You want it so bad. It’s been promised. You have faith that it will be yours. You’ve wanted it for *so* *long*. Now you see it, almost in front of you. It’s not something you could ever get on your own, but God has given you a way to have it. Because He promised.
Just imagine the Israelites as they have crossed the Jordan River on dry ground while it’s at flood stage. The miracle sustains their faith. They’re here. Finally here. They’ve wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Can you imagine wanting something that long…watching your grandparents and parents die without reaching the goal? Finally here. *This* is what God promised. But wait. The first city, the very first conquest, isn’t for you. This one is God’s.
Yes, I’m talking about Jericho. It’s rich, it’s fortified, they just gathered their harvest….It’s perfect! But it’s not for them. The word is sacrifice. The firstfruits they gave that year, as they entered the Promised Land, was not the crops they hadn’t labored over. It was the first city they conquered. The home they had waited for as they wandered in the wilderness. The security they longed for must wait just a bit longer. The faith required to completely destroy the city, faith that God would provide more after this, must have been enormous! Maybe this is part of the reason God gave them the miracle at the Jordan? To bolster their faith?
What is it that I long for, that I have waited for, that I must give up the first of? What have I worked for that I must have faith God will provide the rest? A simple answer comes to me just as I type this. I have longed for months to have several hours all at once to spend at home. Time to handle chores here (who knew how hard cleaning could be with 2 little boys around?), time to do some work (I sell essential oils), and time to just rest. By myself, without anything scheduled for me. That time has finally come today! Yes, I have plans of what I will take care of and how, but the choices are mine. So, my family leaves (they’re going to see my in-laws), and I have realized…..
Yesterday I didn’t have an opportunity to write this blog.
That’s right. With the time right before me, I have to give the first of it up in obedience. If I wait until later, I may not have the focus I do right now. So, in faith that God will continue to provide (that nothing catastrophic will happen that needs my presence with the family), I have sat down to communicate to you, dear reader, what God is teaching me.
Firstfruits is about sacrifice.
Whether that sacrifice is the first of a new harvest that has been worked for or the first provision of a longing in our hearts, it is sacrifice. That’s not a word we like to hear. We like “offering” better, as it makes it sound like we can give of our surplus, instead out of our need. Sacrifice takes faith. The prophet once said that “obedience is better than sacrifice”, and it’s true that we cannot disobey and expect our sacrifice to be acceptable. But I also think that what we offer must be our first and our best, a sacrifice for us….not what we have left over, the dregs in the bottom of our cup.
Just like the Israelites on that week, we often must give that which we want the most. They knew what the city had. Not only did they have spies that went in….they marched around the city 13 times! I’m sure they each went home for six days and dreamed of what was in that city, smelled the baking bread, saw the clothing of the inhabitants….and wanted it. I know I would have! But God called them to sacrifice this first one, so He could provide others. Only with faith could they obey. Only through obedience could they offer that which they did not yet possess, but wanted more than almost anything.
I wish I could say that this was easy. But sacrifice, almost by definition, is hard. It’s Abraham offering Isaac. It’s the widow using the last of her food to feed a prophet. It’s the woman pouring rich perfume on the Savior’s feet. It’s Hannah bringing Samuel to the Tabernacle. It can be heart-wrenchingly hard. But by faith, we can give that which is asked, knowing that God will provide.
That is giving the firstfruits.