Hebrews 12:23

Hebrews 12:23  •  2 min. read  •  grade level: 11
This is the only place where the term "church of the firstborn" is found. While it undoubtedly springs from the association of the church with Him who is the Firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5), it is yet interesting to notice that God in His grace has always had the firstborn before His mind. Thus no sooner had He sheltered His people from judgment in the land of Egypt by the blood of the passover lamb than He claimed all their firstborn as well as the firstborn of their cattle. (Exo. 13) "All the firstborn of the children of Israel are mine, both man and beast: on the day that I smote every firstborn in the land of Egypt I sanctified them for myself." (Num. 8:17; also chap. 3: 12, 13) The Levites were afterward taken instead of the firstborn, and given to Aaron and to his sons to do the service of the children of Israel in the tabernacle of the congregation. Representing thus the firstborn of Israel, they were associated with Aaron, who himself was a firstborn, and they thereby became a shadow, if not a type, of the church of the firstborn. This will be more apparent-if it is remembered that even Aaron's sons as well as the Levites derived all their privileges from being adjoined to Aaron. For example, Aaron, as a type of Christ, was clothed and anointed (without the sprinkling of blood, because a type of Christ) in the first place alone, and afterward with his sons, when it is through association with Aaron they become a figure of the church as the priestly family. Now inasmuch as through all these types and figures God always had Christ in view, it is in Christ all these things find their fulfillment. When Christ therefore, the Firstborn from the dead, took His place at the right hand of God, the Holy Spirit was sent down to gather out those who should be heirs of God, and Christ's co-heirs; all of whom in virtue of their association with Him are firstborn, inasmuch as He deigns in His grace and love to share with them all that He Himself inherits by virtue of redemption. We, according to the purpose of God, are the brethren of Christ, and 'He will •ever have the preeminence as the Firstborn amongst the redeemed; but at the same time they, together in their association with Him before God, will form the church of the firstborn. What can we say in the presence of such unfoldings of the heart of our God but, Unto Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end? Amen.
E. D.