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Chapter 26:1-11 (ESV)

Posted on April 04, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 26:1-11 (ESV) - “When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance and have taken possession of it and live in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from your land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket, and you shall go to the place that the LORD your God will choose, to make his name to dwell there. And you shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our fathers to give us.’ Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD your God.

“And you shall make response before the LORD your God, ‘A wandering Aramean was my father. And he went down into Egypt and sojourned there, few in number, and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and humiliated us and laid on us hard labor. Then we cried to the LORD, the God of our fathers, and the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great deeds of terror, with signs and wonders. And he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. And behold, now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, O LORD, have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the LORD your God and worship before the LORD your God. And you shall rejoice in all the good that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you.

Question to consider: What was considered a good amount to give for a first offering?

The first fruits offering was a demonstration of faith. Once an Israelite received his portion of the land, it was a portion of the very first harvest given back to God. While there was instruction in the Mishna on the amount to be given from this harvest, this would have been rabbinical suggestion and not something defined in the Law. The truth is that just like the landowner could determine how to define the edge of his field for gleaning so an individual could decide how much of their harvest they wanted to give as a first offering.

The edges of a field could indicate a person’s level of generosity toward the poor, the widows, and the sojourner. The abundance and quality of the first offering was a sign of their faith. For example, in the book of Genesis, we know Abel gave a portion of his flocks in faith because of the quality and abundance of it, and this faith was credited to him as righteousness. His brother, Cain, gave an offering which was unacceptable to the LORD, for it was not done in faith.

The offering was to be brought to the appointed place which would be wherever the tabernacle was until the LORD gave Israel the holy city of Jerusalem. A portion of it was burned on the altar, and a portion went to feed the priests who served the people in the tabernacle (and eventually the temple). The reason it measured a person’s faith was because that person had to rely on the LORD to provide enough from the remaining harvest to cover the tithe (which fed the local Levites) and feed a man’s household.

Even the words Moses gave them to recite in giving the offering was a recognition that all of it was from the LORD from the multiplying of the people in Egypt to their deliverance from slavery and the receiving of the land. Since this was a generation who did not experience slavery in Egypt and who had not yet received the land, everything that had happened to their forefathers and would happen to them in the land would be acted upon by faith.

I think a key thing to note about this offering was that it was to be done with joy. As Paul mentioned to the Corinthians, in 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” The LORD does not need our money now, and the LORD did not need to exact a gift in order to care for the Levites back then. Everything belongs to God. God gives to us from His riches in order for us to be His stewards. We are blessed to be able to give and to participate in God's redemptive plan of gathering a people for Himself. We get to be a witness of the wonder of God as He creates faith in our neighbor. If this does not bring you joy, I would ask you to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ to understand the tremendous gift He has given us.


Dear heavenly Father, Create in us a clean heart, O God,  and renew a right spirit within us. Cast us not away from Your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from us. Restore to us the joy of Your salvation, and uphold us with a willing spirit. Amen.