I’ve pondered some of the significance of first fruits elsewhere in this blog… Jesus was God’s first fruit, the first offspring of each Egyptian family and animal was taken up in the passover, and (most importantly for the things I’m contemplating today) we’re supposed to give up our own first fruits.
I don’t think it’s wrong to interpet this as saying that we ought to make our offerings to God first. I don’t think it’s wrong to think that our offerings out to take the form of our time, talent, and treasure.
(I’m not, just for the record, claiming I’m any good at this. But I think it’s what we’re supposed to do.)
But if we just think of it in terms of putting God on the top of our list of priorities, I think we lose something.
As I was reading scripture today, when I got to the part about first fruits, I got to reflecting a bit about the nature of ancient societies.
In life B.G.C. (Before Grocery Stores) they didn’t have unfettered access to all the different kinds of food they wanted. They didn’t even have unfettered access to the amount of food that they’d want.
Right after the harvest, of course, everything was ducky. But right before the next harvest, things got pretty lean. Malcolm Gladwell’s latest books describes how midevil peasants went into a sort-of hybernation from lack of food. Of course, things would vary considerably at different times and places.
But there’s no ancient society that it’s fun to be at right before the harvest.
I don’t know that the first fruits of any harvest are necessarily objectively better than what comes later. But subjectively?
It’s like comparing the first watermelon of the summer with the one you have at the end of summer. Except that you’re starving before you eat the first one.
It’s like fasting for God, and then, in the very last hour of the fast, stopping by a gourmet buffet and looking at all the food but restraining from touching them. The first fruits, that which we offer to God, it’s not only supposed to be at the top of the list: it’s also supposed to be the very most precious that we’ve got.