The Basket Of Firstfruits
In this offering of the basket of firstfruits,
the individual Israelite is presented in the special aspect of
a worshipper before the Lord, whose goodness had redeemed His
people out of Egypt and planted them in the land of Canaan. It
is a constitution which the Israelite was to observe when he had
come unto the land which the Lord his God had given him for a
possession; and where, in the full enjoyment of the blessing,
he could, in act and confession, bear witness to the delivering
mercy and faithfulness of the God before whom he was to stand
He is here the joyful witness of this goodness,
and in the full effect of the faithfulness of Jehovah in the accomplishment
of all His promises; promises, it may be observed, which, with
regard to Israel, related to their establishment by the Lord,
in Canaan, as their earthly inheritance.
The basket of firstfruits is a special constitution
amidst the ordinances of Israel. Its character and import are
distinct. The feasts of the Lord, which presented Israel in their
nationality, unfolded, in type, at least, the means of redemption
and the grounds of that relationship into which the people were
thus brought to Jehovah; while the offerings and priesthood presented
the grounds of approach to a God of holiness, in consonance with
the character He bears. But it is not redemption that the basket
of firstfruits presents; it is inheritance. And the worship connected
with it is individual, and not corporate. The worshipper stands
here in the full and unequivocal enjoyment of all that the faithfulness
of God had promised; and the offering which he brings, the confession
he makes, and the joy of heart by which it is accompanied, all
bear the special impress of accomplished blessing. It is an offering
of thanksgiving--a sacrifice of praise.
Misery and helplessness are owned, and mercy and
redemption are acknowledged; but these are only steps in the pathway
to the possession of the inheritance of the Lord. They were necessary
steps, indeed; but they were only steps by which the faithfulness
of Jehovah had brought His people to the inheritance of the "land
that flowed with milk and honey."
The worshipper is here in possession of that inheritance;
and he comes with his basket to the place where Jehovah had set
His Name. "Thou shalt go (says the ordinance) unto the place
which the Lord thy God shall choose to place His Name there."
"And thou shalt set it (the basket) before the Lord thy
God, and worship before the Lord thy God."
What elements of worship are here brought together!
How simple and yet how perfect! It is only, in truth, the appropriate
owning of God in the actings of His goodness, in the results of
which the worshipper has been placed. He comes not as an alien
in the land, but as its possessor, planted in it by the Lord,
whose gift it was. His own hand had gathered these firstfruits--the
proof of the fruitfulness of His inheritance--and had stored them
in the basket to present them as a witness before the Lord. They
are the firstfruits of the land which the Lord His God had given
him, and which he possessed and dwelt in. They are brought to
the place which God has chosen to place His name there: to the
appointed meeting place of the worshipper and the Lord, as He
had said, "In all places where I record My Name, I will
come unto thee, and I will bless thee." The priest, too,
the necessary medium of approach, is there, and has his appropriate
part. "The priest shall take the basket out of thine hand,
and set it down before the altar of the Lord thy God,"
the place where atonement has been made. Thus, then, we have the
inheritance, the worshipper, the offering, the priest, the altar,
and the assured presence of God. Now comes the confession. "Thou
shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to
perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned
there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and
populous; and the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us,
and laid upon us hard bondage; and when we cried unto the Lord
God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our
affliction, and our labor, and our oppression; and the Lord brought
us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched
arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:
and He hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this
land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey."
The helplessness and miserable condition of the
people whom God had redeemed is fully owned. Egypt is recalled
to view as the place of their bondage, with the pity of the Lord
in answer to their cry of anguish and oppression. Redemption is
acknowledged in all its characteristic power as the work of the
Lord. And, lastly, the land, as the inheritance which the Lord
had given to His people, is characterized according to the terms
in which it was described, when it was yet but the land of promise,
"a land that floweth with milk and honey."
At this point, there is a touching and instructive
change of address. It is no longer the blessed rehearsal of the
acts of the Lord; but the worshipper speaks directly to the Lord.
And how simply! But this is always so, when the consciousness
of His presence possesses the heart. "And now, behold, I
have brought the firstfruits of the land which Thou, O Lord, hast
given me!" Then comes the final element of joy, which is
the appropriate expression and fruit of the heart, arising from
the conscious enjoyment of all that God had thus accomplished
for him, and had given him to possess, and of the relationship
in which God stood toward him. For there is the constantly-recurring
expression, "the Lord THY God." And here "the
Levite and the stranger" are brought in, as those who had
a claim to participate in the joy which was flowing from the source
of the grace and goodness of the Lord.
If this offering be looked at simply, it is the
presentation of the firstfruits of his land by the Israelite to
the Lord. God is first acknowledged and enjoyed in the blessings
and in the inheritance His goodness has bestowed. It is not the
blessing apart from God, but God owned and enjoyed in the blessing.
So all the blessings of God's hand should bring us to God Himself;
and should bring us to God first, with the firstfruits of thanksgiving
to Him. Otherwise, His blessing may lead the heart away from Himself,
and God may be forgotten in the very enjoyment which His goodness
This is true, not of temporal blessings only, but
it is often true of the blessings of redemption and grace also.
How many hearts are dwelling more on their security in Christ
than on Christ Himself--resting in the effect of redemption as
relating to their own happiness and hopes, instead of being brought
by it into the eternal blessedness of communion with God. And
how many, who have gone a step further, rest, practically, in
the knowledge of their position in Christ, instead of using it
to enjoy and to know God, the source of all their blessing, and
to whom in thanksgiving and praise it should all return. "Jesus
suffered for sins once, the just for the unjust, that he might
bring us to God." The firstfruits of the inheritance which
God has given us in Christ should be brought in the fullness of
our hearts to God. In the enjoyment of every blessing, God should
be the first in our thoughts. It is by His actings in grace that
He makes Himself known to His people; and hence the character
of the Giver, and the affections of His heart, become the prime
element in their blessing. "God is love;" and love,
to be known, must be enjoyed. And here it is infinite enjoyment.
God makes Himself known to His people by His own
actings; and by these alone is He adequately revealed, whether
in regard to the redemption of an earthly people, or in that redemption
and grace and eternal inheritance which are the fruit of this
love, through the death and resurrection and ascension and glory
of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is God acting in the supremacy of
His love; and thus making His very nature to be known by our hearts.
And these actings of our God are the only suited mouldings of
His people's thoughts, and are designed to inspire and guide the
worship they present. But how far, how very far, from this, is
the mere wordy recapitulation of known truths before the Lord;
in which memory, and not the heart, too often, takes the lead.
The basket of firstfruits, on the part of the Israelite,
was the real witness, in the presence of God, of the portion which
He had given His people; however suited might be the character
of the confession by which the offering was accompanied. Alas!
if we have nothing in our hearts, gathered, by faith, from our
inheritance in Christ--if we have nothing when we come, as worshippers,
before the Lord, but the confession of our lost estate, however
true; or the acknowledgment of redemption, however certain--if
there be no joyous affections kindled in our hearts by their having
"tasted that the Lord is gracious;"--fruits of His
love stored up in our souls, to be presented in praises and thanksgiving,
we are like the Israelite coming without his basket, or with his
basket empty--an insult instead of an honor to the Lord.
The basket of firstfruits must be brought; for
it is written, "Thou shalt set it before the Lord thy God,
and worship before the Lord thy God." If he had not been
dwelling in the inheritance, he could not have brought of its
fruits. "Now He that establishes us with you in Christ,
and has anointed us, is God; who also has sealed us, and given
the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts" (2 Cor. 1:21).
May we dwell where we are thus established by God, and gather
constant fruit from our inheritance, so that we may say, "And
now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which
Thou, O Lord, hast given me."