The Death of the First Born
One of the best known references in scripture to the concept of the 'first-born' can be seen in the death of the first-born children in Egypt at the tme of Moses. When God sent the Avenger to kill all these children, the Israelites were instructed to paint the doorstops of their houses with the blood of the Paschal Lamb which had been sacrificed that afternoon. The houses with such a mark, the Avenger would 'pass over' and the children in them would be spared.
The allegory of the first-born was clarified when Jesus revealed that there was a first death and a second death. The latter killed the soul and was eternal. The first only destroyed the clothing the soul wore and had nothing to do with the person inside those clothes. That is why Jesus said, "No one is dead to God -- to God all men, are in fact, alive." The clothes wear out, but the people in them continue to live.
The first-born, therefore, described life in the flesh. Opposite life in the flesh is a new concept revealed by Christ: 'born again'. This phrase describs a 'new' life (the second birth) manifested in those who are fortunate enough to be anointed by the Holy Spirit in the living waters of heaven.
"I tell you slemnly, unless a man is born from above, he cannot see the kingdom of God'. Nicodemus said, 'How can a grown man be born? Can he go back into his mother's womb and be born again?' Jesus replied: 'I tell you mot solemnly, unless a man is born through water and the Spirit, he cannot enter hthe kingdom of God: what is born of the flesh is flesh; what is born of the spirit is spirit." (John 3:3-6).
That anointing of the Holy Spirit creates in those who receive it, a new eternal body (a second body) to replace the first-born flesh that is passing away.
In fact, Paul has shown that the moment we receive that new body from heaven, we die to the flesh. This happens in the act of baptism. He called baptism a 'cutting off' of the flesh and likened it to circumcision -- a circumcision that erases the entire flesh.
At the same time that the first-born body of flesh dies in baptism, so a new invisible body from the Holy Spirit enwraps our soul, and begins to grow, unseen, to maturity in Christ.
That is the true meaning in scripture of the 'death of the first born'.
Flesh and blood, Paul said, cannot inherit the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 15:50). Flesh is temporary and always dies. The new body we receive from the Holy Spirit exists in the image of God and is eternal.
The symbolism surrounding these two births and lives is structured in the template of Moses. All mankind must enter the kingdom of God through divine specifications rooted in Moses' decree of redemption.
The Law states emphatically that every 'first-born' must be redeemed:
"When God brings you to the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you as he promised, you are to make over to God all that first issues from the womb... Of your sons, every first-born of men must be redeemed. And when your son asks you in days to come, "What does this mean?" you will tell him, "By sheer power God brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, God killed all first-born in the land of Egypt, of man and of beast alike...for this I sacrifice to God every male that first issues from the womb, and redeem every first-born of my sons." (Ex.13:11-15).
The first-born in the womb does not relate to the first-born in a litter of several, but to all born into the first life. What is being dictated here is a law concerning the redemption of 'first-born sons'. The law does not tell us who the first-born sons are; God alone has the power to do that. God has determined that since we all live on earth in the flesh and blood of this first creation, each of us, male and female alike are subject to this law. Therefore, we all have to be redeemed in accordance with its directives.
Fulfilling the regulation of Moses, Jesus is that redemption.
The Second Death
Jesus warned that those who remain unbaptised and unrepentant or who live lives in opposition to God's teaching would die a 'second' death. This second death does not relate to the flesh, it is the death of the soul, and it is eternal.
The second death relates to the lake of burning sulphur described by John in the last pages of the Book of Revelation.
The urgency in Christ's preaching stems from a great world-ending catastrophe He warned was quickly coming to destroy the souls of all people on earth who have not washed their own 'houses' (i.e., the flesh that covers their soul) in the blood of the Paschal Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.
Those who have washed themselves in the blood of the Lamb will be saved from this death by the power of the Holy Spirit. An allegory of this salvation can be seen in Ezekiel's prophecy relating to the 'cross'.
1. 'The Clock of God', Chapter 12, 'Baptism of Repentance'
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