Saturday, February 28, 2015

Giving God Our First-Borns -- Exodus 22:29-31:

--> “You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The first-born of your sons you shall give to Me. You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep.  It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me. And you shall be holy men to Me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh torn to pieces in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.”

Interestingly, these three verses follow the one about how we are not to curse God or our rulers (see comments on vs. 28). So it appears not only are we not to curse our leaders (both God and those who rule our people), but also we are to give them what they require from us in a timely fashion.
For the Israelites that meant two things: They needed to present to the priests the first gatherings from their harvests and these were dedicated to God. Secondly, they needed to dedicate their first-born sons to God and His service. The statement is very direct – “The first-born of your sons you shall give to Me.” If you are a parent of a son in particular, have you thought about that instruction of God’s? It reminds me of hearing one parent of our grandchildren saying to them, in a strong tone, Give me that right now!  Well, if we know what is good for us (as my grandchildren do when they hear their mom or dad say that), then we need to hear it just like that from God while recognizing we have a choice not to obey.  So I ask, have you in your heart and mind settled once and for all that your son has been given to God for Him to keep and to use as His very own no matter what that means for you? That is the requirement. We either fulfill it or we do not.
And after we get that hard thing settled, then God says you are to do likewise with your possessions (the first-born of one’s oxen and sheep in the days of the Israelites).  Wait, maybe that is harder than giving our first-born son to God. I mean we are talking about real things here – things I have worked hard to attain. And many will feel exactly that. But God says, “I want your first-born son, and the best of all your possessions. I want you to know they are mine because you have given them to Me and that I am free to use them as I see fit – no ifs, buts, or whys.” In fact, it appears that God is saying, “Go ahead, enjoy them for a few days when you first get them – take that yacht down to the Caribbean, have a party at your cottage, invite friends to your box at the arena, do not let anyone drive that brand new car for a few days, but ultimately, figure out a way to use all of these things for Me and for the Kingdom.”
Then God makes another one of His logical connections: Do not curse God or rulers; give both God and rulers what they require in a timely fashion; and that will go a long way to make you “holy men to God”.  So far so good, I follow the argument.
But then God says “because you will be holy men, do not eat any flesh torn to pieces; give it to the dogs instead.”  Wow, and thus ended the chapter.  But what is the meaning of this last instruction here? David Guzik suggests that this simply is God’s way of saying, “As holy men of God, we are to act differently in all ways of our lives; in all of our behavior.”  Matthew Henry on the other hand seems to be implying that the statement is a call for the Israelites (and those in the body of Christ today) to be different in their diets than their neighbors. He suggests that one mark of our holiness is our distinction from others in what we eat and may I add, what we drink. And if not that, perhaps how we view our ‘food’ and ‘drink’.

[An Aside: I must admit I find it very strange and somehow troublesome when I consider how absorbed many Christians in North America, and perhaps elsewhere in the world, are with food dishes and recipes and gourmet this and that, and vintage wines, etc. I am not suggesting at all that food is to be drab and boring and I really appreciate the special efforts my daughters and wife go to in order for us to have most interesting meals. But I believe we need to do all of this in moderation, keeping in mind others that may not have a thing in their stomachs as they try to sleep tonight.]

The bottom line message in these last few verses of this chapter is clear: Honor God, Give Him what is His, be holy, and be different. How we do that in our personal lives is between God and us unless the Scripture is crystal clear on a matter of behavior or thought.

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4 comments:

  1. The first time I held my son in my arms, I dedicated him to God. I had nine months of waiting to see if he would be whole or not. Even my doctor told me to have an abortion, as he had given me a mumps, measles and RUBELLA vaccination during the first week of conception. The specialists told me he could be born with all kinds of serious birth defects as a result of being exposed to rubella (German measles) during the first trimester. He most likely would be born

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    1. Thanks Andrea for sharing your heart and experience in this two-part comment. God bless you.

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  2. Blind, deaf, with heart and skeletal issues. They said I would be changing his diapers even when he was 35. I went to a healing service and had Tim prayed for. He was healed. When I held him that day, I was so grateful. He was perfect!
    Thank You, Jesus! Amen

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    1. God certainly knows what He is doing for His ways are not our ways. Thanks for sharing from your life.

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