When you come into the land, and have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count their fruit as uncircumcised. Three years it shall be as uncircumcised to you. It shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, a praise to the Lord. And in the fifth year you may eat its fruit, that it may yield to you its increase: I am the Lord your God. (Leviticus 19:23-25)
The Law of Moses was very specific in the applications of laws established by the Lord. Examining the Law carefully shows how the testing of obedience was as much a part of the Law as the regulations themselves. When the Lord gave the Law to the people He expected them to obey every tenet of its law whether they understood or agreed with the law. The eating of fruit was an example of the serious nature of God’s will. The Law of Moses determined that fruit born in the first three years of life was considered uncircumcised. It was not until the fourth year of produce the people could take the fruit and offer it to the Lord. The people could not eat of the fruit in the first three years. They had to wait until the fifth year to eat its fruit.
Obedience is following the law whether a person understands it or not. Whether a person agrees with the law did not change the law. A man could plant a fig tree and in the first three years see a harvest of fruit. He was forbidden to eat of its fruit. The fourth year he still was forbidden to eat of its fruit giving the fruit rather to the Lord. Planting a fig tree required waiting five years to eat of its fruit. Why? Because God said so. There are reasons given why this law was ordained; explaining the maturity of the fruit is not quite complete until after the three years. In reality it did not matter because the Law of Moses forbade a man from eating fruit from his grove until the fifth year. Refusing to obey this law was against the law of God. Moses concludes this law with the affirmation of the sovereignty of the Lord God. His law was not to be trifled with.
The Law of Moses is an example of law and obedience. It was abolished through the death of Christ but the law is preserved so that men today can understand the nature of God’s law. It is possible some could look at the law of the uncircumcised fruit and question whether it made any difference whether a person ate fruit the first, second or third year. What is so special about eating fruit and what moral law is compromised by eating fruit? There is a tendency to categorize sin at different levels. Looking at adultery as a terrible sin against God yet thinking eating second year fruit was okay would be an easy thing for people to believe. How can you compare adultery to eating fruit? The penalties under the Law of Moses were different but sin was still committed. If a man committed adultery he was put to death. Eating fruit the first three years was a sin and would come with its own penalty. The law was broken in both cases. Judgment came upon both examples of breaking the law.
Obedience to the Lord today is not measured by what level of consequence is implied. Keeping the law of God means that every effort is made to follow the will of the Lord in every part – big or small. The majority of the religious world rejects baptism as necessary for salvation because they do not see the purpose or design of being immersed in water. Arguments are made against baptism as a work and without merit because men cannot see why the Lord would expect anything beyond grace to save a man. Did it make a lot of sense to the human mind to wait until the fifth year to eat fruit from a tree? The law required it whether man understood it or not. Using instruments of music in worship may seem pleasing to the mind of man but the Lord forbids it. Assembling on the first day of the week is out of touch with the wisdom of man, taking some juice and eating unleavened bread does not have a context with human thinking.
The Christian is commanded to forgive one another and be kind to others but some say that is not their personality to do so. Being kind, humble, longsuffering and peaceful is commanded but again people decide to ignore the law and act in unkind and unforgiving ways. We have a way of picking and choosing which laws we keep based upon whether it appeals to our nature. I suspect if we lived in the days of Moses we would also eat the fruit of the trees the first three years because what is the big deal – right? Why was it a sin to eat of the fruit the first three years? Because God said it was. Does it matter what I think or what the religious leaders of the world believe? The word of God is true and its laws should not be tampered with. Obedience comes from a heart that is willing to obey everything the Lord instructs with no question. His grace and His mercy will guide my heart to serve Him because His laws are true and righteous – even when it comes to picking fruit.