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©Kris Gerbrandt

Chapter 15:19-23 (ESV)

Posted on March 02, 2024  - By Chris LaBelle  

Chapter 15:19-23 (ESV) - “All the firstborn males that are born of your herd and flock you shall dedicate to the LORD your God. You shall do no work with the firstborn of your herd, nor shear the firstborn of your flock. You shall eat it, you and your household, before the LORD your God year by year at the place that the LORD will choose. But if it has any blemish, if it is lame or blind or has any serious blemish whatever, you shall not sacrifice it to the LORD your God. You shall eat it within your towns. The unclean and the clean alike may eat it, as though it were a gazelle or a deer. Only you shall not eat its blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.

Question to consider: How did both the blemished and unblemished first born point to Christ and His work on the cross?

Throughout the books of Moses, there is an emphasis on the first born son, but only the first born son which was unblemished. In the case of Adam, his firstborn son, Cain, was thought to be the promised seed of the woman, for his name meant, “gotten or acquired”. In Genesis 4:1, it says the name was given because they had “gotten a man, the Lord.” Most translations add “with the help of”, but those words do not appear in the text. When Cain proved himself to be a murderer, the true unblemished first born, Abel, had his blood spilled on the ground. The blessing was then passed on to Seth.

Abraham’s first born, Ishmael, was blemished, for he was not the son of promise given by faith, but he was born to the slave woman, Hagar. The one God considered as the unblemished firstborn son was Isaac. Isaac was brought up to the holy mountain, tied to the wood, and presented as a sacrifice to God before the angel provided the ram caught in the thorns. Isaac received the blessing and the inheritance of the first born while Ishmael was sent away with nothing.

Isaac’s firstborn son, Esau, was supplanted by Jacob for the blessing and inheritance as the firstborn. Jacob’s son, Judah, received the blessing of the firstborn because Levi and Simeon were men of bloodshed, and Reuben defiled himself with Jacob’s concubine. Joseph was the firstborn son of Rachel and so received the firstborn inheritance. The divided inheritance/blessing would mirror the divided kingdom of Israel.

These examples as well as the unblemished firstborn males of the herd and flock all served as Old Testament shadows that pointed to Christ. Jesus’ body on the cross whose blood was poured out on the ground could be compared with the blemished first born of the flock whose blood was to be poured out on the ground, for the blemish He bore was our own sin. The sinless Son of God who ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God was described by the writer of Hebrews as having, “entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.” (Hebrews 9:12)

In both cases, the firstborn male of the herd or flock was to be consumed by the household, whether in their town with the blood spilled on the ground or at the tabernacle with the blood poured out on the altar. Jesus, the lamb of God, broke bread and gave it to His disciples saying, “‘Take, eat; this is my body.’ And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’” (Matthew 26:26-28)


Dear heavenly Father, thank You for offering Your only begotten Son as payment for the sins of the world and for giving us signs throughout the books of the Law that pointed us to Him. For the Law by itself can only bring despair and death, but in Christ we have the hope of eternal life. Amen.