Over the last couple of posts we’ve explored quite an interesting scenario.
We studied how the Levites outright replaced all of the first born non-Levite Israelite males for the priesthood of Israel.
Now one fascinating question that needs to be asked at this juncture is what happened to the status of all future Israelite firstborns from here on out?
Well, we’ll find that a tradition developed where the Israelites still redeemed their firstborn.
However, it wasn’t really about what we’ve studied here, that God automatically owned all the firstborns.
Once the Lord replaced the firstborn with the Levites here in Numbers 3, it was a done deal.
This was a one-time transaction.
Instead the reason the Israelites continued to redeem their firstborn was to commemorate what happened in Egypt when God killed all the firstborns of Egypt but passed over the firstborns of Israel.
Here’s how the tradition went.
First, when a firstborn son was born, that child was dedicated to HASHEM in gratitude.
Second, after 30 days a special redemption ceremony was held.
Third, the father took his now 30-day old firstborn son to the priesthood and paid the priest five shekels to redeem his son.
The Hebrew word for these procedures is PIDYON-HABEN.
Again, understand that all of these procedures applied ONLY to the first born son!
It didn’t matter if a father had like 20 sons, it was ONLY the first born who was redeemed because it is only the firstborn son who from the instant he is born is God’s HOLY property
Now another interesting question that arises is what happens if a child is NOT redeemed?
If a firstborn son is NOT redeemed, theoretically he remains God’s HOLY property and thus is under divine obligation to directly serve God all the days of his life.
Now the reason I say “theoretically” is because realistically speaking there wasn’t much a firstborn could have done for the priesthood because all “direct” service to God was to be handled by the Levites.
They were now the official mediators between God and common Israel.
If anybody but an ordained Levite priest attempted to undertake a priestly task for the Lord, there were to be killed according to the Lord’s command.
But having said all that, there were some special circumstances where the parents of a firstborn son decided that they did NOT want to redeem their son.
In other words, they intentionally wanted their firstborn son dedicated to a life of serving God.
One example is the strongman Samson.
He was NOT redeemed under the provisions contained in the Nazarite vow.
Oh, and another famous character was not redeemed even though he was a firstborn.
I’m talking about John the Baptist.
Ah, but John the Baptist doesn’t count.
Can anybody guess why?
Here’s a huge hint.
Well, more than a huge hint, I’m practically giving you the answer here.
John the Baptist’s father was a priest.
And his mother was a descendant from the line of Aaron, Israel’s first High Priest.
That’s right folks!
John the Immerser , the one who paved the way for the coming of the Messiah, was a full-blooded Levite through and through.
Because of what we’ve studied here in Numbers 3, as a Levite he was born ETERNALLY in service to God.
In fact even if he had wanted to, he couldn’t have been redeemed from that position.
So when was the last time you learned that in Sunday school?