The Substitute

 “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me.” Numbers 3:12

The word “substitute” is defined as “to put or use in the place of another” and substitution is something we commonly see in sports. When one player is injured, a substitute takes his place. But, in the life of the believer, we can give thanks for an even greater, more important substitute. 

In the last plague to hit Egypt, God claimed the firstborn for himself. By doing so, all the firstborn male humans and animals were claimed and taken by God. From then on, every firstborn male would be His. In that last plague, God’s claim meant death and the only thing that spared a home from the death of the firstborn male was a substitute. It was only by taking the life of a male lamb or goat and applying the blood to the door post of their home that a household would be spared of God’s firstborn claim. 

In Numbers, God instructs Moses to number all the firstborn males from throughout the tribes of Israel, but instead of claiming them for death, God instead claimed the Tribe of Levi as the substitute. And instead of death, they would forever be God’s through service to Him. 

The Apostle Paul describes Jesus as the Firstborn in Romans 8:29. The scripture says,“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” And in Colossians 1:18, Paul makes the connection of Jesus Himself as the firstborn from the dead; “He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”

As the Levites were the substitute for all the firstborn males of Israel, so Jesus as the Firstborn, became our substitute from death to life. And just as the Children of Israel had to personally apply the blood of the lamb to the doorpost of their home, we must personally apply the blood of our Firstborn Substitute, Jesus, to our lives. 

Today we can thank God that His claim of the firstborn has been met on our behalf through the substitution of Jesus.

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