26:1 When you have come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it,
26:2 you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the LORD your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the LORD your God will choose as a dwelling for his name.
26:3 You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him, “Today I declare to the LORD your God that I have come into the land that the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.”
26:4 When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the LORD your God,
26:5 you shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.
26:6 When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us,
26:7 we cried to the LORD, the God of our ancestors; the LORD heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression.
26:8 The LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders;
26:9 and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.
26:10 So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that you, O LORD, have given me.” You shall set it down before the LORD your God and bow down before the LORD your God.
26:11 Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the LORD your God has given to you and to your house.
This passage marks the first act of worship that the Israelites were to give to the Lord upon entering the promise land. It was to be a sign of responding to God’s faithfulness for having been with them through their journey from Egypt and hard times they faced. It was God who answered their prayers in desperation, it was God who provided food when they were hungry, it was God who miraculously spread apart the sea and lead them to safety. He protected them and graciously forgave them during their moments of grumbling and doubt.
Responding in worship to all of what God has done for us is something that is not easy to do in the Christian life. Emotions and circumstances can easily sway our faith in God and often forget what how faithful God is. Throughout the course of my walk with Christ, I have often found it helpful to take some practical steps in helping me recall God’s many blessings in my life. Here are a few helpful tips that have encouraged me and I hope do the same for you as well:
- Write down all the blessings that God has brought into your life.
- Pray and thank God for all of these blessings
- Keep track of your prayer requests, have a column for requests and a column for answered prayers.
- Make a list of verses that have encouraged you at one time or another and make it a habit to go over them daily.
These might seem like simple and mundane things but as you work through them, you will start to trace God’s fingerprint throughout the course of your life and that will give you a reason to turn and respond in praise and thankfulness for all that God has done for you.
Throughout the wandering in the desert and the preparations to take the land, God had continually given the Israelites commands and instructions to ensure that when they take the land they will not turn their backs on God. This is most clearly seen in Deuteronomy 6:4-7,
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. (Deuteronomy 6:4-7)
God knows how wandering our hearts and allegiances are. That is why He has given us the Spirit to dwell in us at all times. He has given us His word to meditate on and learn from. We have the option (just as Israel did) to follow the Lord and walk in the Spirit or to walk in our own ways.
But as Moses spoke to the Israelites,
“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19)