All the firstling males that come of your herd and of your flock you shall sanctify to the LORD your God…
The firstlings which were males were not to be reared for work, but kept for communion. They were to constitute, if perfect, a peace offering before God; if imperfect, they were to be eaten at home, imperfect fellowship between imperfect persons. Just as in the firstfruits God claimed the first share; so in the case of the firstlings of the herd or flock, and the firstborn among men.
I. THE BEGINNINGS OF LIFE SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED AS GIFTS OF GOD, AND DEDICATED GRATEFULLY TO HIM. He is the Source of life; hence the firstlings should be the cause of quiet meditation and acknowledgment. Such increase should be the occasion of special fellowship with God, enlarging gratitude and dictating devotion.
II. IMFERFECTIONS IN GOD'S GIFTS SHOULD BE ACCEPTED BY MEN AS MORE THAN THEY DESERVE. The imperfect firstling, in being made a feast for men only, and not a sacrifice for God as well, seemed to say that, however imperfect God's gift may be sometimes, it should be gratefully accepted as beyond our desert. The blemished, the lame, the blind, when God sends them in his providence, we should not despise, but rather hail them as beyond our desert. And if this was to be the case in the use of beasts, does it not throw clear light upon our conduct in the case of imperfect men? When children come into this world with any defect, let us not rebel against his will, but cherish the defective gift as reminding us how little we deserve, and by our love give such children compensation.
III. THE DEDICATION OF THE PERFECT FIRSTLING POINTED TO THE CONSECRATED FIRSTBORN, JESUS CHRIST. He is indeed the Firstborn of every creature. To him the firstlings and firstborn pointed. He was dedicated in life and death to the Father. He became the great Peace Offering which makes God and man one. And this suggests -
1. The Father's delight in Jesus. How it burst forth from time to time in "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased"! What delight in our Lord's life! what satisfaction in his obedience unto death! God well pleased!
2. Our delight in Jesus. Jesus becomes the medium of communion. We have him in common with God. "Our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ" (1 John 1:3). The more we meditate upon him, the deeper must be our delight. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: All the firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep.
WEB: All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and of your flock you shall sanctify to Yahweh your God: you shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock.