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In Exodus 13:2, God told Israel to "consecrate to me all the firstborn." That means, anything born first belonged to God, even moreso than the fact that EVERYTHING belongs to God. To "consecrate" means to set aside as special. God goes on to explain this in verses 11-16--that this was a remembrance of Israel's delivery from Pharaoh. Some suggest that this is why Abraham did not protest when God told him to sacrifice Isaac, his firstborn son by Sarah via the promise from God that he would have a son. Abraham knew that the firstborn son belonged specially to God and God was calling for him. It's also why Jesus is called the "firstborn" of Mary in Luke 2:7--He was set aside for God. All Jews knew that God could call in His demand for their firstborn son at any time because they belonged to Him first and foremost.
The Bible says that we should love God with all of our might, strength etc. The best of our Spiritual energies....this is our firstborn
It must be remembered at all times that all of these laws are in some way types/shadows of some greater spiritual truth applying to Jesus, his ministry (including now) or his body (the church) -- John 5:45-47, Col 2:16, 17, Heb 8:5, Heb 10:1. It is also to be remembered that God requires multiple witnesses to establish anything (too many references to list but see Gen41:25, 32 (prophetic application) and Deut 19:15 (criminal court application)) so there will multiple laws to help define something this important. The law you reference appears several times. The first instance does not specify sons, but instead says, "Consecrate to me every firstborn; whatever opens the womb among the Israelites, whether of human being or beast, belongs to me." Ex 13:2. Many translations add son or male to this due to various doctrinal biases and later biblical statements, but it is a sin to change the word of God in this way (Deut 4:2, Rev 22:18, 19). The law goes on to say that every firstborn of mankind is to be redeemed by a lamb. But there is a further type that shows what this lamb is to be when we come to a deeper understanding of the things of God, and this is Numbers 3 where God claimed the Levites as his personal inheritance among Israel. For this you must study the entire chapter but we can only touch on important points here. Numbers 3 says, "12 “I have taken the Levites from among the Israelites in place of the first male offspring of every Israelite woman. The Levites are mine, 13 for all the firstborn are mine." We have now defined the meaning and purpose of both the first born and the lamb that redeems them. The Levites were taken by God to service the temple. The sons of Aaron were the priests and the rest of the Levites were lesser functionaries. It is necessary also to remember that the temple was not simply a place to worship. It was the governmental center of the nation. There was no separation of church and state. God was the king; Moses was his primary representative and Aaron was his high priest and supreme judge (except we find that Moses outranked even Aaron and served in God's direct presence at anytime and Aaron was limited to entering God's presence only on the Day of Atonement.) Thus the Levites were judges, teachers and other functionaries in government and the church. It becomes necessary to study Exodus 18 where the judges were commissioned to understand the place they were supposed to hold in Israelite society. In actual practice we find that Israel did not follow these laws, and that as a result of the corruption of the priesthood and by extension the rest of the Levites, God took many of their functions and duties from them and gave them to others. The office of the prophet (the arm or strength of the priesthood) was removed in Eli's day, placing those with this gift under God's direct cover and bypassing the priesthood completely (1 Sam 2:31). Since that time prophets and priest do not get along unless the priesthood succeeds in convincing the prophet to submit to them instead of God. This does frequently happen and the prophet is now a church (or denominational) prophet and not a prophet of God. Another major type for who/what the firstborn are is the 144,000 of Revelation. In Rev 20 we are told of these that they are those raised in the first resurrection and that the second death holds no power over them. We are also told that they will rule and reign with Christ for the 1000 years (Rev 20:4-6). These are also the firstborn of those who sleep referenced in 1 Cor 15:23, 24. Most argue that this firstborn is Jesus himself, but the word used here is tagma, which means military squadron. It is a group, not an individual and refers to those who are the body of Jesus, the overcomers who will rule and reign on the thrones with Jesus for the 1000 years. The elect is another term used for this group. To fully understand the firstborn you must study all these types and shadows.
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