2018-05-09 / Religion

Bringing firstfruits unto the Lord

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Leviticus 2:14; 23:9-14, 22

The descendants of the man, Abraham — specifically, the offspring of his grandson, Jacob — were slaves in the land of Egypt. Their slavery lasted for nearly four hundred years. At the end of this time, God — Jehovah — sent the man, Moses, and his brother Aaron with the assignment to free these slaves.

It is interesting that these slaves needed to be persuaded to leave the only life they had known. Yet, through miraculous events, this Pharaoh did “let the people go.” Exodus 13:17. These now-former slaves did not leave as paupers. They had been given material wealth by the people who had had them enslaved. Exodus 12:35, 36. Thus, “they spoiled the Egyptians.”

They journeyed to the base of Mount Sinai. Exodus 19:1. At that point, God forged the loosely-held tribes into a nation. Previously, they had known no government of their own. The first divine action was the giving of the Ten Commandments. Exodus 20:3-17. These laws became the basis for all civil law for these people — and even to our day.

These people knew that their destination was “the Promised Land” — the land of Canaan. They understood that the land would be divided among their tribes. They, also, knew that the assigned land did not “belong” to the individual. This geography belonged to, and continues to belong to, God. The individual responsibility was that of a “manager.”

Most of these individuals had little or no experience in managing goods or property. The laws were given in detail, showing these people the divine desire for carrying out these directives. As we, presently, read these instructions, we have the perspective of history and time of personal reflection. When this congregation heard these words, they represented a totally foreign idea.

The economy of the Promised Land would be based on agriculture — crops and animal husbandry. Since the people would serve as managers — and not owners — the divine landlord specified the manner in which the ownership would be recognized. The first of his instructions concerning harvest declared, “And if thou offer a meat (food) offering of thy first fruits unto Lord (Jehovah), thou shalt offer for the meat offering of thy first fruits green ears of corn (grain) dried by the fire, even corn (grain) beaten out of full ears.” Leviticus 2:14.

There were to be celebrations at the time of harvest. These feasts were a way of honoring God for the harvest that was yet to be gathered. The record tells us, “And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land which I give thee, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest unto the priest: And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.” Leviticus 23:9- 11.

When the first fruits offerings were given, the thought of the personal sacrifice for sin must never be far from each mind. “And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord.” Leviticus 23:12. This ritual was specific — “And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals (about 6.2 pounds) of fine flour mingled with oil, and offering made by fire unto the Lord for a sweet savour (smell; scent): and a drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin (about 41.4 fluid ounces).” Leviticus 23:13.

The divine plan was given to these people while they were camped at the base of Mount Sinai. They had never seen the Promised Land, and they had no knowledge of the area. These instructions must have seemed to be some kind of “pipe dream,” regarding land use and reaping personal harvests. A warning was given — “And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the self-same day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.” Leviticus 23:14.

This first fruits offering was offered at the beginning of the harvest. The divine landlord continued his instructions to his mangers. “And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete: Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the Lord.” Leviticus 23:15, 16.

This second offering was to be specific. “Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of find flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the first fruits unto the Lord. And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with the meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of a sweet savour unto the Lord.” Leviticus 23:17, 18.

The redemptive side of this offering was not to be overlooked. “Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the first fruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest.” Leviticus 23:19, 20. These actions were to focus on the holiness of the offering. “And ye shall proclaim on the self same day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile (labor; tillage) work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.” Leviticus 23:21.

We know that Jesus Christ of Nazareth came into the world to fulfil all of the Law, including the feasts and sacrifices. As the people from the past looked forward the complete fulfillment of the divine plan, we now look back at the plan that has been completed. Each person must accept the redemptive work of our Lord. Please accept Him into your life, today. John 3:16.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@yahoo.com

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