“When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten. And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD. But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God.”
Here is another “everyday reminder,” this one intended to reinforce the idea that Israel was totally dependent on the Lord for all her needs. Upon planting a new tree, an Israelite must resist the temptation, for four years, to consume the fruit of the tree upon himself. The tree must be allowed three years to take root and flourish. Then, in the fourth year, the entire crop of the tree was devoted to the Lord – a “firstfruits” offering of praise to God for His faithfulness in providing all their needs. Then, in the fifth year – only after four years of specific self-denial and obedience – was the new tree’s fruit available to be eaten.
We can imagine that, with many orchards and many new trees, Israelites would have been faced with this reminder nearly every day of their lives. God uses His creation to keep us mindful of Him, but we have to look to His Law and Word to teach us how to learn the lessons creation is telling.
This series of In the Gates we present a detailed explanation of the Law of God, beginning with the Ten Commandments, and working through the statutes and rules that accompany each commandment. For a practical guide to the role of God’s Law in the practice of ethics, get The Ground for Christian Ethics by going to www.MyParuchia.com and click on our Book Store.