Read: Numbers 3:1-13, 40-51
…for all the firstborn are mine. When I struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, I set apart for myself every firstborn in Israel, whether human or animal. They are to be mine. I am the Lord.” Numbers 3:13
In this reading, we see God calling for the first born of Israel to be dedicated to Him and His service. God then allowed the tribe of Levi to step in as a substitute for those first born from the other tribes. And so the Levites became the people in charge of the temple and the priesthood.
There are a couple of interesting take-aways here in this passage. First was that God established a pattern of dedication of the first born to Him. If you recall, Jesus was taken to the temple and dedicated to the Lord when He was 8 days old and that was standard for all first born sons.
The question is, why would God establish this practice? The answer can be found in the rest of the Bible and specifically in the sacrificial system and the giving laws.
The reality of God is that He thinks He’s God. Because of that He desires to be first in our lives and for us to dedicate the best, the most valuable, the things we cherish the most, to Him. Now I don’t know that first children are always the best (but I’m a first child so I lean in that direction), but I do know that when a first child is born, they are the most valuable thing in the parents life. After all, there are no other children at that point. It’s at that point that God calls us to dedicate them to Him, acknowledge they are His, and relinquish ownership to Him.
The same was true in the sacrificial system. First born animals were dedicated to the Lord and given to the priests. In the arena of giving God always asked for the “First Fruits.” That means God gets the first 10% of the crop, or the money, or whatever it was they were giving, before the rest came in. It was a way of declaring surrender to Him, trust that he would bring in the remainder and provide, and a clear statement that He deserved the best and the first of our lives.
Since we don’t have a priesthood in our context, and most of us are not raising animals, the giving application of this is where it most applies. Is God getting your first and best before everything is in and settled? Are you trusting Him with your finances, and declaring through a “first fruits” tithe that He is the Lord? Most people give what’s left over, but God wants the first and the best.
This is one of the most powerful discipleship practices there is. Trusting God with our stuff (the first and best of our stuff) positions our hearts and lives to not only receive blessing, but to make our faith real and applicable, and to (in a very practical way) put God first.
Life only really works right when He is first in our lives, so this practice of “first fruits” giving is God’s gift to us.
Lord, help me to not only trust you with my finances and giving, but help me to put you first in every area of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.