"They Will Be Mine"
The Last Day Preparation Of The Firstborn/Firstfruit Sons And Daughters
The firstborn/firstfruits among the brothers given to the Lord were the Levites in the O.T. (Numbers 3:11-13, 44-45, 8:13-19). They are Jesus and the brethren in the N.T. (Romans 8:29). In the last days when Christ returns for His firstborn bride, first, they will be those whose names are written in the “book of remembrance.” They fear the Lord and esteem His name and have willingly submitted to the preparation of the Holy Spirit, preparing them to be known as the Lord’s own possession (Malachi 3:16-18), sparing them from His wrath at the end of this age.
The [Birth]rights Of The Firstborn
From Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words below of :
“The “oldest” or “firstborn” son (Exodus 6:14) had special privileges within the family. He received the special family blessing, which meant spiritual and social leadership and a double portion of the father's possessions — or twice what all the other sons received (Deuteronomy 21:17) [see this passage right below]. He could lose this blessing through misdeeds (Genesis 35:22; Reuben’s sexual sin) or by selling it (Genesis 25:29-34; Esau despised [“to have a low opinion of”] his birthright as the firstborn [Hebrews 12:15-17]).
Deuteronomy 21:15-17 – See the note below.
15 "If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have borne him sons, if the firstborn [1060- see def. below] son belongs to the unloved,
16 then it shall be in the day he wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the firstborn  before the son of the unloved, who is the firstborn .
17 "But he shall acknowledge the firstborn , the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning [7225- “beginning, first, choicest”] of his strength [202- “ability, power, vigor, generative power”]; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.
These verses describe the right of the firstborn son. He was to receive a double portion of the inheritance from his father over his brother’s portion. The reason is, “for he is the beginning of his [father’s] strength.” The Hebrew word interpreted “beginning” is re'shiyth (ray-sheeth'). It’s defined as, “the first, the beginning, the best, the chief, choice part.” It’s the first word in the Bible in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning…”, and is also interpreted as “firstfruits” (see the Bible study Wheat Disciples; Pentecost And Pentecost Sunday).This right is now given through Christ, the firstborn Son who has been granted the “strength of His Father.” He, in turn, bestows His strength (“ability, power, vigor, generative power”) within all that receive Him as their Messiah. He is the “firstborn [Son] among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). (See the note on p.8 in the section Blessing The Sacrifice in the Bible study Wheat Disciples; Pentecost And Pentecost Sunday.)
Within Solomon’s temple were two pillars (1 Kings 7:21). The right pillar was named Jachin (yaw-keen'), and the left one Boaz (bo'-az). Jachin means “he shall establish.” Boaz is defined in Hebrew as “in it is strength.” I believe that when these two pillars located within the front of the temple, at its entrance are placed together that they say, “He (God) establishes in His strength.” David declared, “O my strength, I will sing praises to You; For God is my stronghold, the God who shows me lovingkindness.” (Psalm 59:17/NASU) It is not by man, but by the strength of the One who is the beginning of His father’s strength that we are established in Him.
As noted above in Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words above for the word “firstborn” , the firstborn right of blessing (see John 1:12), like all other rights on earth, can be forfeited through negligence, and through illegal actions (see the Bible study and article Freedom In Christ). In a free, law-abiding society, you are granted freedom as long as you abide by the laws that govern it. To break the law is to possibly forfeit that freedom and be placed into prison. In the church’s case, lawlessness against the Lord can also remove your freedom. We see this through Israel’s rebellion in the Old Testament.
Being Ruled Over By Our Enemy
Nehemiah had just worked together with his fellow citizens, finishing the work of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem. Ezra, the scribe, found written in God’s law where the Lord had commanded, through Moses, that the sons of Israel should live in booths during the feast of the seventh month, the Feast of Tabernacles. A proclamation was then circulated throughout all their cities, and Jerusalem, for them to celebrate the feast per the Lord’s ordinance (Nehemiah 8:13-18).
Ezra read from the book of the law of God daily for seven days. On the eighth day, per the order of God, a solemn assembly was held;
“…the sons of Israel assembled with fasting, in sackcloth and with dirt upon them. The descendants [“seed”] of Israel separated [914- “to divide, to separate, to set apart, to make a distinction”] themselves from all foreigners [5236- “foreign, alien, what is foreign”], and stood and confessed their sins and the iniquities of their fathers. While they stood in their place, they read from the book of the law of the Lord their God for a fourth of the day; and for another fourth they confessed and worshiped the Lord their God.”
In this great feast that occurs during the time of the Fall harvest, and is the last to be fulfilled by the Lord at the end of this age, the people separated themselves from all that was “foreign,” confessing their sins and the sins of their fathers. It was the discovery of this “appointed feast” in the word of God that moved them to act in obedience. This is why it is so crucial that we study God’s word, without which we will not know His will for us.
Biblical illiteracy is a major reason for our being in the current poor spiritual condition that we, the church in America, now find ourselves in. Very few even bring Bibles to church anymore. Paul exhorted Timothy, saying, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15/NASU) This isn’t just for spiritual leaders, but for all Christians. We do not measure the Word by what the pastor says, but we measure the pastor by what the Word says. Otherwise, we can be easily deceived into error.
Spiritually speaking, I believe that we are nearing the time for this feast, and all it represents, to be fulfilled. We too must separate from all that is foreign to God in this world, confessing our sins and the sins of our spiritual fathers who have not walked in the ways of God, causing us to be in a predicament similar to Israel in Nehemiah. As we’ll see through them, our enemy has now been granted dominion over many Christians.
During this appointed time, the Levites stood and proclaimed the word of the Lord to the children of Israel who had just being released from slavery to a foreign nation. In particular, they spoke to them of their past history of rebellion against the Lord which usually followed a time when He had blessed them. If we do not carefully guard our hearts, prosperity can breed apathy. This was Israel’s pattern with God, causing Him to chastise them through the hands of their enemies. The same indifference towards the Lord is a major issue within the majority of churches in the United States today.
The Levites ended their proclamation before the people with this;
“However, You are just in all that has come upon us; For You have dealt faithfully, but we have acted wickedly. For our kings, our leaders, our priests and our fathers have not kept Your law or paid attention to Your commandments and Your admonitions with which You have admonished them. But they, in their own kingdom, with Your great goodness which You gave them, with the broad and rich land which You set before them, did not serve You or turn from their evil deeds. Behold, we are slaves today, and as to the land which You gave to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty, behold, we are slaves in it. Its abundant produce is for the kings whom You have set over us because of our sins; they also rule over our bodies and over our cattle as they please, so we are in great distress. Now because of all this we are making an agreement in writing [making a covenant]; and on the sealed document are the names of our leaders, our Levites and our priests.”
In the “broad and rich land” which the Lord had given them, they had turned away from their obedient devotion to Him. Its abundant fruit meant for them had been given over to the dominion of the kings that the Lord placed over them because of their sin. Not only that, but these foreign kings also ruled over their bodies, and their cattle, using them in whatever way they pleased to increase their kingdoms. The “great distress” they were in caused them to return to the Lord in their hearts and enter into a covenant with Him. There is a spiritual meaning for us today manifested through all this that we need to see. It is a picture of exactly where the church in America now stands.
Whenever we, the church, are not faithful to the Lord and His ways, acting wickedly against the covenant we have willingly entered into with Jesus, He will set another master over us who will “rule over our bodies.” In his revelation from God, John declared that Jesus is, “the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.” (Revelation 1:5) Because all authority has been given to Christ, He can move the kings to do whatever He desires. The intent of our affliction from them is that, like the prodigal son, it will cause us to remember from where we have fallen, once again looking up to the Deliverer, and then to repent.
I see in this passage from Nehemiah the king being the devil who was given dominion over fallen mankind when we rebelled against the Lord in the beginning of creation, in the Garden of Eden. It is sin that gives him authority over us, which is why he has no authority over the Lord who was sinless (Hebrews 4:15).
One day, while speaking to a crowd of people, Jesus foretold of His death, saying that His hour had come to die, that it was the purpose for His coming. He then said, “Father, glorify Your name.” A voice then came out of heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.” Jesus answered the crowd who heard different things, “This voice has not come for My sake, but for your sakes. Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out.” (John 12:27-31) It was through the death of Christ that He legally, before the Father, gained authority in this earthly realm over the devil.
On another occasion, while speaking with His disciples, Jesus said to them, “I will not speak much more with you, for the ruler of the world is coming, and he has nothing in Me…” (John 14:30/NASU) Again, as we walk in obedience to the Lord we remain in Him, under His authority over all things. But when we give in to the temptations of the flesh that the devil entices us with, we give him the right of authority over us. As we remain in Christ through obedience and submission to His lordship, he has nothing over us either. This is why it is so crucial to walk in obedience with a pure heart. It is the only way to walk in victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil.
The body referred to in Nehemiah that the kings are allowed to “rule over” (i.e., have dominion over) can be an individual or a corporate “body” of believers (see the Bible study The Dominion Mandate). All sickness, whether it be mental or physical came into being after man sinned. When we submit to the Lord and His authority, walking in Him, we are in a place where His authority rules over us. When we listen as Eve did to the devil’s temptation to act outside the boundary of God’s will, we then place ourselves in his domain where he has authority/dominion over us. By walking in sin, without repentance, we will never be set free. As long as we continue to act wickedly toward the Lord as the children of Israel did, we will continue to be enslaved by the devil.
Paul prophesied that right before the return of Christ a lawless spirit will exist among many Christians that will cause them to fall away from their devotion to Him. They did not love the truth so as to be saved, but took pleasure in wickedness. Because of this, God will send a deluding influence upon them “so that they will believe what is false.” (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12) As we’ll see in the next two passages of Scripture, at this point it is impossible for them to see and understand the truth. This is already the fate of many in the church in America.
(The next two passages are from the Bible study Urim And Thummim.)
A Fat Heart And A Fallen Nation
Isaiah 6:10-13 – In these verses, Isaiah answers the call of the Lord to go to His people and cry out against their rebellion against Him. He is told, though, that he will be proclaiming his words from the Lord to those who have already been given over to their sin. Because of their “fat” (insensitive) hearts and dull eyes, they would not be able to hear and understand. He said to “Render the hearts of this people insensitive.” The KJV says, “Make the heart of this people fat…” (see the note for Jeremiah 5:26-29 near the end of this study).
Isaiah then asks Him “Lord, how long?” His answer is chilling. I believe it applies to the church in our nation as well. He said they would remain this way until their land was utterly devastated with uninhabited cities. Only a remnant would remain alive within its borders afterwards.
10 "Render the hearts of this people insensitive [8080- “to make fat; dull, unreceptive”], their ears dull [3513- “to be heavy, to make weighty”], and their eyes dim [8173- “to be smeared over, to be blinded”], otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed."
11 Then I said, "Lord, how long?" And He answered, "Until cities are devastated and without inhabitant, Houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate,
12 "The Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
13 "Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, and it will again be subject to burning, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump."
Deuteronomy 32:15 – Israel, the “upright one,” became dull of heart toward the Lord, the One who made them, and fell away. By definition, their condition is an example of what a foolish virgin is. They are those who, at the end of this age, will fall away in the great apostasy right before the return of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2).
15 "But Jeshurun [3484- “upright one”; symbolic name for Israel] grew fat  and kicked [1163- see def. in 1 Samuel 2:29 above] — You are grown fat , thick [5666- “to be dense”], and sleek — Then he forsook [5034- “to be senseless, to be foolish [i.e., foolish virgin], to fall away”] God who made him, and scorned the Rock of his salvation.
15 Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; filled with food, he became heavy and sleek. He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior.
prototokos [NT:4416] – “firstborn” (from protos, “first,” and tikto, “to beget”), is used of Christ as born of the Virgin Mary, Luke 2:7; further, in His relationship to the Father, expressing His priority to, and preeminence over, creation, not in the sense of being the “first” to be born. It is used occasionally of superiority of position in the OT, see Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 21:16,17, the prohibition being against the evil of assigning the privileged position of the “firstborn” to one born subsequently to the “first” child. [The rights of the firstborn can be nullified, as seen through Esau. All Christians have been given the right to become the sons of God (John 1:11-13).]
The five passages in the NT relating to Christ may be set forth chronologically thus:
(a) Colossians 1:15, where His eternal relationship with the Father is in view, and the clause means both that He was the “Firstborn” before all creation and that He Himself produced creation (the genitive case being objective, as v. 16 makes clear)
(b) Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:5, in reference to His resurrection
(c) Romans 8:29, His position in relationship to the church
(d) Hebrews 1:6, RV, His second advent (the RV “when He again bringeth in,” puts “again” in the right place, the contrast to His first advent, at His birth, being implied); cf. Psalm 89:27. The word is used in the plural, in Hebrews 11:28, of the firstborn sons in the families of the Egyptians, and in 12:23, of the members of the Church.
Note: With (a) cf. John 1:30, “He was before me,” lit., “He was first (protos) of me,” i. e., “in regard to me,” expressing all that is involved in His preexistence and priority.
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
bekor [OT:1060] – “firstborn.” Bekor appears about 122 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods. The word represents the “firstborn” individual in a family (Genesis 25:13); the word can also represent the "firstborn" of a nation, collectively (Numbers 3:46). The plural form of the word appears occasionally (Nehemiah 10:36); in this passage, the word is applied to animals. In other passages, the singular form of bekor signifies a single “firstborn” animal (Leviticus 27:26); KJV, “firstling” or collectively the “firstborn” of a herd (Exodus 11:5).
The “oldest” or “firstborn” son (Exodus 6:14) had special privileges within the family. He received the special family blessing, which meant spiritual and social leadership and a double portion of the father's possessions — or twice what all the other sons received (Deuteronomy 21:17). He could lose this blessing through misdeeds (Genesis 35:22 [Reuben’s sexual sin]) or by selling it (Genesis 25:29-34; [Esau despised (“to have a low opinion of”) his birthright as the firstborn]). God claimed all Israel and all their possessions as His own. As a token of this claim, Israel was to give Him all its “firstborn” (Exodus 13:1-16). The animals were to be sacrificed, redeemed, or killed, while the male children were redeemed either by being replaced with Levites or by the payment of a redemption price (Numbers 3:40 ff).
Israel was God's “firstborn”; it enjoyed a privileged position and blessings over all other nations (Exodus 4:22; Jeremiah 31:9).
The “first-born of death” is an idiom meaning a deadly disease (Job 18:13); the “first-born of the poor” is the poorest class of people (Isaiah 14:30).
bikkurim [OT:1061] – “first fruits.” This noun appears 16 times. The “first grain and fruit” harvested was to be offered to God (Numbers 28:26) in recognition of God's ownership of the land and His sovereignty over nature. Bread of the “first fruits” was bread made of the first harvest grain, presented to God at Pentecost (Leviticus 23:20). The “day of the first fruits” was Pentecost (Numbers 28:26).
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
Genesis 48:3-6 – Jacob’s blessing over Joseph. His second blessing, through Moses, is below in Deuteronomy 33:13-17.
3 Then Jacob said to Joseph, "God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan and blessed me,
4 and He said to me, 'Behold, I will make you fruitful and numerous, and I will make you a company of peoples, and will give this land to your descendants [“seed”] after you for an everlasting possession.'
5 "Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.
6 "But your offspring [4138- “lineage, kindred, relatives”] that have been born after them shall be yours; they shall be called by the names of their brothers in their inheritance.
(The following verse is from p.4 in the Bible study The Womb Of The Dawn, and also in The Revealing Of Joseph, and Urim And Thummim. “The one distinguished among his brothers” applies to the Levites as well.)
Deuteronomy 33:13-17 – The second blessing over Joseph, this time by Moses, was the blessing of the firstborn. In this chapter Moses blesses the sons of Israel before his death. This portion deals with his blessing over Joseph. Multiple times Moses spoke of the “choice” things, the “best” things (“precious things” in other versions) for Joseph’s descendants, his “seed” (for more on “the best” see the section Receiving The Best Of Egypt In The Worst Of Times in the Bible study The Revealing Of Joseph, and the section The Pressure Of God And The New Wine in the Bible study Living Creatures And Wicked Beasts). He even mentioned the earth’s “fullness” for him, as well as God’s favor. I believe this blessing falls on the “Joseph Company” (see Genesis 48:4 above) of believers at the end of this age who, like Joseph, are separated unto the Lord (see Malachi 3:16-18 below). It is his consecration before the Lord that “distinguishes” him among his “brothers,” granting him “firstborn” rights (see the Bible studies The Distinguishing Mark, and Consecration). Last but not least, notice Joseph’s dominion in verse 17 over all nations, driving them, it appears, at the same moment to the ends of the earth (see the Bible study The Dominion Mandate).
13 Of Joseph he said, "Blessed of the Lord be his land, with the choice things  of heaven, with the dew, and from the deep lying beneath,
14 And with the choice  yield of the sun, and with the choice  produce of the months.
15 "And with the best things [7218- “the head, the top, the summit, the upper part, the choicest, the best”] of the ancient mountains, and with the choice things  of the everlasting hills,
16 And with the choice things  of the earth and its fullness, and the favor of Him who dwelt in the bush. Let it come to the head of Joseph, and to the crown of the head of the one distinguished  among his brothers.
17 "As the firstborn [1060- “firstborn, firstling”; see def. above] of his ox, majesty is his, and his horns are the horns of the wild ox; With them he will push the peoples, all at once, to the ends of the earth. And those are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and those are the thousands of Manasseh."
OT:4022 meged (meh'-ghed)
(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
from an unused root probably meaning to be eminent; properly, a distinguished thing; hence something valuable, as a product or fruit:
KJV - pleasant, precious fruit (thing).
(Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
OT:5139 naziyr (naw-zeer'); or nazir (naw-zeer')
(Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
from OT:5144; separate, i.e. consecrated (as prince, a Nazirite); hence (figuratively from the latter) an unpruned vine (like an unshorn Nazirite):
KJV - Nazarite [by a false alliteration with Nazareth], separate (-d), vine undressed.
(Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
a consecrated or devoted one, a Nazarite
a) a consecrated one
b) a devotee, a Nazarite
c) an untrimmed (vine)
Leviticus 20:22-26 – See the note below.
22 'You are therefore to keep all My statutes [2708- “statute, regulation, prescription, term”] and all My ordinances [4941- “judgment, justice, rights, a verdict pronounced judicially”] and do them, so that the land to which I am bringing you to live will not spew you out [6958- “to vomit up, to spue out”; see Revelation 3:16].
23 'Moreover, you shall not follow the customs  of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things [see the previous verses], and therefore I have abhorred [6973- “to be disgusted or anxious, to be grieved, to loathe”] them.
24 'Hence I have said to you, "You are to possess their land, and I Myself will give it to you to possess it, a land flowing with milk and honey." I am the Lord your God, who has separated [914- “to divide, separate, to set apart, to make a distinction”] you from the peoples.
25 'You are therefore to make a distinction  between the clean animal and the unclean, and between the unclean bird and the clean; and you shall not make yourselves detestable [ by animal or by bird or by anything that creeps on the ground, which I have separated  for you as unclean. [See Malachi
26 'Thus you are to be holy to Me, for I the Lord am holy; and I have set you apart from the peoples to be Mine.
The Lord said to the children of Israel that the continued possession of the land He was giving them would be dependent upon them following His statutes and ordinances (see Numbers 33:50-56; God’s law of possessing the land). They were to be separate from the manners and customs of the lands God was giving them. There was to be a clear distinction between the clean and the unclean, per His law. This was the Lord’s rebuke of the priests in Malachi. They were not enforcing God’s statute for His people regarding that which was an acceptable and an unacceptable sacrifice before Him, between the clean and the unclean. The Lord declared, “you are not keeping My ways [1870- “way, manner, conduct”] but are showing partiality in the instruction [8451- torah- “law, direction, custom, manner”].” (Malachi 2:9) According to Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “Partiality springs from the will and affections, rather than from a love of truth and justice.”
The Lord warned that disobedience to His ways once they were in the land would cause it to “spew”, or “vomit” them out. In His rebuke of the church in Laodicea, the Lord declared;
“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans [“justice of the people”, “a people of justice”, “a people of law and order”] write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning [746- “a beginning, first”; Deuteronomy 21:17 above] of the creation of God: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit [1692- “to vomit, throw up”] you out of My mouth. Because you say, “I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked…’”
The bottom line in all this was the command of God for His people to be holy, because He is. They had been set apart from the rest of the people on earth to be His. There is always a clear distinction between those who are is, and those who are not. Separation from all that is not of God in this world is key in our continuing in that which we have been given possession from Him. Otherwise, like the Israelites and the Laodiceans, we might be vomited out from Him.
Numbers 3:11-13 – The Lord’s declaration that the Levites were His.
11 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
12 "Now, behold, I have taken the Levites from among the sons of Israel instead of every firstborn, the first issue of the womb among the sons of Israel. So the Levites shall be Mine.
13 "For all the firstborn are Mine; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I sanctified to Myself all the firstborn in Israel, from man to beast. They shall be Mine; I am the Lord."
Numbers 3:44-45 – One more time when the Lord declared that the Levites were His.
44 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
45 "Take the Levites instead of all the firstborn among the sons of Israel and the cattle of the Levites. And the Levites shall be Mine; I am the Lord.
Numbers 8:13-19 – See the note below.
13 "You shall have the Levites stand before Aaron and before his sons so as to present them as a wave offering to the Lord.
14 "Thus you shall separate [914- “to divide, separate, distinguish, to make a distinction”] the Levites from among the sons of Israel, and the Levites shall be Mine.
15 "Then after that the Levites may go in to serve the tent of meeting. But you shall cleanse [2891- “to be clean, pure”] them and present them as a wave offering; [see the Bible study Wheat Disciples; Pentecost And Pentecost Sunday]
16 for they are wholly given to Me [see Numbers 3:9] from among the sons of Israel. I have taken them for Myself instead of every first issue of the womb, the firstborn  of all the sons of Israel.
17 "For every firstborn  among the sons of Israel is Mine, among the men and among the animals; on the day that I struck down all the firstborn  in the land of Egypt I sanctified [6942- “to consecrate, to set apart, to prepare, to be holy”] them for Myself.
18 "But I have taken the Levites instead of every firstborn  among the sons of Israel.
19 "I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the sons of Israel, to perform the service of the sons of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement on behalf of the sons of Israel, so that there will be no plague among the sons of Israel by their coming near to the sanctuary."
In this third declaration regarding the Levites as being His, the Lord said that they were to be presented as a wave offering to Him. In Leviticus 23:9-11 we read, “And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, when you come into the land that I give you and reap its harvest, you shall bring the sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the priest, and he shall wave [5130- “to move to and fro, to wave, to sprinkle, to shake”] the sheaf before the Lord, so that you may be accepted [7522- “favor, goodwill, acceptance, will, desire, pleasure”]. On the day after the Sabbath the priest shall wave  it.’” (See the Bible study Wheat Disciples; Pentecost And Pentecost Sunday.)
The Levites were to be presented to the Lord like the wave offering was. They were called to be a firstfruits, separated group among His people whose lives were accepted and pleasing to Him. Through the wave offering, in type, those whom the Lord had taken for Himself were revealed. As we’ll see in the verses below from Malachi, this group of priests, again in type, are now being prepared by the Lord before He judges the earth in His wrath.
After being cleansed and then presented before the Lord as the wave offering was, we are told they would be able to go in and serve in the “tent of meeting” before the Lord. Their obedience to God’s prescribed order (see 1 Chronicles 15:11-13) was that which qualified them to enter into His presence and serve Him. Like the Levites, we must be cleansed/purified first and then presented before the Lord as such in order to serve before Him. Spurgeon once said, “The crown of glory will follow the cross of separation.” This is the prescribed way of the Lord.
In his second letter to the church in Corinth, Paul said;
“Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; And I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,’ says the Lord. ‘And do not touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty. Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement [3431- “a stain, i.e. (figuratively) immorality; filthiness, soiling”] of flesh and spirit, perfecting [2005- “to bring to an end, accomplish, perfect, complete”] holiness in the fear of God.”
(2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1/NASB)
Today’s preaching of “foolish-virgin” theology rarely, if ever, promotes cleansing ourselves after turning to Christ, “perfecting holiness in the fear of the Lord,” which explains why so many have now fallen away from Him. The promise written by Paul of being welcomed as a son or daughter is conditional upon our separation from all that is not pleasing to the Lord, not of His will for us. The fear (i.e. holy reverence) of the Lord is to keep us from sinning, so that His promise will be made sure in us. Again, because of watered down, delusionary doctrines of demons there is little to no working out of our salvation “with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12)
The Tent Of Meeting
The tent of meeting was a temporary place where God met with His people. The more perfect place, in type the temple, was yet to come. Before the tabernacle in the wilderness journey of the children of Israel was built, Moses would meet with God in this place;
“Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the Lord would go out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp [see Hebrews 13:7-14].”
Afterwards, when the tabernacle was completed, the temporary tent of meeting was no longer necessary. The phrase “tent of meeting” was still applied, though, to the tabernacle. The Hebrew word interpreted as “tabernacle” means “dwelling place.” The Lord was revealing something through this concerning His purpose for His people.
In the New Testament, Paul uses the tent of meeting/tabernacle in a comparison with our earthly body and its destiny in Christ. He says;
“For we know that if the earthly tent which is our house is torn down, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, inasmuch as we, having put it on, will not be found naked. For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge [728- see definitions below; also see Ephesians 1:13-14].”
(2 Corinthians 5:1-5/NASU)
So we see in Paul’s analogy that our earthly bodies are temporary, like the tent of meeting. The following comment on this spiritual journey from tent to temple is from an article called “What was the tent of meeting?” (gotquestions.org);
“When Paul says, ‘The tent that is our earthly home,’ he is referring to our earthly body, our temporary dwelling place. Just as the Israelites moved the tent of meeting from place to place, waiting for entrance to the Promised Land, believers in Christ are wanderers on the earth, people who are not “at home” in the world and who ‘seek a city that is to come’ (Hebrews 13:14). Paul says that those who belong to God will be “further clothed” with immortality upon their deaths and that their earthly tent (their body) will be replaced with a ‘heavenly dwelling.’ God does the work of preparing us for that day of glorification by the process of sanctification by the Spirit, and that work happening within us is a ‘guarantee’ that our inheritance and our heavenly dwelling are real. ‘In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of His glory’ (Ephesians 1:13-15).”
The Pledged Holy Spirit
The Greek word Paul uses for “guarantee” is arrhabon (ar-hrab-ohn'). It’s defined as, “a pledge, i.e. part of the purchase-money or property given in advance as security for the rest; an earnest, i.e. money which in purchases is given as a pledge that the full amount will subsequently be paid.”
Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says the following about arrabon;
“Originally, ‘earnest-money’ deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed, was probably a Phoenician word, introduced into Greece... In general usage it came to denote a ‘pledge’ or ‘earnest’ of any sort; in the NT it is used only of that which is assured by God to believers; it is said of the Holy Spirit as the divine ‘pledge’ of all their future blessedness, (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5; in Ephesians 1:14), particularly of their eternal inheritance. In the Septuagint (Genesis 38:17-18,20). In modern Greek arrabona is an ‘engagement ring.’”
First, notice that the “guarantee/pledge” could be forfeited if the purchase was not completed. The purchaser may have fulfilled his end of the deal, guaranteeing his intent by his down payment, but if the purchased item is not presented to him per what was agreed upon the deal could be nullified.
As far as the Lord’s end of the purchase of our souls, His full payment (i.e. fullness) is guaranteed by the deposit of the Holy Spirit within us. The issue that most preachers’ theology would not believe exists, because of their beliefs in regards to salvation, is that we can back out on our end of the deal by receiving His grace in vain. Paul, in fact, warned us in the soul-transaction process, saying, “And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” (2 Corinthians 6:1/NASU) The definition of the Greek word for “vain” is “empty, vain, fruitless, without effect.” So then, to receive the grace of God in vain is to fight the ministry of the Holy Spirit within us, causing us to be “fruitless.” Working against Him, rather than working together with Him, causes God’s grace to be “without effect” in our lives.
Jesus told the following parable, warning us about the dangers of becoming fruitless in HIS vineyard;
“A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper [289- “a vine-worker, i.e. pruner”], ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down [1581- “to cut out or down, hewn down”]! Why does it even use up the ground?’ And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down .’”
In mercy, the vineyard-keeper was given one more year to work with the fig tree, determining at that point, per the fruit produced, if it would be cut down or not. Jesus taught this very thing when He said, “You will know them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-23) And so it is with us.
Vines Dictionary also made the statement, “In modern Greek arrabona is an ‘engagement ring.’” This ring is a sign of the vow from the woman who agreed to marry the man who approached her. If you have received Christ, you have become, spiritually speaking, betrothed to Him. You are a bride who is to be eagerly waiting for the return of her Bridegroom who has gone to prepare a place for you, a permanent place. We are no longer our own person, living as we please, but have been purchased with the price of Christ’s shed blood, the spotless sacrifice required by the Father. This is why Paul says;
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”
(1 Corinthians 6:19-20/NIV; also see 1 Corinthians 7:23)
Back in Numbers 8:19 above, we read;
“I have given the Levites as a gift to Aaron and to his sons from among the sons of Israel, to perform the service of the sons of Israel at the tent of meeting and to make atonement [3722- “to cover over (with pitch), atone, to pacify, to make reconciliation, a lid, a mercy-seat”] on behalf of the sons of Israel, so that there will be no plague among the sons of Israel by their coming near to the sanctuary.”
The Levites service before God was not just for themselves, but for the health and welfare of all the sons of Israel. It is the same for the Christian today.
When you think of making atonement, you think of the greatest “covering over” of all, of what Christ did for us on the cross. Without His act of self-denial on our behalf, we would still be under the condemnation of sin. This is a subject that volumes could be, and have rightly been written about. Because of what the Lord has done for mankind who could not save himself, He will be eternally worshipped by those of us who have received His death on their behalf. Thank-you Lord!!!
The act of atonement is always an act of intercession by those who are in a position to be heard for those who cannot. Christ was our example that we are to model our lives after. Intercession for those being engulfed by the wicked in our nation must occur now more than ever. We cannot be intimidated by the threats of the wicked who are now in control in the majority of our nation, a nation that has been given over to their wickedness. We have been commanded by the Lord, who said;
“I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”
The fear of God is not only absent from the world these days, but more tragically from within the majority of the church. That will soon change. As the psalmist declared, “Surely his salvation is near those who fear him, that his glory may dwell in our land.” (Psalm 85:9/NIV) Currently, that number among His people is small, but a remnant will arise in the fear of the Lord and do great exploits. They will be seen as the “untouchables” of God.
While encamped at Shittim, the last stop for the children of Israel before crossing over into the Promised Land, they “began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab.” (Numbers 25:1-3) Because of the men’s sexual immorality with the wicked, a plague broke out among God’s people and 24,000 Israelites died (Numbers 25:9). That same temptation of sexual sin is happening today among God’s people, which tells me, by the way, we are that close to crossing over.
A certain Israelite man took a Moabite woman into his tent “in the sight of Moses and in the sight of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, while they were weeping at the doorway of the tent of meeting” (Numbers 25:6). With God’s jealousy (a zeal for God’s honor), Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron, rose up and dealt with the issue by going right into the man’s tent. He then speared the Israelite man and the Moabite woman who were apparently having sex without shame or fear of God in the camp, in broad daylight. Their joint death represents something very significant for us today. Again, this sensual spirit is now rampant within the church, but God’s righteous judgment will soon destroy her (Revelation 18:7-8).
Because of Phinehas’ actions, the plague was stopped. The Lord then said to Moses;
“Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned away My wrath from the sons of Israel in that he was jealous with My jealousy among them, so that I did not destroy the sons of Israel in My jealousy. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give him My covenant of peace; and it shall be for him and his descendants after him, a covenant of a perpetual priesthood, because he was jealous for his God and made atonement for the sons of Israel.’”
Phinehas was filled with the jealousy of God, bringing honor to His name. It stopped God from killing all of the Israelites. Because of his zealous actions which made atonement for the sons of Israel, the Lord gave him a covenant of peace which would result in a “perpetual priesthood” for him and his descendants (i.e. “seed”).
By definition of the Hebrew words, the covenant of peace is a covenant of “completeness, soundness, welfare, peace, health.” A perpetual priesthood is an everlasting priesthood, much like that pictured through Melchizedek (Genesis 14:8, Hebrews 7:1-3; see the Bible study Melchizedek The King Of Salem). It’s interesting too that he made atonement for the sons of Israel by shedding the blood of the guilty. In other words, because of his actions against the sin in the camp, the sins of others that could have died in the plague were covered.
While referring to the same event, the psalmist declared;
“They joined themselves also to Baal-peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead. Thus they provoked Him to anger with their deeds, and the plague broke out among them. Then Phinehas stood up [5975- “to stand, to take one’s stand, to arise, to come on the scene”] and interposed, and so the plague was stayed. And it was reckoned to him for righteousness, to all generations forever.”
Phinehas “interposed” alright. He stuck a spear through two people among God’s people, which held back the plague from killing anymore Israelites, appeasing the anger of the Lord. In fact, his killing of these two wicked people was “reckoned to him for righteousness, to all generations forever.”
The Hebrew definition for “interposed” is “to intervene, to intercede, to mediate, to judge.” You hear people say that we shouldn’t judge which is right if you are talking about those outside the church. But we have been given a command by God in 1 Corinthians 5:9-13 to judge those within the church, per His order (see the Bible studies Church Discipline and Urim And Thummim), to keep our wandering hearts in check. Due to our lack of obedience in this area, the church has been leavened by all the unchecked wickedness that exists among us.
Regarding the wickedness among His people, the Lord declared to the prophet Jeremiah;
“For wicked men are found among My people, they watch like fowlers lying in wait; They set a trap, They catch men. Like a cage full of birds, so their houses are full of deceit; therefore they have become great and rich. They are fat [8080- see the definition above in Isaiah 6:10-13], they are sleek, they also excel [literally, “pass over,” or “overlook deeds”] in deeds of wickedness; they do not plead the cause, the cause of the orphan, that they may prosper; and they do not defend the rights of the poor. Shall I not punish these people?” declares the Lord, “On a nation such as this shall I not avenge Myself?”
(Jeremiah 5:26-29/NASU; also see Ezekiel 14:7-11)
Because of our disobedience in dealing with the wicked among God’s people through church discipline, justice in our midst, within our nation, has been neglected on a regular basis. The result is a sick body that has been easily overpowered by the devil and his demons. (For more on this, see the Bible study Perpetual Priesthood.) Purity in our midst and the presence of God are intertwined.
When Israel had turned away from the Lord to idolatry, and other blasphemies against Him, He said to the prophet Ezekiel;
“I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger, bringing down on their own heads all they have done, declares the Sovereign Lord.”
It is the clean one before the Lord who is able to “stand in the gap” in order to turn away God’s wrath from others.
The Appointed Place Of Meeting
It’s interesting that the definition of the Hebrew word we interpret as “appointed time,” a word used for the feasts of the Lord, is, “appointed place of meeting [the tent of meeting?], a sacred season, an appointed season.” (See 1 Samuel 9:24 in the Bible study Urim And Thummim.)
By definition, the “appointed time” has an “appointed place of meeting” that the Lord expects to find us at when He comes, per His instructions (the place of His choosing in Deut. 12:4-12), whether that be a physical or spiritual place. Jerusalem is where the Lord commanded His disciples to be for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, during the Feast of Pentecost. Those who obeyed and remained by faith in this “place of My choosing” received of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
My Own Possession
Exodus 19:1-6 – This passage describes the conditional promise of God given to Moses on Mount Sinai for the children of Israel. If they would obey Him and keep His covenant, then they would be His “own possession” (see Ephesians 1:13-14). Their obedience to the Lord would result in them being “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” unto the Lord (see Rev. 1:6, 5:9-10, 20:6). It would preserve them as His people, distinguishing them as those who were set apart from all other people groups. They would be defined as God’s “special/peculiar treasure.”
In the New Testament, Peter declared;
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
(1 Peter 2:9-10/NIV)
This word is for all who have turned to Christ in repentance. We, Jew and Gentile, have become the people of God who are called to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” before the Lord. The conditional promise from the Lord stands today; if we “will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine.”
1 In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.
2 When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain.
3 Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, "Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel:
4 'You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings, and brought you to Myself.
5 'Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession  among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;
6 and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."
OT:5459 cegullah (seg-ool-law')
(Strong’s exhaustive Concordance)
feminine passive participle of an unused root meaning to shut up; wealth (as closely shut up):
KJV - jewel, peculiar (treasure), proper good, special.
(Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew Lexicon)
a possession, property
a) valued property, peculiar treasure
b) a treasure
cegullah [OT:5459] – “possession”; Cognates of this word appear in late Aramaic and Akkadian. This word occurs only 8 times. Cegullah signifies “property” in the special sense of a private possession one personally acquired and carefully preserves. Six times this word is used of Israel as God's personally acquired (elected, delivered from Egyptian bondage, and formed into what He wanted them to be), carefully preserved, and privately possessed people: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure [NASB, “possession”] unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine.” (Exodus 19:5; first occurrence).
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright © 1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
Malachi 3:16-18 – In Deuteronomy 33:13-17 above we saw that it was the “distinguished” one, the Joseph company, that would receive the “choicest” blessing among his brothers.
16 Then those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord and who esteem His name.
17 "They will be Mine," says the Lord of hosts, "on the day that I prepare [6213- “to do, to fashion, to accomplish, to make, to prepare”] My own possession [5459- “a possession, property”], and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him."
18 So you will again distinguish [7200- “to see, observe, perceive, to discern”] between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him.