Offering God our First Fruits (Numbers 15:20-21; 18:12-18)
Building on the sacrificial system described in Numbers 4 and 7, two passages in Numbers 15 and 18 describe the offering of the first produce of labor and the land to God. In addition to the offerings described earlier, the Israelites are to offer to God “the first fruits of all that is in their land” (Num. 18:13). Because God is the sovereign in possession of all things, the entire produce of the land and people actually belong to God already. When the people bring the firstfruits to the altar, they acknowledge God’s ownership of everything, not merely what is left over after they meet their own needs. By bringing the firstfruits before making use of the rest of the increase themselves, they express respect for God’s sovereignty, as well as the urgent hope that God will bless the continuing productivity of their labor and resources.
The offerings and sacrifices in Israel’s sacrificial system are different from the gifts and offerings we make today to God’s work, but the concept of giving our firstfruits to God is still applicable. By giving first to God, we acknowledge God to be the owner of everything we have. Therefore, we give him our first and best. In this way, offering our firstfruits becomes a blessing for us as it was for ancient Israel.
Richard O. Rigsby, “First Fruits,” in The Anchor Yale Bible Dictionary (New York: Doubleday, 1992), 797.