This is the first festival God says specifically that will wait until the people reach the Promised Land. This is a promise feast.
This celebration is for after the people arrive and begin planting crops. The wilderness is not a place for planting fields and vineyards. But God is taking the people to a place where it is appropriate and advantageous.
This festival speaks of a future to come. I see it as a promise from the Lord. At the time He gave this command He was sustaining the people by providing manna from Heaven. What they had lasted them only a day at a time and two days on the day before the Sabbath. He was promising them instead that their harvests would be plentiful. There would be enough that the people would be celebrating. There would also be scarce enough that the people would be leaning on Him and trust that honoring Him first with whatever they had would bring His blessing.
In this festival the people would give to the Lord BEFORE they enjoyed any of the fruits of their labor. Their FIRST FRUITS would be given to God. Once that was done then they could partake of what remained. What they gave came from the first harvest of the land. It was a spring harvest and it held the promise of the fuller harvest still to come. The people would learn the obedience and faith required for this act. If they didn’t follow His command He would not bless them and their harvests would show that result.
Something else I noticed about God’s instructions regarding this festival is that He didn’t give a “alternate sacrifice” for the poor. His portion was to be the same size no matter what the financial situation of the giver. I believe this is another promise. He doesn’t lower the amount because He promises the giver plenty IF he gives of what he has first to the Lord.
This “promise” reminds me of the story of the widow woman who fed the prophet Elijah. The famine and drought in the land was severe and she was ready to use the last of what she had for food to feed her son one last time before surrendering to death. Elijah asked her to make something for him first. If she had refused I have no doubt that she and her son would have died. But she honored the Lord with what she had and fed His prophet first. What she had was then able to last her, her son and Elijah until the rains came and the crops grew again. I believe that is the same kind of promise God was implying by not listing a smaller portion for the poor.
God can do WONDERS with what we give Him when it is from our hearts. But we have to turn loose of it completely. It doesn’t work to “give” something to God and then demand He use it the way you want Him to. He knows how to use every bit of what we allow Him to have for the best benefit. He also knows how to rain down blessings on the one who willingly gives.
The thing He wants us to give most is our heart. With that commodity He can move mountains! Don’t give Him the leftovers; give Him the first fruits of your life.
Father God, forgive me for all the times I gave You my “leftovers.” You deserve FIRST PICK. I have a distinct feeling that my life would be MUCH less complicated if I would remember to do that EVERY day. Thank You for Your promises. I LOVE knowing I have a future with You! Help me always live that gratitude in my attitude.