The Lord ordained that besides the sheaf of firstfruits, which was offered for the whole land on the day after the Passover (Lev. 23:10); every Israelite man was to bring for himself a basket of firstfruits at the Feast of Pentecost – which is why this feast was also called the Feast of Firstfruits (Ex. 34:22). When God has made good on His promises to us, He expects that we should acknowledge the honor of His faithfulness. And our earthly comforts are doubly sweet when we see them flowing from the fountain of the promise! The Israelite who offered his firstfruits was to remember and acknowledge the humble origin of that nation of which he was a member. They were a poor, despised, oppressed people in Egypt; and although they had now become rich and great, they had no reason to be proud, secure, or forgetful of God. The Lord had not forgotten them in their afflictions in Egypt; and therefore, it was not right to grudge Him a little basket of firstfruits when He had miraculously delivered them from their cruel taskmasters and brought them into Canaan. And as the Israelite offered his basket of firstfruits to the Lord, he was to remember that whatever we give Him is merely His own property that He has lent to us (verse 10; 1 Chr. 29:14).
Deuteronomy 14:28-29 directed the Israelites that in every third year, they were to do something different with their “second tithe” that they were usually supposed to bring to the Tabernacle and spend in holy feasting before the Lord. Every three years, this “second tithe” was to be spent in entertaining the poor in the people’s own hometowns. Now because this was done away from the watchful eyes of the priests, and a great confidence was thus put in the people’s honesty that they would use this tithe according to the law (sharing it with the Levites, foreigners, the fatherless, and widows); it was therefore required that when they appeared before the Lord at the next feast, they were to testify – in a religious manner – that they had been entirely true to their trust. They must make a solemn declaration that none of the sanctified things that had been set apart for this tithe had been hoarded up in their own houses; and that the poor – and particularly the poor ministers, poor foreigners, and poor orphans and widows – had enjoyed their part, according to the Lord’s commandment. To this solemn protestation, the people were to add a solemn prayer (verse 15) – not for themselves alone, but for all God’s people; for in the common peace and prosperity of a nation, every particular person prospers and has peace. From this, we must learn to wrestle with God in prayer for blessings upon our land and nation; as well as for the universal Church, which is the Israel of God (Gal. 6:16). How shall the earth yield its increase, or what comfort can we take in it – unless our God gives us His blessing with it? (Ps. 67:6) Herein is represented the Covenant-relationship between our reconciled God and every true believer, as well as the privileges and duties belonging to this relationship. We must be careful that our lives and actions show that – according to the Covenant of grace in Christ Jesus – the Lord is our God, and we are His people, praying and waiting in His appointed way for the performance of His gracious promises!
In the conclusion of this chapter, Moses urged two things to enforce all these precepts. First, they were the commands of God (verse 16). They were not the dictates of Moses’ own wisdom, nor were they enacted by any authority of his own. Rather, infinite wisdom framed them, and the power of the King of kings made them binding. Therefore, we must not obey them carelessly and hypocritically, but with our whole heart and soul. Second, the people’s Covenant with God obliged them to keep these commands. Moses not only insisted upon God’s sovereignty over them, but also His relationship with them. The Lord’s Covenant is mutual, and it is binding both ways. We must perform our part of the Covenant; God is our Prince and Ruler, and this obliges us – in faithfulness to our word, as well as in duty to our Sovereign – to keep His statutes and His commandments. We harm ourselves and unfaithfully break the most sacred engagements when we have taken the Lord to be our God, and yet we do not conscientiously obey His commands. But as for God’s part of the Covenant, He certainly makes it good; He has taken us to be His special people, as He has promised – and to that end, He makes us holy; for holiness is true honor, and the only way to everlasting honor. He speaks of making His people high above all nations; for the greatest honor we are capable of in this world is to be taken into Covenant with God, and to live in His service. We are to be separated from the world, devoted to the Lord, and employed continually in His service. Holiness is what God aims at in taking us to be His people; therefore, if we do not strive to keep His commandments, we have received His grace in vain. We are elected to obedience (1 Pet. 1:2), chosen to be holy (Eph. 1:4), and purified as a special people, so that we might not only do good works, but also be zealous in them! (Tit. 2:14)
Lord, we give You thanks that You have called us to be among Your chosen ones! We give thanks that the Father of mercies looks upon us as being accepted in the Beloved, and marks us as the objects of His peculiar love! Our Jesus has purchased us with the price of His own blood, and the Holy Spirit has visited our souls with the influences of His peculiar grace. Cause us to dedicate ourselves – as well as all that You have blessed us with, even if it is only two small mites – to be Yours forever! Amen.
Join other families all around the globe! Receive the full-color, freely downloadable format of these thoughts in your email every day, and enjoy a FREE copy of my e-book A Call to Family Worship! It’s my prayer that you and your family will be equipped to receive abundant blessings from the hand of the Lord as you study His Word and worship in His presence together.
photo by Ashley P | Lightstock.com