The Law of the First-Born--Part 4
Jan 07, 2009
The basic premise of all biblical law is found in Genesis 1:1. The God of the Bible is the Creator of the Universe and therefore OWNS all things. As owner, He has inherent rights to set rules that are to be obeyed. That is why God gave a law, and that is why the law will never be put away, though its form and application may change.
All law is based upon sovereignty--or authority that is established under that sovereignty. Law is the will of the sovereign. Sovereignty or authority are meaningless unless those under its jurisdiction are required to be obedient to the will of that sovereign. Those who say that the law has been put away simply do not understand the meaning, purpose, and function of law itself.
In the case of the law of the First-Born, God's will (law) demands that all the First-Born of man or beast are to be specially given BACK to Him in order to be consecrated for divine service (Kingdom government). Secondly, these First-Born may be redeemed with money. But if they are not redeemed, they are to be killed so that man does not benefit from his theft of the First-Born. These basic laws of the First-Born are found in Numbers 18:15-17, where God says to the Aaron:
" (15) Every first issue of the womb of all flesh, whether man or animal, which they offer to the Lord, shall be yours; nevertheless, the first-born of man you shall surely redeem, and the first-born of unclean animals you shall redeem. (16) And as to their redemption price, from a month old you shall redeem them, by your valuation, five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs. (17) But the first-born of an ox or the first-born of a sheep or the first-born of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar . . ."
Clean animals cannot be redeemed. The only clean animal, prophetically speaking, was Jesus Christ, who was perfectly clean from sin. He did not need redemption, but His blood was indeed sprinkled on the altar of God when He was crucified.
The rest of us are born in sin, because we all pay for the sin of Adam. That is, we are mortal, or death-ridden (Rom. 5:12), because death has passed into all mankind ON WHICH all sin. Hence, we are born "unclean" and in need of redemption. We are born spiritual donkeys, as we see in the example of Israel when God redeemed them from Egypt. They had to be redeemed by the Passover Lamb because they were spiritual Ishmaelites, having a heavenly Father and an Egyptian mother (like Ishmael, the "wild donkey man" in Gen. 16:12).
In Leviticus 27:27 we find that unclean animals are to be redeemed by calculating the going rate of a baby male donkey and adding an extra fifth (or 20%) to the redemption price. This concept of one-fifth is based upon the number 5 as well as 20. Twenty is the number of redemption, and five is the number of grace. Grace must be added to the redemption, because, as Paul tells us in Rom. 5:20, "where sin increased, grace abounded all the more."
In other words, grace outstrips the sin and mortal condition in which we find ourselves. Regardless of the value of the unclean animal (the "value" of sin), grace will always abound, because it is calculated according to whatever value of sin has been placed upon the unclean animal. The redemption price can never be less or even equal to the value of the unclean animal itself.
We find this same principle of one-fifth addition applicable to those who voluntarily confess a sin of theft. Normally, theft would be punishable by double restitution (Ex. 22:4), but if he got away with the crime and later repented, confessing his sin voluntarily, he would only have to pay an extra 20% in restitution (Num. 5:7). This is based upon the same principle of grace as in the case of the redemption of unclean animals.
In the case of Israel, the nation itself was God's First-Born son (Ex. 4:22), but they were unclean donkeys and were in need of redemption by a lamb in order to be transformed into the sheep of His pasture.
That was the application of law on a national level. On a personal level, each First-Born son of every family in Israel also had to be redeemed by the Levites (Num. 8:18) who were from 30-50 years of age (Num. 3:3). In this case, the mature Levites were the "lambs" redeeming the First-Born sons of the rest of the tribes. They were old enough to "perform the service" of the Tabernacle. The precise Hebrew terminology, as Bullinger points out, is "war the warfare." In other words, it requires some spiritual maturity to engage in the spiritual warfare necessary to "perform the service" of the Tabernacle of God. Though Jesus is the Lamb (Greek: Amnos), these who are called into Kingdom government are the little lambs (Greek: arnion).
When they were all numbered, they found that there were 22,000 Levites and 22,273 First-Born of the other tribes (Num. 3:39, 43). The number 22, as used in Scripture, means "Sons of Light." Because there are 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet, it also represents the Word of God. Hence, even as Jesus Christ is "The Word" (John 1:1), so also are we to be His Body--the Body of the Word. The Christian walk is about becoming the living Word as we move into Sonship. Likewise, His Word is a Light (Ps. 119:105).
The extra 273 First-Born Israelites were redeemed by five shekels of silver apiece (Num. 3:47). Silver is the metal of redemption. Also, we again see the number five, which is the number of Grace and carries the same meaning as the "one-fifth." Furthermore, a silver shekel was equal to twenty gerahs, suggesting once more the number of redemption. The number 273 is also an interesting prophetic number, which we may discuss at a more appropriate time.
This Levitical redemption of the First-Born meant that the tribe of Levi--that is, the mature ones suitable for Kingdom government--represented all the First-Born of Israel.
The New Covenant replaced the Levitical priesthood with that of Melchizedek. This means that the Order of Melchizedek is the priestly Order of the First-Born Sons of God. They are called to "reign with Christ" (Rev. 20:6). They are responsible for spiritual warfare in the defense of the nation. As intercessors, they represent God to the people, and represent the people to God. These are among the duties that one might expect to find the Sons of God doing throughout history.
At the same time, when we study the example of Eli, the high priest who failed in his duty, we have an example of how the law of the First-Born applied to him. He was, in effect, "unredeemed," and so his neck was broken according to the law (Ex. 13:13). Likewise, his corrupt sons died when the glory departed (1 Sam. 4:21).
The equivalent of an Eli priesthood exists even today. Even as a Levitical high priest, Eli, was called legitimately, but failed in his calling, so also today are there priests and ministers who are supposed to function as Melchizedek priests--but they have become like Eli. They believe that the legitimacy of their calling means that their calling cannot end, but that view comes from the deceitfulness of the heart.
Judaism also thought that its divine mandate would continue forever, based on its founding by Moses. They were wrong, for Levi was replaced by Melchizedek. The Roman Church thinks that its divine mandate will continue forever, based on its founding by Jesus (or Peter). The same is true with all denominations. They are wrong as well, for they have been replaced by the Overcomers, even as Saul was replaced by David.
Everyone is important, but no one is irreplaceable.
This is the fourth part of a series titled "The Law of the First-Born." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones