Dear church,

Our car was getting a little work done to it, and I was sitting in the mechanic’s lobby. I wasn’t alone. Several of us were loitering there, waiting longer than any of us thought we’d wait.

So often this happens. We think we will just be in and out. But then we’re not. We’re stuck waiting. 

One man in particular seemed to struggle with this. He would sit for a little while, and then he would get up and pace the room. Then he would go to the bathroom. Then he would disappear down the hallway. When he came back, someone else had taken his seat. He lost his seat, I would say, about three times during his long wait. It didn’t seem to bother him. He would just pace some more. He had a restless energy to him.

I tell you this because sometimes we can be restless spiritually. There can be times in our lives where we simply cannot sit still. We roam about looking for things that can spark our interest spiritually – different types of music or prayers or churches or preachers or spiritual disciplines.

None of this is wrong. Variety can help spice things up. But there are times we might wonder whether our spiritual life is vibrant enough. And we keep trying new things. We pace the room.

But the biblical picture of God’s people is that of the firstborn. The firstborn of Israel were to be consecrated to God. They were to be given over to him. “Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel … is mine.”

Israel came to see itself as the firstborn (Isaiah 44:2; Jeremiah 31:9). Read Isaiah 43 when you have time. The firstborn is redeemed and ransomed by God – protected through difficulty and precious in God’s eyes. 

The act of consecrating their firstborn was intended to be a constant reminder to Israel that they had been consecrated by God as his firstborn.

Of course, all of this is founded upon Christ – the actual “firstborn” of God (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15, 18; Hebrews 1:6). The sacredness of Israel and the church is built upon the sacredness of Christ. 

He was the firstborn of all creation before Israel or the church came to be. We are brought into the family through faith in the true firstborn Son.

In watching that restless guy in the mechanic’s shop, I was reminded of our need to rest in our identity as God’s children. After we put our faith in Christ, we may rest in Him. 

Spiritually speaking, we can grow restless, and we might wonder whether we are being faithful enough or morally upright enough – whether we are doing our Christianity well enough.

In those moments, we ought to rest in the eternal nature of Christ, which we are brought into when we put our faith in Him.

Chris

2 thoughts on “Exodus 13: Firstborn

  1. What happened if the firstborn was female? Or if the first male in the family wasn’t born until the third or fourth child?

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    1. Oh, that’s a great question, Joyce. This would be firstborn males and only those males who were born first of all the children – those who “first open the womb” (Exodus 13:15). So if a daughter was born first and then a son was born, no redemption was necessary. Orthodox Jews still practice this. The ceremony is called Pidyon Haben.

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