A certain word jumped off the page as I was reading this morning. Don’t think I’ve ever noticed it before when reading here. No, didn’t expect to find that word in Leviticus. Not too surprising that I wasn’t expecting it . . . it only occurs once in the whole book of Leviticus. Amidst the instructions for the various sacrifices . . . amidst the many commands to be obeyed by a people separated unto Himself by their God . . . amidst the repeated declaration that God’s people are to be holy, because the LORD is holy . . . it just kind of popped out.
Praise. That’s the word that caught my eye. And a principle . . . that’s what’s got me thinking . . . a principle of fruitful praise.
When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 19:23-25 ESV)
I’m not much of a horticulturist . . . actually, not at all. Don’t know nothing about planting fruit trees. But I’m guessing that God, the Creator does, and so he tells His people to let them lie for the first three years after they’re planted. The Creator says to regard the fruit as “forbidden” . . . literally, as the NKJV renders it, regard it as uncircumcised. The circumcised were to stay away from the uncircumcised. For three years the people of God were to stay away from the fruit of the fledgling tree.
But in the fourth year . . . now things start happening. The tree is thriving . . . the blossoms are blooming . . . the fruit is abundantly growing. Time to chow down! Nope! Not yet.
In the fourth year all the fruit was to be harvested and given to the LORD . . . as an offering of praise. This, you might say, would be fruitful praise.
It’s the principle of the first fruits being applied to . . .well, to fruit. God is given the first harvest . . . He is presented with the inaugural returns. After three years of waiting for the tree to bear good fruit, when it does so in the fourth year, it is to be given to the LORD. And says, the Holy Spirit, it is an offering of praise.
The idea of giving God the first fruits, whether that’s of our income . . . or of our time . . . or of anything else that has been graciously afforded us . . . is more than just giving God His rightful due . . . it should be offered as an act of praise. It’s a celebration of the bounty granted by His good grace . . . and acknowledgment that while we might have planted and watered, it is our God who gives the increase. It’s what makes the tithe an act of worship . . . morning devotions an offering of thanksgiving. The “discipline” to obey giving way to a “desire” to adore.
That which we can’t wait to enjoy, but is instead counted as holy to the LORD, becomes fruitful praise.
To Him be fruitful praise!
By His grace . . . for His glory.