The Birthright Blessing

Jacob, Esau, and the blessing… Most of us are familiar with the account of the two brothers and the saga of the elusive birthright blessing. Now, the birthright in the early Middle-Eastern culture was a very interesting thing. You see, the blessing of the birthright involved much more than simply extra land and possessions. The birthright also meant that you inherited the responsibilities of spiritual leadership for the family. It meant you were to become the priest of the family. That’s why Esau “despised” his birthright. He probably didn’t mind the idea of extra land and possessions, but he wanted nothing to do with the spiritual responsibilities for the family clan. Of course, we all remember how things went down in Genesis 25. Esau agreed to sell his birthright to Jacob for a mere bowl of lentils!

The mother Rebekah, of course, remembered this whole time how God had told her in Genesis 25:23 that Jacob, the younger son, was to receive the birthright blessing instead of Esau. She, Jacob, and, apparently, God were all on the same page. There was just one problem: Isaac wasn’t quite on board with the plan. Isaac still intended to give the birthright blessing to Esau, who had apparently forgotten about his arrangement with Jacob. And so, just like Abraham and Sarah, Rebekah and Jacob had a choice to make: let God work things out or try to make things work themselves. Sadly, she and Jacob chose to use bribery and deception to “make God’s plan happen.” Genesis 28 chronicles the elaborate birthright heist and Jacob’s subsequent flight for his life! Their plan did not work out quite as expected.

But even in the midst of this sad account of lies and deceit in Genesis 28, I think there is some fascinating spiritual symbolism at work here. Just think for a moment on this story’s spiritual implications for us today: Jacob receives the blessing of the father because he puts on the clothing and assumes the nature of his elder brother. You see, like Jacob, we don’t deserve our Father’s blessing either. But when we allow ourselves to be clothed with the garments of righteousness of our “Elder Brother” – when we allow ourselves to be covered by His forgiveness, when we allow ourselves to be filled with His Being – then, we find ourselves fully accepted into heaven’s family!

Of course, in Jacob’s case, his father was blind. Isaac unknowingly bestowed the blessing on the undeserving heir. But, in our case, our Heavenly Father absolutely knows everything we are and everything we have done! God is not fooled. He can look at us and see every ounce of filth in our lives and every taint of impurity in our hearts. But God doesn’t look at us that way. He, instead, simply chooses to look on us and see the goodness of His beloved Son Jesus Christ! “He has not seen iniquity in Jacob. Neither has he seen perverseness in Israel” (Numbers 23:21, WEB). “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons [to receive the birthright blessing!] through Jesus Christ [through Jesus’ provision for us, because of His garments of righteousness over us], in accordance with his pleasure and will [because he wanted to and because it gave Him great pleasure to do so for us!]” (Ephesians 1:4-5, NIV).

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