Even though Jacob was born second, he wanted the birthright and even tricked his older brother Esau to sell him the birthright for a bowl of lentil stew (see Gen. 25:22-26). Later, with the cooperation of his mother, Jacob stole his brother’s blessing from their old father, pretending he is Esau in order to obtain the blessing (Gen. 25:29-34).
Jacob didn’t know it in the beginning, but he didn’t really have to use these despicable means to gain the birthright since God predestinated him to have the birthright and the blessing. However, in spite of Jacob obtaining the birthright in such a way, God was sovereign in all these things, and God predestined him to have it.
It took Jacob quite a while to realize that it is all of God’s mercy, and God is sovereign, shepherding him and arranging all things and people in his life for his transformation and maturity to get the blessing.
It is a great day in our Christian life when we recognize that God predestined us to have the birthright and all things work together for good according to God’s sovereignty.
In Jacob’s case, even though he gained the birthright, he didn’t enjoy it until after he was transformed from a supplanter and a heel-holder into a prince of God.
After Jacob was transformed and matured, he enjoyed the birthright and the blessing, and all he did was just bless everyone: he blessed Pharaoh (the ruler of the world in that time), and he blessed each one of his children in a particular way, uttering a prophetic word with blessing.
This is our destiny: we will be transformed and matured to enjoy the birthright and bless all those around us with the Triune God according to what they need for their growth in the divine life for God’s building.
However, we need to be warned concerning despising the birthright (as Esau did) and losing the birthright (as Reuben did). We need to keep ourselves from defilement and be the proper kind of persons in God’s economy so that the birthright would be ours and not be shifted to someone else who flees the defilement (as Joseph did).
Receiving the Birthright is a Matter of God’s Predestination and Sovereignty
God chose and loved Jacob; He predestined Jacob to have the birthright, and there’s nothing anyone could do to change that.
In everything that happened in Jacob’s life, God was sovereign. He was sovereign in Esau’s despising and selling the birthright to him, in Rebekah’s ingenuousness in her partial love for Jacob, in Isaac’s blindness in blessing, and in Jacob receiving the blessing from Isaac.
The means used by Jacob to obtain the birthright were base, mean, and ugly, and he shouldn’t have done all this since God already predestined him to have the birthright. However, God was sovereign in all that Jacob, Esau, Rebekah, and Isaac did, and He fulfilled the purpose of His selection.
Jacob cheated his brother into selling him the birthright by offering him lentil stew when Esau was most hungry, and then he tricked his father into thinking he is Esau and giving him the blessing. Jacob maneuvered and cheated, but all these were not necessary; the birthright was his anyways, no matter what!
Apparently it was Jacob who schemed and supplanted to obtain the birthright, but actually God was sovereign in predestining him and giving him the birthright.
Also, Jacob’s scheming and maneuvering caused him to suffer: he had to run away from his home, he was under Laban for 20 years, he didn’t see his mother ever since he left, and he was under the constant impression that Esau hated him and wanted to kill him.
God in His sovereignty used Jacob’s scheming and cheating to deal with him and break him, so that he would be ready to be transformed and matured to enjoy the birthright.
The shifting of the birthright from Esau to Jacob shows us that receiving the birthright is NOT a matter of our natural birth or endeavoring but a matter of God’s predestination and sovereignty.
Enjoying the Birthright in Maturity
Although Jacob gained the birthright, he didn’t enjoy it until he was transformed from a supplanter into a prince of God and had become mature (Gen. 32:28; 35:10).
The means by which he got the birthright were despicable, but God was sovereign. Jacob treasured the birthright and wanted to have it and enjoy it. But he didn’t enjoy the birthright until after he was transformed and matured.
After obtaining the birthright, Jacob had to go through a long period of time of dealings (under Laban, being cheated by Laban when it comes to his daughters being given to him as wife and having his wages changed many times) and breaking (through the environment and his family) so that he would be ready to be transformed.
It was only after Jacob was transformed from a supplanter and a robber into a prince of God that he could enjoy and exercise the birthright.
Jacob’s supplanting hands became Israel’s blessing hands (Gen. 47:7, 10; 48:15, 20; 49:28). When Jacob went to Egypt, he didn’t try to cheat others and get things for himself anymore; he simply blessed everyone. He went to Egypt not to rob others but to give and to bless.
We need to treasure the birthright and seek to enjoy it. We should not be passive regarding the birthright, thinking that God already predestined us to have it. Rather, even though we may not be fully transformed and mature in life, we should seek to enjoy the birthright so that we may exercise it!
Lord, we treasure the birthright. We cannot live, serve, and be without Your blessing. Thank You for sovereignly predestinating us to have the birthright of enjoying God, expressing God, and representing God. Lord, go on in us and take us all the way to the point where we can fully enjoy and exercise the birthright. Transform us in our soul. Conform us to Your image. Bring us on to maturity so that we may fully enjoy and exercise our birthright!
Warning: Being the Proper Persons and Fleeing from Defilement to Enjoy the Birthright
Jacob’s firstborn, the one who should have enjoyed the birthright, was Reuben; but Reuben lost it because of his defilement – he slept with his father’s concubine, and thus defiled his bed (Gen. 49:3-4).
Although God intended for Reuben to have the birthright, because of his defilement he lost it and the birthright was shifted from Reuben to Joseph, who fled from that kind of defilement (1 Chron. 5:1).
What Reuben did was very serious and he lost his birthright. The double portion of the land was given to Joseph’s two sons, the priesthood to Levi, and the kingship to Judah.
We need to be warned concerning defilement: if we defile ourselves especially by fornication, we will forfeit the birthright; no fornicator will enter into the millennial kingdom to have the fullest enjoyment of Christ and to be a priest of God and a king with Christ (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:5).
In order for us to be overcomers exercising our birthright to enjoy Christ and be God’s priests and Christ’s kings, we need to stay away from defilement.
Even more, we need to take care of our person to be the right kind of person, otherwise we will forfeit our birthright. In 1 Cor. 6, Gal. 5, and Eph. 5 Paul lists a few kinds of persons that cannot inherit the kingdom: profane persons, adulterers, blasphemers, drunkards, etc.
Reuben didn’t just do something; it was his person that costed him the birthright. Esau didn’t just “sell his birthright”; he loved the world and the physical enjoyment in the world, and he despised the birthright.
Yes, our actions are very important and we should watch and be on guard (see: Moses losing the right to enter into the good land because of one action he did), but a person who does some actions still has hope, while someone who is a certain kind of person may have very little hope.
We need the Lord’s mercy to preserve us in our behavior and in the kind of person we become. We need to be those enjoying the Lord and cooperating with His dealings, breaking, and transformation that we may be the right kind of persons, those who do NOT sell their birthright (like Esau) and do not forfeit it (like Reuben) but rather treasure it, enjoy it, and exercise it for God’s purpose.
Lord Jesus, save us from any defilement and fornication. Lord, have mercy on us, keep us, and preserve us to be the kind of person that can inherit the birthright and exercise it. We treasure our birthright to enjoy God, express God, and represent God. Lord, we want to give You our best cooperation day by day to be those who are being dealt with, broken, transformed, and matured in the divine life to fully enjoy the birthright and exercise it for God.
Read this blog post in Spanish also via, No menospreciar o perder la primogenitura que recibimos por la soberanía de Dios, sino disfrutarla (Dios-Hombre).
References and Hymns on this Topic
- Inspiration: the Word of God, my Christian experience, bro. Ron Kangas’ sharing in the message for this week, and portions from, Life-study of Genesis (msg. 68), as quoted in, the Holy Word for Morning Revival on, Crystallization-Study of Genesis (3), week 5 / msg 5, The Birthright (you can buy this morning revival book here).
- Picture source and some more ministry portions on this topic – see this article on, Christian Pictures blog.
- Hymns on this topic:
# Blest assurance! God has fully ordered / Every matter by His sovereign hand; / Every person (though we see so dimly), / Every thing’s according to His plan. / Every trial is but the Father’s answer / To the groaning of the Spirit’s prayer; / May He gain in every tribulation, / Until we Christ’s glory fully share. (Hymns #1210)
# By His mercy, we’re selected, / Ours a glorious destiny. / Not by running, nor by willing, / But through God’s own sovereignty. / Once we were wild olive branches, / Now the root and fat partake, / Grafted in, rejoice together, / Growing for the kingdom’s sake. (Hymns #1203)
# I would cease completely / From my efforts vain, / Let Thy life transform me, / Full release to gain; / Build me up with others / Till in us Thou see / Thy complete expression / Glorifying Thee. (Hymns #841)
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