Firstborn Blessings

When Isaac was old and his eyes were so weak that he could no longer see, he called for Esau his older son and said to him, “My son.”

“Here I am,” he answered.

2 Isaac said, “I am now an old man and don’t know the day of my death. 3 Now then, get your equipment—your quiver and bow—and go out to the open country to hunt some wild game for me. 4 Prepare me the kind of tasty food I like and bring it to me to eat, so that I may give you my blessing before I die.”

5 Now Rebekah was listening as Isaac spoke to his son Esau. Genesis 27:1-5

All along Rebekah has favored Jacob. So when the opportunity came to deceive her husband (and his father), she took it.

What occurred next was out and out deception and lies by Rebekah and Jacob. She knew how to manipulate her husband especially given his deteriorating condition. She also knew the power of the older son blessing. Did she do it to get back at her husband or just for Jacob’s sake? No one knows. It could have been both reasons.

We know that nothing good can come out of deception. She knew what she was about to do so she is clearly at fault.

It’s impossible to know, but what would have happened if she would have just let Esau do what Isaac wanted? Would God still have blessed Jacob? Was the firstborn blessing that significant?

This is lengthy but worth your reading. It discusses how the firstborn in the initial line is not actually the firstborn.

Abraham received a covenant from God to become the father of many, to establish a special heritage and blessing for the people of God.

However, Abraham’s firstborn, Ishmael, did not receive the blessing. Instead, Isaac, the son born through Sarah received the blessing.

Isaac’s firstborn son, Esau, did not receive the blessing. Instead, Jacob received the blessing. Jacob’s firstborn son,

Reuben, did not receive the blessing. Instead, Joseph received the blessing.

Joseph’s firstborn son, Manasseh, did not receive the blessing. Instead, Ephraim received the blessing from the hand of Jacob.

And still further, when the tribes were numbered, God declared the Levites to be the firstborn of Israel.

What is happening here? Why is the blessing not being given as a birthright to the physical firstborn descendant? The Apostle Paul specifically addressed this question in the book of Romans. He was addressing the hidden wisdom about the firstborn.

But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; neither are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. Romans 9:6-8

Let me summarize this wisdom about the firstborn. It is shrouded in controversy and many do not accept God’s sovereign choices here.

Why was Isaac the firstborn over Ishmael? Isaac was the promised son through Sarah.

Why was Jacob over Esau? Jacob was the prophesied son through Rebekah.

Why was Joseph over Reuben? Joseph was the favored (chosen) son of Jacob because of his love for Rachel.

Why was Ephraim over Manasseh? Ephraim was the adopted son elevated to the level of being a son of Israel.

Why was Levi chosen over the physical, natural firstborns that follow? Because Levi was the priesthood who drew near to the Lord.

The blessing of the firstborn is not about being the firstborn physically. It is about God’s promises, prophecies, choices, adoption, and those who draw near to Him.

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