First Fruits Offering
The First Fruits offering was an offering required by God of the Israelites. It is mentioned serveral times in the Old Testament:
(Exodus 23:19a) "The first of the first-fruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God."
(Proverbs 3:9-10) " Honor the Lord with your possessions, and the first fruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine."
The most comprehensive passage concerning first fruits is found in Deuteronomy 26. It explains that the purpose of the first fruits was to acknowledge how God took the Israelites down to Egypt, multiplied their number, released them, and gave them the fertile land of Canaan for an inheritance.
God told the Israelites that the first fruits offering was to be given in thanks for "cities that you did not build, and houses full of good things that you did not fill, and cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards that you did not plant..." (Deuteronomy 6:10-11). The offering was brought to the temple where it was lifted up before God by the priest (Numbers 18:11-12).
The most significant aspect o the first fruits offering was the reason behind it: it was designed to acknowledge and thank God for providing the Israelites with the land flowing with milk and honey after their captivity in Egypt.
The first fruits offering was ceremonial act o obedience, and while that obedience was part of God's promise to Israel that he would bless them, it was the faithfulness of obedience that ensured His blessings, not the offering itself.
Celebrating first fruits is done today by bringing a special offering above and beyond the tithe. It is an offering of both thanksgiving for God's blessings in the past and expectation of his blessing for the remainder of the present year. The reason for giving the first fruit offering was to: 1) to give thanks for God's provision, 2) show sacrificial faith that God will supply, 3) to sow seeds in expectation of God's abundant blessing throughout the year.
Like tithing, the first fruit offering is to be given through a spirit of grace not one of the law. It is a special love offering to God given out of a heart of obedience, thanksgiving and appreciation.