In today’s text, God is saying the tribe of Levites will be the firstborn instead of the physical firstborn of Israel. Let’s see how the Levites became the firstborn of God and what duties, privilege and blessings were given to them.
1. How the Levites became the firstborn (Exodus 32:26)
When Moses went up to Mount Sinai for the 6th time he received the 2 stone tablets of 10 Commandments, however, because he didn’t come down for 40 days the people thought he died on the mountain or ran away. So they asked Aaron to make a golden calf.
When Moses came down, he said whoever is for the Lord to come to him. The Levites gathered to Moses and God gave them a task to slaughter the people who sinned against God. It must be very painful because they had to kill their brothers and relatives. When they obeyed the Word of God and put great effort to remove the sins from the people, God recognized their obedience and regarded them as dedicated to God.
All the physical firstborns of Israel were disqualified because they disobeyed God and they also abandoned God’s covenant. Yet the sons of Levites turned around from sinning.
2. How did the Levites become priests? (Exodus 28:1)
God chose Moses and Aaron and entrusted them with the duties of the priest.
God has used the word “priest” in Exodus 19:24, in Hebrew, it is written as “cohen”. This was before the 6th ascent up Mount Sinai, yet God called the people “priests”. They were the people who were in charge of giving sacrifices. Although the system of priests was set up with the pattern of the tabernacle, the system to offer sacrifices to God was already given from a long time ago.
Genesis 4:1-5 talks about Cain and Abel giving their sacrifice offering to God. Genesis 8:20, Noah sacrificed the burnt offering. Genesis 20, God ordered Abraham to offer up Isaac as a burnt offering.
God allowed a certain group of people to come near to Him for a covenantal meal: Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the 70 elders of Israel. If we compare Exodus 19:24 vs Exodus 24:1, the priests refer to the 70 elders and the firstborn of Israel. So, if you are the firstborn of God today, we should know that the authority, privilege and duty of giving God sacrifice are ours.
3. What are the main duties of Priests?
We understand we are the firstborn and priests of God, so what are the main duties of priests?
(i) To teach God’s Word
In the History of Redemption Series Book 6, the priests have the authority to interpret the law, whereas Levites had the authority to teach the people with it.
Please do not think the duty of teaching the Word of God is only given to pastors or evangelists. As Jesus gave the great commission to all of His followers, we are to teach the Word of God, to the people in your family and the people around you.
(ii) Second duty is to give burnt offering to God
Sacrifices were offered to God to gain God’s forgiveness or sanctification.
(Numbers 18:1) Then the LORD said to Aaron: “You and your sons and your father’s house with you shall bear the iniquity related to the sanctuary, and you and your sons with you shall bear the iniquity associated with your priesthood.
This verse may be difficult to understand. However, Reverend Abraham Park in Book 6 explained the priests should offer sacrifice for the forgiveness of people’s sins. This means the priests were to pray and intercede for the forgiveness of the sins of the people.
We have to pray and intercede for our brothers and sisters, and for the whole world. We are not only to pray for the people we like, people who favour us, but even for the people who hate us, and for the people who cause us damage.
The first saying of Jesus on the cross was “Father forgive them.” For the people who mocked, whipped and pierced Jesus. If Jesus prayed for the forgiveness of those who persecuted Him, we too should follow in His footsteps and intercede for the whole world, and even the people hostile to us.
Conclusion: God’s firstborn cannot be made by blood or flesh
The total number of Levites is 22,300 but God only recognized 22,000, which is 300 people less. Why? In the History of Redemption Series Book 3, the 300 people missing were the physical firstborns of the Levites, so God took them away from the headcount because these 300 people also need to be redeemed. They had to be cleansed. This teaches us a great lesson that God’s firstborn cannot be made by blood or flesh. Remember how the tribe of Levites became the tribe of firstborns? When they obeyed the Word of God. When they had faith in the Word. That is the moment when God recognized the tribe of Levites as the firstborns.
Do not worry that you are not a son of a great or famous pastor or the daughter of a powerful or influential elder of the church. That natural relationship does not make you God’s firstborn. What makes you God’s firstborn? It is faith and obedience to the Word of God.
Let’s have faith in Jesus. Let’s have faith in our Father God. Do not lose it until the end, no matter what comes. Let’s keep the faith in God, and serve as God’s firstborn until the History of Redemption is completely fulfilled.