BECOMING THE FIRSTBORN
"...for I am a Father to Israel, and Ephraim is My firstborn."
The Bible is truth... yet, history tells us that Ephraim was the younger of the sons of Joseph. Ephraim was not the firstborn! Manasseh was the firstborn of Joseph. what is the Bible telling us here in Jeremiah?
Somehow, Ephraim was receiving the firstborn blessings, not only of Joseph, but also of Israel (Jacob). God chooses who receives the "double-portion" blessings, and He always has. Seth received the double portion over Cain, because Cain had killed his brother. Jacob was to receive the double-portion, firstborn blessings, not Esau, for God foreknew the evil nature of Esau. Reuben did not receive the double-portion, firstborn blessings, but rather Joseph did. And now God announces that Ephraim, the second child of Joseph was to have the double-portion blessings, and not Manasseh.
Sometimes, saints feel that they are not specially gifted, special, etc.-- and even if that is true, it is possible, like Ephraim, Jacob, Seth, etc. to receive the double-portion blessings!
Jacob was blind, or nearly so, when he came near to death. His eyes were dim, but not his mind. Jacob knew what he was doing, and wittingly, knowingly, he did something that surprised Joseph.
"Now the eyes of Israel (Jacob) were dim for age, so that he could not see... Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn."
Israel (Jacob) crossed his arms, so that the right hand was put upon Ephraim. Joseph had brought his sons to Israel and placed them before Israel so that Manasseh would be in place to have the right hand put upon him. The right hand was used in those days to bestow the "firstborn" blessings." This hand indicated who was to have the "double-portion blessings. Joseph did not expect Israel to do what he did here. Israel crossed his arms, and gave the firstborn blessings to Ephraim.
"And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head... and his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it... truly his younger brother shall be greater than he."
Often, we may object to God's ways, but God is omniscient, and He knows what our lives will be like, He knows the choices we will make... and He determines blessings upon us accordingly. We may fail to understand God's ways... and here, we find that Joseph did not understand what Israel's purpose was.
"And he blessed them that day saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying God make thee as Ephraim, and as Manasseh, and he set Ephraim before Manasseh."
We do not often comprehend the importance in that day of the firstborn blessings. It was of vital interest, and of vital import in that day. Even in monarchies today, because of being the firstborn, the right of being the next king is determined.
Joseph had received the firstborn blessings from Israel.
"Moreover, I have given to thee (Joseph) one portion above thy brethren."
Joseph had received the double-portion blessings that Reuben would have been given. But Reuben failed, and God knew his nature, and knew the nature of Joseph, and thereby chose to have Israel bestow the firstborn blessing on his eleventh born son. Jacob received the firstborn blessing instead of Esau, for Esau had a nature that allowed him to sell his birthright for a bowl of soup... Esau placed little value on such blessing. Now we live in an age, when Israel has lost its firstborn blessings, and it has been given to the church... for they have rejected their promised Messiah.
The two sons of Joseph were prophetically named. Ephraim means "doubly fruitful", and Manasseh means "making to forget..." Joseph unknowingly (probably) gave Ephraim a name that prophetically described his ultimate double-portion blessing. Today, our name is prophetic--- "Christian" means "Christ-like one", and we shall soon see our Lord in the rapture, and when we see Him, we shall be like Him.
THE BLESSINGS OF THE FIRSTBORN
1. Family inheritance, a double-portion (Deuteronomy 21:15-17)
2. Family supremacy
3. The father's blessing
4. The right to be the spiritual leader, priest of the family
5. Choice of all family lands
6. Fruitfulness in offspring
7. A great name
THE FIRSTBORN BLESSING:
1. Could be sold as did Esau (Genesis 25:2934, 27:36).
"Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright."
"It was said unto her, the elder shall serve the younger, As it is written, Jacob have I loved, Esau have I hated..."
2. Could be forfeited by sin (I Chronicles 5:1-2).
3. Could be set aside by God (Genesis 25:23, 48:15-20)
I Kings 2:15
"The kingdom is turned about, and is become my brother's (said by Adonijah about Solomon); for it was his from the Lord."
The fact of a double-portion blessing proves that there are different measures of the Holy Spirit and of power which men can receive. For example, Elisha asked for a double-portion of what Elijah had. We are also told by the Lord to "ask largely." There are different portions of blessings to be received.
II Kings 2:9
"...Elijah said unto Elisha, Ask what I shall do for thee, before I be taken away from thee. And Elisha said, I pray thee, let a double-portion of thy Spirit be upon me..."
We need to realize there is more out there to receive from the Lord, and we need to realize it is not all dependent upon our rank in birth, or in what century, what country, or what dispensation we are born... Enoch walked with God many, many centuries before the rapture... yet the Lord raptured him... We may live in an age that is sinful, apostate, and rebellious... but if we are serving the Lord with our whole heart, we can receive a double-portion blessing.
CHRIST IS CALLED "THE FIRSTBORN..."
"Who (Christ Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature..."
Jesus is the firstborn (Greek = prototokos). Though Adam was the first created of God... yet he failed, and every man since has failed... now Jesus is born into this world to become the "firstborn" of every creature.
Jesus is the "only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14)...
Jesus is the "only begotten Son" (John 3:16,18; I John 1:9, Hebrews 1:5)...
Jesus is the "firstborn of every creature" (Colossians 1:15)...
Jesus is the "firstborn of the dead..." (Colossians 1:18, Revelation 1:5)...
Jesus is the "firstborn of many brethren (Romans 8:29)...
Jesus is the head of the "church of the firstborn..." (Hebrews 12:23)...
"And He is the head of the body, the church; Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things, He might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell."
Of the second birth (the new birth), Jesus was the firstborn... And He received the double-portion blessings, the pre-eminence because of that fact.
"And if children, then heirs, heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together."
Jesus received the firstborn blessings from God, and therefore, if we are "joint-heirs", we share His "firstborn blessings..." The blessings were offered first to the Jewish nation of Israel. They were to be the blessed of God. They failed, and now the church has a double-portion through Christ...
"But ye are come... to the general assembly and the church of the firstborn."
The whole of this church age, the body of believers are entitled to a firstborn, double-portion, blessing. You and I are the firstborn, and entitled to the blessings provided for us by our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus told us - "the works that I do shall ye do also, and greater works than these..." and He told us - "ask anything in My name, and ..." Many are called to the double-portion blessings, but few receive it. Many have been called to receive great and manifold blessings and ministries from God, and have missed, ignored, or been ignorant of such blessings... How foolish!!
We are the 'Church of the firstborn', and are entitled to the same firstborn blessings that Jesus was given... We may do His works, have His blessings... and yet, too many saints are looking for carnal wealth (as was Esau), or for acceptance from others, not God (as was Reuben)... Are we going to miss our chance at a firstborn blessing???
"For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire laborers into his vineyards. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went our about the third hour and saw others standing idle in the marketplace. And said unto them; God ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, I will give you. And they went their way. Again, he went out about the sixth hour, and the ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour, he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, 'Why stand ye here all the day idle?'... He saith unto them, 'Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive...' So when even was come... given them their hire beginning from the last to the first... And when they were come that were hired in the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny... When the first came, they supposed they should receive more... they likewise received every man a penny... they murmured against the goodman of the house... 'Friend, I do thee no wrong, didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good?' So the last shall be first, and the first last, for many be called, but few are chosen."
Israel was called to a double portion... you and I are called to a double portion... Few choose to appreciate the possibilities of the blessings of God. Esau sold his for a bowl of soup... many to day choose to sell theirs for pleasure, for wealth, for prestige, for sleeping instead of going to church, for watching television instead of reading their Bible, etc. Will you sell out as Esau? Will you lack fruitfulness and lose your double-portion blessings as Manasseh? Or-- will you follow hard after God and settle for nothing less than a double portion????
The church age is a wonderful opportunity... There is a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit... The latter rain revival is upon us, and it is to be double portion of the former rain revival...
"He hath given you the former rain moderately, and He will cause to come down for you the rain, the former and the latter rain in the first month..."
God always knew what Israel would do with their blessings, and how they would reject the Messiah, and choose to shun their double blessings from the Lord. God knew that the church would accept Jesus, and thereby come into the double portion, firstborn blessings of God.
Now that we are in that age, we need to beware...
"For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, were graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the foot and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches, But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee... Because of their unbelief, they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not high minded, but fear; For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee... Behold therefore, the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness; if thou continue in His goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in; for God is able to graff them in again."