Can you imagine the tracking system needed to keep track of every animal’s childbearing schedule? Maybe I’m the only one who is a little awed by this. I totally understand how the people were to honor God with their first fruits, and that easily translates into our world today with our salaries as well as the bounty from our land. But to me, a cow is a cow is a cow. Obviously, this Iowa girl didn’t spend much time on a farm. I’m guessing that just like we can tell our pets apart, farmers could tell their flocks apart.
That being said, it must still be quite a feat to remember if Bessie has had a litter before so that her first born can be set aside for the Lord. Did the farmers feel like this was a hardship? What if they made a mistake and missed one, or set aside a second born son? Maybe we sometimes feel like we are facing difficulty in keeping ourselves on track, living a faithful life, resisting temptation so we can live God-honoring lives. I’m pretty sure I’m missing the point Moses is trying to make here. We need to let go of details like this when they distract us.
So, what does this passage say to us today? It points to Jesus. You might not have been expecting that, but I think it does. The first-born son of God, Jesus, had to be sacrificed, too. He was perfect, without sin. He had no blemishes or flaws. So, too, Moses instructed the people the first-born males needed to be without defect. We can take this a bit further and say that whatever we give God, we should give him our best.
It makes sense. It makes the image of Jesus giving his life for us all the more poignant and powerful. Jesus’ blood was shed for us, for all mankind, as a sacrifice to atone for all our sins. He was honoring God. Jesus was said to be the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” (John 1:29) It takes my breath away that God loved me that much to sacrifice his son for me.
For animals, the cycle will continue. There will always be one or more animals giving birth to their first son. It’s a perpetual sacrifice. Jesus changed all of that. His sacrifice was done once, but the blessing and promise of his forgiving grace continues into eternity.
How do you respond to what God has done for you? Take some time today to reflect on the grace and forgiveness that flow because Jesus gave his life for you. How does your life honor God?
Let’s pray … Lord, I am overcome with gratitude for the sacrifice you made for me. It’s easy to go through the motions of life and take for granted the price you paid. Help me to not forget. May I give you my best and be a light shining for you. Fill me with your peace as I navigate this world full of uncertainty and fear. Help me to stand strong in your love and encourage others to do the same. In Jesus’ name. Amen.