Friday, August 21, 2015

Firstfruits and Firstborn - what they are NOT.

Friends,


While we study the subject of resurrection it is important to know the true meaning of terms like the firstfruits and firstborn, because it is told that Jesus was the firstfruits of them that slept (1Co 15:20) and the firstborn from the dead (Col 1:18). While we show from the scriptures that at least a few could have been raised from death prior to Jesus, many Christians find it hard to accept, because of the firstfruits and firstborn clauses, mentioned previously.

Firstfruits.


It is told several times in the Law of Moses that the people of Israel should present the firstfruits of their agricultural crops to Jehovah. For instance:
Exo 23:19 The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring into the house of the LORD thy God....
It is further clarified in Leviticus that the very first produce of a tree or a plant needs not be the firstfruits.
Lev 19:23 And when ye shall come into the land, and shall have planted all manner of trees for food, then ye shall count the fruit thereof as uncircumcised: three years shall it be as uncircumcised unto you: it shall not be eaten of.
Lev 19:24 But in the fourth year all the fruit thereof shall be holy to praise the LORD withal.
Lev 19:25 And in the fifth year shall ye eat of the fruit thereof, that it may yield unto you the increase thereof: I am the LORD your God.
So, the first fruit is not the very first fruit that is yielded on a plant or tree. The very first fruits of a tree or plant is uncircumcised or unclean.

There could be other passages as well, known to more knowledgeable people.

Firstborn.


Unlike the case of first fruits, first born is always first born, at least by the ordinal. But, right from the beginning of the Bible we see that the first born is not always preferred. (I have avoided mentioning scriptures in the following list as all these stories are familiar to almost everyone.)

  • Abel's sacrifice was accepted, whereas that of Cain was rejected.
  • Isaac was preferred over his elder half-brother Ishmael.
  • Jacob was preferred over his elder brother Esau, and was given the rights of the firstborn.
  • Ephraim was preferred over his elder brother Manasseh, and was given the rights of the firstborn.
  • Judah was preferred over his elder brothers Reuben, Simeon and Levi,
  • Joseph was preferred over 10 of his elder brethren, and was given the rights of the firstborn.

Some of these men were apparently evil, but all were not. It is a matter of God's election that none can question.

The most towering statement regarding firstborn, probably, may be:
Jer 31:9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
By the time Jehovah stated this through Jeremiah, Ephraim was almost an apostate tribe, nevertheless, Jehovah chose to Ephraim as His firstborn.

The point is: it is not the birth order or seniority that makes one a firstborn, it is the rights that makes one a firstborn. And those rights are bestowed by God.

Hope this will help in understanding the concepts of firstfruits and firstborn. I hold the Old Testament to be the best reference book and dictionary to understand many New Testament concepts.


In Christ,
Tomsan Kattackal