The following is an email question I received from someone who was watching Pastor Robert Morris’ Blessed Life teaching.
I’ve been watching the video series, “The Blessed Life” with my family, and I have a question. Pastor Morris raised the issue of sacrifice and redemption of the firstborn as he taught the principle of giving our firstfruits to God. So, since there is no temple for the firstborn to serve in, and there are presently no priests to serve under nor to receive the redemption price, in what manner can we obey this command. Our desire is to be obedient in this regard, but we don’t know how. Also, how may it be possible yet to redeem an adult firstborn if he/she was not redeemed as a child?
Thank you for any light you may shed on this
Here is my response to the question:
Pastor Robert teaches about the principle of the firstfruit in the Blessed Life series. The application is that by giving the first of your increase, the rest is redeemed and blessed by God. Your natural question is “If the principle of firstfruits is still active, why shouldn’t the command about the firstborn still be applicable?” In specific, I believe your question revolves around the command in Numbers 18:14-16.
First, let me say that all of the Old Testament commands are fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus says in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Since Jesus is the fulfillment of the Law, we can expect to find the answer to our question in Him.
The Bible tells us that Jesus was born of a virgin. Therefore, He is the firstborn of Mary. Interestingly enough, the Bible doesn’t paint a picture of Joseph and Mary trying to redeem Jesus; because how can the Redeemer, Himself, be redeemed? In fact, Jesus is the firstborn over all creation! (Colossians 1:15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation”). He is the firstfruit that is given to redeem the rest—you, me, my children and yours! (1 Corinthians 15:20 “But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”)
The redemption spoken about in the Old Testament represents liberation from slavery. The dedication of the Israelite firstborn was a constant reminder to every family that they live in freedom, not due to their own strength and might, but through the redemptive work of God in delivering them out of Egypt. The New Testament, too, paints a picture of slavery and bondage. But the master described in Romans is sin rather than a society and the price of redemption is not silver coins but a Saving Christ. (Romans 3:9 “What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin;” Romans 4:25 “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.”)
The principle of the firstfruits will always be active; but redemption of the soul is meted out through the death and resurrection of Jesus, rather than the commitment of a child to service in a church, or purchasing his freedom with a pen stroke in a checkbook. Obedience in the 21st Century to the Old Testament command in Numbers is by accepting Jesus redemptive work on the cross. Your adult children are also redeemed if they have accepted and believe in the redemptive work of Jesus.
I hope my response has helped you to understand that while the principle of firstfruits is still applicable, Jesus alone fulfills the commands in the Old Testament and we no longer have need to redeem our children according to Law, but instead rest upon Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross.