Symproto

Firstfruits

Sep
29

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

The word “beginning” is an interesting one, as it is placed here, and is the purpose of the study today. In the Hebrew the word translated as beginning is rêʼshîyth meaning: the first, in place, time, order or rank (specifically, a firstfruit):—beginning, chief(-est), first(-fruits, part, time), principal thing. The Hebrew word is translated 11 times in the Old Testament as firstfruit.

Therefore, Genesis 1:1 could be translated: As the firstfruits, God created the Heaven and Earth.

What is a firstfruit? The Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, 1828 edition, defines firstfruit as:

  1. The fruit or produce first matured and collected in any season. Of these the Jews made an oblation to God, as an acknowledgment of his sovereign dominion.
  2. The first profits of any thing. In the church of England, the profits of every spiritual benefice for the first year.
  3. The first or earliest effect of any thing, in a good or bad sense; as the first-fruits of grace in the heart, or the first-fruits of vice. (Link)

The BibleDictionary states a firstfruit as “Regarded as belonging to God, and offered by the nation as a whole at the great feasts.”

It is clear then from the scripture, that the earth is God’s, as the “first or principle thing.” Israel was commanded to offer, as an oblation to God, an offering of the firstfruit of the land, as a symbol of their willingness to recognize that all things belong to God, who created the earth:

The first of the firstfruits of thy land thou shalt bring unto the house of the Lord thy God. (Exodus 34:26.)

As for the oblation of the firstfruits, ye shall offer them unto the Lord. (Leviticus 2:12.)

Honour the Lord with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase. (Proverbs 3:9.)

Later, after His sacrifice, death and resurrection, Christ was called the firstfruit:

For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. (Romans 11:16.)

But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. (1 Corinthians 15:20.)

But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. (1 Corinthians 15:23.)

Combine this idea with what took place next:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. (Genesis 1:3.)

Who is the light of the world?

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12.)

So God created the earth and provided us a Savior, who offered Himself as a sacrifice to God for us. The firstborn, who was then raised from the dead, the firstfruits of our Father in heaven. In return, we honor the Father and His Son by accepting the Fatherhood of the Creator and obeying His words.

Free Will

Sep
27

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that is was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:3-4.)

If we are to interpret the word light as Christ or the Gospel, and darkness as Satan or evil, does this change the way we read these verses?

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. (John 8:12.)

Good vs. evil has been since the beginning and continues today on earth:

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,

And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Rev. 12:7-9.)

What was the war in heaven fought over? Is it not free will?

Wherefore, because that Satan rebelled against me, and sought to destroy the agency of man, which I, the Lord God, had given him, and also, that I should give unto him mine own power; by the power of mine Only Begotten, I caused that he should be cast down; (Moses 7:32, Pearl of Great Price.)

God has blessed us with free will, so that we may learn to choose the good, not by compulsion or constraint, but by choice proven through our obedience to His commandments:

But because man is possessed of free will from the beginning, and God is possessed of free will, in whose likeness man was created, advice is always given to him to keep fast the good, which thing is done by obedience to God. (Novatian, Concerning the Trinity, XXIX.)

And if certain persons, because of the disobedient and ruined Israelites, do assert that the giver of the law was limited in power, they will find in our dispensation, that “many are called but few are chosen”: and that there are those who inwardly are wolves, yet wear sheep’s clothing in the eyes of the world; and that God has always preserved freedom, and the power of self-government in man, while at the same time He issued His own exhortations, in order that those who do not obey Him should be righteously judged because they have not obeyed Him; and that those who obeyed and believed on Him should be honoured in immortality. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, IV, 15, 2.)

Why is free will then so difficult, particularly for the righteous followers?

Life in this universe is full of polarities and is made full by them; we struggle with them, complain about them, even try sometimes to destroy them with dogmatism or self-righteousness, or retreat into the innocence that is only ignorance, a return to the Garden of Eden where there is deceptive ease and clarity but no salvation. (England, Eugene, Why the Church Is As True As the Gospel, pg. 3)

None of the righteous has obtained a reward quickly, but waits for it; for if God should pay the recompense of the righteous speedily, we should immediately be training ourselves in commerce and not in godliness; for we should seem to be righteous when we were pursuing not piety but gain. (II Clement XX, 3, 4.)