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What it means to be Born Again (2 of 4)

Shane Willard

Page 2 of 8
For example, the firstborn had to be the judge for the whole family. These were nomadic people - they moved around a lot. When a fire moved - they moved. When a cloud moved - they moved; and somewhere along the way, Aunt Sally stole Aunt Suzie's pot. Somebody had to be the judge for that! Would you want the responsibility of having to be the ‘judge’, to settle all your family's squabbles?

Because of that - they also had to be the judged - so they were responsible for the sin of their whole family. So if I'm the firstborn, and my little brother kills somebody, and he makes it to a city of refuge - they could still come get me! How would you like to be responsible for the sins of your siblings?

There's a principle in Hebrew culture that says: in order to be the judge, you also have to be the judged. You have to be willing to take the justice, in order to be the judge.

There this was Rabbi named Jesus, and He said: “Judge not, lest you be judged”. If you step into the place of a judge, you also have to take on the place of the judged - because only firstborns were allowed to judge.

That's why Jesus is the only judge of the universe - because He became the firstborn for all creation. Not only can He be the judge - He's also the judged - He took the justice.

They also had to be the “Kinsman Redeemer”. If I'm the firstborn, and my brother dies - I have to marry his wife! If they don't have a son - I have to produce children with her until a son comes; which means I would get to sleep with my sister-in-law! Obviously you haven't seen my sister-in-law. I'm just kidding.

Now think about this: if I had eight brothers and sisters okay - if I had 15 brothers and sisters - and by a series of unfortunate events, if they all die - then I have to marry all of their wives!

Do you see where the double portion doesn't go to me? It goes them all! It goes to supporting all these people that I'm now responsible for taking care of. Nobody wanted the double portion - because the double portion was a compensation for what the firstborn had to put up with.

Joseph had this vision from God; and in his vision these haystacks were bowing to him, and these stars were bowing to him. Now Joseph was an 11th-born (which makes him a second born), which means he gets mercy.

So he has this vision from God, haystacks and stars bowing to him - so he calls a family meeting. That’s the job of a firstborn, to call a family meeting - so Joseph's out of line already!

He says: I've had this vision from God, and in my vision: I'm standing and you're bowing. They wanted to kill him! No one likes a vision where: you're standing; and they're bowing. It's good leadership actually - a good leadership principle.

So they take him out, and they're going to kill him. They beat him up, and they threw him into a pit, and it says: “they ate, and drank, and made merry - and when they were done they were going to kill him”.

At the end of the day, they didn't kill him. Reuben talked them out of it - because he's the firstborn. He would have have been responsible for the sin!

That's why the firstborn out of every womb of every animal had to be sacrificed - in order to redeem all the others. In Egypt, when God heard the suffering of His people, in the last plague, He sends the death angel over - and if the death angel saw blood on the door, he passed over; but if he didn't, he went in and killed the firstborn. Firstborns get Justice; second-borns get Mercy.