First Month, First Things, First Fruits
Promises tend to mean very little in the world. Most of us have experienced the disappointment of broken promises far too often to believe promises are more than just empty words. But God is the Rock who always keeps His promises. He can truly be depended on at all times, throughout all situations. I want to share with you the truth behind a powerful “promise to come” in God’s Word.
First fruits is a principle of faith that God has established from the beginning. In Hebrew, it is the word bikkurim, and it literally means “a promise to come.” First fruits means the first in place, order or rank; the beginning, chief or principle thing.
One of the most powerful principles of God’s Word is that of first fruits. It is the principle of one for many. Let me back up for a second by sharing the saying that ‘the Old Testament is the New concealed, and the New Testament is the Old revealed.’ Most of what we see in the Old Testament is a “type and shadow” of what was to come in the New Testament – Jesus Christ’s Lordship and the Kingdom of God.
In the Old Testament, Exodus 23:19 says this:
“The first of the firstfruits of thy land shalt you bring into the house of the Lord your God.”
Exodus 22:29 states:
“Thou shall not delay to offer the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt you give unto me.”
Besides these verses, there are several other specific first things God designates as being His in the Old Testament. People were supposed to offer the best of their “first things” to God. God refers to these as “devoted things.” Leviticus 27:28-29 says:
“Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed: every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord. None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed: but shall surely be put to death.”
The Lord was saying that every ‘devoted thing’ is most holy to Him. That means the same as marked and put aside as a first fruit. God also told Israel to mark and set apart for Him every male first fruit of the womb. Pay attention to that type and shadow. God’s intention was to get across to humanity this idea of the first of every significant thing to be devoted to Him, so that the rest of these things to follow would be blessed.
The Full Meaning of First Fruits
This idea of first fruits that God was sowing in His people’s minds had a much bigger scope than just harvests, beasts, or property. God was preparing and priming humanity for the entrance of Jesus and the kingdom of God. The New Testament flings away the veil to reveal the full meaning of first fruits.
Adam was the first person God created. When he became contaminated with sin, everyone else became contaminated, too. No one was to touch the tree of God’s knowledge and headship for their own use. Its fruit was the ‘devoted thing’ Adam took for himself and brought a curse upon all of us. We inherited Adam’s sin because he was the firstfruit of the family of man.
“Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.” (Romans 5:14)
The first man, Adam, was a template or a pattern of everyone else to come. This is the principle of first fruits, or ‘a promise to come.’ The way you govern first things in your life sets a pattern for how the rest of those things will flow or come to fruition. Since Adam fell into death, death reigned until a new firstfruit was sent and a New Covenant was made – the ‘promise to come.’
“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23)
Who is our Promise to come? God wanted a family. He sowed a son, and reaped many children. Jesus had to present Himself to God the Father as the firstfruit so we could become the sons of God. Jesus became the firstfruit offering. The Old Testament vaguely pointed to Him, but the New Testament proclaims about Him! In Romans 8:29, the Bible declares:
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [to be] conformed to the image of his Son, that he (Jesus) might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Jesus is the firstborn, or firstfruit, among many brethren, brothers and sisters in the family of God. Jesus is our pattern now. We no longer live under the failure and shame of Adam; we have the victory and confidence of Christ!
Jesus is our pattern and template. We are destined to be conformed to His image. He is our pattern, and we come in many designs. The Old Testament commanded Gods people to offer the best of their “first things” to God in a basic, rudimentary way. But in our new agreement with God, we can offer God the best of ourselves in a more full, and more complete way which comes from the heart. The way we do this now is summed up in Romans 12:1:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.”
When we offer up our bodies as a reasonable service to God, we offer Him the best of our everything, in a greater, more full way than Gods people ever did with their beasts and harvests in the Old Testament. We offer ourselves to God just as Jesus did – as living sacrifices.
When we offer God our whole selves, it is our firstfruit, AND our ‘promise to come!’ That is another sermon altogether. We offer up ourselves to God by giving Him our best in every area of life: at work, in relationships, in trials and in others’ failings, in the mornings, in prayer. I want to talk to you more about these things in Firstfruits, Part 2. Until then, remember that Jesus is your pattern, the firstfruit of many brethren, and that He has already won the victory for you.