Exodus 23:16 “Celebrate the Feast of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. Celebrate the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.”
I am struck by the distinction between the “Feast of Harvest” and the “Feast of Ingathering.” We are largely separated from an agrarian economy, but in theory at least we base Thanksgiving on the second of those festivals, ignoring the first. I realized just now that celebrating harvest when you’ve only gotten the first sample is a statement of faith that the rest of the crop will come in. Those who live on farms even today know that a lot can happen between the first of the crop and the last, depending on weather, insects, and any of a number of other things. Just because you’ve gotten some doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed the whole crop. That makes it all the more pointed that verse 19 specifies, “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil into the house of the Lord your God.” We tend to want the best stuff for ourselves! Again, having gotten away from an agrarian economy that distinction has lost its punch, because one dollar is the same as another. The point, however, is a matter of priorities: give to God first, and give Him the best. Sadly, the vast majority of Christians, even, give to God only what is left over after they’ve taken care of everything else. In a financial pinch, the first thing to go is offerings. That frankly is ignoring the reality that God is our source of supply; apart from His grace we can’t gain anything. When we give God the best first, we are declaring our trust that He will supply all that we need, and we are to thank Him again when that happens.
This is something the Lord taught me back in 1973. Cathy and I were both raised in homes that practiced tithing, giving to God a tenth of all income right off the top. However, as a young family with a child, me going from job to job after having gotten out of the Army, we never had a tenth left over at the end of the month. Finally, we decided to step out in faith and write a check as soon as the money came in, before even the rent came out. That was hard, believe me! However, that month we actually had a little left over at the end! In the 48 years since then we have never gone hungry, even in times I was completely out of work. This is a principle I have tried to transmit to those in my care, but the response has been spotty at best. The prevailing attitude seems to be that giving an offering is like an admission fee. People tend to give 1,000 yen a service (about $10) regardless of their income. That misses the whole point! I frankly don’t know how to get this truth across. This distinction between Harvest and Ingathering might just be the key. In any case, it is the Holy Spirit who needs to imprint this on people’s hearts and minds, so much prayer is called for.
Father, thank You for this insight. I do pray for Your anointing so that the believers may be liberated from the lying, poverty mentality the devil wants them to have and step out into the abundance that You intend for them, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!