Leviticus 23:10, 11
Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you…
Advantage was taken of the long sojourn in the wilderness to promulgate and instruct the people in the Law, that they might be ready to execute its commandments as soon as full opportunity was afforded by a residence in a settled country. To dwell upon such future observances could not but strengthen the faith of the people in God's intention to bring them eventually into the promised land. Of all the anticipations connected with that land, the most pleasing was the prospect of seeing the golden grain standing in the fields inviting the reaper's sickle.
I. THE RECOGNITION OF GOD AS THE GIVER OF ALL GOOD GIFTS.
1. Here he is recognized as the God of providence, whose kind hand enriches man with the fruits of earth, causing the seed to germinate, and perfecting and ripening it with sun, air, and rain. Israel thus rebuked the folly of surrounding nations, who deified the earth as a personal goddess; and. the conceptions of the modern materialist who refuses to see in nature any trace of an overruling Deity, and of the pantheist who identifies God with his works, may be similarly reproved. And if the blessings received from Providence are to be acknowledged, surely the same argument wilt apply to all the many favours, temporal and spiritual, that stream upon us as the children of God. In fact, what have we of intellectual, physical, or propertied endowment that did not proceed from him?
2. Recognized by the congregation as a whole. Family, corporate, national religion is distinct in a sense from individual worship, and God may honour the one as such apart from the particular merits of the other. The entire body ought, however, to resemble the component units; otherwise there is felt to be an incongruity that mocks the Being whom we intend to magnify. The Americans have shown that, apart from what is called State religion, there may be hearty national recognition of God.
3. The general does not exclude the personal acknowledgment of God's goodness. In chapter Leviticus 2:14 are found regulations respecting the presentation of free-will individual firstfruit offerings. The service of the sanctuary should stimulate and not serve as a substitute for private prayer and praise. Let the congregational dedication be seconded by a personal self-surrender to the glory of God.
II. THE METHOD OF ACKNOWLEDGMENT.
1. An offering brought to the Lord, viz. a sheaf of barley, which is "waved" by the priest, the symbolical act indicative of surrender of property to God. By returning a portion of what was originally bestowed, God's proprietorship and man's stewardship are signified in fitting manner. Each Church and family should pay its tithe to the Lord, separating some of its members to religious work.
2. Such an offering may provide for the support of God's appointed servants. This sheaf was not consumed upon the altar, but was for the benefit of the priests. Those who by reason of exclusive devotion to the altar cannot find leisure to sow and reap, must be remembered by the people in whose behalf they labour. To assist the servants of Christ is to render help to the Master himself. Let the wealthy in the receipt of their dividends think upon the men who are their representatives in Christian effort. The division of labour must not allow one field of industry to be entirely isolated from the rest.
3. Other offerings naturally accompany the particular presentation. The one food reminds of other blessings, and so, besides the firstfruit sheaf, there are brought a burnt offering, a meat offering, and a drink offering, constituting a festal sacrifice. One gift prepares the way for another, opens the door so that a presentation of a different kind may follow. He who sets apart a portion of time for God is not likely to stop there, but will contribute money and influence likewise.
III. THE PRIORITY OF GOD'S CLAIM TO HONOUR.
1. It precedes our own enjoyment. No bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears must be tasted till Jehovah has been duly acknowledged as the bountiful Giver. The rent must be paid ere we can settle down to comfortable possession of the house. Men think they can without impropriety reverse this order, attending first to their own needs and pleasures, and then to God's requirements. In two ways they err - they dishonour their Maker, and they fail to hallow the enjoyment of their daily food and privileges by the happy consciousness that a portion has been previously dedicated to God. To acknowledge our indebtedness is to send us back rejoicing to our dwellings.
2. It is not right to wait until the whole amount of blessing has been reaped. At the very beginning of harvest this ceremony occurs, consecrating the harvest toil, ensuring the favour of God upon the remainder. Men who delay an offering until they know the exact amount of their savings, are likely to find the total less than they hoped. It is well to give in faith, seeing quite sufficient reason already to evoke a testimony of gratitude. "Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: so shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine." For the first convert in a place that seems teeming with promise of fruitfulness, we would at once give thanks. Ere the multitudes of happy dead can be raised and gathered into the heavenly garner, Jesus Christ is risen and become the Firstfruits of them that deep. His appearance before God as the Perfect Offering guarantees an ample blessed harvest. - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
WEB: "Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, 'When you have come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap its the harvest, then you shall bring the sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest: