Christ in the book of Exodus

Christ in the book of Exodus

This is Michael Bell, and I am issuing once again the CVB (Christ Verse per Book) challenge. In this challenge we are learning sixty-six verses, one from each of the sixty-six books of the Bible, that point to Jesus. Today, we are talking about Exodus 4:22-23a, which says:

“Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.”

While it may not seem so at first glance, I believe this verse has everything to do with Christ. In fact, it has quite a bit to say about believers in Christ today.
Now, there are several key words here: In the first part of the verse we read, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” The key term overall is the idea of firstborn, and we will spend some time looking at that. First, we will return to the verse, starting with the phrase, “Let my son go.” The book of Exodus is named Exodus because it is about the “letting go”, or the release of the Children of Israel as they exit the land of Egypt. The context of this verse is the burning bush. God is commissioning Moses to go and lead the Exodus, the release of the Children of Israel from slavery to Pharaoh in Egypt. He will do so through ten plagues.

This is very interesting because the firstborn reminds us of the tenth plague, which I believe is the most important plague of all theologically. God hardens Pharaoh’s heart in four of the plagues precisely to get to that tenth plague, which is so full of theological meaning for God and for us as well. Now, it is interesting how the firstborn rights were passed along. For example, let us think of a king. This would have applied in the Middle East for people of economic, political, and social statuses. But, in this case, we should think of a king who has several sons, perhaps, but needs to name one as his successor. Only one of his sons can be king and, generally, it is the firstborn who is the heir apparent. He will receive the rights and privileges in the authority and the property of his father, the king. When the king dies, he will become king. Those are the rights of primogeniture, and this took place throughout the biblical time period.

What is interesting, however, is that when God issues rights of primogeniture, he does not often pick the firstborn. We see this with Cain and Abel, with Shem in Noah’s family who probably was not the firstborn, with Abram in Terah’s family, who was not the firstborn, and with Esau and Jacob, when Jacob received the inheritance rights. Indeed, it is Jacob whom we are discussing in this verse because Jacob’s name is changed to Israel when he wrestles the angel at Peniel.

Jacob, who received the birthright, has now passed it on to his entire people because he had twelve sons, and then they had sons and daughters and so forth. Now, it is a population of two or three million, and God considers that entire nation as his firstborn, calling Israel “my son.” One of the things that we find as we continue to read on in Scripture is that Israel fails over and over and over again. The prophetic writings are full of God’s disappointment in Israel.

The final straw is when God sends His own son, and Israel rejects him as Messiah. He is the chief cornerstone that the builders reject, which cuts off their firstborn status. Thus, God is in need of a firstborn, and he indicates who His choice is through the resurrection. Colossians 1:18 says, “He is the firstborn from the dead.” Referring to the Israelites as the firstborn, Romans 9:4-5 says, “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory,the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, the promises, to them belong the patriarchs…” But, this is no longer true. All these now belong to Christ, God’s true firstborn.

A beautiful passage for any believer in Christ today is found in Hebrews 12:22, which says, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering and to the assembly of the firstborn.” In the same way that Jacob, or Israel, passed on his rights of primogenitor to his entire nation, his entire descendancy, we who are in Christ are also counted as firstborn. Christ is King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and no one will ever replace the true firstborn of God in whom God is well pleased.

But, God is also well pleased with us, and we will sit on thrones and be called co- heirs with Jesus Christ so that we may serve God. One big difference between an earthly king who passes on rights of primogeniture and the heavenly king is that the heavenly king does not die. The one who dies is the firstborn, Jesus Christ, and what He inherits is not of this world, but of the heavenly kingdom of God in which both He and we as believers will serve God forever and ever.

Now, if Jesus is on every page of the Bible, should he not be on every page of your life and mine?

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