The Birthright (1)

Posted on November 3, 2010


It used to be that when I would start to read the book of Matthew, I would either skip over the genealogy of Jesus in Chapter 1 or just dutifully plow through it like a martyr. And I suspect that I’m not the only one that does this. I mean, its hard to get anything out of all those names.

However, this is the way that the Spirit chose to begin the New Testament, so it must be meaningful. Actually, these 17 verses at the beginning of Matthew can be considered a synopsis of the entire old testament. They trace this line through the scriptures of God’s choosing. The Bible calls this line the “birthright.”

Matthew 1:2 says “Abraham begot Isaac, and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.” Here is the beginning of the birthright. Abraham passed the birthright on to Isaac, not Ishmael. Then Isaac had two sons: Esau and Jacob. Hebrews 12:16 says that Esau gave up his birthright for a meal. Therefore, he lost the birthright to Jacob.

Jacob, we know, had twelve sons, the oldest of which was Ruben. The birthright should have gone to him, but he lost it because of fornication, according to 1 Chronicles 5:1. Instead, the birthright was split up between three of his brothers: Joseph, Levi, and Judah.

What’s the principle here? I think it’s in line with Hebrews 12:23, which calls us “the church of the firstborn.” As the firstborn today, we have the birthright. But as we saw, Ruben lost the birthright. This is a warning to us. As Christians, we know that we can never lose our eternal salvation just as Ruben, although he defiled himself, was still included in God’s people. However, we also can not deny that he lost something. He lost the extra blessing, bringing forth Christ and being closely associated with Christ.

Today, if we choose to be world-loving Christians, if we choose not to be priests of the gospel, and if we do not rule over our flesh and deny our soul-life, we may lose our extra portion of Christ, our birthright. However, if we value our birthright the way Joseph did and like the overcomers did in Revelation 2 and 3, we may gain an extra portion of Christ.