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Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
I should not think it necessary to detain the reader with any thing by way of explanation to these terms, being in themselves sufficiently obvious, but only when applied to the person of Christ, considered with an eye to him, they merit attention.
We are told by the apostle to the Colossians, (Colossians 1:18) that he who is the Head of his body the church, and who is the beginning, was also the first-born from the dead, that "in all things he might have the pre-eminence." It is astonishing to what minute circumstances every thing in the church of the Old Testament had a reference, by way of typifying the Lord Jesus Christ in this pre-eminency of character, as the first, and first-born, and first-fruits, and the firstlings of the flock, and of the herd. As if (and which in reality is the case), JEHOVAH would have every thing shadow forth and bring forward somewhat either by allusion, or by direct type, concerning him who is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, and sum and substance of all things, in the ordinance of God for salvation. We find this beginning even in the patriarchal age. So that Jacob, when a-dying, though he set aside Reuben from the right of primogeniture, for his particular offence against his father, yet still speaks of the dignity of it."Reuben (saith he) thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength; the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power."Then follows the sentence of degradation,"Thou shalt not excel;" that is, thou shalt not retain the right of heirship. (Genesis 49:4) And at the formation of the church, at the Exodus by Moses, while the first-born of the Egyptians, both of man and beast, were all killed, the Lord declared, that all the first-born of Israel, both of man and beast, should be consecrated to him. (Exodus 12:29; Exo 13:2)
I do not presume to speak with any confidence upon the subject; but I would very humbly ask, Is there not somewhat wonderfully striking in this appointment of the Lord? The Passover that was then observed, we have authority to say, was altogether typical of Christ; for God the Holy Ghost declared by Paul the apostle, that Christ, "our passover, was sacrificed for us." (1 Corinthians 5:7) And as this Passover, in the sprinkling of the blood of the lamb of the first year, without blemish, and without spot, on the houses of the Israelites, become the only cause of safety, to make all the difference between the first-born of Israel and the first-born of Egypt; are we not taught herefrom, that the year of Christ's redeemed is no less the day of Christ's vengance? (Isaiah 63:4) God will have a sacrifice of judgment in the firstlings of his enemies, as well as of mercy in the firstlings of his people. So much will JEHOVAH in all things honour his dear Son, as the first, and first-born, and only begotten of his Father, that at the forming of the church there shall be a destruction in the first-born of those that hate him. I do not presume to speak decidedly on this point; but I cannot but conceive, that there is somewhat very striking on this ground is the difference here shewn between Israel and Egypt. (Exodus 11:7)
And if the reader will pursue the subject through the Bible, in the several types by which Christ the first-born is set forth, he will, I am persuaded, be wonderfully struck, as he passeth through the sacred volume, with the vast attention manifested on the occasion.
The first-born among the children of Israel had a precedency and birthright, which certainly pointed to Jesus. The right of priesthood was with the elder son, and a double portion among his brethren. (Genesis 49:8) And if a man had many wives, still the first-born of every one of them was to be consecrated to the Lord.
And under this view I must not forget to observe, that the offering appointed for every male that opened the womb, (see Exodus 13:2 with Exodus 34:19-20; Leviticus 12:6; Luke 2:21-24) had a direct reference to Christ. Yea, some have thought (and it is a point worthy the most serious consideration,) whether this direction concerning the opening of the womb had respect to any other. For strictly and properly speaking, none but the Lord Jesus ever did open the womb. By the miraculous impregnation of the Virgin, from the overshadowing power of the Holy Ghost, the opening of womb was specially and peculiarly only effected at the birth of Christ; whereas, in every other instance, from the creation of the world, as anatomists well know, it is accomplished at the time of conception. And if this be the case in the instance of Christ, and this appointment of dedication to the Lord of the first-born, that openeth the womb had respect only to Christ; what an eye to this one birth, all along through the whole Levitical dispensation, was manifested by this right of the Lord, both in the first-born of men and of beast, to typify Christ!
I beg the reader on this occasion, as in many others, to observe, that I presume not to speak with any positiveness upon the subject; I only state it. Certain it is, that in all things, and by every way, it was and is JEHOVAH'S will, Jesus should have the pre-eminency. It is blessed, therefore, upon all occasions to discover it.
The redemption of the first-born among the children of Israel, was usually observed with great ceremony. The parents brought their son to the priest, together with the appointed offering for redemption, (See Numbers 18:15-16) and the priest received the child from his mother's hands, with the solemn assurance, that it was her firstborn. The priest then claiming the child in right of the Lord, accepts at the parents' hands the appointed offering, and return the infant; and the day concludes in holy rejoicing.
It forms an additional testimony, that all this was with an eye to Christ, in that among the first-born of the Levites, the redemption of the first-born was not appointed. (Numbers 1:47; Num 3:12-13) And, wherefore, among the Levites this exemption, for it is evident our Lord sprang out of Judah? The whole of Israel is said to be unto JEHOVAH "a kingdom of priests." (Exodus 19:6) And therefore, in every thing, and by every way, both in a single tribe and in the whole people, as the Lord's chosen, as shall be typical of the Lord Jesus Christ. In a word, JEHOVAH'S great design all along, and from one eternity to another, is to glorify his dear Son. In all things and by all things, he shall have the pre-eminence. "Every knee shall bow before him, and every tongue confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Amen,
I will detain the reader no longer than just to remark, that the offering of the first fruits had an eye to the Lord Jesus, similar to what hath been shewn respecting the first-born. For the waving the first fruits towards heaven, and the lamb that was to be offered with it for a burnt offering, very plainly testified, that this also was typical. (See in confirmation Leviticus 23:10-14.)
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Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Firstborn'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/pmd/f/firstborn.html. London. 1828.