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What the Bible says about Putting First Things First
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 22:18-25

Some claim that, since these specific instructions are given in reference to animals offered to God, the principle of giving one's best to the Master does not apply to vegetable or grain offerings! Does that mean we may give God any old vegetation we happen to have lying around? As living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2), are we free to give God any old thing, and He must accept it or else? Does He not deserve the best we have?

A holy people must give holy offerings! A holy offering is one given according to the details that God lays down. Jesus gives a practical application of this principle in Matthew 5:23-24: "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift."

He is essentially saying, "First things first." If a reconciliation does not take place, God has no obligation to accept the offering. It has been made based on a corrupt relationship with a brother, making the offering unacceptable. Likewise, God has no obligation to accept a defective, corrupted animal or unqualified grain offered before Him.

Furthermore, the principle of holiness comes to the fore in an additional way, for God plainly stipulates in Leviticus 22:25 that nothing is to be offered to Him from a foreigner's hand because the foreigner's corruption is in them. The uncleanness from the foreigner's idolatries is in the thing offered. The foreigner is not a holy, sanctified, or set-apart person.

In the case of Joshua 5:10-11, the Israelites clearly would have had to offer produce from the foreigner's hand—if they offered anything, which they did not—because that was all they would have had to offer. Having just come from the wilderness, they had no harvest of a crop they had sown, as Exodus 23:16 demands.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Pentecost Revisited (Part Two): Joshua 5

Haggai 1:2-11

The people probably did not literally say these things in in verses 2-4. God says this is what He concludes as a result of what they are doing. It is the same principle as appears in Revelation 3:17, "You say you are increased with goods and have need of nothing." There, too, they were not saying that literally with their tongues but by their actions.

We choose to do with our time and energy what we are devoted to. This is why God said we have to go back to "the faith once delivered" with our former devotion. Whatever is in the heart, we choose to do. It is just as if we were saying it with our tongue.

What God is saying is that for those who have made the covenant with Him, everyday life and its prosperity is directly tied to the condition of the Temple and the quality of our relationship to it. "Prosperity" does not necessarily mean economic prosperity, but that is part of the package. The Temple is the body of Christ. It is just a different analogy.

The message contained here is, "Let's put first things first," and the Temple'the Body of Christ'comes first. The condition of the Body is dependent upon the spiritual condition of the individual members of the Body.

The church is in no condition to produce glory and honor for our God. So people running out, "sowing in the field," does not suit matters right now. If the efforts to preach the gospel are going to be successful, then we have to do what God, through Haggai and Zechariah, instructed Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest to do.

John W. Ritenbaugh
What Is the Work of God Now? (Part Five)


 




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