by Kevin Howard, First Fruits Coordinator
Sowing Seeds into Israel
First fruits was always a religious offering of the first agricultural produce of a harvest. In Greek, Roman, Hebrew and Christian faiths, first fruits were offered to either the Temple or the Church. It was often a primary source of income to encourage spiritual leadership. In classical Athens much of the agricultural offering was sold by the temple with the proceeds being used to pay for the daily upkeep of the temple complex.
In ancient Rome, the offering was observed in the Roman household often during daily meals and at more formal times of the month. In ancient Israel, First Fruits were tithed as heave offerings; the tithe was allocated throughout the year, but for accounting purposes traditionally began each year at Tu Bishvat, which was the occasion of a festival. The tithe was limited to the traditional seven agricultural products (wheat, barley, grapes in the form of wine, figs, pomegranates, olives in the form of oil and dates) but eventually other products were added as well. The separation of tithed produce from untithed produce was subject to regulation.
From a Christian perspective, we also celebrated harvest time and the idea of tithing the First Fruits but the idea of tithing produce has been largely abandoned by much of today's Church. A tithe literally means a tenth. It means that a portion of the produce of the field is marked as belonging to God. Today, we don't physically go to the field to collect edible produce; however, giving our tithes and offerings to bless the local church and the believing community in Israel today, should be a priority for us all.
We invite men and women of faith from the nations to bless Israel today and those who are of the Household of Faith. This may be local Pastors from traditional established churches in the Land, needy members of their congregations--both Gentile and Arab--evangelical churches in Jerusalem, churches in the Old City, Arab Pastors and believers in personal need for their families, individuals from around the world as well as Hebrew speaking congregations in the Land. We assist all with the same giving hearts to meet personal and practical needs of families from a humanitarian point of view.
All are treated equally and each individual situation is assessed through application forms that are submitted to our Jerusalem office. If you would like to contribute to this program of practical assistance to all who believe in the Land of Israel today, please contact us at the e-mail link below.