More on the Firstborn issue

My last post elicited this comment:

Ed, I have wondered but never understood the issues of Joseph’s sons being elevated to the status of their uncles–and the younger one of them getting the birthright! Sheer grace–and that’s our calling with God. Thanks for reminding us of this. Martin.

This is a fascinating subject. The question of why the firstborn almost never (more about that later) actually received the birthright is explained by a little-known principle enunciated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:46:

The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.

Note that Paul is contrasting ‘natural’ with ‘spiritual.’ And the Bible narratives continually confirm this. Consider:

Cain was firstborn, but Abel was the spiritual one.

Aaron was firstborn, but Moses was the spiritual one.

Saul was the first king– the ‘natural’ king, he was ‘head and shoulders taller, remember– but David was the spiritual one.

Even within David’s line, David was not allowed to build the Temple, because he was a ‘man of blood.’ Solomon –the second in line, not the first–was the spiritual king, who did build the Temple.

Solomon is an interesting case. He was not David’s firstborn; nor was he even the first child of David and Bathsheba. That child died in infancy. So, once again, the second child was the spiritual one.

It even works with the Temple itself. The first Temple was a natural wonder, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, but the second Temple was the spiritual one, the more glorious because Jesus blessed it with his presence.

So this principle manifests itself repeatedly in Scripture. Keep an eye out for it, and you might be surprised how, and how often, it shows up.


More on the Firstborn issue — 4 Comments

  1. Maybe the same principle applies to our personal life–and even our work for God. That which we first put our hopes in sometimes doesn’t work out, and we get discouraged and maybe give up on ever amounting to anything in ministry. And then God steps in with “plan B” that really was His eternal purpose all along.
    Witness Moses, who thought at first that God was going to use him to deliver Israel when he killed the bad guy. Then he had to run for his life to the “back end of the desert,” having given up his ministry dream. But after 40 years, God was ready to roll with the very timetable He had ordained 430 years earlier with Abraham–that is 430 years to the very day! (Exodus 12:41). Moses had given up on himself, but God hadn’t, and His timing was perfect. To the very day–one of the most remarkable and little appreciated prophetic fulfillments in the Bible, I think.

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