Moses went back to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please let me go back to my brothers in Egypt to see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand.
And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 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.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’” Exodus 4:18-23 ESV
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:15-20 ESV
In Bible times, and also in some cultures today, the firstborn son was a very important person in the family. He was the one who had the right to inherit most or all of the family wealth. He had the right to be the head of the family when his father died. In countries where there are kings and queens, the firstborn son is the one who will be the next to rule. Henry VIII of England had a son, Edward, who was to become king after him. Henry was very concerned about Edward’s health. When Edward got sick, he became worried and afraid. It would have been scary to be Edward’s nurse! If something had happened to Edward, Henry probably would have punished the nurse pretty badly.
God called the people of Israel his firstborn son. He was concerned about Israel and was about to save them from slavery. He told Moses to warn Pharaoh that if he didn’t let the people of Israel go free, he was hurting God’s firstborn son. God would punish Pharaoh by killing his firstborn son. This was a very serious threat. To lose his firstborn son would be to lose the assurance that Pharaoh’s kingdom would go on after his death.
The people of Israel were God’s firstborn son because God chose them to inherit his blessings and promises. They were to be God’s special people. God wanted them to show the families of the world what it meant to obey and serve God. Israel would live in the promised land and know God’s law. Most importantly, God planned to use Israel to bring his true firstborn Son into the world.
Jesus is God’s true firstborn Son. He is the Son of God forever, and he was there at the creation of the world. God the Son became a human person when Jesus came into the world. Jesus came to save us from the sin that separates us from God. His death made peace between us and God, and when he rose again he won the victory over death. The Bible calls him the firstborn from the dead, because all of his younger brothers and sisters who believe in him will also rise from the dead to live with God forever.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for what your firstborn Son Jesus did for us, and for making him our older brother forever. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.