Exodus 34:19-20 Those who are meek and sacrificial at heart will belong to the family of the Firstborn

Exodus 34:19-20 Those who are meek and sacrificial at heart will belong to the family of the Firstborn

“The first offspring from every womb belongs to Me, and all your male livestock, the first offspring from cattle and sheep. You shall redeem with a lamb the first offspring from a donkey; and if you do not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. You shall redeem all the firstborn of your sons. None shall appear before Me empty-handed.


While God commands every first offspring, man or animal to be offered to Him; The spirit of this command calls for all to offer themselves as a living sacrifice. In so doing, they may be adopted into the family of the Firstborn to reign with Him forever. That said, we, as the sacrifice must first be sanctified and found holy before Him. Today’s devotion teaches us: Those who are meek and sacrificial at heart will belong to the family of the firstborn.


God commands every household to offer their first offspring to Him, both man and animal. The firstborn is most precious and it symbolises hope and fruitfulness. By offering the firstborn to God, the Israelites are in essence placing their complete trust in Him. And God in return ensures the fruitfulness of their children and livestock. In the case of animal, every kind of livestock can be offered, but not ceremonially unclean animals like donkeys. However, they can be redeemed by lambs sacrificed in their place.

In the case of man, the firstborn belongs to God and must be redeemed by a lamb. In offering the firstborn to God, the parents commit themselves to raise him as a servant of God. In so doing, the firstborn becomes a shining example for the rest of the siblings to emulate. This in turn results in the salvation of the whole family. The earliest incident concerns Abraham who was asked by God to offer to Him Isaac, the firstborn of his old age. As Abraham was about to kill his son, God stopped him and provided a ram to be sacrificed in place of Isaac. God said to Abraham,

“Indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” – Genesis 22:17-18

For Abraham’s promise to be realised among the Israelites, they must continue to sanctify their firstborn to God as Abraham had done. God Himself set the example by offering His firstborn as a sacrifice for sin. And that sacrifice resulted in the redemption of humanity.


Those who are meek and sacrificial at heart will belong to the family of the Firstborn

The firstborn

The “firstborn” in a fuller sense means the “one chosen to reign”. In Exodus 4:22, Israel is referred to not as one of God’s many sons, but His firstborn,

And you will say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says Yahweh, Israel is my firstborn son; and I say to you, Let my son go that he may serve me, but if you refuse to let him go, then I will surely kill your firstborn son’.” – Exodus 4:22-23

In 2 Chronicles 21:3, we see Jehoshaphat, king of Israel gave his sons many presents, including silver, gold and other precious items, along with fortified cities in Judah. But he gave the kingdom to Jehoram because he was the firstborn. King Jehoshaphat has many sons, and he gave them many things. But he to the firstborn son, he gave his authority to rule over the nation.

Lastly, in Psalm 89:27, God said concerning Jesus, “I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.” – Psalm 89:27.

Where do believers stand? The church, as the body of Jesus, is considered the community of the firstborn with Jesus as the head. Paul said,

He (Jesus) is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. – Colossians 1:18

Man looks to an appearance of glory, but God looks on the heart

Not all who call themselves believers are considered by God as part of the firstborn family. Only those who are meek and sacrificial at heart are chosen to rule with Him. The bible is filled with instances where the eldest child is not given the right to rule. In the case of Abraham who has two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. The right to rule was not given to the elder but the younger, namely Isaac. Similarly, for Isaac’s sons, the firstborn right to rule was given to Jacob, the younger of the twins. In the case of Jacob who fathered twelve sons, it is even more interesting. The chronicler wrote,

The oldest son of Israel was Reuben. But since he dishonoured his father by sleeping with one of his father’s concubines, his birthright was given to the sons of his brother Joseph. For this reason, Reuben is not listed in the genealogical records as the firstborn son. The descendants of Judah became the most powerful tribe and provided a ruler for the nation, but the birthright belonged to Joseph. – 1 Chronicles 5:1-2

Although Reuben was the eldest, but Jacob recognised Joseph as the firstborn by giving him a double portion. But as we know it, Jesus did not descend from Joseph but rather Judah whom God chose as heir to His eternal kingdom. Indeed, Joseph appeared more glorious when contrasted with Judah who was more ordinary. No doubt, Joseph is spiritually gifted who became second in command in Egypt. On the other hand, Judah possesses qualities that are more critical to the role of the firstborn. When God appraises a person for the role of firstborn, virtues come before abilities.

Judah, the unlikely firstborn

Judah, who has an air of meekness about him endeavours to cover the weaknesses of others. He keeps a low profile, while silently and conscientiously working for the good of all. When his brothers were decided on murdering Joseph, he made the best of the situation by suggesting to have him sold to the slave traders. In so doing, he not only preserved Joseph’s life, he prevented the breakup of the family that would destroy God’s plans for Israel.

Judah was also quick to own up to his failure to let Tamar marry his third son when Tamar’s husbands died. Tamar, out of desperation disguised herself as a prostitute and seduced Judah into having sexual relation with her. When it was revealed that Tamar was pregnant, Judah unhesitantly admitted to his failings and said, “She is more righteous than I am, because I didn’t arrange for her to marry my son Shelah.” (see Genesis 38:26).

Judah’s sacrificial nature caused him to give himself in exchange for Benjamin’s freedom. Joseph had his brothers set up to test if they harboured evil intentions towards him and his brother Benjamin. By asking for Benjamin to be kept as his slave, Joseph wanted to test the brothers’ motives. At this juncture, Judah immediately responded by offering himself as a slave in exchange for Benjamin’s freedom. Judah’s selfless and sacrificial attitude preserved Jacob’s family from the famine.

Judah is like someone of kindred spirit in a different time and place. His meek and sacrificial nature causes his brothers to praise him and willingly submit to him (see Genesis 49:8). That is unlike Joseph where his family bow to him out of fear because of the rank he holds. Indeed, Judah seems closer to Jesus in characteristics than Joseph is.


Appraise yourself against the following:

  • Are you merciful to cover the weaknesses of others?
  • Do you keep a low profile while working silently and conscientiously for the good of all?
  • Do you readily own up to your failings?
  • Are you unassuming and true to yourself?
  • Are you always ready to suffer inconvenience for the greater good?

Make Jesus the Lord of your life. And He will predestine you as the firstborn of the family, community and the nation.

Dear Lord, I thank you for calling me into your family of the firstborn. Mould me and sanctify me so that I may be worthy to rule with you. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.

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