This weekend we celebrate Independence Day. That’s the time w e remember the signing of the Declaration of Independence and becoming a nation in our own right. It marks the birthday of our country, but also reminds us of where we, as a nation, came from. These men said this: “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection from Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our Sacred Honor. Can you imagine the resolve of these men? To pledge life, money, and honor in the pursuit of something for their progeny is a big deal! It makes me consider what they were leaving, and what they hoped to create with the help of “Divine Providence” (yep, folks….that would be God!).
What does this have to do with Firstfruits? I’m glad you asked! I have learned that there was more to the process of Firstfruits than just bringing your offering. The family representative bringing the offering of that first sheaf of barley couldn’t just drop it off and consider it done. No, he had to tell a story. He had to recount the history of Israel: the sojourn in Egypt, slavery, and God’s deliverance. This offering was to be a remembrance of what God had done to bring the Israelites into their own place and create a nation out of them. It was a time of thanksgiving for what God had done, but one can’t give thanks for that which has been forgotten.
All this makes me wonder about some things. What did God bring this nation out of, to create something new? There was certainly a large issue with governmental overstep and tyranny. And it wasn’t just about taxes (though that’s what I learned in school), but there were over twenty areas of overstep that deprived the Colonists of what we would now call “basic human rights”. So, these men bravely stood up and chose something different. They had tried to find redress with their government, only to find more injustice. Something had to change, and only by their courage would it happen.
Another thing it makes me think about is “What did God bring me out of, to make me part of a new thing?” Certainly, as I was saved at a young age, I wasn’t dealing with the adult issues that often come up through the teenage years and beyond. But that didn’t make my heart any less of a slave to sin, even at such a tender age. God did the miraculous in me and brought me out of slavery to sin and slavery to my own desires. Do I remember that as I live my everyday existence? Not really. But I should. Every effort I make as Firstfruits, every time I give my best effort, it should be in remembrance and gratitude of Him. His death on the Cross (and His subsequent resurrection) made this all possible. The other thing I must also remember is what He has called me out of: I don’t have to surrender to my temptations, because He gives me a way out. I don’t have to suffer hardship alone, because He is with me.
So, to what would I pledge my life, fortune and sacred honor? Is there something in the here and now that I can stand for and say is so important to me and my family? Is this something that only belongs to the spiritual realm? What do I want my legacy to be for future generations? What do I want them to remember that God did in my life?
Firstfruits is a celebration of all that God has done, a trust that He will fulfill His promises, and a gratitude for who He is. If I want to live my life as an offering of Firstfruits, I must remember what God has called me out of and celebrate the new thing He is doing in my life.