John Hagee - The Power of First Fruits
The law of first fruits is a giant step in climbing the stairway to the stars of success and personal prosperity. When you obey the law of first fruits, God promised that he will pour out his prosperity exceedingly, abundantly, above what you can ask or imagine. If you ignore the law of first fruits, God says your lack will never end. It will affect your family. It will affect your business for generations to come. Today I'm going to open the Word of God, the greatest financial manual that you've ever read in all of your life, and give divine evidence to confirm this powerful Bible teaching to determine the quality of your prosperity in the future.
Let's read Exodus 34:22 and following. Ready? "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. Three times in the year, all your men shall appear before the Lord God of Israel. For I will cast out the nations before you, and enlarge your borders. Neither will any man covet your land, when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year. You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven, nor shall the sacrifice of the feast of passover be left until morning. The first of the first fruits of your land, you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God".
Father God, thank you for the word that is a light unto our feet and a light unto our pathway. Let us hear it. Let us experience it. Let us practice it. For it is the Word of God for this congregation and for righteous people who desire to live on the economy of heaven. In Jesus' name, we pray. And all of God's children said, praise the Lord.
You may be seated. Let's begin with the basics that God demands to be first. The Bible says, "Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all of his righteousness, and all of these things shall be added unto you". Hear that one phrase, "All of these things shall be added," because you seek first the Kingdom of God. Why do we worship on Sunday? We worship on Sunday because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. Sunday is the first day of the week. It is the first fruits of the week. Listen. Your success for the week begins on Sunday by honoring the Lord as the Lord of your life. The first fruit sanctifies the following fruit. Putting God first in your life establishes his Lordship. If Jesus is not first, he is not Lord. And if he's not Lord, there is no blessing, there is no favor, there is no prosperity: and you live, according to Malachi, under a curse.
C.S. Lewis says, "When first things are put first, second things begin to increase". What does it mean to be first? First is preceding all others in time in order of importance. If you go out and run a race by yourself, you come in first, because there was nobody else running against you. So if you really are number one, there has to be a sequence of somebody behind you before you can make that declaration. First does not mean number one. It does not mean the only one. Nothing can be first unless there's something else to be first of.
First fruits is the offering of the first grain harvested in Israel. If you did not bring your first fruits to the house of the Lord, God instructed Israel that there would be no additional fruit for the harvest: therefore, whenever you as a farmer, in the time of Israel, did not have the blessings of God because you refused to bring the first fruits to the house of God, you were in trouble. God is the Lord of all or he's not Lord at all. God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the paradise of the Garden of Eden. Adam went to sleep and he woke up married. It's enough to make an insomniac out of you. They didn't have to work 60 hours a week to gain. They didn't have to fight the traffic going to work and from work, the SMOG, the IRS, and the incessant ringing of a cell phone.
I've often said, "If I wake up in eternity and hear a phone ring, I know I died and went to hell". God gave Adam and Eve one command, "Leave the fruit on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil alone: it is forbidden fruit". Don't even think about it! Why did God create that tree? The answer is to see if Adam and Eve would put him first whenever satan came to tempt them, because he knew that temptation was coming. God wanted to see if they would put the their will above his will. Get that phrase. When your desires, your plans, your ideas, become more important to you than God's plan, you have adopted the attitude of Lucifer. Lucifer challenged God. He said, "I will ascend to the hill of God, I will be like God, I will, I will, I will". Those five "I will's" are in the book of Isaiah. The fact is you can have the attitude of Lucifer and confess to be a Christian. When your will becomes greater than God's will, you have an idolatry problem.
When Jesus and the 12 disciples were rejected by the Samaritans, James and John came to Jesus and asked permission from Jesus to call fire down on those people that wouldn't accept them. Burn them up! Jesus looked at them and said, you don't know what you're asking. "You don't know what manner of spirit you're of," Luke 9:55. Saint Peter had Lucifer's attitude. Peter said to Jesus, "You don't need to go to the cross". When the Roman soldiers in the Garden of Gethsemane threatened to take him, Peter said, "We'll take up swords and we'll defend you". Jesus looked at him and said, "Get behind me satan". Why? Because the whole purpose for Christ coming into the earth was to die on the cross. The book of revelation says, "From the foundations of the earth, he was predestined to die as the Lamb of God that took away the sins of the world".
And when Peter was saying, "You don't need to go to the cross," that was exactly what satan did not want to happen. And Jesus looked at his follower and said, "You are speaking the message of satan in my ear: get behind me". Translation: shut up.
How do you know if your attitude is controlled by satan? The answer is, when you refuse to put God first. When your will is not God's will, that's when you are in a dangerous territory. Satan did not put God first. And even though he was an Archangel, one of the top three in heaven, God kicked him out of heaven and he became the devil. Why? Because he worshiped his will. Adam and Eve had one thing to do and they blew that, and God kicked them out of the garden for not putting his will first. Eve was cursed. Adam was cursed. The ground was cursed. "Thorns and thistles shall it grow". And that curse lives until this day! If Jesus is not first, he is not Lord. And if he's not Lord of all, then he's not Lord at all. Can I get a witness to that?
Now let's look at Abraham. Why did God choose Abraham to be the father of all who believe? Why is it that thousands of years after his death, people still know him better than most any person on the earth? Because he understood the law of first fruits. When Abraham tied Isaac and placed him on the altar to sacrifice him to God, he lifted his dagger, and the angel of God stopped him. And then the Lord said, "I know that you fear God," Genesis 22:12. The living Bible renders this verse this way: he says, "I know that God is first in your life". Only when you put God first is God able to provide what he promises. Think about it.
Only in total obedience is there total reward. Consider God's law of first things. I've just read it to you in the text. God established a system of sacrifice in which animals were to be burned as an offering upon the altar. In Leviticus 1, God designated five different animals that were acceptable for sacrifices. The five clean animals were oxen, goats, sheep, pigeons, and turtle doves. And the animal you sacrificed was a reflection of your financial ability. But this was the command to every person in Israel, "Don't come empty handed before the Lord". If all you can afford is a bird, bring that. If you can afford a thousand oxen as Solomon, bring that. But do not come empty handed.
In the law of first fruits, everything is either sacrificed or redeemed. Get those two words, "Sacrificed" or "Redeemed". Exodus 13:2, "Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of men and beasts, it is mine". I'm reading the Word of God. According to Old Testament law, the firstborn was to be either sacrificed or redeemed. There was no third option.
Fast forward to the New Testament. John the Baptist meets Jesus Christ on the banks of the Jordan river. And he says, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world," John 1:29. Jesus was God's only begotten Son. He had to be sacrificed or redeemed. God allowed his Son, a male lamb, without spot or wrinkle, to be sacrificed for the sins of the world. The point is, if you do not accept Christ as your substitute on the cross, you must die for your sin, because the wages of sin is death. Jesus paid the bill for us to be redeemed from the power of sin and darkness. Because of the cross, we are free, we have eternal life, we have healing from sickness and disease. There is victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. There's the prosperity of Abraham, the peace of God that surpasses understanding. Hallelujah for the cross! Give him praise and glory in the house of God!
Concerning first fruits, whatever is done with first fruits determines what happens to all the rest. So follow this: Isaac was the firstborn son of Abraham. As firstborn, he was to be redeemed or sacrificed. When Abraham put Isaac on the altar, God sent a ram tied by the horns in a thicket to redeem Isaac. When the first fruits was given, it brings a mighty harvest. Follow the history. Whatever is done with the first portion determines what happens to all the rest. We go to church on the first day of the week. It determines the quality of the rest of the six days. You give to God your tithe first, and he blesses what is left.
Isaac was the first fruits. He had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Jacob had 12 sons, and their descendants became the 12 tribes of Israel. God sent Joseph into Egypt where he became the prime minister. Joseph sent for his family, the Jewish people who were 70 in number. And they stayed in Egypt for 430 years. They became a mighty nation of almost two million people. Even though they were persecuted, they prospered and they grew. Why? Because the first fruit, Isaac on Mount Moriah, had been given to God. And what you do with the first fruit determines the guarantee of everything that comes after it! That's why they are blessed and always will be blessed, because God is keeping his covenant with Abraham! Give the Lord a shout of praise in the house of God!
Now let me show you how that works in reverse. If you refuse to put God first, it doesn't stop God from being first: it only releases the judgment of God upon you. It releases the curse upon everything you put your hands to for the rest of your life until you get your act together. The only way out is redemption, which means to buy back from destruction by obeying the law of first fruits. Wow.
Consider the law of first fruits and the fall of Jericho. 430 years of slavery in Egypt was followed by 40 years of heat and grit in the desert. With Joshua as their leader, God released a plan that would begin the conquest of the Holy Land. Think of Jericho as first fruits. Jericho's the city. It was the first city that stood between Israel and the Promised Land. God made it clear that he was giving Jericho to the Jewish people as a gift, because the Lord said, "I'm going to fight for you". There was only one thing that was forbidden? Joshua 6:18 and 19, God says, "The gold and the silver of Jericho belong to me. And you, by all means, abstain from the accursed thing, lest you become accursed when you take the accursed thing and make the camp of Israel a curse and a place of trouble. But all the gold, and all the silver, and all the vessels of iron, are consecrated to the Lord. They shall come into the treasury of the Lord".
Think about it. Because Israel fully understood the law of first fruits, they understood that everything in Jericho belonged to the Lord. Keep your hands off of it, because God was going to give you everything else that would come after it. Everybody got the message but one guy, Achan, because he was the smart aleck who knew better. How many of you have relatives that always know better? They always have the better idea, and it always turns out to be a disaster. The battle of AI, Israel's army was destroyed. Joshua inquired of the Lord, and God said, "Get up: there's sin in the camp".
And they went tent by tent searching. They searched 11 tribes. And they reached Achan's tribe. The tribe of Judah was last. And they came to his tent, and Joshua commanded achan in Joshua 7:19, "Give God the glory". That means the things you've stolen, give them back. Achan had stolen the glory of God because he took the things that belonged to God. The result was that Achan, his wife, his sons, his daughters, his livestock, were stoned to death by all of Israel. And they stacked their bodies in a pile and burned them with fire to purge Israel of the sin of taking what belonged to God.
Think about this story. Because of one man's disobedience, the entire nation suffered the consequences. They had to deal with the Achan factor. Are you taking what belongs to the Lord? Is your family or your children? Will generations after you suffer because of your refusal to obey the law of first fruits? If the church is one body fitly joined together, then your disobedience affects the whole body. If one man affected two million people in Israel, certainly one man can affect 22.000 here at Cornerstone Church. This explains why some churches do not financially prosper. When Israel was in the desert, all they had was manna. None of their clothes wore out. They were not sick nor feeble, no one, for 40 years. God's abundance will be withheld from the people who refuse to honor him as first. The spirit of Achan takes what belongs to God and keeps it for himself at the expense of others. The law of first fruits and tithing. Tithing is first fruits.
Let's review what we've learned. The first fruits include children, animals, crops, according to the Word of God. God simply says, I want to be the first of everything. When God destroyed Jericho, it was the first city conquered on the way to the Promised Land. It was first fruits. And God says, it's mine. Your income is either consecrated or cursed. Think about that. It's either consecrated or cursed. The tithe, in the scripture, is consecrated to the Lord. If you keep it for yourself, it becomes a curse, because it's stolen from God.
God makes that clear in Malachi 3:8 and 9. "Will a man rob God? You've robbed me. How did we rob you"? God says, "You have stolen the tithe and the offering from me. You are cursed with a curse: for you have robbed me". The tithe is a redemptive work. It's not a debt we owe: it's a seed we sow. Wherever there is the number of ten involved, there's a redemptive work. The plagues were used to set Israel free from Pharaoh, ten plagues. Ten Commandments were given to set the world free from the tyranny of evil. Ten donkeys were sent by Joseph to bring Jacob and all of the Jewish people out of poverty to the lands of Egypt. The tenth part of your increase is the redemption of your income. It's impossible to give 10% of your income and not give the first fruits? That's a question. And the answer is yes.
Let's pretend for just a moment that each one of these one dollar bills is a hundred dollar bill. This is a low budget illustration here. The question is: can you give God a tenth and not pay tithe? And the answer is yes. If you sit down to pay your bills, and you do your house note, your car note, your two car notes, your poodle shampoo, your trip too Hawaii, your, your, your, your... And you give God this... God don't want this. You know all of it belongs to him. And if he wanted, he'd get it all. What he wants is this one. This is the first fruits. When he gets this one, all of these are consecrated.
If you want God's favor, his abundance, unlimited victory, supernatural health, unlimited promotion, unlimited favor, then give the Lord the first fruits and you will prosper. The choice is yours. God wants you to explode with abundance. But he will not reward disobedience. Look at the illustrations of Adam and Eve, of achan's family. He just does not reward disobedience. Jesus told the disciples, in closing, to bring a boy's sack lunch, five loaves and two fishes. It was the first fruits. They prayed over it, and God multiplied it, and the 5.000 people ate. And there were 12 baskets of fragments left over.
Today we're going to do what God has asked us to do on this first fruits Sunday. We're going to bring our offering to the front, to the altar, to present it to the Lord in faith, expecting what God is going to do for you in the coming harvest. I want to tell you, I'm praying that God gives you a barn-bursting harvest that you just simply don't know what to do with the abundance God gives you. God wants you to have that. Can we stand to our feet?
Father God, I'm asking now to look from the heavens and look at the precious people in this building. I want for you to bless them, supernaturally bless them with every favor that heaven has: that this day may be a turning day for the rest of their lives that releases the favor and the abundance of God. And all of God's children said, amen.