The Promise to Come
The Promise to Come
One of my favorite sections of Scripture is the first 11 chapters of Genesis. It is so rich with information about God’s plans for us, the way He created us and our world, and how everything went wrong. Part of the reason I like these chapters is because I like to see the patterns established in Scripture. When I see things in the very beginning, they are simpler and easier to understand. And every time I go back and read these chapters again the Lord shows me new things. The first 11 chapters of Genesis are so saturated with knowledge and wisdom it makes it hard to read beyond them and get to the rest of the Bible. But I do. I pinky promise.
Cain and Abel
One thing that always fascinates me in Genesis 4 is how Got accepted Abel’s offering and rejected Cain’s. Why would God, considering that the ground was now cursed because of Cain’s parents, reject the offering which Cain brought? Genesis 4:3 (NKJV) tells us that “Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground.” That means that Cain, whom Genesis 4:2 described as “a tiller of the ground,” worked through what Genesis 3:17-19 describes as toil, thorns and thistles, and the sweat of his face to bring an offering to the Lord. Surely if the Lord accepted Abel’s offering which came from watching sheep walk around, then He would accept Cain’s, right? Obviously not, but why?
Hebrews 11:4 states that “By faith Abel to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain.” So the answer is related to faith, but can we see that in Genesis 4? Yes, actually. Genesis 4:3 tells us that Can brought his offering “in the process of time.” The footnote in my Bible explains that this phrase is literally translated “at the end of days.” Contrast this with Abel who Genesis 4:4 tells us “brought of the firstborn of his flock.” Abel brought the first of what his labor produced, while Cain brought the last of what his labor produced.
This distinction clearly matters to God, but why? Abel brought the first lamb to the Lord not knowing if any more lambs were on the way, but Cain waited until he knew his needs were met before he concerned himself with God. Abel trusted God as his Provision, but Cain trusted in himself. Abel walked by faith while Cain walked by sight. Hebrews 11:6 tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please Him” and 2 Corinthians 5:7 tells us to “walk by faith, not by sight.” Clearly, God desires us to place our trust in Him and operate in faith. After seeing this principle in the lives of Cain and Abel, we can better understand when it is mentioned again.
Deuteronomy 26:2 commands the Israelites to “take some of the first of all the produce of the ground... ...and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide.” The reason for this command is to keep the Israelites’ trust in God instead of themselves. This practice of bringing the “first fruits” is known as Bikkurim in Hebrew and is literally translated as the “promise to come.” Stu Baker describes Bikkurim as “an acknowledgement that the harvest and abundance came because of the Lord’s promise.” Baker also notes that “giving the first fruit offering is a declaration that you are trusting God’s unwavering promise of provision.”
Elsewhere in Scripture, the giving of first fruits acts as a catalyst to cause this “promise to come” to be fulfilled. Proverbs 3:9-10 connects the giving of firstfruits with additional abundant provision: “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the firstfruits of all your increase; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” Jesus confirms this “promise to come” for Christians in Matthew 6:33, which encourages believers to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”
By giving firstfruits, we place our trust in God alone, and His “promise to come” is more than enough to meet our needs. So don’t be a Cain, trusting in your own riches, because Mark 10:24 says it is hard “for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God!” Instead, trust God who Ephesians 3:20 reminds us “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Be blessed as you meditate on Bikkurim, God’s “promise to come.”