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FIRSTFRUITS AND TITHES
In Amalek we have seen that which God refuses. Now a lovely positive contrast is seen in that which God accepts. The Lord giving Israel their promised land, and He would bless the fruits of their labors, the increase being great, depending on their obedience to Him. Of this increase they were to bring a basket of the first of all the produce the land yielded, and go to the place the Lord chose to put His name (vs.1-2). This was Jerusalem. They might feel that since the rest of the crop was ready to harvest, they should not leave in case of some adverse conditions arising before they returned. But the question is simply, is God first, or not? When He is rightly given the first place, He will certainly take care of all that follows.
The basket was to be carried to the priest and the offerer was given words with which to speak, in verse 3. In declaring to the priest that he, the offerer, had come to the country the Lord had sworn to Israel's fathers to give them, the individual was confessing what would be constantly remembered by Israel, that God had proven faithful to His word and Israel's blessings had come from His hand. We too need constant reminders of God's marvelous dealings with us in faithfulness and grace.
The priest was then to take the basket and set it before the altar. Then again the offerer was to speak, telling the priest his father was "a Syrian about to perish," who went down to Egypt to live and increased there from a very few to a great nation (v.5). Of course this refers to Jacob and his family, who lost their Syrian identity when God made them a distinct nation. But in Egypt they were oppressed as slaves, suffering for many years until, in answer to their agonizing prayers, God brought them out of Egypt with a mighty hand "with great terror and with signs and wonders" (v.8). Then ten plagues sent on Egypt and the miraculous passage of the Red Sea were things never to be forgotten.
But now, brought to "a land flowing with milk and honey" (v.9), Israel had reason to thank and praise God with full hearts, and never to forget how graciously He had dealt with them. Surely Christians have greater reason still for thankfulness and praise in having been delivered from the miserable bondage of sin, to be "blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies in Christ" (Ephesians 1:3).
Therefore the offerer could say he had brought the firstfruits of the land the Lord had given him, and there he was to worship before the Lord his God (v.10). Such worship would involve rejoicing in all the good things the Lord had given (v.11). How right and true an attitude this is for every believer today. This spirit of worship and rejoicing would banish every complaint. God knows how we need to remember His great goodness in all the way He deals with us. For this reason, as well as other reasons, He has prescribed the Lord's supper in remembrance of Him. If we today value this feast of remembrance, we shall not give in to the complaining attitude that characterizes unbelievers, and which believers too often imitate.
We have read before also of the tithe of the third year (Deuteronomy 14:28-29), a tenth of the increase of the land given to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless and the widow. When this was fulfilled, one could say before the Lord, "I have removed the holy tithe from my house, and also have given them to the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me. I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten them" (vs.12-13). On the negative side, he could claim he had not himself eaten of this tithe, even in mourning, nor had used it for anything unclean, nor given any of it for the dead (v.14). For people might be inclined to make exceptions as to the use of the tithe.
If the offerer could thus speak honestly, then he would have true title to ask the Lord to look down from heaven and bless His people Israel, and bless their land also (v.15). The :Lord encourages prayer for His blessing on the part. of those who obey Him, but it is hypocrisy to ask for His blessing when one is disobedient.
ISRAEL A SPECIAL PEOPLE
Again the Lord lays emphasis on the commandments He was giving to Israel, that they should be careful to observe them with all their heart and soul. They themselves declared that the Lord was their God. Let them be therefore true to Him by keeping His statutes, His commandments and judgments, being fully obedient (vs.16-17).
On God's side, He proclaimed them to be His special people (v 18). Gentiles were given no such privilege, and they could not be expected to keep the commandments given to Israel. Israel was not simply a nation among nations, but a nation separated by God from all others, to belong to Him and to represent Him before the world. Thus they were set high above all nations," as "a holy people to the Lord your God" (v.19). Let them maintain this distinction by being holy in practice.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 26". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany