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First fruit offerings have stood the test of time. From the first harvests of the Israelites to today’s financial giving, first fruit offerings have deep biblical roots. 

Still, so many people have questions about this concept. How much should you give? Where did this tradition originate in the Old Testament? And how can this practice shape our financial practices today? 

In this blog, we explore these questions and shed light on the blessings that come from embracing this age-old practice of faith and gratitude.

This blog post will cover:

  • How Much are First Fruit Offerings?
  • First Fruits Offerings in the Old Testament
  • How First Fruits Offerings Apply to Your Life
  • The Blessing of Giving Fruits Offerings 

How Much are First Fruit Offerings?

The Bible describes first fruits as a “freewill offering.” As the name implies, first fruit offerings are meant to be given first. There is not much trust or gratitude involved in giving God your leftovers. No percentage is mentioned in the Bible for first fruits, though Jewish rabbis have interpreted the text to mean 1/40-1/60th of the harvest, or 1.6-2.5%.

God has often told me to encourage business owners and investors to give a first fruit offering of 1-2% off their gross profits before taxes. This is different from your tithes and offerings. The term tithe is a type of offering that would be 10% of the income you take for yourself.

Imagine the amount of good that could be done with that money! We don’t build wealth because of how much we can get. We do it because of the difference we can make.

In addition, first fruits sanctify, or make holy, the rest of your income. (See Ezekiel 44:30, Romans 11:16) God will cause your business or investments to prosper with ideas, connections, and/or finances in a way that would not happen otherwise…more on that later.

First fruit offerings are not just for business owners or active investors. Many people choose to give from their earned income in January. Another way to give first fruit offerings is to take a portion from your work bonuses, tax refunds, or random gifts throughout the year.

No matter what you choose to do, remember this: first fruits are meant to be freely and joyfully given. In fact, when you dive into Old Testament history, you’ll find that people celebrated first fruit offerings with a party!

first fruit offerings

First Fruits in the Old Testament: The Day of First Fruits

(Otherwise known as the Feast of Weeks, Festival of Reaping, Pentecost, or Shavuot)

“You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you.” (Deuteronomy 16:9-11, NKJV)

The Day of First Fruits was a festival that occurred seven weeks after the second day of the Passover. God first told Moses about this festival on Mount Sinai, as He was giving him the Ten Commandments. 

God told Moses, “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; in plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. And you shall observe the Feast of Weeks, of the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the year’s end.” (Exodus 34:21-22, NKJV)

The Israelites lived in a society filled with farmers. So, their economy and prosperity depended on the Lord in a very clear way: they needed rain. Harvest time came 50 days after Passover (late May to early June.) 

So, on the Day of First Fruits, they brought the first and best of their crop to celebrate and thank God for His provision. According to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, “When an Israelite saw the first emergence of one of the seven species of the land — wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives, or dates – he was to tie a string around it, designating it as his first fruits.”

God originally created giving and celebration to go hand in hand. The Day of First Fruits was a day of feasting and rest from regular work. Modern Jews still recognize this holiday, and they often refer to it as the Festival of Giving and Receiving. 

However, as technology has advanced and farming requires less manpower, the festivities look different. Now, Jews see the Festival as a celebration of God giving them the Law, or the ‘birthday of the Torah’ since that is when God gave Moses the Ten Commandments.

Something else significant for Christians happened on the Day of First Fruits over 1500 years later: Pentecost! As Acts 2 tells us, God intentionally waited until The Day of First Fruits to unleash The Holy Spirit. So, when the Day of First Fruits was first mentioned in Exodus 34 we received the Law, and on the celebration of that day in Acts 2 we received The Holy Spirit. God always leads by example. He gives us good and perfect gifts every single day, and the purest form of a first fruit: His firstborn son, Jesus Christ.

How First Fruits Apply to Your Life

“When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you as a special possession and you have conquered it and settled there, put some of the first produce from each crop you harvest into a basket and bring it to the designated place of worship—the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to be honored. Go to the priest in charge at that time and say to him, ‘With this gift I acknowledge to the Lord your God that I have entered the land he swore to our ancestors he would give us.’” (Deuteronomy 26:1-3, NLT)

Imagine you are an Israelite who has spent years wandering in the desert. Some of your relatives died along the way, you have stayed desperately hot and thirsty, and you have not felt like you were building anything of value for some time. And then, you arrive.

It is the land flowing with milk and honey you have heard about, and it is stocked with vineyards, olive trees, cisterns, and so much more (Deut. 6:10-11.) You can finally experience the satisfaction of planting and watching a field grow. In response to your gratitude, you are instructed to give the first crop of your harvest. It helps you remember all God has done for your people.

While most of us probably are not farmers, we can still resonate with this situation. As previously mentioned, farming was a big part of the Israelites’ income and economy. So, for people today, giving a portion of the first profits we make from our jobs, businesses, or investments would be like giving new crops.

Here’s the point: The Lord blesses you in the land that He has for you.

When the Israelites gave their first fruit offerings, they were doing two things: 

  1. They were remembering how God provided in the past. 
  2. hey were displaying their trust that God would provide for them in the year to come, too.

the day of first fruits

Giving First Fruits and Receiving Blessings

The Bible tells us that when we give, we receive. Though we never know exactly how God is going to work out the receiving part, the Bible and experience lead me to believe that we receive differently off our first fruit offerings than we do our tithes and offerings. Our first fruits lead us into the place God has prepared for us.

In Exodus 23:16-23, the Lord gives more instructions for how the Israelites should give first fruits. If they do, God tells them he will send “an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you.” Proverbs also tells us that first fruit offerings usher in the new.

“Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with new wine,” (Proverbs 3:9-10, ESV)

Bikkurim: The Promise to Come

The Hebrew word for first fruit is bikkurim. It literally translates to “the promise to come.” So, when we give our first fruits, we faithfully place our hope in the Lord for the promises to come! 

It is a way of saying, “God, you can trust me with the increase. I will use what you give me to sow back into your Kingdom.” In return, I believe that God blesses us with the divine connections and Kairos moments necessary to get us where He wants us to go. 

In other words, He expands our land. Our land is not just about what we want. It is the expression of God’s plans and purposes for our lives.

Here is the cool part. When we give to others, we are helping them expand their land. Then, God will lead someone else to give to us, and we get to expand our land (we receive.) 

This can come in the form of gifts, but in my experience, it often comes transactionally. In other words, your business revenue might get a boost. Maybe you will get a raise. Or God will show you a key relationship, idea, or opportunity connected to your purpose.

When everyone works for a Kingdom with the love of Christ, we can expand the Kingdom of God in the earth through our giving and receiving. It is a perfect system! 

First fruit offerings help us remember what God has done for us, increase our gratitude, and bless the rest of our harvest. This form of giving helps us spread the Kingdom of God. What are your thoughts on first fruit offerings? Please share them in the comments!

Are you interested in learning more about more biblical finance principles? The Money Mastery devotional will equip you with tools you can use to experience true financial freedom. Fill out the form below to get your free devotional and align your finances with God’s will for your life. 

Note: This post was originally published on Mar 28, 2022, and has since been revamped to ensure accuracy and comprehensiveness.