The Plague of the Firstborn • Firstborn Ep. 5

[Music] We're talking through the theme of the Firstborn it's a theme about who gets to Be in charge and in the storyline of the Bible God creates a reputation for Selecting the least likely candidates we Saw this theme begin with God choosing Humanity to be his image to rule the World a choice that some angels aren't That thrilled about and this theme Continues with God showing his favor to Abel the second-born shepherd Boy Over The sacrifice of Cain the firstborn city Boy this theme continues and is very Poignant in the moment that God chooses Jacob the second born even though he's a Devious snake of a man As We Begin The Scroll of Exodus we see This theme come to life in a new way the Family of Abraham has now grown to Become an entire ethnic group and They're slaves to the real power in Charge Egypt yet it's this small Inconsequential oppressed people who God Calls his firstborn son God is so Closely identified with them that Yahweh's own power and name Authority is Invested in these people firstborn Becomes essentially a way of saying this Is my image this is my representative to Call someone the firstborn is not Necessarily a statement of their actual Origins this family was never the Firstborn in any of the generations but

What's being referred to by calling them A firstborn is a status a role Israel's Designation as God's firstborn is a Title that gets picked up in the New Testament and applied to Jesus Jesus Comes as father God's representative and Royal air but his whole kingdom is Upside down arriving first for the last People we would expect to be chosen by God the sick the poor the Beggars the Paralyzed people with disabilities women These are people that Jesus Intentionally Included into this kingdom of God Communities and said to them you are the Blessed ones the kingdom of God begins Now with you that's the fruition in Jesus's story of this theme of the Inversion of the firstborn which is Really about God's surprising way of Challenging our conceptions of who Should be in charge and who should get The good life Today Tim Mackey and I talk about Enslaved Israel as God's firstborn son And we talk about the relational dynamic Between Moses and his brother Aaron I'm John Collins you're listening to Bible Project podcast thanks for joining us Here we go [Music] Hey Tim hey John hello we're talking About the firstborn the theme of the Firstborn yes yes we are and we we've

Covered a lot of ground and I want to Hear maybe your your summarization of Where we've been okay is that okay yep Yeah totally well we're tracing a theme Throughout the scriptures About this desire fundamentally it comes Out of the core plotline is a biblical Story which is God's desire to share Existence and responsibility and Authority and joy with a partner That's really it God's desire to share Responsibility power existence existence To share his own infinite existence with The with the created finite being that He enlists as a partner to share in the Joy of responsibility over good things That's how the story begins yeah and That's how this theme begins and that's How this theme begins in as much as God In all the diversity of creation there Is a crown jewel in the first narrative Which is the seven day creation Narrative where God takes the late Comer The last being to be created which is Human the image of God and God exalts And appoints that one to a place of Responsibility and rule over everything That's come before And that's how God rolls he loves to Elevate the latecomer to the place of Honor and Authority So what happens however is that Desire of gods is thwarted by the Distorted desires of said creatures that

He wants to share with and that's what The Eden narrative gets into and there We find a snake slash spiritual being That doesn't apparently want it wants to Subvert the rule and honor given to the Humans in some way and so we explore That at length why well the motives are Not stated but as you read on into the Rest of the story what you see is God Consistently engaging in a pattern Where there's this cultural background Of who ought to be running the world And that is both in the background of The biblical story widespread and human History in the ancient near East which Is the firstborn male Descendant of a patriarch is the one who Rightfully deserves the responsibility And Authority maybe I should have Started there yeah I was thinking that That is a great question to start with Who should be in charge yeah but that's Essentially the question that's the Question who should be in charge who Gets to be in charge who gets me in Charge and if you've got if the biblical Story begins with the creator of Everything beginning to share yeah Responsibility and Power Who gets to have that power and who gets To be the ones in charge of that power Yeah I suppose you could say why can't It just be complete Um totally flat yeah structure why could

It be a flat structure where like Everyone's peers and no one's in charge Yeah yeah yeah but God chooses out of All the creatures out of the host of Heaven above the Angels out of all the Animals he chooses humans and they Happen to be created last yeah in the Genesis 1 creation story yeah and so the Ones created last are then elevated to Be the ones in charge of ruling the Creatures of the sky and the land and The Sea and This choice that God makes to share his Power to a creature that doesn't seem Worthy of it yeah yeah That sets in motion a plot conflict yeah That we see happen when the snake yeah In Genesis 3 shows up justice yeah three Three yeah yeah and says Ah can you Really trust this God like Somehow this snake wants to disrupt the Rule and Authority yeah in relationship That the humans have with God that's Right and what you were showing was as You meditate on this passage you see What the latter prophets were doing you See what happens in the second temple Literature it seems pretty clear that This snake is connected to the Spiritual Beings who think they should be first They should be the ones and they were First in the order of the days within Genesis one yeah they were first and the Way you get there is because the

Language and the pattern and themes of That those first few pages start just Getting recycled over and over and over With every generation that follows from That story so you have the sibling Rivals of Cain and Abel but the reason they're Rivals is because God Chose to show favor not to the Elder Firstborn brother but to the second And so we talked about that God Consistently repeats that pattern by Choosing the middle son of Noah's Three Sons Shem To receive the blessing and the promise Of a future human who will come through Him and doesn't Elevate the firstborn Japheth Or the last born ham and then that last Born ham introduced another tweak in the Cycle which is The last born Sun Grabs at in a violent and abusive way To try and attain to the role of the Alpha male or the firstborn so then we Talked about that and then once you have All those variations you basically have Three ways to become the firstborn you Can be born into it as a firstborn You can get there by God elevating Somebody who's not the firstborn into That place Or you have a late Comer trying to Achieve the role of the firstborn by

Their own power wisdom or strength yeah Or devious or devious schemes and so Basically those three possibilities just Get developed and creatively Tweaked and inverted as you go through The stories of Abraham and lot And then the next generation of Jacob And Esau and the next generation of Joseph and Judah in the twelve in the Other sons of Jacob and so on but really It's all about this who gets to be in Charge and what happens when God Elevates somebody who nobody else Think should be in charge to be the Person in charge and why does someone Need to be in charge That's a great question I mean God gave Adam and Eve the title of image of God Male and female yeah let them rule let Them rule so there already was the sense Of yeah hey the man's not gonna be Charged woman's not gonna be a charge Let them rule let them rule together so There was kind of like let's set the Table for what's the word not a Democracy but like uh yeah mutuality Mutuality yeah mutual responsibility Yeah neither of them you get the sense Of neither of them were in charge but Together they were in charge and you can Imagine then if they represent Humanity You know Adam is human Eve is life Then all of humanity is meant to be the Image of God yeah ruling in a

Collaborative mutuality [Music] You get that sense but then as we've Been tracing this theme it's all about Who gets to be in charge and God Choosing people to be in charge yeah I think I have an idea of why that is But hmm you're saying why does anybody Need to be in charge yeah why does God Why does God start to say okay you're Going to be the one the elect well Remember the concept of firstborn is Tied to the Eden blessing and as you go Out from Eden there's two ways it gets Expressed one is just the continual Blessing of God's Gift of Life and Multiplication and abundance which is About Eden's all about abundance but Then the other is about the promise of a Future descendant Who will come and undo What the snake has done and crush the Head of the snake while being struck by It and that's a part of this Promise Too Okay so that's that's fascinating are we Saying that the original sharing of Power Wasn't about choosing a firstborn among The humans it was all of humanity being The firstborn definitely it's a Collective Calling a collective for all Humanity in Genesis 1. Adam and Eve don't appear in The seven day creation narrative you

Just have male and female and Humanity As one species As made to reflect the image of God or Made in the image of God so while the Theme begins there of God choosing a Firstborn the firstborn is the Collective Humanity but then when we get To outside of the garden where now God Has to deal with I need to take evil out At its source and I'm going to do it Through A lineage a human lineage yeah now You've introduced the idea of yeah Narrowing down and narrowing down and Selecting yeah and electing or choosing Of that's right a specific family that God's Gonna use and since that gets Merged with who gets the right of the Firstborn Now this theme becomes like who gets to Be it feels like you're asking who gets To be in charge but you're really saying Yeah who's God going to use to defeat Evil so that all humans can yeah be the Image of God that's right and what God Often does is give that surprise Chosen One Some level of honor and Authority but Usually through some process of them Suffering or having to trust God or go Through a test here we're at again at That point where the complex plot line Of the Bible is just a bundle like a Tapestry and when we make a theme video

Yeah we're just We're literally taking out or pulling Out of the tapestry one color thread You're saying the bundle is the image of God is a theme the idea of a messiah That needs to crush evil that's a theme Yeah the idea of a test that God puts His elect through as a theme yep the Idea of a chosen one who is chosen and Then enters into their role as the image Of God but through suffering and tests And you know that's the key part of this So we're trying to pull out just the Specific strain of God elevating someone Who doesn't isn't supposed to be in Charge and putting them in charge yeah That's right okay yeah and by putting Them in charge it may just be selecting Them to be the one who at the moment is Has God's favor because they're chosen To become the lineage of the future Snake Crusher Yeah by in charge it's not Necessarily to be king those ideas start To get merged with David and we'll get There but like but it is a place of Honor to be chosen within I'm thinking Within the biblical story for these Characters yes it's an honor yeah that They get chosen to become the vehicle of The Eden blessing and the seed for Others but also it often puts them In Harm's Way because it ignites jealousy Or rivalry from other people who think That that ought to be theirs and what's

Interesting is I feel like in our last Conversation or two oh yeah our last one We talked about how These bundled concepts of the promise of The future ruler a future image of God Ruler and the Eden blessing of abundance Those can be separated so for example in The cycle of Abraham and Isaac Abraham Has a firstborn Ishmael And God says he's not the one for the Chosen lineage but I will bless him too And he'll be fruitful and multiply so he Gets the Eden blessing of abundance But the lineage can only come through One of the two sons and God chooses the Second born For the snake crushing lineage and he Gets the blessing and the promise of the Future line and Um at the very end of Genesis When Jacob's 12 sons yeah we learn about All of them the blessing gets dispersed Between two of them two sons yeah Judah And Joseph yeah at the end in Genesis 49 Joseph The firstborn of his second wife no Third wife but most beloved wife Rachel Gets loads of blessing you read the poem That Jacob speaks to him on his deathbed And it's like the word blessing occurs Like half a dozen times blessing Blessing blessing but then it's to the Fourth born son of his first wife that He didn't like very much Leah

That's the sun that's given the promise That's through his lineage will come a Future ruler over the brothers and over The Nations yeah so that blessing of Firstborn gets kind of split Between two sons who become Rivals Throughout the rest of the Torah and Prophets yeah Joseph and Judah and their Descendants yeah so God is working to Restore the Eden blessing to all corners Of the Human family But he's doing it through the lineage of One because the lineage of a promised Future deliverer Has to be through one and part of the Eden blessing is that all humanity is The image of God correct yes so all Human entity gets to rule yeah right and Have power on God's behalf yeah And what you see is God's consistent Strategy is to subvert Human expectations about who gets to be That honored chosen lineage For the promised snake Crusher and the Eden blessing and it is always Some second born or late comer or Unlikely one or the one of low social Status that God elevates which once you Read through all the iterations of that Cycle in the Hebrew Bible then you come Back to those early chapters of Genesis And you can see it's right the same Patterns right there With the humans and the sky rulers and

The snake so you're reading the early Genesis narratives in light of where This pattern of the surprise firstborn Is going And that's how the Hebrew Bible works so That's where we've been going and over The last four conversations we just Worked through the Genesis scroll yeah So what we're going to do for the rest Of the conversation is range a little Broader we're going to camp out still on The Torah for this one and just focus in On the Dynamics of this firstborn Sibling rivalry between Israel and Egypt It appears right at the beginning of Exodus and And then God chooses a deliverer to Deliver Israel from their oppressive Sibling Egypt and God chooses a guy Named Moshe And his brother Aaron and there's a Little Rivalry going on between them that's Interesting and then that gets repeated With Aaron's sons who were chosen for The high priesthood their dynamics of This surprise firstborn inversion there Too and they all kind of implicate each Other in really fascinating ways then We'll go into the prophets and then into The gospels and then into the letters of The Apostles after that but but today Exodus today let's think about uh the Firstborn in Exodus

[Music] Thank you [Music] So let's just uh let's just rock the First paragraph of Exodus okay real time Right now I'm prepping for a series of Bible Project classroom classes going through Exodus and the Heart of the Torah it'll Be through Exodus Leviticus and numbers The next many classroom classes that We're filming I'm so excited it's so rad Anyhow here's the first paragraph Okay Of Exodus And these are the names of the sons of Israel The ones who went to Egypt with yaakov Jacob Jacob yeah sir I'm trying to use Hebrew pronunciation in my translation Yeah it's great just because it's cool Each one and his household went Reuben Shimon Levi Or Levy in Hebrew Yehuda Judah yasukar Zevolun Benjamin Dan naphtali God or God And Asher let's use a car oh it's a car It's a car yeah yeah Every person who came out of the loin of Jacob 70 people And Joseph was in Egypt Now Joseph died and all his brothers and All that generation and the sons of Israel were fruitful and they swarmed And they multiplied and became strong Very very much

And the land was filled with them It's first paragraph I don't tell me What you see Well so we start with a list of the 12 Suns reminding us this is how Genesis Ended these 12 Suns went down into Egypt But we learned that actually 70 people With the sons came down to Egypt yeah Yeah 70 is an important number it's like The number of a whole like what does That number mean well it's just seven is Spelled with the same letters as the Word complete or satisfied or brought to Fulfillment in Hebrew Sava and so that Becomes a design pattern theme Throughout Genesis and so 7D is just Turning up the volume on the concept so Complete amount of people a list of Seven is complete list of 70 is super Complete yeah yeah so all of them came And then we're fast forwarding Joseph Died and the author here wants us to Think of what happened to This family in Egypt like what the Humans were to experience in the garden Yep that they were fruitful yeah and Multiplied yeah and then you you feel That the word swarm oh yeah toy well This is Exodus one verse seven the sons Of Israel were fruitful And swarmed they multiplied and became Strong and they filled the land and Filled yeah so three of those are right From Genesis one the blessing on the

Image of God be fruitful and multiply And fill the land yeah it's the same Exact words but swarmed Is the verb used of The fish in the sea yeah from day five Of Genesis one they're called the Swarmers and they are given a blessing To be fruitful and multiply too and but They're called the swarmers so you're Kind of like they're multiplying like Fish Yeah or yeah totally yeah that's really Yeah it's the verb used to describe the Blessing of abundance given to fish yeah And now it's here describing this really Fascinating yeah and they're gonna do Their own version of swimming a couple Times in this story in different ways And also becoming strong Yeah very very strong very very much Very strong so clearly this is the Family that uh is being given the Eden Blessing right out of the gate yeah and We're just you know you turn back the Previous Genesis scroll and Joseph and Judah in particular were given an even Hyper focused Version of this blessing of not just Abundance but also rule a future ruler Coming from the line of Judah okay so That's that action Pharaohs response Now a new king arose over Egypt who Didn't know Joseph yeah

Joseph has died yeah do we know how much Time it's supposed to have passed oh man It's a rabbit hole Yeah four generations Or 400 years I know that they're not the Same amount of time that's true but the Narrative says you know it says both but Either way Joseph and the Pharaoh of his Day were like tight I mean it was like First and second in command yeah and a New Pharaoh arose who says to his people Look The people of the sons of Israel are More multiplied and they're stronger Than us It's the first time they're starting to Be called Israel the sons of Israel yeah Uh no that starts happening at the end Of Genesis but this is the first time That they are now Can be called one whole group of the Whole nation yeah I mean the group of Small Clans has become a nation and now They're being looked at as a large Ethnic entity yeah but notice what he Sees he says they're more fruitful and Multiplied and stronger than us so come Let us act with Wisdom skill hmm we gotta player cards Really carefully we got the crafty here Yeah or else they'll multiply more yeah And it will come about that when War Happens to us That they might even add to themselves To those who hate us and they will make

War against us And they'll go up out of our land That's a very like astute and Um Careful way to think about the situation He's in you've got a group of people That yeah are a different nationality Living in your land migrants immigrants Immigrants yeah and they're like getting Large yeah there's a lot of them yeah Yeah and they're powerful they seem Really powerful that feels threatening Yeah to the Pharaoh yep it's this Portrait of a governing leader who views A extremely productive abundant Immigrant population But here's what's fascinating is the Pharaoh of Joseph's Day welcomed the Whole crew of 70 down And what's 70 gonna do to you sure but They're like the siblings of this guy Who's working in your court Who has a lot of influence Joseph but What he sees when he sees the abundance And the wisdom given to Joseph and the Abundance that's attached to this family The Pharaoh Joseph's Day sees the Opportunity sees it as a win-win for Partnership yeah and so this becomes a Contrast before threat of a governing Leader who looks at an immigrant group And all they see is liability fear yeah What ignites in them and as of potential Conflict and so what's

The tragic irony is that his fear of Conflict is actually what he goes on to Create through his actions there wasn't A conflict but is this fear of the Conflict that creates the conflict yeah And also his choice to enslave them Which is what he does next but I just Want to pay attention here to you have a Governing leader who sees the blessing On this group and it ignites a kind of Fear or jealousy in them yeah I think What we're seeing here is we're this is Cain This is Esau well this is the serpent This is the snake Yes exactly yeah well I mean I'm Wondering it's exactly right he gets Sneaky let us act with wisdom and skill Yeah so what we learn about the one Thing we learned about the snake is that He's crafty yes which is a wisdom word Yeah and it's not a bad word that's Exactly right it's not like Prudence yeah like it's used often to Just describe someone who's like really Strategic yeah that's right while I Think we often think oh that must be a Word to describe something sinister And so are we hyperlinking to that idea Most definitely yeah yeah most Definitely also you know that remember In Genesis 1 to 11 The Cycles went from the snake Replayed by Kane that led to his

Descendants to lemek to the building of The city yeah then we reboot with Noah And then it starts with ham And then it goes down from Ham to Nimrod Who built silent king warrior by King Builds the city of Babylon Look what the next thing Pharaoh does is They placed over them captains of forced Labor To oppress them with their burdens and They built cities of Supply storage for Pharaoh pithome and ramsays And then you read down a little further They enslaved them they made them their Slaves With brutality they made their lives Bitter with enslavement with mortar and With brick So they're building cities of brick and Mortar These are all the key words of that are Used only elsewhere The Torah of the building of the city of Babylon yeah and of Babel which is Babylon that's right yeah same word Right exactly Babel is just saying how You pronounce it in Hebrew okay yeah That's funny but the point here is that The narrator here in Exodus is Describing what Pharaoh is doing to the Israelites he's using the language that Was last used in just this combination Of words to describe Nimrod and the People of babylon's desire to build a

City that reaches up to the skies and Nimrod came from the line of of ham of Ham yep that's right and nimrod's Descendant is Egypt okay but Egypt and Babylon and Nimrod come from Ham the Third son of Noah so once again oh we Have really what this is is this is a Sign of ham Against the son of Shem hmm the son of Shem is getting the blessing and the son Of ham here Is acting the snake yeah wow and it's Hyperlinking to the serpent Which is about someone who is powerful In a place of power looking like why is God blessing these people that exactly Shouldn't be powerful yeah and then How in the story of Cain and Abel Cain Is described as like embodying the Serpent yeah that's right evil yes yeah When he decides as a firstborn Yep this Isn't fair that God's giving favor to a Second born so all of these themes like Are coming together in this really Wonderful way yeah yes that's exactly Right that's cool just as a little note Here all throughout the Psalms there are Many Psalms that retell different parts Of the biblical story and there are Three Psalms That when they retell the story of The Exodus they refer to Egypt as ham oh wow Not as Egypt it kind of sticks out so Like in Psalm 78 verse 51

God struck the firstborn of Egypt The first fruits of their manhood of the Tents of ham Psalm 105 23 Israel came Into Egypt Jacob soldiered in the land Of ham so these are later biblical Authors that's why the genealogies Really matter in the Hebrew Bible Because you're really meant to see later Generations as replaying the incidents That happened among their ancestors in The earlier parts of the biblical story And this is a good one All of the cycles of Genesis 1 through 11 are being replayed here in the Descendant of ham and the descendant of Shem okay so the theme of the firstborn Is really loud here we are seeing that The king of Egypt the one in power the One who even though ham wasn't the Firstborn he comes from that lineage ham His whole purpose was to take that power Correct and here we have here we are Again the Pharaoh has the power but in a Way like ham succeeded At least the line of hams is heated and Taking that power we're now the world Empire we're the ones in charge and We've got a smaller growing immigrant Population that in no way should be yeah A threat to us and no way should be in Charge oh oh I'm I'm sorry yeah sure Yeah but feel like a threat because They're like they seem to be good uh Have God's favor and so what we know of

This theme is that the firstborn the one In charge is gonna get jealous okay yeah And it's going to murder or do something Yeah thank you somehow the way That you just summarize that kind of Helped motivated me to even want to Clarify more cool so what's happening Often the one that God actually chooses Or favors or blesses the way to indicate Their lower status was either that They're a later born sibling Sometimes like in Genesis in the Rival Wives it was that one was more loved Than another and so God favors the Unloved Leia okay you know right in this Case what is it within the narrative That marks someone of being a lower Social status and before the Israelites Are enslaved it's just the sheer fact That they're immigrants and an ethnic Minority Within the dominant culture and that's What makes them the vulnerable ones yeah And so let's just pause and meditate This is a crucial message of the Exodus Story That when God looks upon the human scene What God notices and pays attention to And focuses his Blessing and elevates Our vulnerable immigrant families in a Foreign land And that is the character of God that's The same character of God that looked Upon Leia

The unloved wife of Jacob and gave her The gift of abundance And not the love her sister you know Whom Jacob left more and there are Moments where that may like maybe the The wives that kind of strikes us or With Cain and Abel we're kind of like Man what's up what's up with that you Know But I think in a moment like this I kind Of feel it and I'm like that seems Beautiful to me but I think that's also Because my imagination has been shaped By the Christian story because normally In human history what's happening in Exodus is exactly how things go and it's Exactly how things go still today you Know what I'm saying yeah let the let Those who have ears let them hear like This is not an ancient issue for the Human family like this is a clear and Present cycle of human behavior on a Large scale so what you're saying is you Can draw a direct line between God's desire to share his power with all Of humanity Which who are we what are these Creatures to God's desire to like look Upon an unloved wife God's desire to elevate a second-born Son to his desire to look at a minority Immigrant population who's being Mistreated and want to protect and Elevate them like there's God identify

Us God's Own Self with them just to kind Of go meta in scripture here this is for Me personally what was so at first Compelling I remember when I was a young Man it's first being drawn to Jesus when I would hear stories about him is Exactly this theme right here like the People that Jesus noticed and paid Attention to Are the equivalents in this day and five Four and yeah are the equivalents in his Day of where the Israelites sit in this Story the sick the poor the beggars The paralyzed people with disabilities Women these are the people that Jesus Intentionally Included into his kingdom of God Communities and said to them you are the Blessed ones the kingdom of God begins Now with you that's the fruition In Jesus's story of this theme of the Inversion of the firstborn which is Really about God's surprising way of Challenging our conceptions of who Should be in charge and who should get The good life and I just have always loved that part of The biblical story and this is of such a Beautiful kind of poignant moment of That in Exodus [Music] Who [Music] Foreign

[Music] So what happens next is that Pharaoh First gives an order That every Sun Of this family should be murdered like The moment they come out of the womb That plant is foiled by some counter Deceivers the Hebrew midwives it's Really fascinating then he just says Throw all the boys into the river and Then that plan is foiled when a mom Actually kind of does it by putting her Firstborn son into a river but in an ark Little mini Arc and like Noah that sun Is delivered through the waters right Into the household of pharaoh And he actually by the end of chapter Two Becomes adopted as a son into the house Of pharaoh he becomes a son to the Daughter of pharaoh So now it's fascinating because Moses Well actually sorry I said he's the Firstborn son The Narrative doesn't say That and it's actually not the case that Was a mistake but the narrative doesn't Clarify just as his mom gave birth to a Son you're like okay And that sun becomes a son both to an Israelite woman but then he becomes a Son to an Egyptian woman who raises him Who raises him so it's this fascinating Question of the identity of Moses now is He Israelite or is he Egyptian is he

Neither is he both He has a conflicted identity So that's the dynamic and then of course You know he's gonna lose his temper Murder An Egyptian in an attempt to Rescue some Israelites and that Backfires and his adopted father Pharaoh Ends up wanting to kill him and so he Flees So Moses is in exile for 40 years ends Up meeting God In A Burning Tree bush Who commissioned them to say the whole Generation of people that wanted to kill You have passed away and go back and Confront pharaoh and tell him on my Behalf Let my people go So that's what starts happening and then The theme of the firstborn really gets Prominent here in a little group of Stories near the end of chapter four This is super fascinating So Moses is Cruising back on a donkey with his Family to Egypt we're in chapter four Okay right here so he's his exile's over Yep he's going back to Egypt yep and Chapter 4 verse 21 the Lord said to Moshe and Moses when you return to Egypt See that all the signs and wonders I put Into your hand perform them before Pharaoh this is the staff that turns Into a snake and the Turning the water into blood and this

Kind of thing do them before Pharaoh I Will make his heart strong and he won't Send out the people So you will say to Pharaoh this is what Yahweh says Israel is my son my Firstborn son And I'm telling you Send out my son so that he can serve me But you have refused to send him out so Look I'm going to slay your son your Firstborn son Hmm which is foreshadowing the 10th Place the tenth plague which is the Night of Passover We'll kind of talk about that a little Bit more so notice here this is the Appointment this is the first time that This language is used of the family of Israel okay my son My firstborn son So the word firstborn son hasn't been Used since the Genesis scroll to talk About Jacob's actual firstborn son Reuben who lost the firstborn right And then this was a word used a lot in The Jacob and Esau stories because the Firstborn and the firstborn right was What Jacob was you know swindling his Way into but here Israel gets the title And what does that mean that they have That title well so the firstborn's son Is essentially This Is My Chosen Heir And representative so for a God for a Deity for a deity yeah to say that of a

People group is to essentially say these Are the people that should be ruling the World Um well at least this is my crew God is So closely identified with them that Yahweh's own power and name Authority Is invested in these people first born Becomes essentially a way of saying this Is my image this is my representative In Exodus 19 it'll get put that Israel Is called to be a kingdom of priests and A holy nation but here it's using the Language and imagery of the first among Siblings to be the representative of the Father so narratively in no sense are They Well okay well this is interesting Narratively in terms of the genealogy They come from Seth who's not the Firstborn Third born Adam and Eve Then from the line of Shem Shem who's The second second born of Noah and his Wife and okay so nowhere in their Lineage are they actually uh first one No no Isaac then after that of Abraham Who seems to be the middle child of his Brothers then of Isaac second born then Of Jacob's second born and so on so none Of the generations is Israel Come from the firstborn yeah and and They're not in a position of Power by Any means here so God as is not Identifying with like hey my crew is the

Powerful crew he's identifying with a Crew that looks pretty weak yeah this is This moment that's right this is Yahweh What do you say Conferring a title of not quite royalty But definitely a firstborn status that Was a category of family Clan Authority And honor and Yahweh is conferring that Title and position upon a family that Has never held that position throughout History in any of the families they Belong to yeah that's what's wrong this Is about the elevating this is the same Moment of Genesis 1. okay God elevating The late Comer or the dirt creature to a Place of honor that's what's happening Here so calling Israel a firstborn is Clearly saying God is choosing what is Not first and saying it'll be first That's right and that poses a challenge For all those around the Blessed quote Unquote firstborn the one that God Appoints how are you going to deal with That to the status of firstborn actually Okay but actually this is relevant for When we talk later about Jesus to call Someone the firstborn then is not Necessarily a statement of their actual Origins hmm This family was never the firstborn in Any of the generations yeah but what's Being referred to by calling them a Firstborn is a status okay a role okay And that's relevant for how the title

Gets applied to Jesus is it because um To jump there real quick because Jesus Called the firstborn of all creation and Unlike Israel he How should we say this it's just hard I Guess the categories get weird because Oh I guess what I want to say is like Unlike Israel he wasn't elevated from a Lower status like he was The image of the invisible God correct From the beginning yeah yeah he always Existed so yeah he actually Is that's the real sense the firstborn That's right remember how biblical Patterns work it's never identical it's Always a Twist but I think the point is That to call someone a firstborn son Here is a role Status as opposed to Describing the actual physical processes Or origins of how they came to that role They are being identified or publicly Recognizes that I mean you could say Actually this is great it's actually Really helpful analogy because this Family has always through all the Generations been holding this special Place within God's purpose oh okay this Is not the first time that this family Has been given this role through the Cycle of the stories what's new is that A new generation of people need to have Declared to them that this family is my Firstborn

And since you clearly Pharaoh have Either forgotten that or don't want to Acknowledge that that's what's going on Right here so this declaration of my Firstborn is more for Pharaoh I see than It is about giving Israel a status they Didn't have before because they have had That all along in the sense that God has Been choosing that family lineage all Along yeah yeah and so you're bringing Up Jesus to say by calling Jesus the Firstborn isn't saying what order was he Born in creation correct yeah it's about Status it's about a revealing of Jesus's Status So yeah whether it's Paul and Romans 1 He's declared to be the Son of God in Power through the Spirit by his Resurrection from the dead So he's not saying Jesus became the Son Of God by the resurrection but rather The resurrection revealed to everybody Else what it declared it was always true Of him the of the Eternal son And I think that's how this firstborn Language functions so sorry that's a Little detail yeah kind of here but it's A helpful analogy is this family's Always been the special one of God's Purpose But it's revealed a new to this Generation What has always been true of them all Along anyway

So this is actually previewing the whole Cycle of conflict that's gonna go down Between Israel and Pharaoh all the way Up to Passover Which is where God puts a choice in Front of everyone in the land of Egypt Which is There's going to be a destroyer that Goes through the land of that night And The life of the firstborn is at risk so In Passover what God is showing is to Have ultimate Responsibility and Authority Over the most powerful Imperial rulers Of the land And their family monarchies and but it You know it says from the firstborn of Every animal to The Peasant in their Home to Pharaoh on his throne yeah and All of those firstborns belong To Yahweh and so he can give them their Life or take away their life and those Are the stakes of Passover And so God's obviously reversing and Bringing back on Pharaoh what he brought On Israel which is to take the life of Their sons But here at Passover Yahweh provides what Pharaoh never did Which is a choice you have a choice of How things go Yahweh will protect the Life of the firstborn if you choose to

Come under the covering Of the substitute the Yahweh provides And that's the path over lamb and the Blood on the doorpost But if you refuse to accept yahweh's Gift of covering then you forfeit the Life of your firstborn that's how the Logic of Passover works And I'm describing it clinically right Now which masks over a deep disturbance In my inner Force disturbance uh this The plague of the Passover and of the Taking of the firstborn as long as I've Sat with it and worked through it can Understand how it works in the story It's still it's hard for me yeah it's Hard for me is it harder than the flood For you same same same type of Difficulty Or with the rebellion of the sons of Korah we're the whole family suffers for The sins of their father and essentially That's exactly it it's that of children Being held accountable for the sins of Their fathers which is Ezekiel says in Ezekiel 18 that's exactly how Yahweh Does not operate that's what Ezekiel Says In Ezekiel God says I don't hold Children accountable for the sins of Their fathers but yet that's precisely The logic underneath the Passover Narrative [Laughter]

So yeah I'm telling you it's one of the Outstanding issues for me within the Hebrew Bible that I struggle with how it Makes sense I feel like we should Dialogue about that for like another Hour Yeah you know I Spent My Summer trying To read deeply in a number of early Greek Church fathers and Scholars I Learned a lot over the summer it's Wonderful one was a theologian and a Pastor Uh Gregory of Nissa and he has this Wonderful Short treatment called the life of Moses And it's an interpretation of the Moses Story and we when he gets to Passover he Just raise up names that he just says What do we do with this portrait of God Holding innocent children and he really Turns Up the Volume he's like what has a Babe done It has cried only for the nipple of its Mother and best in its parents arms and And what has it done that it deserves Death for the sins of pharaoh I mean he Names it yeah straight up he names the Tension and he has his own way of Resolving it that I'm still processing Through but so this is an element of About the portrait of God in the Hebrew Bible this is one of those portraits That is hard if you take as your Starting point

The character of God revealed in Jesus Because it seems to me the character of God revealed in Jesus Wouldn't do something like this [Music] [Music] Foreign [Music] [Applause] [Music] Yeah totally oh this bothers me This product well and so we're bringing It up though because it's about the First it's about the firstborn yeah and So what's bothering us is that God would Hold a child responsible for the actions Of their parents an infant even yeah Totally it's not like yeah like a 16 Year old boy the most vulnerable and Innocent yeah the one who has done no Good or evil but putting that to the Side for a second which yeah you know Feels wrong but we kind of if we want to Think about it in compartmentally yeah No that's right it's it's not true since I'm good at compartment Um the theme of the firstborn which is Interesting here which is saying hey you Find your strength and your power in Your firstborn status and in your Firstborn Sons yeah who are going to be The ones you pass on your Saturday the Next Pharaoh yeah exactly right not only Next Pharaoh but then also the just the

Next patriarch of the clan of the people Who live in Egypt in the different Suburbs or whatever and everyone and Actually let me just add one more layer Because for me this is the thing where My mind goes as to some kind of Resolution is in Egyptian religion and Culture Pharaoh is god Um Pharaoh is the Incarnation of their most Powerful deity different than being the Image of God in the Hebrew Bible yeah Like he is the Incarnation that's right And so it's not insignificant that in Exodus 12. check this out this is within The instructions about Passover Yahweh says in Exodus 12 12 I will go Through the land That night then I pass over I will Strike down the firstborn in the land of Egypt both human and animal and against All of the Elohim of Egypt I will bring My Justice I am Yahweh So somehow Passover is a strike Against the Elohim of Egypt also which Seems odd of us it's like well okay the Humans and the animals and then the Elohim But they're all one In this narrative taking down the Firstborn of Egypt is taking down the Elohim in some way yes that's what Exodus 12 12 clearly implies yeah that

This there's a spiritual Rebellion that is getting intertwined in The power structure of this human Empire Yes and by God dealing with the power Structure of that human Empire is Actually dealing with the spiritual evil Yes just like in the flood in other Words same Dynamic is in the flood Exactly it's about this illicit mutant Merging of Elohim and human To create monstrous human violence and Evil in the world And that's precisely what is happening In that strange Sun about the sons of Elohim and the daughters of Adam in Genesis 6 1-4 that's like the last part Of the Rebellion that leads to the flood In other words this is the melody Replaying So within the Exodus narrative God striking the firstborn of Egypt is God striking at the human Divine Rebellion that is combined in Egypt I Think that's how the logic of the story Works and part of the plague of the Firstborn is kind of a way of God saying Look I'm attacking the very center and Heart of your misunderstanding of power Yes yeah it's good and Not only am I going to attack it but I'm Gonna give you a way out which is to Align with a new type of power which is Saying you see this immigrant population Do you think you can just abuse yeah

Like they're that's my firstborn that's My firstborn yeah and in my economy yeah It works completely different yeah you Can get on board with that economy yeah And you actually will find power yeah And blessing you'll get the blessing too Or you can just run with the way you Want to do it which is giving it to your Firstborn And actually I'm gonna just disrupt that At its source I'm just gonna stop it That's right in a pretty violent and Disturbing way which feels just as Violent and disturbing as God saying I'm Just going to stop human violence on the Earth in Genesis 6. that's right yep and So you're saying there's something Happening here yeah where the volume's Turned up where often in the Bible God's Described as patient slow to anger and He's dealing in a way so that people Have time to come to him but then There's these moments yep like Genesis 6 The creation moment and here in Exodus With the 10th plague where it's just Like the same as Sodom and Gomorrah Sodom Gomorrah yeah it's just I'm Stopping it yeah and so these are Moments back to the flood narrative God Accelerates a process that humans have Already begun In building a culture that's become so Monstrous in its neglect of human life And value it's reached the point of no

Return and that's these flood-like Decreation moments and this is why the Ten plagues are riddled with vocabulary From the flood narrative It's uncanny yeah in other words the Words used to describe the Waters of the Flood and what they do and what happens It's all the same vocabulary used Over and over again throughout the Plagues Thank you for that summary because it's Those decreation moments that are Exactly the parts of the biblical Melody That usually for us as modern readers We're just like I'm super uncomfortable With what God's doing right now yeah and I think it's okay to feel that however I Don't want to have that blind me from Also the important point being made that You just named that there are times when Human Evil gets so woven and so large scale That it sows the seeds of its own ruin That creates immense suffering and pain And Injustice in the world and bringing That ship down burning Is just a big moral mess yeah and that Is reflected and I think in the moral Tensions that are raised in these Stories and I've come here now whenever I'm brought here at this point in the Biblical Melody of the Cycles it's good For me But I can tell it's going to be

Something that's resolved if ever the Side of My resurrection just by lots of years of Prayer and pondering and taking it to God In Prayer because logically I keep Hitting roadblocks when it comes to this And that's okay Yeah I think that's part of the journey At least for me I just keep thinking about Thanos Infinity war and game yeah I saw them Once and I don't remember a lot well so The whole plot is that you got this big Bad guy this is the Marvel movie Universe Marvel movie Universe yeah Totally this is like the Avengers I Think they call it um Stage two of Marvel maybe okay was it Stage three I don't know it's the big Purple guy who wants to like yeah so It's the whole storyline of Thanos yeah Rising to power he's a bad dude yeah Yeah but the one thing that he wants is To collect all the Infinity Stones so That he has the power What he wants to do is wipe away half of The threat the creatures in the universe All living beings that's right but for Him it's a moral good because the Universe can't actually sustain all of These creatures yeah so he's actually Kind of resetting things so that the People that continue to exist can Actually exist yeah and so you've got

This bad guy yeah who is doing something Pretty horrendous yeah before A reason that actually Has a moral intuition to it yep yeah and So there was this whole like internet Subculture where people were saying Thanos was right Or you know our Thanos did nothing wrong Yeah yeah yeah and it created this weird Tension where you're like just wrestling With it now the god of the Bible is not Thanos because the guy the Bible is Actually represented the opposite of Like a good God doing the right thing Yeah like but all of a sudden put into It yeah so anyways there's this weird Kind of resonance well you know here's The first place my mind goes is I Actually think many of us do imagine That the god represented in the Bible is Like that yeah and to bring the parallel Even closer the way that all that plot Tension is solved in that series of Movies is when one of the main Heroes Stark the Iron Man Iron Man gives up his Life on behalf of his friends yeah he Sacrifices his life on behalf of his Friends and that becomes the hero Movement and the whole message of the Movie is that's the ultimate moral good Is to give one's life around friends in One sense It's a deeply Christian movie Right but on another sense notice it's

Portraying two powers that work in the Universe like a god a Thanos is a God Yeah Who the only way of bringing good is to Kill everybody yeah or half of everybody Right and so it's the sacrificial hero Who saves us from the God of Justice and I really think that's how many of us Experience the god of the Bible that Jesus saves us from the wrath from the Wrath of Thanos And Yahweh that's right right totally And some people would say that is the Portrait of God in the Bible and others Would say that actually is intention With the true God of the Bible Which is not a thing at all like Thanos And here there is a major fork in the Road in terms of the Christian tradition Between different portraits of God Coming out of the same Bible But it's just funny to me that you Brought that up because that's really Interesting whether or not you think the God God the Father to use trinitarian Categories whether you think God the Father is more like Thanos or not at all Like Thanos will actually tell you a lot About what you can't get away from is Moments like this yeah that's right Where it feels a little bit like the Logic of Thanos of like yeah I'm gonna Do a net moral good but it's gonna just Wreak havoc yeah yeah on yeah but the

Fly in the ointment so to speak the Wrench and the plan is that the same God That is doing that Is the same God that is providing and The substitute the Passover Lamb yes Totally in the same way that in the Abraham and Isaac story God demands the Life of Isaac and it's Abraham's sins Catching up to him And God is the one who provides the Substitute So God is both the one whose character Creates the tension and solves the Tension within God's own self and Something like that is at the Deep logic Of What's going on in the New Testament and The father and the son not at odds with Each other like Iron Man and Thanos but Actually both are expressing things that Are at the very Heart Of God which is Justice and mercy hmm Well this went quite a bit broader than The first part What we didn't get to look at was how Moses and Aaron their Dynamic is a Firstborn Dynamic yeah you know you Could you can just almost kind of Summarize it quickly yeah what you learn Midway Through The Exodus story is that Moses has a brother And then at a certain point in chapter Seven you're just given this little Notice which is right when they start

Approaching pharaoh and really Confronting him it is Exodus 7 7. It's just a random little detail right In between these narratives exciting Narratives of conflict with pharaoh and It just says yeah you know Moses was 80 Years old And Aaron 83 when I spoke to Pharaoh Aaron is the older brother Aaron's the Older brother but yeah Aaron what God Just said to Moses is I will make you Like Elohim to pharaoh And Aaron will be your prophet So Moses becomes an image of God to Pharaoh and Aaron is his like you know Helper and Moses is the second born Yeah Aaron is the first so even it's now We're firstborns within firstborns Aaron Doesn't ever try to like overtake Moses Though no there's no rivalry it's just That God and once again inverts the Firstborn order With Moses and Aaron I mean Aaron does Like kind of lead a rebellion yeah in a Way or he gives in to the people yeah And the people Yeah trick him or persuade him and those People are like let's kill Moses yeah Totally yeah or let's make a God and Worship him don't they also at one point They're like let's kill Moses and go Back to Egypt yes that's in the road Trip gone wrong in the number of scroll So what's just fascinating is this

Dynamic of the inversion of the Firstborn is a huge Sub theme of The Exodus narrative as a Whole it rarely comes to the surface Except in these moments of Israel as my Firstborn And then with Passover and there the Inversion of the firstborn is right Front and center all along with a whole Bunch of other themes obviously which is What we ended up talking about and then Aaron's sons To quickly summarize that he has four Sons yeah Aaron has four Sons yeah nadav Avihu Elizar and it's the first two the older Two sons that bring the Strange Fire Into the holy place And Get Zapped yeah sorry I'm just gonna Bother oh yeah the fourth born son of Aaron is isamar Yeah and nadav and avihu who are the Oldest Sons End up Violating the Liturgy in some way on the Day the first day Of the Tabernacles like service yeah and What they do is take incense into the Tent with what's called unauthorized Fire Strange Fire but bringing incense Into the tent at that point was only the Responsibility given to their dad so you Have the younger trying to assert the Authority of their death taking the role

Of the dad it's kind of like a ham move Uh from Genesis chapter nine of ham you Know trying to take in some way the Position of his father and so they die And are consumed by fire and it's the Third born elizar who then takes the Role as the next high priest in Succession So both with Moses and Aaron and then Among Aaron's sons You get all the Dynamics that you had in Genesis of God elevating The later born of the firstborn pulling A ham move no no no oh Ham's a third Point oh Ham's the Third born oh yeah But you're ripping on it you've got the Firstborn and the second born of Aaron Who are doing a ham kind of move saying Let's take our power yeah and even Though it's not ours yet yeah let's Let's do the thing that God has given Only to our dad right now yeah yeah Cool all right well we got to stop there Um so our next stop is gonna be uh after The Torah and the former prophets yes This theme yeah the narratives that Really turn this up in a really powerful Way is the story of Hannah and her son Samuel At the beginning of the Samuel scroll And then Samuel the prophet becomes the One who God calls To anoint and raise up a king for Israel From the many sons of a guy named Jesse

And it's the younger one David that's elevated and then both of Those set the pattern that gets drawn Upon In the latter prophets especially the Book of Isaiah about how God will raise Up a future seed of David to bring God's Reign and blessing over all the nations But through suffering and stress Okay so the firstborn in the prophets Yeah man we'll be next what a great Theme Hey this is Dan gummel with the podcast Team and one of the things we want to Start doing here occasionally at the end Of our shows is introducing other staff You know there's a lot of people in a Lot of projects that make up Bible Projects it's not just our English Videos or our podcast so we thought that This spot in our show would be the Perfect place to highlight a variety of People working here so to kick us off And read our outro credits I'm here with A friend of mine and a co-worker and the Person who also happens to have the Distinction of being employee number one The first person who ever worked a Bible Project uh you want to go ahead and Introduce yourself yeah my name is Robert Perez and Robert tell us a little Bit about who you are at bible project And what your day-to-day looks like I'm A creative director for the animation

Studio and my day-to-day berries I'm Directing I'm leading the artists I'm Drawing I do a lot of stuff but I'm kind Of in charge of like a lot of the Visuals tell me a little bit about Yourself outside work I'm a family and I Got three kids and a wife and I just Love spending time with them you have a Big Great Dane don't you I used to know Now I have a it's a it's a poodle one of Those designer dogs yeah yeah super Trendy yeah super trendy how many pets Do you have Two dogs and a tank full of stick bugs Of stink bugs stick bugs stick but are You serious yeah they're my sons this is Interesting they're very wild Um as far as they're very exotic they're Like they get like about this big but Yeah my son is big into animals and They're super easy because all you have To do is like spray them with water and Give them like blackberry vines and That's all and they're super durable Yeah hard to break hard to kill yeah wow We're talking a lot about bugs right now Whoa what will you read the outer Force The credits uh yeah today's show was Produced by Cooper Peltz with associate Producer Lindsay Ponder our lead editor Is Dan gummel Tyler Bailey and Frank Garza are our editors this episode was Mixed by Tyler Bailey and Hannah Wu Compiled our annotations for the Bible

Project app We believe the Bible is a unified story That leads to Jesus all our resources Are free thanks to the generosity of Thousands of people like you find free Videos podcasts classes study notes and More at thanks for Being part of this journey with us great Man yeah all right Robert okay yeah Thank you thank you for coming in [Music] Foreign [Music]

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