Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If a woman has conceived, and borne a male child, then she shall be unclean seven days; as in the days of her customary impurity she shall be unclean. And on the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days. She shall not touch any hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary until the days of her purification are fulfilled. ‘But if she bears a female child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her customary impurity, and she shall continue in the blood of her purification sixty-six days. ‘When the days of her purification are fulfilled, whether for a son or a daughter, she shall bring to the priest a lamb of the first year as a burnt offering, and a young pigeon or a turtledove as a sin offering, to the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Then he shall offer it before the Lord, and make atonement for her. And she shall be clean from the flow of her blood. This is the law for her who has borne a male or a female. ‘And if she is not able 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.’ ” (Leviticus 12:1-8)
Birth Under The Law
The Law of Moses was very specific in the requirements of commands, statues and judgments. Reading through the institution of God’s law to the people of Israel it is clear obedience is paramount to receive the blessings of the Lord. There could not be a deviation from what was required even if the smallest details. Also, provisions were made for the poor among the people so they could fulfill the law. This was the case when a child was born into a family.
When a woman gave birth to a son, she would remain unclean for the first week after childbirth. The covenant of circumcision was required on the eighth day as ordained with Abraham. Following another thirty-three days, the woman would be prohibited of touching anything sacred including taking part of the Passover. This would be longer if she bore a girl remaining impure for two weeks and then a period of sixty-six days. At the end of her time of impurity, she would bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering and a young pigeon or turtledove for a sin offering. Poorer people would only be required to bring two turtledoves or two young pigeons. Joseph and Mary were only able to bring the sacrifices of a poor family. Luke tells us they offered a sacrifice according to the law with a pair of turtledoves or two young pigeons.
The Son of God came into the world in poverty to bring the richness of His heavenly Father to all men through His self-sacrifice. Birth brought uncleanness and requirements of sacrifice under the Law of Moses. In Christ, birth brings cleanness and salvation by the one pure sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The waters of baptism wash away the sins of man so that he may rise in the new birth cleansed of the defilement’s of sin. Blood is in the birth as blood was in the sacrifice. It is remarkable a lamb did not cleanse the birth of Jesus yet He became the sacrificial lamb for all men. Under the Law, there was a reminder of sins every year and it was not possible the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins. Jesus was born under the law, fulfilled the law as Mary followed the strict adherence of God’s will and became the author of a better covenant no longer requiring a time of impurity and sacrifice to be a child of God. The Jew became a child of God in physical birth demanding sacrifice but the new birth of a man under Christ is a time of cleansing as the sacrifice of the Lamb of God has been offered for all men.
When a child was born under the Law of Moses, there was great rejoicing but only because the family had followed the command of the Lord for the male and female child. Without circumcision on the eighth day, the male child would be cut off. If the family refused to offer a sacrifice, they would be cut off. As the Law of Moses has passed away, the law of God in Christ demands obedience to be a child of God. Without the spiritual circumcision of the heart (i. e. baptism) there is no new birth in Christ. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, atonement has been made through His blood. Fulfilling the covenant of spiritual circumcision requires a faithful heart of obedience to the will of the Father just as it was a requirement under the Law.