The First Fruits Principle | Part 1

Pt 1: Spiritual Bonuses

The Hebrew word for “first fruits,” reshiyth, means the first in place, time, order or rank. It also means the beginning, first or principle thing, captain or chief, excellent, forefront, principal, ruler, sum, top, summit, upper part, and primary. First fruits, which belong to God, govern the rest and set the pattern, or the promise, to come. Another Hebrew word for “first fruits,” bikkurim, means “a promise to come.” It shares the same root word bekhor, as the word meaning firstborn. The first fruits offerings signal the beginning of your harvest. It promises an abundant harvest. It establishes the law of first things first in your life. It establishes the promise of that which is to come and positions the believer to receive the promises of God.

Yom HaBikkurim, the Jewish festival celebrating the Feast of First Fruits, is one of the most mentioned feasts in the Bible, second only to Passover. God’s Festivals or Holy Days reveals His cycle of worship and plan for the harvest of blessings and eternal life through the agricultural practices of the day. He declared His Holy Days as the people harvested their crops around three festival seasons. Three times a year God commanded His people to celebrate agricultural harvest festivals—the Festivals of Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles. The Holy Days have meanings that build upon each other that illustrate God’s patterns and principles. Passover is the barley harvest. Pentecost is the wheat harvest. Both are first fruits harvests before the final harvest at the end of the year during the Festival of Tabernacles, which is the fruit harvest. First fruits are the first part of the harvest to ripen.

It is the part of the harvest that was given to the priest as an offering to the Lord. The instructions on how each family was to bring a basket of their first fruits and give it to the priest as the Lord’s representative (Deuteronomy 26:1-12 and Leviticus 23:10-14) gives specific guidelines for a special first fruits sheaf to the Lord at the time of the Passover festival. They could not begin their harvest of barley and other crops until the high priest had offered the first fruits sheaf to the Lord in a special ceremony. As the Lord of the harvest, God had to receive his special portion before the rest of the harvest could be reaped. It is also found in Ezekiel 44:30, declaring that except the priest receive the first fruits, a blessing cannot rest in the giver’s house.

God designed seven feasts (Leviticus 23). These feasts were God’s own holy days with specific instructions given for their observance. The Hebrew word “feasts” means the appointed times. The sequence and masterful orchestration of these feasts or divine appointments demonstrates how all that follows in the Old Testament pointed to the cross and beyond. They illuminate supernatural truths and blessings for you today. God is a covenant keeping God. And, yes, we live under the New Testament that has provided through Jesus a better covenant with promise. While we are no longer held to the rigid set of rituals and routine, God still “holds us” to the principles for all these feasts to follow.

The day following the high Sabbath during Passover is called the Feast of First Fruits (Leviticus 23:10-14). It celebrates and recognizes God’s hand of blessing and provision over His people. The first fruits offering is seen as early as the times of Cain and Abel and is the only feast mentioned nearly as many times as Passover in the Bible. First fruits, or the principle of first things, has to do with a giving of the whole of the first, not just a part, as with the tithe. You may ask, “What is first fruits today?” The Jews had two new years—a civil and a religious. The principle behind the date is our focal point. There are designated starting points for the new years and the first fruits of the new year belong to the Lord of the Harvest. First fruits is the first or beginning of all things. When you start a new job, the first paycheck is first fruits and therefore it belongs to the Lord. When you get a raise on the job, an amount that reflects the increase on the first check is the first fruits.
The first day of the week is the Lord’s. The first moments of the day belong to God. God is a god of divine order. First fruits is the first in place, order and the principle or essential thing. First simply means first. 
In ancient days, the process of gathering the first fruits of the crops involved painstaking preparations. Each family among the Israelites had to carefully watch for the first budding fruits or grains. Once spotted, they would designate it as the first by tying a piece of red yarn around the branch, limb or vine.

As the crops matured and were harvested, those first fruits were brought into the Temple and presented to the High Priest according to God’s pattern. The Priest would accept the offering from each household. “The priest shall take the basket from your hands and set it down in front of the altar of the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 26:4, NIV).

Once they handed the priest the first fruits offering they were to proclaim the story of Isaac’s journey into Egypt, how his descendants became a great nation, and the resulting slavery and their suffering. Then they verbally acknowledged how...

“...The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, O LORD, have given me” (Deuteronomy 26:8-10, NIV).

Finally, they were instructed to: “Place the basket before the LORD your God and bow down before him. And you and the Levites and the aliens among you shall rejoice in all the good things the LORD your God has given to you and your household” (Deuteronomy 26:10-11, NIV).

Other offerings of the first sheaves of wheat were for the land, but the first fruits offering described here related to the Feast. I can imagine the people marking their crops, waiting for those first fruits to mature and ripen—and how they must have naturally desired a taste of that year’s very first grapes, figs, wheat, barley, pomegranates, olives, and dates. But they would put God first, taking their baskets out, separating each different fruit within the basket with some leaves, and presenting the best of the best unto the Lord.

But what happened to all those baskets of fruit afterwards? They were not consumed by fire. God didn’t come down and eat them. So who did? The priests did. As God told Aaron, “All the land’s firstfruits that they bring to the LORD will be yours. Everyone in your household who is ceremonially clean may eat it” (Numbers 18:13, NIV). Like other offerings, the first fruits offerings were part of what was used to support and feed those who ministered God’s Word to the people. When explaining the appointed feasts to Moses, God said:

Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest. He is to wave the sheaf before the LORD so it will be accepted on your behalf; the priest is to wave it on the day after the Sabbath. ... This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. 
From the day after the Sabbath, the day you brought the sheaf of the wave offering, count off seven full weeks. Count off fifty days up to the day after the seventh Sabbath, and then present an offering of new grain to the LORD. From wherever you live, bring two loaves made of two- tenths of an ephah of fine flour, baked with yeast, as a wave offering of firstfruits to the LORD...Then sacrifice one male goat for a sin offering and two lambs, each a year old, for a fellowship offering. The priest is to wave the two lambs before the LORD as a wave offering, together with the bread of the firstfruits. They are a sacred offering to the LORD for the priest...This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live”
(Leviticus 23:10- 21, NIV).

Bringing the first fruits offering to the priests was a lasting ordinance for the generations. Notice what God says of the Levites:

“After you have purified the Levites and presented them as a wave offering, they are to come to do their work at the Tent of Meeting. They are the Israelites who are to be given wholly to me. I have taken them as my own in place of the firstborn, the first male offspring from every Israelite woman. Every firstborn male in Israel, whether man or animal, is mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set them apart for myself. And I have taken the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons in Israel. Of all the Israelites, I have given the Levites as gifts to Aaron and his sons to do the work at the Tent of Meeting on behalf of the Israelites and to make atonement for them so that no plague will strike the Israelites when they go near the sanctuary” (Numbers 8:15-19, NIV).

The Levites serving in such manner actually helped prevent plagues from striking the Israelites. God is the designer who established the pattern for us to follow. He never commanded us to understand Him but simply obey Him! As I stated before, God is not trying to hold anything back from you...He is trying to get things to you.
Anything that is a first, a first thing, a first fruit, a first born, a devoted thing, God always lays claim to it. It belongs to God—not a portion of it—but the whole thing. God sees the first thing as the root that governs all the rest. 


In addition to the many blessings, first fruits accomplishes two other goals:

Proves Your Faith:
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes; fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase” (Proverbs 3:5-9).

Brings Honor to God:
“LORD, I have loved the habitation of thy house, and the place where thine honour dwelleth” (Psalm 26:8).
By trusting in God with first fruits, you bring honor to God and give Him glory and respect. 

-Paula White-Cain

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