When talking about what is First Fruit literal meaning, “first fruits” refer to the first portion of the harvest which is given to God. Sacrificing the first fruits was a way of expressing trust in God’s provision. Also, they were dedicated to God in the hope of the greater harvest in future. The tradition of giving the first fruits had a spiritual meaning. By giving God the first fruits, Israel acknowledged that all good things come from Him and that everything belongs to Him. So, here are a few instances of First Fruit in the Bible with appropriate references. Enjoy your reading!
Five instances of First Fruit in the Bible with appropriate references
Bible contains a huge number of First Fruit instances. The most comprehensive passage about the First Fruit offering is found in Deuteronomy 26.1-19:
“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 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. [...] “This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul”.
This reference explains what God made for Israelites who were taken down to Egypt and later released from the slavery. God gave them the land of Canaan they could inherit from the people of Canaan. The land of Canaan was a fertile land flowing with milk and honey, but it was settled by sinful people who did horrible things like sacrifice their children.
Giving the First Fruits was an act of obedience which was part of God's promise to Israel that He would bless them. It is worth to mention that the Feast of First fruits was instituted when the nation of Israel was still wandering, without land or crops. It was observed in faith that God would lead the people to the land He had promised.
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The firstborn son as a First Fruit
Since the Israelites inherited the promised land, the term "First Fruit" received another, more metaphorical meaning that was used in the Old Testament. It refers to the firstborn son of each human man or female animal. All firstborn males belonged to God, they were taken to care for the temple (Numbers 3:12):
“Behold, I have taken the Levites from among the people of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the people of Israel. The Levites shall be mine…”
It is important that the “firstborn,” whether human or beast, was considered as God’s special possession and can be considered a type of First Fruit.
First Fruits in the New Testament
While there is no New Testament notation for Christians to give the “first fruits”, this term has a broader meaning. God loves a cheerful giver. Christians are expected to give a part of their possession. First Fruits are mentioned in several ways in the New Testament. In Romans 8:23 Paul claims:
“And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies”.
The "first fruit" is used here as a metaphor for the first appearance of a promised blessing. The apostle says that thanks to the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit, the “helper”, we can be sons of God and serve to Him and experience his blessing. Paul is saying that First Fruits of the Spirit is a foretaste of the many other blessings we will have in future.
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Jewish Christians as a First Fruit
Also, the First Fruit term is explained through the metaphor of dough. Romans 11:16 states:
“If the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole lump, and if the root is holy, so are the branches”.
Here, Paul is talking about Jewish Christians who rejected Jesus. It wasn’t God's intent that the Jews rejected salvation. But, since they have, they lost their relationship with God. For this reason, He promised to offer salvation to Gentiles. God is for all, but He has chosen Jews His first beloved sons. "First Fruits" is used here as a metaphor to mean the first part of the harvest of Jewish souls that are to be saved through Christ's sacrifice.
Christ as a First Fruit
Christ in His resurrection is “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” I Corinthians. 15:20:
“But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep”.
It is interesting that even the day of resurrection fell on the Feast of Firstfruits, the sixteenth of Nisan. The final “harvest” is the day when all those who believe in Christ will be resurrected.
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It is needless to say that understanding of the “First Fruit” term has drastically changed since the times of the Old Testament which you could notice in the instances of First Fruit in the Bible with appropriate references. The term "First Fruits" used in the New Testament does not refer to giving to that extent as it was in the Old Testament. Now, it is more about a person’s soul. It has evolved from a metaphor which meant the earliest and the best part of the harvest to those who experience God's blessing first or in a special way.
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