Jesus “was” the only begotten Son of God prior to the resurrection. After the resurrection Jesus became the firstborn Son. There is much to be said about birthright and blessing of the firstborn. Many Christians today are unaware of their firstborn blessing that Jesus shares with them. As a result they do not value their birthright and do not walk in the authority and blessing if it.
The twin brothers, Jacob and Esau, are a good example of one that values the birthright and the other that does not. Their story begins in Genesis 25. Jacob and Esau are twin brothers and sons of Isaac and Rebekah. Isaac is the promised son of Abraham and Sarah. Esau was the firstborn by just seconds as Jacob came out holding onto Esau’s heel. We will pick up the story in verse 27:
When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a peaceful man, living in tents. Now Isaac loved Esau, because he had a taste for game, but Rebekah loved Jacob. When Jacob had cooked stew, Esau came in from the field and he was famished; and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow of that red stuff there, for I am famished.” Therefore, his name was called Edom. But Jacob said, “First sell me your birthright.” Esau said, “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” And Jacob said, “First swear to me”; so he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew; and he ate and drank and rose and went on his way. Thus, Esau despised his birthright.
Esau came in from hunting and found Jacob had made some stew. Having hunted all day, Esau was very hungry. Apparently, he didn’t kill any game that day. Esau asked Jacob for some stew, but Jacob wanted to make a deal instead. He wanted Esau’s birthright before he shared his stew. Esau was the firstborn son; therefore, he had a legal right to the birthright.
The birthright in Hebrew culture was a position of high honor within the family. The firstborn male child obtained the birthright simply by being born first. God stated this in Deuteronomy 1:17: “But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.”
In Numbers 3:13, the Lord said the firstborn belonged to Him. The birthright included receiving a double portion of inheritance along with authority over the rest of the family. He was the priest of the family and would also inherit the judicial authority of the father. We see a glimpse of this when Jesus, as the firstborn son, made provision for His mother, Mary, while in excruciating pain dying on the cross. Think of that: Jesus exercised the authority of His birthright while crucified on the cross moments before He was to die. That is how important and serious the position of the firstborn is.
In a royal family, the firstborn male son would typically assume the throne as king when the father died. As we see in 2 Chronicles 21:3:
Their father gave them many gifts of silver, gold and precious things, with fortified cities in Judah, but he gave the kingdom to Jehoram because he was the firstborn.
In just this brief summary, we can see that being the firstborn came with a lot of rights and privileges in the family. It was a high honor of great value and Jacob knew this, but Esau apparently didn’t think it was of value. Jacob wanted his brother’s birthright and he devised a plan to get it. It was a birthright for food deal. Esau had the birthright and Jacob had the food. So, Jacob asked Esau for the birthright in exchange for some stew. Esau replied; “Behold, I am about to die; so of what use then is the birthright to me?” Wow! His reply made it obvious that he did not value his birthright. Esau traded his birthright for a single meal! In a similar way, Adam and Eve handed over their birthright for food, a piece of fruit. It seems that food is always getting us humans in trouble.
In Genesis 25:34 it says: “Thus, Esau despised his birthright.” For the temporary gratification of his flesh, Esau viewed his birthright as worthless. Temporary gratification of the flesh, the bait of sin that leads to death. The writer of the book of Hebrews calls Esau immoral and godless.
… that there be no immoral or godless person like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.
Jacob certainly wasn’t perfect, but he did value the birthright and he eventually went on to become Israel and the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. What happened to Esau? Well, in Genesis 37:39-40, Isaac said Esau would live away from the fertile soil of the earth and he would live by the sword, serving his younger brother just as the Lord told Rebekah when she was pregnant with the twins. Esau went on to marry a daughter of Ishmael (ref. Genesis 28:9). Look what it also says in Hebrews concerning Esau;
For you know that even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.
So it is with all who do not value the blessing of the firstborn. Tragic indeed!
It is interesting to note that Abraham’s second son, Isaac, also received the blessing of the firstborn. Then, Isaac’s second son Jacob received the blessing of the firstborn. Then, Jacob’s son Joseph was not his firstborn, but Joseph received the blessing. David was the youngest of his family and he received a blessing beyond any of his brothers by becoming king of Israel and from whom Jesus came.
In the Man with Two Sons story (Prodigal Son) the older son (the son with the birthright) possessed a slave mentality and did not have the mindset of a son. Therefore, he thought like a slave, hung out with slaves and acted like a slave. As a result, he never tapped into the blessing of the firstborn or his inheritance. It wasn’t stolen nor was it taken away by his father, he forfeited it. He handed it over just like Adam and Eve did. In the void created by the older son, the younger son stepped into it and was restored by his father in a place of honor and authority within the family by the robe, ring and sandals his father placed on him. Those who value the birthright and blessing of the firstborn possess the mindset of a son. Those who despise it possess a slave mentality and therefore live without it.
Very tragic indeed!
Notice how often in scripture that it wasn’t the firstborn who ended up with the blessing of inheritance. God is wanting us to know that Jesus shares His firstborn inheritance with all who are born into the family of God, both male and female. This is what the “adoption of sons” means; to receive the full inheritance at the moment of the new birth! We are truly co-heirs with Jesus!
It is our choice to receive it or hand it over.