Today’s Reading: Leviticus 22:17-23:44 (additional reading Psalm 44:1-8 and Proverbs 10:19)
Key Verse: “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: “When you enter the land I am going to give you and you reap its harvest, bring to the priest a sheaf of the first grain you harvest.” Leviticus 23:9
Harvest is my most favourite Sundays of the year. The songs, the display, the food donated and the gratitude for all the God has provided us with highlights this Sunday for me. This was especially true while I lived in Germany in which was a farming community. Harvest was not just about a nice display in the church but meant life and reward for all the hard work.
The ancient Israelites were fortunate in that God had commanded them to have not one, but three harvest festivals a year. Although they were all connected with the harvest in some way, they all had different emphases and reminded the people of different things.
One important lesson that the Feast of Firstfruits teaches us is that God has first call on everything. The sheath that was waved in front of the veil was not any old sheath from the harvest, not one that was picked out after the harvest had been gathered in for human consumption as something of an afterthought, but, instead, the very first sheath to be cut. Before the farmers cut anything for themselves, they cut an offering to God. The offering of the first sheath symbolised that the whole of the harvest belonged to God, it was from him, given by his power. The land produced nothing as a result of human power or cleverness, but all of God’s grace.
If any of you have ever grown anything in a garden you will know the first is always the hardest to give away. We wait patiently for the first Tomatoes or Strawberry to turn red so that we can eat it, then only after when we have a bounty of fruit, do we give some of the others away. If your not a gardener think of maybe baking a cake and the enjoyment you have from the first bite.
Sometimes we forget about all that God gives us and harvest is a good time to remember this, but we should thank Him daily for all His provisions. For most of us, our harvest isn’t about the crop in the field anymore, but God is still providing for us daily. God is good and gives to us not because He has to, or because we have performed some special ritual or earned it in some way, but because of His character and because He wants to bless us.
Consequently, we should give God first place in our lives, in everything that we are, think, say or do. We are called daily to offer everything in our lives, holding nothing back, to him to use in the way that he would choose. When we surrender everything to him, we will see Him do amazing things in our lives.
- What is the first fruit in your life?
- How can you remind yourself that all you have is a gift from God?
- How can you make gratitude part of your daily life?
Father, Thank You that You are truly a gracious God who gives without measure. We are reminded that everything we have is a gift from You. Thank You. Help us to honour You with everything you bless us with and to surrender to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen