The Basket of First-Fruits

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 9
Q. Deut. 26 M. F. asks, whether the basket of first-fruits is limited to the entrance of Israel into the land, or whether it was a repeated and constant oblation? also, wherein it is verified in believers now?
A. That it applies to Israel's possession of the land at any time is plain. The last words of the first verse imply as much: “And it shall be when thou art come in unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein, that thou shalt take,” &c. Ex. 23:1919The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk. (Exodus 23:19); Lev. 23; and Num. 18:1313And whatsoever is first ripe in the land, which they shall bring unto the Lord, shall be thine; every one that is clean in thine house shall eat of it. (Numbers 18:13), fully confirm this. It was a standing ordinance in the land. The spirit of the offering is also clear—a full profession before God that they possessed the things which He had promised to their fathers. Their father had been a Syrian ready to perish, a slave in Egypt; and redemption had brought them out thence, and into the good land of which they were now in full enjoyment. Therefore were they come up to own the Giver, in offering to Him the first-fruits. They worshipped and rejoiced in every good thing the Lord had given them, and this in grace, with the Levite and the stranger. How all this bears on the way in which the believer now makes the offering is evident. All his worship is but the answer, the reflex, and bringing back to God of the fruit—the first-fruits, if true faith and godliness be there, of what God has revealed Himself to be to him, and of that heavenly joy into which He has introduced him. Such is properly what the Lord calls “that which is your own;” for on the earth we are pilgrims, in the desert it is not “ours.” The characteristic of piety will be found to be, in scripture, and everywhere, and ever, that the first effect of blessing is turning back to God and owing it there, not the personal enjoyment of it, which, without this, turns us from God. The love that gave it is more present than even the gift. See Eliezer at the well (Gen. 24), the cleansed Samaritan leper (Luke 17), and a multitude of other examples. He who gives is more and more before us than the gift itself. This is the elevating character of divine enjoyment. Then surely we do enjoy it, freely and blessedly, and the stream of grace flows out to the Levite and the stranger—to those whose hearts are in need, and who have not an inheritance in the land we enjoy. It is, then, the return of the heart to God in the enjoyment of the heavenly blessings which are the fruit of redemption. The Christian too can enjoy or so worship when he has the consciousness that heavenly things are his. It is the profession, the open avowal of this; if he has not this consciousness, neither can he bring his basket of first-fruits. “A Syrian ready to perish” was a thing past. The worship was grounded on possession of the blessing and on a known inheritance—type of “sitting in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” It is not thankfulness for promises, however surely that has its place, but thankfulness that they are accomplished—in Christ, yea and amen. Redemption is owned as an accomplished thing that has put us in possession, though for the redemption of the body we have yet to wait.
Indeed, this is the general character of Deuteronomy. It is not drawing near to God in the sanctuary by means of sacrifice, but the people—not the priest merely for them—are themselves in possession, and hence the sentiments towards God Himself, and towards the desolate of men, in the enjoyment of the blessing; for free grace becomes him who has received all through grace. Compare Deut. 16 where even the various degrees of this are traced in the three principal feasts of the Lord. Hence also the responsibility of the people as to the continuance of the enjoyment of the blessing; for it is in the path of obedience that such enjoyment is known. Deuteronomy is a book of the deepest practical instruction in this respect.