1. Why was every firstborn male to be consecrated to the Lord?
Exodus 13:14-16 - “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15 When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ 16 And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”
When God killed all the firstborn male children in Egypt as a punishment to the Egyptians, He spared the Israelite children. In thankfulness, the Israelites were to consecrate their firstborn males to God.
2. What did the Israelites have to do for their firstborn children to be spared?
In Exodus 12, God told the Israelites to cook a Lamb and to put its blood on the doorframes of their houses. Then, when the angel went through Egypt to kill the firstborn males, he would see the blood on the doorframes of the Israelites’ houses and spare the children in those houses.
3. Scripture calls Jesus the Lamb of God. When we believe in Him, His blood covers our sins, and God spares us from the punishment of going to Hell when we die.
Revelation 5 - Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, “Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?” 3 But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. 4 I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. 5 Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.”
6 Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. The Lamb had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth. 7 He went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. 8 And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. 9 And they sang a new song, saying:
“You are worthy
to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased for God
persons from every tribe and language and people and nation.
10 You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.”
11 Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. 12 In a loud voice they were saying:
“Worthy is the
Lamb, who was slain,
to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength
and honor and glory and praise!”
13 Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying:
“To him who sits
on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!”
14 The four living creatures said, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped.
4. If we are covered by Jesus’ blood, like the firstborn of Israel were covered by the blood of the Passover lamb, what should we do?
Just as the Israelites consecrated their firstborn males because God spared their firstborn males, we should consecrate ourselves because God has spared all of us.
5. Going back to Luke 2:24, why did Mary and Joseph need to offer a sacrifice after the birth of Jesus?
Leviticus 12 - The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Say to the Israelites: ‘A woman who becomes pregnant and gives birth to a son will be ceremonially unclean for seven days, just as she is unclean during her monthly period. 3 On the eighth day the boy is to be circumcised. 4 Then the woman must wait thirty-three days to be purified from her bleeding. She must not touch anything sacred or go to the sanctuary until the days of her purification are over. 5 If she gives birth to a daughter, for two weeks the woman will be unclean, as during her period. Then she must wait sixty-six days to be purified from her bleeding.
6 “‘When the days of her purification for a son or daughter are over, she is to bring to the priest at the entrance to the tent of meeting a year-old lamb for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or a dove for a sin offering. 7 He shall offer them before the Lord to make atonement for her, and then she will be ceremonially clean from her flow of blood.
“‘These are the regulations for the woman who gives birth to a boy or a girl. 8 But if she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering. In this way the priest will make atonement for her, and she will be clean.’”
6. Part of this offering after the birth of a child was to be a sin offering. Why would someone need to make a sin offering after they gave birth?
Psalm 51:5 - Surely I was sinful at birth,
sinful from the time my mother conceived me.
The sin offering may be in recognition of the child’s sinful nature. Children are blessings from God, but every person is born broken inside because Adam and Eve’s sinful nature is passed down to us. That sinful nature is something only God can fix.
Jesus, however, was God’s Son, not Joseph’s, so He did not inherit the sinful nature. Mary and Joseph still made the sacrifice, though, to follow the Law.
7. Also, notice that Mary and Joseph offered the sacrifice that cost less, showing us they were poor. They couldn’t afford a lamb for their sacrifice. This also shows us God doesn’t mind if we’re poor. He simply wants us to give to Him what we can. If the Israelites were rich, they could bring a lamb for their sacrifice. If they didn’t have money for a lamb, they could bring a pigeon. The sacrifice was the same to God either way.
8. In Luke 2, what did Simeon want before he died?
He wanted to see Jesus. And that should be our goal, too. More than anything, we should want to see Jesus. Jesus should be our goal. Simeon was righteous and devout, devoted to God, and God promised him He would see Jesus. If we live righteously and devoutly, if we offer our whole lives to God, God promises us we’ll see Jesus and live with Him forever.