‘re-think’ No. 14
You probably have been taught that Jesus Christ is the first-born and the teaching stops there! That is not wrong but there is more that follows. Jesus Christ being ‘the Pattern-Son’ or ‘the Pattern First-born’, there is a further understanding that we need to grasp and in so doing, it will be an encouragement for us to press in to be a part of the fulfillment of the pattern — the many-membered first-born son. Having a title of ‘first-born’ suggests strongly that there are others to follow.
ISRAEL — GOD’s CORPORATE SON
Israel was made up of countless thousands of people and yet God refers to them as ‘HIS SON’. God not only used that title but He also referred to them as ‘HIS First-born’. Now add to these titles that fact that God also called them, ‘A KINGDOM OF PRIESTS’ who were thus His first-born son. Exodus 4:22 And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my First-born: (23) And I say unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me: and if thou refuse to let him go, behold, I will slay thy son, even thy first-born. Exodus 19:6 And ye (Israel) shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel. First-born in the Hebrew = first-born or chief. . . Rt. word = to burst the womb. i.e. those that come forth first (refer to ‘re-think’ No.4). ‘First-born’ in the Greek PROTOTOKOS = to produce (one) foremost in order (implying that there are more to come!).
This announcement from God took place right after they left Egypt . . . which for us equates with ‘being saved’ and leaving the world’s dominion. These promises are to God’s people for He had a plan that Israel would be the ‘Priesthood’ to the rest of mankind. He did not intend for them to just minister to themselves and within themselves!
A TRIBE REPLACES A NATION
Due to the failure in the garden of Eden, sin had permeated Israel until they were getting further and further away from being God’s HOLY NATION. Let us observe what happened. While Moses was up Mount Sinai communing with the Lord and receiving the Word from God (the ten commandments), the people degenerated into a democracy (with a ‘Church-Meeting’ and ‘elections’!) and took their worship matters into their own hands. Many were naked (showing nothing but ‘flesh’) and they ‘rose up to play’ church (Exodus 32:6). Moses returns and is disgusted with what he sees. God instructed Moses what to do. Exodus 32:26 Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD'S side? Let him come unto me. And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together unto him. Israel was given an opportunity to repent but they all refused to do so except ALL the sons of Levi were the only ones to declare that they were really and truly on the Lord’s side.
The NATION was replaced by a TRIBE
God’s plan was for the nation of Israel to be the first-born son and act as
priests and also move with kingly authority. The next step is revealed in
Numbers 8 where God is speaking . . .
(14) Thus shalt thou separate the Levites from among the children of Israel: and the Levites shall be mine. (16) For they are wholly given unto me from among the children of Israel; instead of such as open every womb, even instead of the first-born of all the children of Israel, have I taken them unto me.
again here the ‘people within a people’ (re-think No. 21) principle being
adopted. The Levites were within Israel. The whole nation were originally to
be priests; due to sin and no repentance, the Levites ended up being CHOSEN as
(17) For all the first-born of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every first-born in the land of Egypt I sanctified (= to set apart fully for God’s use) them for myself. There was a ‘first-born’ company of priests in God’s plan even before Israel failed. (18) And I have taken the Levites for all the first-born of the children of Israel.
The Levites were the First-born and Priests in place of Israel as a whole. As their history progressed, even the Levites failed. There were few bright spots especially in Ezekiel 44 where God still had some Levites that ‘served the house’. However, there were a few priests, the sons of Zadok that, by contrast, who ministered unto the Lord God. God was not put out at all with these manifestations of failure and He, being God, knew all things before time began and allowed things to coast along until it was time for the Messiah to come
THE PATTERN FURTHER UNVEILED
David - a man after God’s own heart - was chosen to be a pattern of a SINGLE PERSON redeeming the situation which Jesus later fulfilled with a mighty release of power to achieve the original purpose of God. Remember that a ‘pattern’ is a principle that others are able to follow and be involved with. Psalm 89:19 Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people. (20) I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him: (27) Also I will make him my first-born (from ‘servant’ to ‘son’) higher than the kings of the earth. The first-born son was associated, as we have seen, with being a priest. Now God emphasizes His first-born son as a king with responsibility. David had a special relationship with the Most High God (EL ELYON ) . . . a progressive step for the Levitical Priesthood related to Jehovah (JAHWEH. . .LORD). Remember that El Elyon’s Priesthood is after a different Order, that of Melchisedec (see re-think No.27). David was CHOSEN, anointed and declared to be the First-born. All this carries an authority that is higher than anything that stems from the earth. The same calling and choosing today is carried out by the Lord for He will have a vessel that will bring order and restoration to the whole of fallen creation.
JESUS REPLACES THE FAILED PRIESTHOOD
Jesus came into this world and was groomed by his Father for the calling that was His. His calling included redeeming the whole situation which included HOW God would work. God does not change but the way in which He accomplishes the end result, many times changes. Jesus is now 30 years of age. Referring back to the Tabernacle Ministry, God chose from the Levite families of Kohath, Gershon and Merari those that were 30 years of age to perform the special duties in the Tabernacle. Jesus who was not of the tribe of Levi and thus could not be by birth a priest. He was of the tribe of Judah and God was about to bring in a new order . . . it was the first step to bringing in the New Covenant and the restoration of all things. Jesus had to be made a Priest (just like it is recorded in the book of Hebrews, chapter 7) so that ceremony had to be carried out by a priest who was still functioning under the Old Covenant. John the Baptist was such a Priest. So Jesus comes to him in the river Jordan and gets baptized . . . ‘to fulfil all righteousness’. Right there, at the beginning of His ministry, He was MADE a Priest (Hebrews says ‘after the order of Melchisedec’). He was the prototype of the new Kingdom of Priests and the beginning of the Holy Nation that God had in His plan. Jesus single-handedly was the provision for others to be enabled to fit the pattern.
JESUS — First-born AMONG MANY BRETHREN
The Voice of His Father from heaven declared that He was His Son . . . Romans 8:29 For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren. Jesus was the First-born SON among MANY brethren. Always remember that ‘MANY’ is not ‘ALL’. So we see the step that God has in mind that of a people within a people . . . a priesthood to minister to the rest of the nation. . . this time spiritual Israel, the Church. 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: This is quoted from Exodus 19:5-6. Having now introduced to mankind the new king-priesthood after the order of Melchisedec by becoming its High Priest, we are to learn what it means to become or rather BE MADE a Priest also. If Jesus had to made a Priest, then it is the same way for us. 1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people (peculiar in the Greek means beyond being normal). . . for a purpose.
Notice the ‘stepping stones’ that went downhill are reversed through Christ. God’s First-born Son was a NATION (a kingdom of Priests) called Israel. Then they were replaced by the TRIBE of Levi as the First-born (many-membered son). They were eventually replaced by JESUS, Priest of a new order called the ORDER OF MELCHISEDEC. After His resurrection , Jesus was referred to as our HIGH PRIEST. We are encouraged to move by faith into being a part of this priesthood that flows under the direct control of our High Priest. What God required of the natural Levitical Priests, He still requires the same standard of surrender from us . . . ‘They are wholly Mine’. This priesthood will minister in the ‘Tabernacle made without hands’ to bring forth A HOLY NATION who will be the Priesthood to the rest of mankind to see every man come into a relationship with God. There is a challenge before us of walking in holiness that we might be counted for the FIRST-BORN PRIESTS . . . the FIRSTFRUITS of the Seed, Jesus Christ that was sown in our earth when we were conceived/born from above by His grace etc. He is the first-born among many brethren. Each is to come into His image of the fullness of Christ. Jesus Christ set the standard of expectation and He within us (His Spirit) is well able to bring us to that place in Him. Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the first-born among many brethren.
PREDESTINATION & FOREKNOWLEDGE . . . Refer to re-think No.29 for input on these two important items. God’s foreknowledge allows Him to predestinate those He has chosen to come forth as His Firstfruits or His First-born Corporate Son . . . these who will be ‘adopted’ and be thus fully equipped to be what He wants them to be. This links up with the fulfillment of the Wave Offering of the Sheaf of Firstfruits of the Passover Feast which Jesus fulfilled as our prototype.
Jesus the Pattern First-born Son
John 14:12. Jesus the Seed cannot help but bring forth the Harvest of Himself in our earth (John 12:24). Reuben, Jacob’s first-born son, lost the privilege of his position because he sinned against his father. The position was later given to Ephraim the younger son of Joseph. When Joseph brought his two sons to Jacob for him to bless, Joseph had Ephraim in his right hand and Mannasseh in his left hand. This was so that Jacob, with his failing sight, could simply stretch out his hands and lay them on the heads of his grandsons with his right hand upon the elder, Mannasseh and the left hand on the younger, Ephraim. The right hand blessing of power and authority would go to the first-born son. However, the Spirit of God caused Jacob to cross his hands over so that the first-born blessing and responsibility went to the younger son. God knew all about such a move . . . Ephraim’s name means DOUBLE FRUIT. We are the younger ‘brother’ to Christ Jesus . . . and our Elder Brother told us that the things He did, we should do also and greater . . .
THE CHURCH OF THE FIRST-BORN
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto Mount Sion and unto the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels (23) to the general assembly and church of the first-born which are written in heaven . . . The context tells of what would happen when old Israel approached Mount Sinai . . . and sadly many of God’s people today are and have approached that lawgiving high place and are thus affected . . . but we have been drawn to the mountain of grace .. . Mount Sion which depicts that place of ruling. Remember Sion is in Jerusalem but Jerusalem is not in Sion. Again the people within a people principle is seen here. When there is an assembly of first-born sons . . . who know they are free from any bondage of law put upon them by men in places of authority (including ‘Statements of faith or belief’), the flow and the ‘word’ shared will be mature to build up these chosen ones preparing them for the work ahead. Their attitude should be one of privilege and humility whereby they will accept each one whatever their calling or place in the Body of Christ. All have come forth from the same Father but the growth of each varies considerably.§