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Episode 13 of Kindavangelical just released! Patriarchal Regrets

When Firstborn Doesn’t Mean “Oldest”

There is not one square inch of the entire creation about which Jesus Christ does not cry out, “This is mine! This belongs to me!” —Abraham Kuyper

Do you remember meeting twins when you were a kid? The eldest twin always wanted to make sure everyone knew he was eight minutes older. They might share a birthday, but one was definitely the firstborn.

Scripture talks a lot about being firstborn, but it doesn’t always mean “born first.” In fact, in most of the places where it seems to count, God flips the birth order. For example:

  • Ishmael, Abraham’s son, was born 13 years before Isaac, yet Isaac was the child of promise and given the firstborn inheritance and blessing.
  • Esau was the oldest of the twins, yet it was Jacob who received the firstborn inheritance, becoming the patriarch of the nation of Israel through his father’s blessing.
  • Even Joseph’s sons—Manasseh and Ephraim—flipped, as Ephraim was younger but became the firstborn.

Over and over we see this in the Old Testament, redefining the term so that firstborn no longer means what we think it means. Instead, to be firstborn was to possess a special place in the heart of the father. 

This new definition is incredibly helpful when we read passages like this:

And again, when God brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6)

Jesus wasn’t created, for He was equal to the Father and the Creator of all things (Colossians 1:16).

But He was cherished. Jesus possessed a special place in the heart of His Father, and the Father was delighted to share Him. And so, like the angels, we have an invitation to worship.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I need to be reminded that Jesus is greater. Sometimes I need to be reminded that I’m invited to worship Him, allowing everything else to fall into my periphery.

Father, only You can mix up the order of things and set the world right. How precious to learn that You are neither cold nor distant, but rather love to cherish. Thank You for adopting me into this kind of family. Amen.

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