The children struggled together within her, and she said, “If it is thus, why is this happening to me?”[b] So she went to inquire of the Lord. 23 And the Lord said to her,
“Two nations are in your womb,
and two peoples from within you[c] shall be divided;
the one shall be stronger than the other,
the older shall serve the younger.” (Genesis 25:22-23)
Through the Bible: Genesis 25-26
I’m the youngest of four, so it’s possible I have some unresolved issues with my older siblings. Mostly about baby books. My oldest sister has VOLUMES of baby books, filled with pictures that seemingly chronicle her every move. In contrast, I may have a ziplock bag of school photos somewhere.
As I write this at the beginning of 2023, the number one book on the New York Times bestseller list is Prince Harry’s autobiography Spare. The title comes from the derisive nickname he grew up with: as the firstborn, his older brother William was the heir to the throne. Harry was the Spare. Sometimes I grew up feeling like that too. I sometimes felt like I was competing for our dad’s attention and affection with my three older siblings. And losing. My older brother had so much more in common with Dad. He was the heir, I was the spare. He had our father’s favor.
As you journey through Scripture this year, you’re going to notice a consistent theme: the firstborn is rarely the leader or the recipient of the blessing. From Shem, to Isaac, to Jacob, to Joseph, to Ephraim, to Moses, to David, to Solomon, to the Apostle John, it always seems to be the second or twelfth or eighth or fifth son that is the child of promise, the child of blessing, the child who will be king, the disciple whom Jesus loved. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find a firstborn given prominence or pre-eminence.
Except for one. Jesus. The firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29). The firstborn of all creation (Colossians 1:18). The firstborn from among the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth (Revelation 1:5).
I wonder if part of the reason is that all Scripture is intended to point to Jesus. God tells His story in Scripture in a way to emphasize that there is ONE hero. There is ONE perfect, unblemished sacrifice. And there is ONE firstborn who upholds the universe by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3).
And the most beautiful truth of all is that because of Jesus, I am made righteous before the Heavenly Father. The Firstborn doesn’t have the father’s favor instead of me. I have the Father’s favor because of Him.