“The LORD said to Moses, “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 23:9–10
Beginning at sundown on May 19 through sundown May 21, Jews around the world will celebrate the biblically mandated festival, Shavuot, also known better by Christians from the Greek, Pentecost.Originally tied to the harvest and the bringing of the firstfruits to the Temple, the holiday now commemorates the giving of the Law exactly 50 days after the Exodus. This devotion is one of 12 exploring the many lessons this ancient observance has for Christians today.
When a guest comes to dinner, do you reheat the leftovers from last night’s meal? Do you set the table with plastic forks and knives and use soiled placemats? Of course not! Typically, we bring out the best for our guests — the china, silverware, freshly prepared food — right?
Giving our best, whether it has to do with serving guests, doing our job, or spending time with our family, is important to us. But what about when it comes to God? Do we give Him what the Bible refers to as the firstfruits of our time, our devotion, our labors?
The holiday of Shavuot was originally intended as a celebration of the summer harvest season, a time to thank God for His abundant provision by bringing to Him the firstfruits of the harvest.
The firstfruits, called bikkurim, referred especially to the seven fruits of the Promised Land — wheat, barley, olives, figs, pomegranates, dates, and grapes. As soon as the farmer saw a ripening fruit, he would tie a string or ribbon around it and designate that “first fruit” as bikkurim. Later, he would pick that fruit, put it in a basket, and bring it to the Temple.
After the Temple was destroyed, the holiday focused more on celebrating the giving of God’s law, as mentioned in our previous devotion.
The firstfruits were not always necessarily the earliest crop, but also referred to the best. As the Bible commanded in Exodus 23:19, “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.”
My friends, God desires the same from us today — to bring Him the best of ourselves in terms of our time, talents, and devotion. As we live to please God first, we certainly will honor Him with our best.
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