Supernaturally Natural: Rethink The Way We, The Church, Worships Corporately - Part XXI
from Supernaturally Natural: Chapter 15 manuscript by Anthony Bachman
Mindset to consider: New Testament priests should be allowed to give their sacrifice of their “first fruits”.
During harvest time in Israel, people brought their “first fruits” to be placed on the altar to be consumed for the Lord God Almighty. These “first fruits” that were presented as a wave offering before being placed on the altar represented their “all”. “All” their crops were symbolically given during the “first fruits waving”.
I once had a garden where I grew Charleston Grey Watermelons of immense size. When I picked the first ripe watermelon, I would raise it with all my strength above my head as a wave offering before the Lord. I worshiped right there in my watermelon patch with my “first fruit wave offering”.
Yeas ago, canning and freezing preserved vegetables. In the fall our church would have “Harvest Home Service” where members of the church brought their canned goods as their “first fruits” that were given to the poor and needed. What the Lord had given those members, they gave back to Him, and it was given away. It met my definition of worship.
When I go to market, the first week a vegetable is available, it is priced higher. It has been a year since the consumer has tasted the authentic real deal, and seeing it for the first time again, they are willing to pay more. The next weeks, that same vegetable is sold at a lower price. Giving of your first fruit is giving it away when it is most valued.
Giving your first fruits is symbolic for giving your “all”. Hannah wanted children so bad that she was willing to give her first fruits of motherhood to the Lord. At Samuel’s birth, she brought him to the Temple as her first fruit, giving him away. Israel received a great prophet in her son, Samuel.
Another valuable lesson that I have learned from Lay Witness Missions is that “The Altar is a Safe Place”. If you have an altar rail in your church, it is a safe place to be. Bring your “first fruits” to the altar, your best, give it to the Lord as an act of worship, and watch to see what He does with your gift.
I love Saturday evenings at Lay Witness Missions, because the sanctuary is open with no naturally planned agenda. One can sit in quiet solitude, meditating, reflecting on all they had “seen” and “heard” during the intense activity of that weekend. Now was the time for the still small voice of the Holy Spirit to speak and the supernatural to penetrate the natural routines of each person’s life if they responded to his calling. I have seen a mother crushed by how dysfunctional her family had become bring to the altar rail her rebellious child for whom she had been praying for years, and by the end of the evening her whole family found themselves at the altar hugging, forgiving, bonding as the Holy Spirit supernaturally brought unity in what was a fragmented family. The family called it a miracle; I call it the supernatural invading the natural.
A man who wanted nothing to do with the weekend but help transport youth to activities came Saturday night to pick them up. He did not know that the Holy Spirit was dissecting the natural routines and comfort zones of the youth with His supernatural power in their youth meeting. These youth wanted to stay in the sanctuary while participating in some serious worship. This man testifies that somehow he went from the back pew where he had been waiting for them, somehow to the front altar, and today does not only have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, but is in full time ministry! The altar is a safe place to bring your first fruits, your “all”.
Giving our first fruits is a sacrifice of Lordship because it requires you to give your “all”, give your “best”, give when its “value is the highest”, and give “when the stakes are the highest”. How can the Church reinstitute the giving of “first fruits” as part of their Sunday Worship service? Will we, as the church, try to “control” what can and can not be given in the natural, so the service remains reverent and “in order”, or will we go with the flow of the Holy Spirit by allowing the supernatural to consume our “first fruits” gift even though we do not know how that will manifest itself. Are we willing to take the risk?
What would your church do if a farmer brought a newborn calf into the sanctuary of the church building as a “first fruits offering”? or if a four year old child left the first of the litter of “hamsters” in a shoebox at the altar? What would your church do if a biker became convicted at the altar to make Jesus not only his savior but also the Lord of his life, thus giving his “life” and “lifestyle” to the Lord? They would rejoice! But what would they do if he drove his Harley Davidson motorcycle down the church’s aisle right up to the altar rail and throw the keys on the altar as a “first fruits” gift of his new lifestyle, for “behold, in Christ Jesus all things are new”?