2018 – The Year of Circumcision and New Beginnings - the Year of “Firsts”
Isn’t it interesting and I believe no coincidence that the last number of this new year coincides with the Hebrew year 5778. The number 8 is associated with the letter chet in Hebrew. In the Hebrew alphabet, each letter has a corresponding symbol as well that confers a deeper meaning. The symbol for chet is fence, enclosure, secret place or inner room. Spiritually, it can refer to the inner room or secret place of our heart. The number 8 also speaks of circumcision. God instructed the nation of Israel to circumcise the males on the “eighth” day (Genesis 17:12). In the natural, the circumcision was to a sign of separation to the Lord and confirmation of the covenant the Lord made with Abraham/Israel. (Genesis 17, Joshua 5). Spiritually, circumcision is a sign to consecrate one’s heart to the Lord. Jeremiah the prophet brings out the weightier message in Jeremiah 4:4 where the prophet says (NKJV):
Circumcise yourselves to the Lord,
And take away the foreskins of your hearts,
You men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem,
Lest My fury come forth like fire,
And burn so that no one can quench it,
Because of the evil of your doings.”
The number 8 is also associated with new beginnings – a presentation of “firsts.” Leviticus 8 and 9 tell us that it took seven days to consecrate the priests and they came out of the tabernacle on the eighth day newly consecrated. The eighth day was also the lawful time for presentation of the firstborn (Exodus 22:29-30). In the New Testament (John 7:37-39), Jesus prophesied another first on the eighth day of tabernacles:
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
Jesus spoke of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which hadn’t happened yet. Note the heart issue – it is out of the heart that rivers of living water flow. On the eighth day, Jesus prophesied of a new beginning in walking with the Spirit.
We can expect 2018 (5778) to be a year that the Lord is going to go deep and deal with issues of the heart that one has not surrendered to the Lord. He is going to deal with the secret place of your heart. Expect a circumcision of the flesh of your heart in a new way.
This is a year to pay attention to the new – the FIRST of something that happens. The concept of firsts is important to God. In Genesis 4:4, it tells us that the Abel brought the firstborn of his flock to the Lord and his offering was respected.
Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering,
I had wondered why God did not respect Cain’s offering when his job was to till the ground (Genesis 4:2). However, it says in Genesis 4:3 that Cain brought “an offering” of the fruit of the ground, but it was not a firstfruit offering – it was not the firstfruit of the harvest. The firstfruit is the best of the harvest; Cain did not bring the best. The Lord showed me that is why Cain and his offering were not respected. The Lord told Cain that if he did well (brought the right offering – the best of the harvest), he would be accepted.
When studying scripture, there is a concept called the law of “first mention” (another first). The concept entails paying attention to the first time something is mentioned in scripture. If it is an important concept (doctrine or principle), the Lord builds upon it throughout scripture. The first mention is the foundation.
Abel’s offering of the firstborn of the flock is the first time the word firstborn (firstling in some translations) is used in scripture. The firstborn is a type of firstfruit to the Lord. The concept of firstfruits is spoken of throughout the bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
In the Old Testament, according to Exodus 23:14-6, firstfruits were to be offered to God at the time of the three main feasts:
“Three times you shall keep a feast to Me in the year: You shall keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread (you shall eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt; none shall appear before Me empty); and the Feast of Harvest, the firstfruits of your labors which you have sown in the field; and the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you have gathered in the fruit of your labors from the field.
The firstfruit offerings included barley, wheat, the fruit of the land as well as a drink offering during the Feast of Tabernacles (which is also known as the Feast of Ingathering) to represent the fruit given to God. Firstfruits also involved the giving of animals, typically in the form of sacrifices at the altar in the tabernacle/temple; this is discussed throughout the Torah and elsewhere in the Bible.
As previously mentioned, the firstborn is another type of firstfruits. The law of the firstborn is discussed in Exodus 13:11-16. The law states that the first of anything that comes from the womb, including man, belongs to the Lord.
In the New Testament, Abba Himself has given us His firstfruits. Romans 8 tells us that we have been given the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, makes intercession for us, and His anointing allows us to move from suffering to glory. Romans 8 also tells us that Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren. Those whom He predestined, He called and justified. Those whom He justified He also glorified.
Jesus is not only the firstborn of many brethren who will be glorified, but also the firstfruits of those who will be resurrected. 1 Corinthians 15:20-23 says this:
But now Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
Abba gave us His Son as firstfruits of those who will be resurrected from the dead. Those who belong to Christ, are made alive. Those who confess with their mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in their heart that God raised Him from the dead will receive eternal life and not death (Romans 10). Those in Christ who have physically died will be resurrected.
What the Father has done through His Son has also made us firstfruits. The first chapter of the book of James tells us that the Lord brought us forth by the Word of Truth – by His Son – that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. What a gift the Father has given us!
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning. Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of His creatures. James 1:17-18.
If you are a firstfruit of His creatures, have you given yourself completely to the Lord? Have you become a living sacrifice unto Him?
Even the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation 14 are firstfruits the Lord is giving to Himself. Notice that they are redeemed from among men – redemption comes through Christ Jesus.
These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14:4
A thorough study of firstfruits is beyond the scope of this article. What we can see from scripture, however, is a primary concept of firstfruits is that you take the best portion of what you have been given and give that portion first back to God. The Father has modeled that for us by giving us His firstfruits – His best – His Son and His Holy Spirit. When we give the best portion of what we have been given to the Lord, everything else that follows will be blessed. When you give the first portion of your time; your time will be blessed. When you give the first portion of the best of your material resources; your supply line will be sanctified. When you dedicate the firstborn of your children to the Lord; all your children will be blessed. And so is the concept with whatever you give to the Lord.
You can give firstfruits on a daily basis, weekly basis, monthly basis, or even on a yearly basis. At BOMI, those of us who participate in Tuesday group have chosen to give the firstfruits of the year – the entire month of January – to the Lord with an offering of fasting with our prayer. Fasting is a form of humbling yourself before the Lord by giving up food, drink, or some other thing like TV or social media that might be distracting you from entering into a deeper level with the Lord. We are already seeing breakthroughs this month as we have been fasting along with our prayer.
Giving of firstfruits reminds us that the Lord is a source of all our blessings. We give the FIRST so that all our seed will prosper. Matthew 6 says seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all the things that you need will be added to you. It builds our faith that the Lord is Jehovah Jireh, our Provider. Firstfruit giving is also a form of worship and it brings us to remember that Jesus is our FIRST love. Seeking Him FIRST will bring forth greater revelation of His Word. The seed of His Word will take root deep in the good soil of your heart.
This year, 2018, is a year of FIRSTS. It is a year of firstfruits. God wants to give you firstfruits this year. What firstfruits are you giving the Lord this year?
By Penny Lepinski
Beulah Outreach Ministries International
Penny Lepinski an Apostolic teacher with a heart to make diciples of Jesus. She is dedicated to teaching foundational truths that bring believers to understand their identity and authority in Christ. She yearns to see people set free through knowing the word intimately and deeply. Penny is a leader, prophetic intercessor, and along with her husband, Al, an elder in Beulah Outreach Ministries International. She also trains and mentors believers in how to take territory though intercession and relational evangelism.