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December 20, 2015
“Jesus Presented at the Temple!”
Exodus 13:13b-15; Luke 2:22-32
Uniform Series: “Dedication of the Firstborn”
PDF Lesson Print Out is now Located at the Bottom of the Lesson. Please Scroll Down, Click and Enjoy! Blessings.
Please Note: All lesson verses and titles are based on International Sunday School Lesson/Uniform Series ©2010 by the Lesson Committee, but all content/commentary written within is original to wordforlifesays.com unless properly quoted/cited. You are always encouraged to do your own personal studies as well. God bless you!
“Ah, there goes Jacob and Joanna to present their firstborn at the temple. I remember the day when your mother and I took you. What a blessed time,” the man spoke as he continued walking down the path with his son and reminiscing of that day.
“Father,” the boy asked, “Why does only the firstborn have to be dedicated with an offering at the temple?”
“Well son, that’s a good question,” the father replied as he guided his son to a place where they could sit under a tree and have a heart to heart. Never one to pass up on a teachable moment, he felt this was just as good a time as any.
As they sat the father explained, “There was a time, believe it or not, in our history when hope was dim and the days were very bleak for our people; a time, long ago, when our ancestors faced horrible tragedy.”
Looking around as if viewing it right before his eyes and gesturing with his hands he said, “You see, we were not always the free and blessed people you see before you today. Though prosperous and favored at the start, soon we became a people beaten and broken by slavery.”
“What happened?” the boy asked with deep interest.
“Well son, at that time there arose a people who hated us; who feared our very existence and that fear drove them to bring great evil upon our fathers and their families. Fear will do that you know. It messes with the mind of some folk,” he said as he pointed to his head.
“The days of our affliction were many,” he sighed as he continued with the impromptu history lesson. “There were days when our people thought they would never be free but, God had a plan,” the father replied with a positive tone.
“Father, please tell me this plan of God’s. What took place back then?” the boy asked.
The father, from stories passed down from his father, began to unravel Israel’s history to his young son. He said, “God sent Moses before Pharaoh to demand the release of our people and when he refused, God turned the tables on him. Suffering was now their companion. Nine plagues of pain and destruction came upon those in Egypt – yet, his heart remained hard and he refused still to let our people go.
It was then that God delivered a final blow that secured our deliverance. The firstborn of man and beast would be killed by the death angel. Not one would escape. There would not be a house in Egypt (except for God’s people covered under the blood of the Passover lamb), that didn’t feel the sting of death on that night.
It is because of God’s great and awesome we commemorate the dedication of the firstborn, son.” Finishing with his explanation, the father rose from where he was sitting and gestured to the lad to get up and walk with him to continue their journey down the path.
Pondering all that was said, the lad gave a satisfying nod of acceptance of the story his father so lovingly explained and happily followed after him.
Be it fact or fiction, generations have passed stories down to other generations for the purpose of giving advice, sharing wisdom, or laying a firm foundation of history among the people. Of the three, I believe history makes the most impact. Not only does it set for a culture, but it also tells all the “Why we do what we do” of said culture with its traditions.
Today’s lesson takes us down the path into one portion of Israel’s history explaining the reason behind the dedication of the firstborn (as my story above portrays).
Many of us are very familiar with the retelling of the Ten Plagues that occurred in Egypt and the end result thereof. From these, particularly the last one (the death of the firstborn), God wanted the people to remember, commemorate, and pass down to future generations the power of His deliverance and the purpose behind the ceremony of it all.
Our lesson this week covers the history and performance of the firstborn being distinguished and set apart for God.
Lesson Text and Summary:
13b). “And all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.
14). “And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:
15). “And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.”
22). “And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;
23). (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;)
24). And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.
25). And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
26). And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.
27). And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law,
28). Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said,
29). Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word:
30). For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
31). Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
32). A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.”
“All the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem,” (Ex. 13:13b). Deliverance was coming for the children of Israel. After that they were always to put to remembrance what God had done for His people.
With the passing of the ninth plague, a darkness so terrible it could be felt (Ex. 10:21), God promised to Moses the final plague that will cause Pharaoh to drive the people out; the death of the firstborn (Ex. 11:1-10).
After instituting the first Passover feast (Ex. 12) and smearing the hyssop dipped in the blood of the lamb on the “lintel and the two doorposts” (Ex. 12:22, NKJV), at midnight what God spoke came to pass and the firstborn in all Egypt were killed ushering in the time of the Exodus (Ex. 12:29-42).
Immediately following the Exodus, God spoke to Moses of the ordinances of the Passover (Ex. 12:43-51) and the consecration of the firstborn. He said, “Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine,” (Ex. 13:2).
God explicitly laid out His ownership and right to the “firstborn.” As the first that opened the womb they were to be set aside for God.
The “first” has always had a special place for God. It is a way to show honor and priority to God (see the idea behind first fruits in Lev. 23:10-14; Neh. 10:35 and Pro. 3:9-10). The idea behind the firstborn redemption as stated here in our lesson and with the story above has to do with the fact that “By the strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast . . .” (Ex. 13:14-15a).
The firstborn animals, except for the donkey, would be brought to the priest and sacrificed (see Ex. 13:12-13a). The donkey would have to be redeemed with a lamb or have its neck broken (see also Ex. 34:20).
The firstborn of man “shalt thou redeem,” (Ex. 13:13b, 15b). These, because of their historical reference (already noted), were marked as special for God, therefore they must be redeemed. The idea behind the word “redeem” is to be “bought back.” We see an example of this in Numbers 3 when God chooses to consecrate the Levites for Himself instead of taking the firstborn. Since at that time there were 273 more “firstborn” than Levites, they were to take “five shekels apiece” for those as a redemption price to the sanctuary. Hence, redeeming them or buying them back (see also Num. 18:15).
The ultimate redemption many Bible students are most familiar with is that which Christ would accomplish at Calvary’s cross (see Rom. 3:24-26; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 1 Pet. 1:18-19).
But, before He gets there, Mary and Joseph have to follow the protocol of the law by bringing baby Jesus in to “present him to the Lord” after her days of “purification” were “accomplished,” (Luke 2:22).
The law stipulates that after having a male child the woman would be considered unclean for seven days. After the which, on the eight day after his birth, the male child would then be circumcised (Lev. 12:2-3), thus fulfilling the covenant God made with Abraham (see Gen. 17:9-14).
After which, Leviticus 12:4 states, “she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days . . .” During that time she was not to touch any “hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled,” which totals forty days.
The times of purification was longer for a female child where she would be considered unclean for two weeks and then continue in her purification for another sixty-six days for a total of eighty days (see Lev. 12:5).
According to the law, when her time of purification was up she had to bring an offering of a “lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering,” (Lev. 12:6). But, if she was poor and unable to bring a lamb, “then she may bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons – one as a burnt offering and the other as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for her, and she will be clean,” (Lev. 12:8, NKJV).
This we see occurring in today’s lesson with Mary’s purification and the baby Jesus’s presentation/dedication at the temple being He was the firstborn (Luke 2:22-24).
At the same time, the Bible tells us, “There was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him,” (Luke 2:25).
Simeon was a faithful man, known as being “just and devout,” meaning he was considered righteous and of good standing; one who adheres to the law (Note: Everyday we have within us the ability to choose to live a life of faithfulness or not. Joshua 24:15 reminds us, “Choose you this day whom ye will serve.”)
Simeon was holding onto the hope of seeing God’s promise come to pass. For more generations than he can count, Simeon’s people have passed down the stories and events that God’s delivering agent found in the Messiah would one day come.
Surely, he and they were well acquainted with the promises that He would be heir to the throne of David (Is. 9:7), that He would be that Prophet Moses spoke of in Deuteronomy 18:15, and that He would be that Branch that arises out of the stem of Jesse (Is. 11:1). Simeon held on to these and to a promise that was “revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ,” (Luke 2:26). Somehow, some way God gave him a specific promise that he shall not depart from this earth until his very eyes view the Christ for himself. What a blessed promise to carry and hold on to.
He knew the “consolation of Israel” would manifest Himself before his lifetime was over, therefore, he served in the temple and waiting patiently to see the unveiling of what God had in store for His people. And, he didn’t have to wait much longer.
“And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvations, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel,” (Luke 2:27-32).
God is faithful to fulfill the promises He made to His faithful followers. The Bible reminds us, “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,” (Deut. 7:9). As we hold on to Him, He holds on to us and brings to pass what He has promised to do.
The amazing thing Simeon experiences is made manifest as the “Spirit” leads him to the babe being dedicated there on that day. When he laid hold of Him, he knew he was holding the promised Messiah; he knew he was holding God’s plan for salvation for all of mankind in his arms. One must wonder what that felt like? Perhaps the one who can even remotely answer that is Mary, Jesus’s mother, as she held and fed and cared for this Child of God each and every day.
For Simeon, he knew that this Child would one day mean deliverance for not only the Israelites, but for the “Gentiles” as well. All men everywhere would have a chance to experience true redemption that went beyond the shekels of the sanctuary or the burnt and sin offerings of lambs and turtledoves.
It would be in Him “in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins,” (Col. 1:14). This was something the blood of animals could never do. “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us,” (Hebrews 9:12; read vss. 9-28).
For now, Simeon cherished this moment of holding this blessed Child in his arms. The promise he had been given had now come to pass and he was content to “depart in peace.” We don’t have specifics on how long he was waiting prior to this, but for him it appears now life is complete. The one he would assist in dedicating would one day be the one who would deliver him.
Christ became the One dedicated for us. He became our Redeemer; our ransom. The Child whom we celebrate during this Christmas season would be the same Savior who declared in Matthew 20:28, “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” He would obtain that ransom price with His own life.
Let us never forget the true meaning behind Christmas. Jesus is the reason for the season.
Blessings to each and every one of you!
(Click here for PDF: Jesus Presented at the Temple Sunday School Lesson, or simply click the print button below. Enjoy!)
Below you will find activities to support this week’s lesson. Enjoy!
Word Scramble: Jesus Presented at the Temple Word Scramble Answers: Jesus Presented at the Temple Word Scramble Answers
Draw the Scene: Jesus Presented at the Temple Draw the Scene
How Many Words?: Jesus Presented at the Temple How Many Words (Use this PDF for accurate printing)
“Simeon Recognizes Jesus” (Coloring page for older students).
“The Presentation at the Temple” (Here you will find a lesson plan with activities including a printable on page 10 where students can make their own Temple Collage. Enjoy!)
“Joseph and Mary Bring Baby Jesus to the Temple” (Lesson helps and activities including a coloring page, a printable “Heirloom Quilt,” and more. Enjoy!)
“Jesus Presented in the Temple” (Lesson helps and coloring page. Enjoy!)
“Jesus Meets Simeon” (Here you will find activities and printables including a maze and popsicle puppets of the characters of today’s lesson. Enjoy!)
“Nativity Crafts and Activities” (Including one with Baby Jesus and Simeon. Enjoy!”
Baby Jesus Activities for Kids:
“Fingerprint Jesus in a Manger” (SUPER EASY!)