Friday, May 11, 2018

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday May 13, 2018

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(Give faithfully and generously to GODly causes)
(Leviticus 23:9-14 and 22)

   In Leviticus 23, verses 1-2, the LORD instructs the Israelites through Moses, to reserve several dates for “national public days of worship and sacrifice”. On these “appointed feast days” (“mo`adim), the people were to observe, through festive celebrations, holy occasions during specific times of the year, which the LORD HIMSELF named and established.
    In verses 9-14 we see highlighted “The Festival of Firstfruits” which the LORD established for the dedication of the first fruits of the Israelites harvest after they entered into the “promised land” of Canaan. Here the LORD instructs them to bring a portion (a sheaf) of that first grain harvest to the chosen place of assembly, and give it to the priest so that he may offer it up before the LORD as a sacrifice that can be accepted on their behalf.  
    The Festival of Firstfruits is the third feast that was appointed by the LORD to be observed by the Israelites annually. It was most likely a “wave offering” of barley, since barley is the first fruit, or “grain” of the new year (March-April time period on our Gregorian calendar and “Nisan” on the Jewish calendar) to be harvested. The priest, on this occasion, will lift up a sheaf of barley and “wave it” before the LORD on “the day after the Sabbath”, the sixteenth day of the month of Nisan. The symbolism of this occasion foreshadows the resurrection of CHRIST, WHO was called “a FIRSTFRUIT” in 1 Corinthian 15:20-23.
    The feasts and festivals of Israel were community observances where the poor, widows, orphans, and foreigners were all invited and encouraged to attend. The foods at these gatherings consisted of community contributions, and were a “potluck” type of get-together. The festivals were intended by GOD to highlight the importance of worshipping and thanksgiving to HIM, and also the importance of sharing our blessings with our neighbors (each other).
    However, the Israelite community was restricted from partaking in the food of the Festival of Firstfruits in any way, until after the “yearling lamb offering”, “double portion of grain offering”, and “the oblation of wine” was first dedicated and offered up to the LORD. Putting GOD first and sharing in our blessings with others are the key things. When give thanks to GOD, by sharing with those in need, we show GOD that we understand what “true tithing and offering” is all about.
    In Luke 11, in the final part of JESUS’ statement to the Pharisees and teachers of religious law, HE shines the spotlight on three of the many flaws in the way that they operated under GOD, disregarding “justice” and “the love of GOD”. HE begins, however, in verse 42, by pointing out the distorted way in which they regarded “divine causes”, such as “tithing” and “giving”. Even though they were teachers of the law of GOD, they still did not comprehend the true reason as to why GOD institutes and emphasizes the importance of “giving”. The concept of giving and sharing was instituted by GOD to benefit us by removing us from the effects of the curse HE put on soil of the earth after Adam and Eve sinned against HIM.  
    When sin entered into the world, one of GOD’s judgments on man was that HE “cursed the ground” (Genesis 3:17). Everything that we see existing in the world originates from that “now cursed” ground, and therefore, everything man makes or raises from the ground contains that curse.
    However, GOD, through HIS boundless mercy and grace, instituted “giving” (tithing and reacting positively to human need), the sharing of one’s possessions and one’s self, as “the only way to remove that curse” from the produce and products of the earth. When we give at least 10% of our earnings, and we are willing to share our time, talents, and prosperity with those who are in need, “we take the curse off of not only that which we give, but also, off of all that which we retain for ourselves and our family’s need”.
    In addition, JESUS says in effect that, “through our generosity here on earth, we store up treasures for ourselves in Heaven!” (Luke 16:9 - NLT). It is a formula that, if used correctly, would, quite literally, mean death to “greed”, selfishness, and “poverty” in the world. That is why it is so important for us to give faithfully and generously to all GODly causes. Our first thoughts after we have received financial or other blessings should be, “How can I benefit someone else who is in greater need than myself? The Christian thought should be to “desire more”, so that we may “have more” to “give away”.  

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

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