Read: Exodus 13:11-13
Sanctify unto me all the firstborn… both of man and of beast: it is mine (Exodus 13:2).
Recognizing God’s Priorities
Do the exhortations of our scripture for today seem like strange voices from a strange land? They were given first to men of another day and a different culture but they clothe universal truths. In them we find Old Testament foundations for New Testament holiness. Every man who is rightly related to God finds that his life is different because he has consecrated himself and his possessions to his Creator.
Why did God require the dedication of the first-born to himself? Perhaps because among the Israelites this first-born son was more highly honored than any other child — and God would have our best. The parents were not to look upon this child as their own until they had first given the five-shekel redemption offering and solemnly presented him to God. After thus recognizing the divine title to their child, they received him back again.
The firstborn of the animals represented the material possessions of a pastoral people. Thus was their wealth consecrated to the service of God. The calves, lambs, and kids were used for the sacrifices of the Tabernacle. Under these requirements God’s people gave of their wealth for their worship. They gave their best, and they gave as God had prospered them.
The colt of the ass was ceremonially unclean and thus not suitable for sacrifice. But the man who raised donkeys must also meet God’s priorities. The colt must be redeemed with a lamb suitable for sacrifice, or the colt must be destroyed. Does this seem unnecessarily strict? Perhaps so, but we never go wrong when we try to do God’s will in even the smallest detail. Holy living then and now bids us:
Give of your best to the Master; Give Him first place in your heart; Give Him first place in your service; Consecrate every part.
— H. B. G.