The Firstborn Belongs to the Lord
The Scriptures say that the firstborn belongs to the Lord, including both the firstborn child as well as the firstborn animals.
"The Lord said to Moses, 'Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.'” (Ex 13:1-2, NIV).
Since the first fruits of every womb belong to the Lord, He requires that they be dedicated to Him.
Why should the firstborn belong to the Lord?
The Lord Always Gets the First Fruits
First of all, the firstborn belong to the Lord, because the Lord always gets the first fruits of everything. Just as tithing is required on our financial income, our crops, our livestock, and all our increase, and just as we give God the first day of each week and keep it holy to honor Him, we also give him the first fruits of the womb.
God Deserves Our Very Best
Secondly, the firstborn belong to the Lord, because God deserves our very best.
The apostle Paul wrote of Christ, "And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy." (Col 1:18). Another version says, "...that in everything He might have first place."
Matthew Henry states: "God, who is the first and best, should have the first and best, and to him we should resign that which is most dear to us, and most valuable. The firstborn were the joy and hope of their families. Therefore they shall be mine, says God. By this it will appear that we love God best (as we ought) if we are willing to part with that to him which we love best in this world."
Since the firstborn child is the very best, the Lord requires that we dedicate it to Him.
Dedicate That Which God Has Spared
Another reason behind dedicating the firstborn child to the Lord is that we should dedicate that which God has spared. Remember how in the Lord's judgment on Egypt, He had sent the death angel to kill the firstborn of every household in Egypt (Ex 11), but because of the blood of the lamb on the homes of the Israelites during Passover (Ex 12), He spared the firstborn children of every Israelite household. Likewise, when God has spared, rescued, or saved someone, it is fitting to dedicate that person to Him. Matthew Henry states: "That which is by special distinguishing mercy spared to us should be in a peculiar manner dedicated to God's honour."
Children Dedicated to the Lord Obligated to Serve Him
One example from Scripture of someone dedicating their child to the Lord is Hannah, who dedicated her son Samuel to the Lord while she was barren, before he was conceived.
"She made a vow and said, 'O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head.'" (1Sa 1:11)
Later after the boy was born and weaned, she said, "For this boy I prayed, and the LORD has given me my petition which I asked of Him. So I have also dedicated him to the LORD; as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD." (1Sa 1:27-28)
"Then Elkanah went to his home at Ramah. But the boy ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest." (1Sa 2:11)
My wife and I dedicated every one of our five children to the Lord when they were babies. They belonged to God in the first place, and we were simply giving them back to Him. In doing so, we were committing our children to Him. Matthew Henry states: "Parents have a right to dedicate their children to God, as living sacrifices and spiritual priests; and an obligation is thereby laid upon them to serve God faithfully all the days of their life." Whenever someone dedicates a child to the Lord, it should not be taken lightly, because God takes us at our word and expects us to follow through on what we have solemnly promised Him in His presence.
The Apostles Were Dedicated to the Lord's Service
In the gospels we discover that the apostles left everything and dedicated themselves to the Lord's service.
"And [Jesus] said to them, 'Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.' Immediately they left their nets and followed Him. Going on from there He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and He called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him." (Mat 4:19-22)
Later on, He promised them great reward for leaving everything and dedicating their lives to Him.
"Peter began to say to Him, 'Behold, we have left everything and followed You.' Jesus said, 'Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.'" (Mar 10:28-30)
cf., Mat 19:27-29; Luke 18 28-30
The apostles remained steadfast in their dedication to the Lord, even after His death, burial, resurrection, and ascension into heaven. Their devotion became apparent when it was challenged by the need to deliver food to the widows in the community. Scripture says, "So the twelve summoned the congregation of the disciples and said, 'It is not desirable for us to neglect the word of God in order to serve tables....But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.'" (Act 6:2,4). Being devoted in this way to prayer and the ministry of the Word is a great picture of dedication to God.
All Disciples of Christ Are Consecrated to the Lord
However, dedication is not just something we should do with our firstborn children, because all disciples of Christ are actually consecrated to the Lord.
All Those in Christ are Considered Firstborn
Since Christ is the firstborn and His disciples are in Him, then in essence all those in Christ are considered firstborn. Matthew Henry puts it this way: "It is the church of the firstborn that is sanctified to God, Heb 12:23. Christ is the firstborn among many brethren (Rom 8:29), and, by virtue of their union with him, all that are born again, and born from above, are accounted as firstborn. There is an excellency of dignity and power belonging to them; and, if children, then heirs."
We are Called to Holiness and Separated unto God
Indeed dedication is not only for certain followers of Christ, but we are all called to holiness and separation unto God. For Paul wrote, "For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life." (1 Thes 4:7, NIV). Since we are called to live a holy life, and holiness is being set apart for God or consecrated to Him, then we are all called to a life of devotion to Him. Peter wrote, "But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;" (1 Pet 1:15, NIV)
We Are to Live for the Lord, Not Ourselves
Moreover, we are all supposed to live for the Lord, not ourselves. Paul wrote, "And He died for all, so that they who live might no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf." (2Co 5:15)
You Are Not Your Own
Scripture teaches that your life is not your own. Paul said, "Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body." (1Co 6:19-20)
Offer Your Body as a Living Sacrifice to God
We as followers of Christ are supposed to offer our bodies as living sacrifices to God. Paul said, "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship." (Rom 12:1). As we know, any sacrifice that was laid upon the altar under the Law was left there until it was fully consumed. A sacrifice was not taken back by the one offering it, so when we offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, they are dedicated to Him.
Putting it All Together
As we have seen from the Word of God dedication -- also known as devotion or consecration -- is an important aspect of our worship of God and service to Him. The first fruits of the womb belong to the Lord, so He expects us to dedicate the firstborn to Him, and that is what we should do. For He deserves our very best. Parents also have the right to dedicate not only their firstborn, but all of their children to the Lord, if they wish, which in turn obligates those children to faithfully serve the Lord.
The devotion of the apostles to the Word of God and prayer demonstrated their devotion to the Lord, which is an example for all of us who are called to be ministers of the New Covenant. Then we in turn become examples for every disciple of Christ we touch to also live a life of sincere and pure devotion to the Lord. For we are all called to live a holy life that is separated to God. Since we are all in Christ the firstborn, we are all coheirs with Him, sharing in all the rights and privileges that this affords, as if we, too, were the firstborn. But with that status comes the responsibility to live a life of holiness and separation to God, to live our lives for the Lord and not for ourselves, and to offer our bodies to God as living sacrifices, since our lives are not our own. Let it be a reminder to us all of the life of dedication to God, to which we have been called.
Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB copyright the Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures where noted as NIV, taken from the Holy Bible New International Version, copyright Zondervan, used by permission. Dedication to God image by Charity V. Lacroix, from A Brush with Life.
Author's note: You are invited to read Holy Living in a Perverted World, Separation from the World, The Straight and Narrow Path, Whatever You Do, Do All Like This, Walking in the Perfect Will of God, Aim for Perfection, Godly Attire and Adornment -- Seven Divine Revelations, Carrying Your Cross or Cross Dressing?, Tattoos and Body Piercing, Keeping Your Body Pure and Holy, Alcohol and Cigarettes -- Ten Divine Revelations, Rock, Rap, and Reggae Music -- Three Divine Revelations, The Forgotten Sin of Worldliness, and Called to be Blameless. You may access the Main Directory for this Seeking the Lord blog for more articles like this, as well as my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."
Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus. Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?
“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15). He preached that we must repent and believe.
Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International. He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.