There are five special laws in the Old Testament that all
seem to illustrate the same wonderful reality: the law
of the first fruits; the law of the firstlings; the law of
the firstborn; the law of the Sabbath and the law of the tithe.
These five laws illustrate the fact that 100 percent of everything
belongs to the Lord. The spirit of these five laws is illustrated
by the heave offering and the wave offering.
Two times in the year, once at the beginning of the barley harvest around the time of Passover in the spring, and then, seven weeks later around the time of the celebration of the summer feast of Pentecost at the beginning of the wheat harvest, the priests were commanded to bring the first fruits of the harvest and dedicate them in a special way to the Lord. It was a very practical way of declaring that everything belonged to the Lord. It would have been very impractical to gather the entire harvest and offer that before the Lord. The part represented the whole!
It was the same when they were required to redeem the firstling of the flock. It was not that the firstborn calf or sheep was any more important than the rest of the herd or flock. No! By offering the firstling of the animals, they were saying, “We dedicate this firstling to You, Lord, and by this offering we are proclaiming the fact that the entire flock and herd belong to you. As the entire garden belongs to You, even so, we acknowledge that the entire farm belongs exclusively to You.”
When a similar law was given to dedicate the firstborn son to the Lord, the very same principle was being illustrated. The firstborn was to be given the most, the best and the highest privileges, not because the firstborn was more desired than the second-born or the third-born, but as a testimony that the entire family belongs to the Lord.
The law of the Sabbath, selecting one day out of seven as a special day to be set aside for rest and worship of the Lord, illustrates the same truth. Every day belongs to the Lord. One day is not more special to Him than another day, but by deliberately setting aside that one day at His command, it was acknowledged that, indeed, every day belongs to the Lord. The part represents the whole. It is a spiritual metonymy.
That brings us to the tithe. God does not need my barley or wheat leaf; God does not need my lamb or cow; God does not need my firstborn son; God does not need my Saturday or Sunday or whatever day I set aside. God certainly does not need 10 percent of my income. God does, however, desire my acknowledgment that all belongs to Him. To Him belongs the harvest, the farm, the family, every day and hour and all of my possessions. These laws were not given to benefit Him, but as objective tests for the worshiper to examine the reality of his or her confession that God is the source and Lord of all.
The representative portion offered to the Lord was called the heave offering. The offering was a confession that declared: God is the Owner of all. The heave offering was primarily a confession. In close connection to the heave offering, there was the law of the wave offering.
The wave offering went a step beyond the heave offering. Whereas the heave offering was a confession, the wave offering was more of a consecration. The wave offering was a solemn time. It was not merely waving a sheaf or two before the Lord but the entire shoulder or breast of the sacrificial lamb was waved — sometimes they would lift the entire animal and wave it before the Lord. It was not only a confession; it was a consecration. Numbers chapter eight describes how the entire group of Levites became the wave offering. The wave offering was a dedication.
As we look back at the decade of God’s blessing on the Homecoming family, let us remember that the 10 years behind us is the tithe. It is only the part that represents the whole. Let us turn our reflection on these 10 years as the part for the whole. Let us offer both the heave offering and the wave offering. Let us confess that all that is behind us belongs to Him; let us dedicate ourselves to Him for all that lies before us.