By Femi Aribisala
Jesus says: “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:17)
This statement was true in the time of Jeremiah, who wrote it initially. It was true in the days of Jesus, who quoted Jeremiah. It remains true today, confirming it as a word of God. Jesus says: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.” (Matthew 24:35).
The churches, today’s so-called houses of God, are veritable dens of robbers. Their kingpins are their highfalutin pastors and bishops. These men and women specialise in hypnotising unsuspecting Christians in order to rob them of their hard-earned monies.
Be warned! They are planning to steal from you in a big way this January.
Law and grace
Under Moses, God instituted the law of “firstfruits.” This was part of the support system established for the Levitical priesthood who were not given any land in Israel.
“The priests, who are Levites- indeed the whole tribe of Levi- are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the offerings made to the Lord by fire, for that is their inheritance. They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance.” (Deuteronomy 18:1-2).
As the name implies, firstfruits are the produce of the land of Israel, which was God’s gift to the Jews: “When you come into the land which I give to you, and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest.” (Leviticus 23:10).
However, Christians are not under the Law of Moses but under God’s grace. (Romans 6:15). Nevertheless, modern-day Christian pastors are still laying claim to firstfruits from members of their congregation.
John says: “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17). When Jesus fulfilled the law, he declared on the cross of Calvary: “It is finished.” (John 19:30). Accordingly, Paul maintains: “Christ is the end of the law.” (Romans 10:4). Why then are pastors determined to bring back the outdated law of firstfruits through the backdoor?
Jesus says: “He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1).
The Jerusalem Council, convened by Jesus’ apostles to determine the application of the Law of Moses to Gentiles, ended up by sending the following edict to all Gentile Churches: “It seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” (Acts 15:28-29).
Note that this does not include giving firstfruits to priests. Neither does it even include giving tithes to God. “For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:18-19).
Nevertheless, money-grubbing pastors cherry-pick aspects of the law for Christians to obey. They do this for deceitful gain; in order to extort money from the members of their congregation. But: “You can’t pick and choose in these things, specializing in keeping one or two things in God’s law and ignoring others.” (James 2:10). Moreover, you are not allowed to subject God’s law to self-serving distortions.
The true and original firstfruits were crops and livestock: “You are to give (the priests) the firstfruits of your grain, new wine and oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep.” (Deuteronomy 18:4). But the counterfeit firstfruits of today’s mercenary pastors is money, money and nothing but money.
Firstfruits are specifically “the firstfruits of the land.” (Deuteronomy 26:10). This ties them to the land of Israel and makes them inapplicable to the land of Nigeria. It also means they cannot be re-conceptualised as the firstfruits of your salary. God gave Israel the land: he did not give them any money.
Jews who simply possessed the trees and not the land were exempted from offering firstfruits because they could not say: “Behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me.” (Deuteronomy 26:10). Jews who lived beyond the Jordan could not bring firstfruits because they could not recite the scriptural words of the service saying it was from: “a land flowing with milk and honey.” (Deuteronomy 26:15).
How then can Nigerians bring firstfruits to God from Nigeria? It is simply impossible!
True firstfruits were collected once a year at the harvest. Today’s counterfeits are collected at the beginning of the year in January. True firstfruits were just a small portion of the entire harvest: “The first of the firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.” (Exodus 23:19). Counterfeit firstfruits are the entire “harvest.”
Counterfeit first-fruits used to be defined as a Christian’s first salary after leaving school and securing gainful employment. But some pastors soon realised this only gives them the right to the salary of their congregants once and for all. So they now insist that, since the January salary is the first salary of the year, counterfeit firstfruits must be given every year, and must be the entire January salary of their hoodwinked parishioners.
Accordingly, 419 pastors are already salivating, waiting to rob Christians of their entire salary this January. They have been busy, laying the foundation for this grand larceny; extolling at every opportunity the “blessings” of giving counterfeit firstfruits. Equally important, they have been putting the fear of the devil in Christian hearts; telling them of the dire consequences of refusing to accept this daylight robbery.
Pastor Paula White, spiritual advisor to Donald Trump, president of the United States, recently declared that, when you don’t give firstfruits: “whether through ignorance or direct disobedience there are consequences.”
Don’t fall for this kind of witchcraft unless you want to live in penury throughout February. Unlike the Levites of old, today’s pastors are far richer than the average members of their churches. So don’t give them your money. Remember: “He who gives to the rich, will surely come to poverty.” (Proverbs 22:16).
Firstfruits are anathema to the New Testament. Today, the harvest is no longer of crops but of souls. The redeemed are now God’s firstfruits. (Revelation 14:14). James says: “Of (God’s) own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” (James 1:18).
So if your pastor is already waxing lyrical about the need for you to give him your entire January salary as firstfruits, don’t mince words. Shout to his face: “Ole! Thief! Barawo! Jaguda pali!”
Isaiah says: “They are as greedy as dogs, never satisfied; they are stupid pastors who only look after their own interest, each trying to get as much as he can for himself from every possible source.” (Isaiah 56:11).