set apart as a symbol

shallow focus photography of white sheep on green grass

Photo by Kat Jayne on


set apart as a symbol

Deuteronomy 15:19-23 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 15:19 “Commit to Yahveh your God every firstborn male produced by your herd and flock. You are not to put the firstborn of your oxen to work or shear the firstborn of your flock.

Deuteronomy 15:20 Each year you and your family are to eat it before Yahveh your God in the place Yahveh chooses.

Deuteronomy 15:21 But if there is a defect in the animal, if it is lame or blind or has any serious defect, you may not sacrifice it to Yahveh your God.

Deuteronomy 15:22 Eat it within your city gates; both the contaminated person and the pure may eat it, as though it were a gazelle or deer.

Deuteronomy 15:23 But you must not eat its blood; pour it on the land like water.

set apart as a symbol

We are used to looking at passages like this from the standpoint of the past— as reminders of God’s rescue of the firstborn Israelites in Egypt. Or, we think about how the passage reflects on God’s plan to rescue us in Christ— his firstborn— sacrificed on the cross.

But today I want us to focus on what God might be communicating every time a family chooses to set aside its first and best to enjoy it in God’s presence. That firstborn animal would become a symbol of God’s provision, and would remind the family of all their possessions.

Every time they saw that young bullock not allowed to pull a plow, or that conspicuously unshorn sheep, it would remind them of the animal’s special purpose. In fact, that was another reason the animal had to be without defect. A flawed animal could never represent God.

All year they could imagine what it was going to be like to be in God’s special place, and celebrate life with him.

More than just a symbol of God’s provision, or a reminder of his rescue by grace— the firstborn of the flock or herd would be a reminder of God’s existence. As they took care of the animal, they would remember how he was with them and took care of them. When they made sure their animals were safe, they would be reminded that he was keeping them safe.

Lord, in this age, you have given us one ultimate sacrifice and symbol of your goodness and grace. May our thoughts of Jesus always bring us closer to you.

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at -- !
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