Consecration of the Firstborn - RR171V40

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Professor: Rushdoony, Dr. R. J.
Title: Consecration of the Firstborn
Course: Course - Exodus; Unity of Law and Grace
Subject: Subject:Pentateuch
Lesson#: 40
Length: 0:29:09
TapeCode: RR171V40
Audio: Chalcedon Archive
Transcript: .docx Format
Exodus Unity of Law and Grace.jpg

This transcript is unedited. It was:
Archived by the Mt. Olive Tape Library
Digitized, transcribed, and published by Christ Rules
Posted by with permission

Let us worship God. Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanah in the highest. Let us pray.

Almighty God, our heavenly Father, we thank thee that, by thy grace, the darkness of this world is being steadily destroyed by the light of Jesus Christ. We thank thee that all things shall be made new by thy grace and mercy, by thy wonder-working power. Make us therefore joyful in His coming, faithful in His service, and triumphant in His victory. Bless us now by thy word and by thy spirit. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Our scripture is Exodus 13:8-16. Our subject: The Consecration of the Firstborn to God. The Consecration of the Firstborn to God. Exodus 13:8-16. “And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD's law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year. And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, that thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD's. And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets before thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.” [00:03:44]

We have seen how important commemoration is in God

We have seen how important commemoration is in God’s eyes. Now we see a like emphasis on narration, on history. God requires us to commemorate, to remember His dealings with us. The religious events in our lives, but He also requires us to know the history of our lives in relationship to Him, the history of the world in relationship to Him, and in terms of His word. We are twice told, in this text alone that “thou shalt tell thy son,” all the children are to be taught. Because the firstborn represents all, this commandment is a requirement to pass onto our children the history of God’s workings in history. We are to tell them of His redemptive work and His providence. This is a law against rootlessness. We must know our past under God.

Modern man is existentialist in his mentality. He does not want to owe anything to the past or to the future, to live for the moment alone. That is, of course, the definition of existentialism, only it’s a mild one, because the dictionary of philosophy quoting from the existentialist says that existentialism is living without reference to the past or to any teachings or to anything other than one’s own biology. This narration of the past that God requires cannot be self-glorification. It is not an account of what our ancestors have done, but an account of what God has done that is required.

These verses have to do with the consecration of the firstborn. Basic to that, consecration is the narration, the stress on the meaning of the event. Also involved in the fact of commemoration was the fact of frontlets, or phylacteries which marked the dress of every Hebrew. It was a means of public confession, a witness to one’s faith, comparable to a lapel cross worn by Christians. The phylacteries were comparable to tattoo marks. Tattoo marks were religious and social in character. In India, they identify a man’s caste. In some African tribes, a man’s status as a warrior, and so on. The tattoo has normally been indelible. In Leviticus 19:28, all tattooing and like markings of the body are forbidden. It is God’s creation and we are to leave it as He made it. [00:07:30]

The kind of identification provided by tattooing is

The kind of identification provided by tattooing is indelible and normally, as I said, unchanging. Whereas, phylacteries, or lapel crosses could readily be discarded. So, the point is an obvious one. Whereas, a Hindu Brahman is always a Brahman and a member of the outcast class, or caste, is always an untouchable, the covenant believer has no like status. His is a profession of faith. He cannot identify himself permanently with the covenant if he betrays or abandons it. His status depends on an act of will, not the accident of birth. Even more, man’s status depends on God’s act of grace, not man’s inherited status. It is God who classifies us, not we ourselves. The tattoo is still a means of self-classification to many.

A fundamental premise of scripture is that the “earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and they that dwell therein.” Since the firstborn of man and beast represents all, the redemption of the firstborn means recognizing the ownership of God in all, as creator and redeemer. He owns all men, the earth, all things. Their redemption, redeeming the firstborn, means acknowledging that no less than Egypt, we all deserve God’s judgment on us as the firstborn, and we recognize that we are freed by His grace. As Carlin Dalich{?} observed, and I quote, “Inasmuch as the firstborn represented all the births, the whole nation was to consecrate itself to Jehovah, and present itself as a priestly nation in the consecration of the firstborn.”

The clean male firstborn animals were given to the priests, it was a part of their support. The unclean had to be redeemed at a price, and in verse 13, the ass is cited as an example of this. The firstfruits also included grains. Fairbairn wrote, and I quote, “The religious presentation of the first ripe grain of the season was like presenting the whole crop to God, acknowledging it to be His property and receiving it as under the signature of His hand. It thereby acquired a sacred character, for if the firstfruits be holy the lump is also holy. The service for respect to the consecration of the firstborn at the original institution of the Passover and was therefore most appropriately connected with this ordinance. Those firstborn represented the whole people of Israel, and in their personal deliverance and future consecration, all Israel were saved and sanctified to the Lord.” [00:11:32]

Thus, the redemption of the firstborn is to acknowledge

Thus, the redemption of the firstborn is to acknowledge God’s higher right of property in us and in our children. Circumcision and baptism witness also to the very same fact. In every non-biblical culture property rights over children, and therefore over all, are vested in the father or in the state. In Roman law as in Greek law, fathers in antiquity could decide whether or not the newly-born child should live or be exposed to die. In later years, the child could be sold into slavery. Where such rights existed, there were also statist rights over the life and death of all subjects. The consecration of the firstborn declared against all these parental and statist powers that all men are the property of God, because all are God’s possession. The education of all is God’s concern and is governed by His law, and some of the texts which indicate it are these: For example, in Deuteronomy 4:9-10, “Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons; specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.”

And then in Deuteronomy 6:6-7 and 20-25, “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” “And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you? Then thou shalt say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh's bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: and the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes: and he brought us out from thence, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he sware unto our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as he hath commanded us.” [00:15:17]

And then two further verses, Deuteronomy ...

And then two further verses, Deuteronomy 11:19, “And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” And finally, in Deuteronomy 32:46, “And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.”

Now these are simply the key verses on the subject in Deuteronomy alone. The whole of the Bible shows this emphasis. As Ailer{?} summarized it, “The rights of parents over their children is limited. A remarkable difference from the law of other nations of antiquity.” This is a critical point in scripture. This tells you also how great the apostasy of Israel was when they said they wanted a king, they wanted to be like other nations. They wanted ultimately a human power over their lives, because then you were saying, “Whereas the king might be tyrant over me, I too can seize power. I can exert it. But who can take power away from God?” And so it was always a great temptation to forget God, to refuse to acknowledge His power, but this is the whole point of the consecration of the firstborn, or circumcision, of baptism. It is an acknowledgment of God’s property right in us and in all our children, and in all our possession.

But given this fact, that this property right had to be acknowledged, and it meant knowing as all these verses said, all that God declares, it should not surprise us that with all their apostasies, the Hebrews became the first literate people of history centuries before others, a necessity of knowing God’s law led to this, and it is significant that in a Christian era, it has been the Christian nations that have become literate, and have spread literacy to all nations because of the emphasis on the word of God. And as that emphasis wanes, so too does literacy, because if man lives unto himself, he does not need to conform himself to something from God, something outside of himself, and from “Thy will be done,” men proceed to “my will be done,” which ultimately denies the relevancy of anything outside of man. [00:18:50]

Thus, in the Christian era, we have a like witness

Thus, in the Christian era, we have a like witness to God’s property rights over our children. The child is presented to God, with a promise to rear the child as God’s possession by His nurture and admonition. The part of the child in the passover service and then in communion in the early Christian era, was to witness to God’s claim upon our children. The dedication of the firstborn and in them, of all to the Lord meant and means that they are God’s property and not the state’s property. For this reason, Moloch worship which required the dedication and sometimes the sacrifice of the firstborn to the state, is regarded by God with such detestation because it means that the state claims to be God. The claim of the modern state over the child in the family is an evidence of the modern Moloch worship. Failure of Christians to see the consecration of the firstborn as anything more than a relic, an outmoded ritual, has been deadly. The baptism service continues the same right for all, children and adults. Churches perform the service, too often blindly, even as do orthodox Jews, oblivious to the meaning of circumcision and the baptism. We have, in the consecration of the firstborn to God a powerful requirement of anti-statism. It declares that we are God’s possession. We cannot give ourselves to man or the state, nor have they any legitimate claim over us. God makes this issue very clear. No man nor institution, neither church nor state, nor anything else, including our families, can claim powers over us contrary or prior to God’s claim. He alone is our Lord. Let us pray. [00:21:55]

Oh Lord, our God, we are thine and thou hast separated

Oh Lord, our God, we are thine and thou hast separated us unto thyself for thy purposes. Enable us, oh Lord, by thy grace, mercy, and strength to challenge the claims of ungodly men and nations to a false sovereignty over man, to lordship over this earth, to any claim over our children. We thank thee that it is thy will that shall be done on earth as it is in heaven, and thy kingdom which shall prevail. Great and marvelous art thou, oh Lord, and we praise thee. In Christ’s name, amen.

Are there any questions about our lesson? Yes?

[Audience] {?} the reason that the orthodox don’t have to serve military service in Israel, and perhaps part of the objection to forced military service by the Puritans.

[Rushdoony] Yes. In Israel, the reason is that the state is secular, and therefore it doesn’t make any difference whether it is Jewish or not Jewish. That is the stand of the extreme orthodox. They simply feel that, while it may claim to be a Jewish state, it is not truly so since it is secular, and the Puritans were, of course, very willing to fight for godly reasons but they were not in favor of enforced service. There’s a long history of this, and no one has ever called attention to the fundamentally religious issues in it. Yes?

[Audience] In the consecration of the firstborn create exclusive privilege in the firstborn, or is that a representative aspect of the… [00:24:32]

[Rushdoony] Representative aspect

[Rushdoony] Representative aspect. Yes. The firstborn represented the all, the firstborn males, because if they were faithful, and godly, and responsible, they assumed headship in the family, but they could be set aside even if they were believers, if they lacked maturity and wisdom. Any other questions or comments? You see, we have never paid much attention to this subject because, if you go through a concordance, it’s surprising how often “firstborn” is a term used, and with this implication, and it has far reaching connotations. It used to be, in rural areas, draft boards would take a younger son rather than the firstborn, if he were a responsible older son, because he would have the care of the old folks. I can recall when this was still true, that the firstborn were passed over by draft boards, even in World War 2. I know of a number of cases where this was done. Yes?

[Audience] It would have had to have been in a rural area.

[Rushdoony] Yes, it was, in farm areas. Farm areas where everyone was still very much Christian and biblically-oriented. I know several such who were passed over and their younger brother taken. In one instance where an elder son wanted to volunteer and they told him, “No.” They would not allow them to. Yes?

[Audience] What if the firstborn was a daughter?

[Rushdoony] The firstborn male is the term in scripture, although it’s understood rather than spelled out. Any other questions or comments? Well, if not…yes?

[Audience] What was the specific reason for skipping over the firstborn by the draft board? [00:27:12]

[Rushdoony] Well, the firstborn being older was already

[Rushdoony] Well, the firstborn being older was already trained to take care of the farm of the ranch, and the parents, and it was simply regarded as his duty to do so, and he was already trained in that responsibility so why take, let us say, an eighteen year old boy and leave him in charge? Someone had to continue the work. During the war, the production of food and of meat was very important, and the local draft boards were fully aware of this. Well, let us bow our heads now in prayer.

Our Father, we thank thee that thy word makes clear the way wherein we should walk. That thy word sets forth the priorities of our lives. Make us joyful in thy government, and confident in thy victory. And now go in peace. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost bless you and keep you, guide and protect you this day and always. Amen. [00:28:47]

End of tape.

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