Presenting the Firstborn
The Law of the Eighth-Day Circumcision
The Feast of Tabernacles was one week long, and yet there was a final ceremony on the eighth day to crown the feast with glory. The divine law itself is relatively silent on this, mandating only that the first and the eighth day be sabbaths. Leviticus 23:39 says,
39 On exactly the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the crops of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD for seven days, with a rest on the first day and a rest on the eighth day.
As we saw earlier, this eighth day of Tabernacles was called "the last day, the great day of the feast" in John 7:37. And so John considered it to be the culmination of the feast itself, not (as some believe) a separate day from the feast.
Circumcision was also done on the eighth day, dating back to its institution with Abraham prior to Isaac's birth. Genesis 17:12 says,
12 And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations, a servant who is born in the house or who is bought with money from any foreigner, who is not of your descendants.
On the eighth day Joseph and Mary brought Jesus to the temple for circumcision and to register His name officially. Luke 2:21 says,
21 And when eight days were completed before His circumcision, His name was then called Jesus, the name given by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
The sons were named on the eighth day (officially) when their births were registered in the temple's genealogy books. These records were important, because they legally established the names of those under the covenant. It was a dim picture of the book of life, because it was supposed to record the names of those who had faith in God and were obedient to His law. Of course, this goal failed rather miserably. Nonetheless, it forms an imperfect pattern of a more perfect book of life, which is written in heaven, and which is totally accurate. This book is referenced not only in Revelation 20:12, but also by Moses himself in Exodus 32:32.
All of this lays down a principle of divine law that establishes the appointed times for the naming of the sons and the circumcision of the heart. The overcomers, or the barley company, will have their heart circumcised on the eighth day of Tabernacles. The Church--that is, the wheat company--will have their heart circumcised after the seventh millennium, that is, at the beginning of the eighth thousand-year period of history. The grape company of nations will have their hearts circumcised in the fiftieth millennium, which is the great Creation Jubilee. The fiftieth year is also an eighth year, because it follows the 49th year sabbath rest. For this reason, all of creation awaits the manifestation of the sons of God (the overcomers first, followed by the Church later). When they see these manifestations, they will know that there is hope for them as well.
In the same manner, we today have hope, knowing that Jesus Christ was raised from the dead and was manifested in glory. The fact that He overcame death establishes the same hope for those who believe in Him.
The divine law also tells us that all the firstborn of every domestic beast was to be given to God. Exodus 22:29 and 30 says,
29 You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The first-born of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.
It was unlawful to present the firstborn to God on any other day than the eighth day. This is a very important law that establishes the appointed times. We are not to do things our way, but God's way. He set it up to show us the timing of the manifestation of the sons of God mentioned in Romans 8:19. For thousands of years men have attempted to become righteous enough and holy enough to experience this manifestation of His glory. Some attempted to do so under the anointing of Passover in the Old Testament. Others attempted it in the years following the fulfillment of Pentecost. Men became monks and hermits and separated themselves from society in order to contemplate God and attempt to become perfected under anointings that fell short of Tabernacles.
How much good could they have accomplished for the Kingdom of God if these devout men had remained in society and borne witness of Jesus Christ to unbelievers? There is, of course, a time to go out into the wilderness and meet God. God does call some out into the wilderness to be trained directly by God. But the purpose of the wilderness is not to remain there forever, but to be equipped and trained to go back to the old order, where their services are most needed.
The Firstborn of Unclean Animals
The firstborn of every domestic beast was to be given to God on the eighth day. The only exception to this rule was in the case of an unclean beast, where the firstborn was to be redeemed with a lamb. For example, the firstborn of a donkey could not be given to God in that state, and this again lays down a very important principle. God will not accept unclean people either. Exodus 13:12 and 13 says,
12 that you shall devote to the LORD the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the LORD. 13 But every first offspring of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, but if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck; and every first-born of man among your sons you shall redeem.
To the superficially minded, this law would only apply to donkeys. But in verse 13 above, God applies it to all the firstborn of Israel. God says first that all the firstborn of the donkeys had to be redeemed with a lamb--and hence, all the firstborn of Israel had to be redeemed. He was, in effect, calling them a herd of donkeys! They were all in need of redemption. That was why God instituted Passover. It was necessary to redeem the people with a lamb, because they could not be presented to God in their unclean state. Because of Passover, Israel became "the sheep of His pasture" (Psalm 100:3). Without such redemption, they would have been the donkeys of His corral. Yet Hosea 11:1 says, "When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son."
Israel was, in effect, fathered by God, but their mother was Egypt. Even after they left Egypt, they longed for the food that they had enjoyed in Egypt. They did not seem to appreciate the manna in the wilderness. Numbers 11:4-6 says,
4 And the rabble who were among them had greedy desires; and also the sons of Israel wept again and said, "Who will give us meat to eat? 5 We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, 6 but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna."
Although Israel was God's "son," as Hosea 11:1 tells us, they were an Ishmael, not an Isaac, at that stage of character development and spiritual experience. For this reason, they needed to be redeemed by a lamb at Passover when God brought them out of Egypt. What Abram did with Hagar, God did with Egypt.
Abram took Hagar and brought forth Ishmael.
God took Egypt and brought forth Israel.
These are all prophetic patterns that tell us divine principles, not only in how we relate to God and experience Him through the feasts, but also in matters of timing. Ultimately, in the manifestation of the sons of God, the overcomers-in-training will move from a Pentecostal level to the Tabernacles level in their knowledge of God. Paul speaks of this, too, as "the redemption of our body" (Rom. 8:23). Why would the body need to be redeemed? It must be redeemed, because it is currently an unclean donkey.
Donkeys are NOT BAD creatures; they are simply unclean. Donkeys can be good servants--and the era of Pentecost is meant to teach us to hear and obey God's voice, so that we would become good servants of God. Even so, our present flesh is unclean and cannot be presented to God as firstborn sons without the redemption of the body. That redemption will be the point where we fully take upon ourselves the nature of the Lamb.
Ishmael--the Wild Donkey
Another prime example that illustrates this law of redemption is found in the story of Ishmael, whom the angel called a wild donkey. In Genesis 16:12 the angel says,
12 And he will be a wild donkey of a man, his hand will be against everyone, and everyone's hand will be against him; and he will live to the east of all his brothers."
Ishmael's father was Abram (later called Abraham). Ishmael's mother was Hagar, the Egyptian bondwoman. She was one of Pharaoh's daughters by a concubine. Pharaoh gave her to Sarah as a restitution payment after he had taken her into his harem, not knowing that she was Abram's wife (Gen. 12:10-20). The book of Jasher tells us this detail in 15:31 and 32,
31 And the king [Pharaoh] took a maiden whom he begat by his concubines, and he gave her to Sarai for a handmaid. 32 And the king said to his daughter, "It is better for thee, my daughter, to be a handmaid in this man's house than to be mistress in my house, after we have beheld the evil that befell us on account of this woman."
In Jasher 16:23-25 we read again of Hagar's royal lineage at the story of Ishmael's conception and birth, this time specifically calling her by name:
23 And Sarai, the daughter of Haran, Abram's wife, was still barren in those days; she did not bear to Abram either son or daughter. 24 And when she saw that she bare no children, she took her handmaid Hagar, whom Pharaoh had given her, and she gave her to Abram her husband for a wife. 25 For Hagar learned all the ways of Sarai as Sarai taught her, she was not in any way deficient in following her good ways.
Returning to the biblical narrative, we read in Genesis 16 that Hagar's attitude changed after she conceived Abram's child. Perhaps this is more understandable, knowing that Hagar was actually an Egyptian princess who had been reduced to a hand-maid in Abram's house. Ishmael was the son of Abram and the grandson of Pharaoh on his mother's side.
When Hagar conceived, she apparently began to despise Sarai (Gen. 16:4). She began to desire a calling that was not hers and thought that the promise to Abram would come through her. After all, it seemed apparent enough that God had made Sarai barren, so it was only natural to think that the promise had somehow been transferred to Hagar. So Sarai punished her in some manner not specified in Genesis 16:6, and Hagar ran away from home. In the wilderness an angel of God appeared to Hagar and told her to return. The angel also told her that she would have a son, and that she should call his name Ishmael, which means "God heard."
In this context, the angel tells Hagar that her son would be "a wild donkey man." The Hebrew term is pareh adam. The word pareh is translated "wild donkey" or "wild ass" in Jeremiah 2:24 and other places. In our book, The Wheat and Asses of Pentecost, we show that wheat and asses are the two primary symbols of the Feast of Pentecost throughout the Bible. In the story of Ishmael, we see him as a type of Pentecostal in relation to Isaac, who is a type of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Donkeys have big ears that were designed for hearing. Ishmael's name ("God hears") shows the purpose of Pentecost, which is to hear the voice of God, as we have seen by example at Mount Sinai. Ishmael and Hagar are also associated with Mount Sinai in Galatians 4:25. Ishmael is born first, but he is not the one who will bring forth the promise. Even so, Pentecost comes before Tabernacles, but God will not establish the promise with Pentecost, but with Tabernacles.
In the same way, Ishmael was born to Abram; Isaac was born to Abraham after God had changed his name in Genesis 17:5. The addition of the Hebrew letter "H" has a breathy sound and indicates the inspiration of the Spirit, the breath of God. The same applies to his wife, Sarai, whose name God changed to Sarah. When Abram and Sarai received their new names, it prophesied that the promised seed could come only by the work of the Holy Spirit. In the case of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and conceived Him miraculously. In the case of the Body of Christ, this is fulfilled corporately in the outpouring of the Spirit in the Feast of Tabernacles.
Pentecost is a feast that is mixed with leaven (Lev. 23:17). This is depicted in Ishmael, a man who had Abram as his father, but Hagar as his mother. The prophetic pattern shows us that in the era and anointing of Pentecost, the Church has faith like Abram but too often acts like Pharaoh, putting others into bondage.
The Glory Manifests on the Eighth Day
Revelation 20:6 tells us that the overcomers who take part in the first resurrection will be priests:
6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.
The book of Hebrews shows us that this will be a Melchisedec priesthood, not a Levitical one of the old order. However, the pattern foundations of the New Testament are laid in the Old. And so we see in the consecration of the Levitical priesthood a basic principle that carries over into the new priesthood. Leviticus 8 is the chapter dealing with the consecration of the Aaronic priests of the Levitical order. Here we find that it took a full seven days for Aaron and his sons to be consecrated as priests. Leviticus 8:33 instructed them as follows:
33 And you shall not go outside the doorway of the tent of meeting for seven days, until the day that the period of your ordination is fulfilled; for he will ordain you through seven days.
Then on the eighth day God promised to manifest His glory. Leviticus 9:1-4 says,
1 Now it came about on the eighth day that Moses called Aaron and his sons and the elders of Israel; 2 and he said to Aaron, "Take for yourself a calf, a bull, for a sin offering and a ram for a burnt offering, both without defect, and offer them before the LORD. 3 "Then to the sons of Israel you shall speak, saying, 'Take a male goat for a sin offering, and a calf and a lamb, both one year old, without defect, for a burnt offering, 4 and an ox and a ram for peace offerings, to sacrifice before the LORD, and a grain offering mixed with oil; for today the LORD SHALL appear to you.
Here is one of the most important prophetic patterns of the appearing of Christ. This event comes on the eighth day, according to the law of presenting the firstborn to God, as we have seen in our study of Exodus 22:30. Continuing in Leviticus 9, we read:
6 And Moses said, "This is the thing which the LORD has commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you."
This is what one must do "that the glory of the Lord may appear to you." It tells us one of the main purposes of the week-long consecration to the priesthood is to become fit to offer the type of sacrifice that God truly requires. This, in turn, will manifest the glory of God to the rest of the people, when He accepts the offering.
7 Moses then said to Aaron, "Come near to the altar and offer your sin offering and your burnt offering, that you may make atonement for yourself and for the people; then make the offering for the people, that you may make atonement for them, just as the LORD has commanded."
The glory of God will appear only when the priesthood can offer a sin offering and burnt offering that is fully acceptable to God. This is why Malachi 3:1-4 says that He will come as a refiner's fire to purify the "sons of Levi." Although this statement, like the law itself, comes in the context of the old order of priesthood, it is obviously a statement that has New Testament prophetic significance. At the fulfillment of Tabernacles, there will be a seven-day cleansing of the priesthood. From the pattern of John 6 and 7, studied earlier, Christ comes in the midst of this time in some manner. Once His Melchisedec priesthood has been refined, they can then offer an acceptable offering unto God on the eighth day of Tabernacles. God then accepts that offering by fire, and the glory of God is then manifested to the world.
The burnt offering signifies a completely dedicated life to God. Its purpose was to find acceptance before God. Leviticus 1:3 and 4 says,
3 If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer it, a male without defect; he shall offer it at the doorway of the tent of meeting, that he may be accepted before the LORD. 4 And he shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.
The burnt offering was to be a "sweet savour unto the Lord" (Lev. 1:9, KJV), or a " a soothing aroma to the LORD" (NASB). The picture of the "soothing aroma" offerings is that God finds the food on His table to be a delightful smell and taste that He is looking for in our character. Jesus Christ was the burnt offering for us, in that He said, "Not My will, but Thine be done" (Luke 22:42). It speaks of the fully-submissive will. The priesthood needs to follow in Jesus' footsteps and have the same submissive will in order to offer an acceptable burnt offering unto God.
The offering that they make is their own will upon the altar of their heart. In other words, this new order of priests will not be offering a burnt offering on an altar in Jerusalem. Whether or not zealous men find the ashes of the red heifer is of no consequence to God. The final blood Sacrifice has already been offered, and no one can add to it. This new priesthood will offer the only burnt offering that God has desired from the beginning--their own fleshly will upon the altar of the heart. That is the offering that God will accept by a baptism of fire that will completely transform these priests and equip them to rule with Him and manifest Christ to the rest of the world.
The consecrated priests were also to offer a sin offering along with the burnt offering. The purpose of the sin offering was not for acceptance but for atonement for sin. Yet the sin offering was to be offered in the same place as the burnt offering (Lev. 4:33). It speaks of the fact that Jesus Christ was not only the burnt offering that made us acceptable before God, but He was also the sin offering that covered, or atoned for, our sin. He did both in the same place on the cross.
When the consecrated priests of the Melchisedec Order come out of the tabernacle of God at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles, they will be able to offer a sin offering as well as a burnt offering. What does this mean? It means that the overcomer priests will be spotless lambs, even as Jesus was The Spotless Lamb. When the Melchisedec priests offer up the sin offering that is accepted by fire, it will signify that a new body of people has been presented to God who have overcome all sin by the power of the cleansing work of Tabernacles. As part of His body, and having His character, they will complete the work of bringing all things under His feet that Jesus began in His first coming, "for He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet." (1 Cor. 15:25).
This work will not be done in a day. This is the second work of Christ, which we will explain fully in a later chapter. For now, understand that the two works of Christ were prophesied and explained in the law regarding the Day of Atonement. Leviticus 16:16 says that the first goat was selected to make atonement for sin--that is, to COVER sin; the second goat was selected to REMOVE sin (Lev. 16:20-22). In Jesus' first work He died on the cross to cover our sin and lay the foundations for His second work in the autumn feasts. In His second work Jesus is sent out of the temple--our bodies--into the wilderness (the world) to remove our sin.
This work culminates with the Feast of Tabernacles, where Jesus comes in the midst of the feast to perfect His priesthood and consecrate them for a new work that will take a thousand years to accomplish. Even as Pentecost equipped the disciples to begin the work of world evangelism, so will the Feast of Tabernacles equip the overcomers in a greater way to finish the work under a greater anointing. Evangelism done under the anointing of Pentecost has been leavened; that is, it has been accomplished while we were still imperfect. Our sins have been covered, and we have been imputed righteous (as if we were perfect), but in the coming Tabernacles Age we will complete the work in the fullness of righteousness.
Getting back to our study of Leviticus 9, this consecrated priesthood will offer both burnt offerings and sin offerings (along with all the other offerings) in a perfect manner on behalf of the Church and the rest of the world. Even as the priests in Moses' day offered up an acceptable sacrifice to God on the eighth day, so also will the priests of Melchisedec offer up a greater sacrifice to God on the eighth day of Tabernacles. This offering will be fully acceptable unto God, and He will answer by fire and manifest His glory. Leviticus 9:12-14 reads,
22 Then Aaron lifted up his hands toward the people and blessed them, and he stepped down after making the sin offering and the burnt offering and the peace offerings. 23 And Moses and Aaron went into the tent of meeting. When they came out and blessed the people, the glory of the LORD appeared to all the people. 24 Then fire came out from before the LORD and consumed the burnt offering and the portions of fat on the altar; and when all the people saw it, they shouted and fell on their faces.
Many people offered burnt offerings and sin offerings throughout history, particularly in the Old Testament era. However, in most cases they had to bring their own fire to burn the offering. We do not doubt that most of these offerings were acceptable before God on some level. However, the biblical pattern shows that when God accepts an offering by a spontaneous fire from heaven, it signifies a fully acceptable offering unto God. Examples of this are found in the angelic appearance to Samson's father (Judges 13:20) and in the well-known story of Elijah (1 Kings 18:38).
Offering Strange Fire
The people and priests in Leviticus 9 were no doubt very impressed with the fire that fell from heaven, manifesting the glory of God. Yet because this was an early type and shadow, a pattern of greater things to come, we find that the priests in that day could not retain this glory even for a day. We find that the next day Nadab and Abihu, Aaron's sons, allowed this fire of God to die overnight. Leviticus 10:1 says,
1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the LORD, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the LORD and consumed them, and they died before the LORD.
Similar patterns are found throughout history, even in the history of genuine revivals in the Church. At times the Spirit of God has been poured out in a place, but because of the infirmity of men's flesh, the genuine spiritual fire is extinguished. When this happens, men invariably run for the matches to light the sacrifice with their own fire. When the Spirit leaves, the pitch increases, for men seem to think that the presence of the Holy Spirit is measured in decibels. There is even a song about "Priming the Pump" that used to be an old Pentecostal favorite. This is the spiritual equivalent of the priest lighting the fire with his own matches.
We sympathize with people who want to hold on to a genuine move of the Spirit. But the problem is that in our present Pentecostal leavened state, we fall asleep in spite of ourselves, because we are incapable of fulfilling our priestly duties of keeping the fire lit. The law says in Leviticus 6:13, "Fire shall be kept burning continually on the altar; it is not to go out." Though this was a command for the Levitical priests, it was not a law that they were able to keep. Thus, the fire of God died, and they felt that they had to substitute their own fire. Over the next centuries, the priests made every attempt to keep their strange fire burning continually, in order to keep the law. But the fire had not come from heaven. They were merely keeping their own fire burning.
This law was not meant for them to fulfill. It was meant for a later priesthood of the Order of Melchisedec, which would be trained during the Age of Pentecost and then consecrated at the Feast of Tabernacles. This priesthood will also be the manifested sons of God, birthed on the first day of Tabernacles and circumcised in the heart on the eighth day when presented to God without spot or blemish.
This will not be the end of the world. It will be a new beginning.