10).
God invites us to prove our faith, to test out His promises, to examine, investigate or try Him, through the tithe.1 Corinthians 16:1-2 lets us know that there is a set day, or an appropriate time to give our tithes. “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” Notice it is collected on the first day of the week.
The tithe is not to be forgotten or excused. The tithe was something instituted even before the law (see Genesis 14:19-20 and 28:22). And don’t forget the power of tithing! According to Malachi 3:10-12, there is a five-fold blessing of tithing: Opened windows—“. . . and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven (verse 10).” Windows are the area of lurking. In other words things hidden or without visibility will be released. The primary purpose of a window is to allow visibility or vision. A tither has the right to see their destiny with clarity.
Poured out blessings—“. . . and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it (verse 10).” To pour out means to draw out to the point of being empty. Your tithe draws the blessing out of you. Notice the emphasis on the word “you!” That God wants to “open” you and “pour” you! You are blessed to be a blessing!
Rebuke the devourer—“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground (verse 11).” God will cripple the “seed eater” or anything that comes to consume what you produce.
Your blessing will always come on time—“. . . neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field (verse 11).” To cast means to miscarry, abort or rob your spoil. There will be no more miscarriages of your blessing.
God will establish your reputation for being blessed—“And all nations shall call you blessed; for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts” (verse 12). A delightsome land is a valuable thing, to be pleasurable. What wonderful provisions from our covenant of tithing!
Tithing is redemptive! So what exactly is a tithe? It is 10 percent of all income and increase. However, it is NOT just any 10 percent . . . it is the first 10 percent
HANDS OFF! SERIOUSLY
When you take something that belongs to someone else there are serious consequences.In 1 Samuel 15, God sent word to king Saul through the prophet Samuel that He intended to “punish the Amalekites for what they did to Israel when they waylaid them as they came up from Egypt” (v. 2, NIV). Then the Lord instructed Saul saying, “Now go, attack the Amalekites and totally destroy everything that belongs to them. Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys” (v. 3). The Amalekites were eternal enemies of God.
Saul was obedient to the Lord in the fact that he attacked the Amalekites, and God gave him victory “from Havilah to Shur, to the east of Egypt” (v. 7). However, though God told Saul to completely wipe out every Amalekite, even their cattle, sheep and other livestock, Saul chose to keep the king of the Amalekites alive as well as “the best of the sheep and cattle, the fat calves and lambs—everything that was good. These they were unwilling to destroy completely” (v. 9). Partial obedience is disobedience. Saul’s unwillingness to obey deeply grieved the Lord. When Samuel confronted Saul with the word of the Lord about his disobedience, Samuel asked, “Why did you not obey the Lord? Why did you pounce on the plunder and do evil in the eyes of the Lord?”
Saul replied, “The soldiers took sheep and cattle from the plunder, the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal” (v. 21).
Saul knew that all of the plunder was devoted to the Lord. Yet, he and his men spared the best of what God said to destroy—for their own use. This decision would prove not only to be devastating to Saul but for generations to come. It was an Amalekite that eventually came back and killed Saul. You are probably familiar with the next verse, “But Samuel replied: ‘Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams’” (v. 22, NIV).
This example, though not specifically about a first fruits offering, does illustrate how very serious God is about things He calls devoted. The Amalekites were devoted to destruction, and for Israel to take anything that was so devoted and use it for their own use—even to make sacrifices unto the Lord—was completely unacceptable to God. Saul lost his kingdom and was tormented the rest of his days, and due to his disobedience, the Amalekites continued to be an issue for Israel.
God is serious about what He claims “ownership” to.Exodus 34:20 declares, “Redeem the firstborn donkey with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck” (NIV). In other words, it is better to destroy something that is devoted to the Lord rather than keep it for your own use. Holy things belong to the Lord, and the Lord calls first fruits or first things holy. of your income. A tithe is a first fruit when presented to God first that qualifies it as the tithe. Because it is redemptive, by giving God His portion first, you then redeem the remaining 90 percent, which is yours to do as you please. The “first” thing determines how everything else will go. Therefore when you present your tithe to God it determines where His presence and glory is going and where you are putting your faith. Whatever you “pay” or “give to” first governs and covers the rest.
Notice in Proverbs 3:10, tithing and first fruits are mentioned as two different things: “Honor the Lord with thy first fruits and all thine increase.” First fruits is the whole of the first. The tithe refers to the first tenth of the increase. It comes after first fruits. Remember, God has a divine accurate order and arrangement of things.
First fruits is not the same as the tithe. First fruits is the whole of the first and keeping first things first; of recognizing, remembering God as the one who gives you the ability to get wealth. First fruits relates to dedicated, devoted, “first” things. Devoted things and dedicated things have the exact same meaning: the irrevocable giving over to the Lord. Deuteronomy 26 gives a distinct delineation between the two offerings.
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