When we read the term "firstborn" we think it means someone who is born first in the family's birth order. We try to understand it with a "western" mentality. But, "firstborn" according to God's pattern came with responsibilities. The mature firstborn son was given a double portion blessing so when there was a need, he could help the other siblings. Also, when he was of age, he had a calling to function as a "priest" unto the Lord. Maybe that was why Esau was so quick to sell his birthright to Jacob, in order to satisfy his fleshly appetite. Even though he was the firstborn, he did not have a heart to serve others or lead others into worship.
I love reading the portion of the Torah in which Yeshua (Jesus) would had read now in history. How exciting! If we are to align with God's times and seasons, I believe it is also beneficial to understand what our Lord would have been studying.
The passage He would have read last Sabbath included a set of laws regarding a man who had two wives (which was permissible at that time).
Deut 21:15-17 states, "If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated; Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn.
But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his".
I love that the Hebrew has layer upon layer of understanding! The scholars look for how the same words are used in other passages to bring greater revelation. According to Rabbi Foreman of www.alephbeta.org, another place this same term is used was with Jacob in his relationship with Leah. This part of the Rabbi's teaching stirred me as I meditated on it more. The Lord began to unfold a special insight to me, in which I believe the Gentile church of believers needs to learn!
Jacob had been tricked into the marriage with Leah so he "loved her less" than Rachel her sister. Leah had given him his "firstborn" named Reuben. He was the first of the twelve sons of Jacob which became the twelve tribes of Israel. Later when Rachel conceived she gave him Joseph and then Benjamin.
Jacob, because of his love for Rachel, treated Joseph as his firstborn even though Reuben was first in position. Jacob even gave Joseph an elegant coat with many colors representing his position as "firstborn" and excluded him from work his brothers were expected to do. This caused jealousy to increase as well as a hatred for Joseph. Joseph did not help matters by sharing his dreams of ruling over his brothers, making his brothers feel like they were less in the eyes of their father.
God addresses this unfair and ungodly treatment in Deut 21 showing us it is not His heart on the matter. So, what can we learn from this?
Israel is God's firstborn. "Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, even my firstborn" (Ex 4:22). As Gentiles, we are born into the Body of Christ and become children of God. We did not replace Israel. It's very dangerous to think we are now the firstborn and that God does not love Israel!
When the scripture refers to Yeshua (Jesus) as the firstborn from the dead and of many brethren in Romans 8:29 and Col 1:15, the root word has a different meaning. In both cases it means "higher in rank or position". He is the first, the highest! None can compare! He is God who became man who lived a perfect life so that He could take our place as the perfect sacrifice and bring us life! He did this for both the Jew and the Gentile.
How can the Jewish people recognize Yeshua as the Messiah if we act like we are better or deserve the position of firstborn? When the prodigal son came back and the Father welcomed him with open arms, the Father did not replace the elder son with the younger! He loved them both! He put His robe (not the brother's robe) on the younger son and gave him position and authority, but He did not give him the firstborn's position. When the elder son was moved with jealousy, the Father could show him that all in the Father's House was available to him also. (Luke 15:11-32)
Romans, chapter 11 clearly states that we are grafted into the olive tree, Israel. That we are not the root but supported by the root! The Jews eyes were blinded for a time so that the Gentiles would come to know the Lord. "It is this, that the partial insensibility which has come to Israel is only to last until the full number of the Gentiles has been called in. Once this has happened, all Israel will be saved, as the scripture says: 'The deliverer will come out of Zion, and he will turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins'." (Phillips translation)
Lord, help us stop being so arrogant! We need to pray for the firstborn, Israel, instead of flaunting our robe and dreams! Let's do what we are told to do, to "bless Israel" and "pray for the Shalom of Jerusalem" .... or our noses are going to grow!
(Look for this week's Torah portion below and see the upcoming events you can be a part of!)