There is no clear origin of what is a birthright in the Bible, how significant it is, and how it becomes even more symbolic through Jesus Christ.
The Bible places a premium on the concept of birthright. Birthright recognizes the special status of the firstborn son. The birthright continues to be significant for Christians around the world. God fulfilled His promise to Abraham through Jesus Christ. And through this, God’s grace and love are extended to us, believers. Read this article to know more about birthright.
What is a Birthright in the Bible?
Any inherent or inalienable right or benefit one has at birth is known as a birthright. Even when defined in the biblical sense, fewer Christians now have a firm grasp on the concept of the birthright in the Bible. Under our spiritual rebirth, we Christians are adopted as God’s sons and share in His rewards in this life and the next.
Birthright in a biblical context
There is no clear origin for the concept of birthright in the Bible, but it is used frequently. There are various directives in place to either preserve or reshape the birthright.
Traditionally in the biblical context, the eldest son in a household would inherit the birthright. He was granted the birthright and was given twice as much of his father’s wealth. Such was a tremendous honor, as the birthright carried with it responsibilities and certain benefits. The firstborn child would take over leadership responsibilities and ownership of family assets. He would provide for the younger boys, the widow, and any unwed daughters. He would have a lot of sways over his siblings and cousins. Also, he would also enter into a unique covenant with the Lord due to this favor.
Interestingly, some of the most significant illustrations of the birthright in the Bible occurred when it went to someone who was not the firstborn son. The birthright’s strength and significance are demonstrated in the following examples.
Examples of Birthright in the Bible
Esau’s birthright as the firstborn son
In the Book of Genesis, Jacob and Esau, twin brothers, are born of Isaac and Rebecca. The birthright belonged to Esau because he was the firstborn son. Being the eldest, Esau was a hunter who won Isaac’s affection, while the younger, more reserved Jacob won Rebecca’s affection.
However, God foretold that Esau would eventually serve Jacob before the twins’ birth. When they were adults, Esau decided to go hunting. When Esau returns, he finds Jacob making lentil stew. Esau, tired from his journey, asks Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew and bread. Jacob agrees to offer Esau the soup, but in return, Esau must give Jacob his birthright.
Jacob, the younger son, inherits a larger share of his father’s estate and holds a more prominent position in the family. Eventually, Jacob uses the same tactic to obtain his father’s special blessing. God’s words are that “the older shall serve the younger.”
Birthright of Jacob as the younger son
Years passed following Esau giving up his birthright to Jacob. Isaac’s tribe moved and was established in several locations, and Esau married two women from those communities. Due to his advanced age, Isaac gradually lost his eyesight until he was almost entirely blind. He started arranging his affairs since he knew it was time to provide his approval. His children would be blessed, but the firstborn would receive the greatest reward.
It was time to bestow Isaac’s blessings upon his son Esau when he was on his deathbed. Isaac told Esau to go out and catch him a lovely feast, and then he’d give him the blessing. While Esau was out hunting, Rebekah overheard the situation. She advised Jacob to pretend to be his brother so that he might deliver the supper to Isaac.
Isaac’s failing eyesight allowed Jacob to deceive him into receiving the blessing. Upon Esau’s return, Isaac realizes he made a mistake but considers it God’s way of fulfilling His own will. Jacob escapes avoiding Esau’s wrath. Eventually, he would be known as Israel, and his descendants would establish the country that would become God’s chosen people.
Birthright of Jesus as the begotten son
Jesus, the Son of God, was given the throne by God the Father and is, therefore, the ruler of the universe. He says we will participate in His kingdom and enjoy His blessings. Jesus is preeminent over everything else. This signifies that He is supreme above all. He is the pinnacle of glory and praise. Jesus is the beginning and the firstborn of all of God’s creations. In the Book of Hebrews, Jesus is introduced as God’s son and “heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2).
Birthright of Joseph
In addition to Jacob and Esau, Joseph is another biblical figure whose story features a birthright. Jacob was the father of Joseph. Jacob had two wives, Rachel and Leah. Even though Jacob preferred Rachel to Leah, his firstborn son, Reuben, was born of Leah. The first child Rachel took was Joseph. Usually, Jacob’s birthright will be passed on to his son Reuben, but this wasn’t the case. Because of the enormous sin Rueben committed against his father, Joseph was awarded the birthright.
What is our Birthright as Children of God?
Being a child of God is a privilege and a right that comes with being born again. In that instant, you are adopted into God’s eternal family. All of God’s blessings are rightfully yours. In addition, in receiving eternal life through Christ’s sacrifice, those born again into God’s kingdom also get a whole new birthright. Besides the salvation that lasts forever, this birthright includes peace, joy, and hope.
God’s love for His children is not conditional. A careless or malicious word cannot undo the work God did for us in Jesus Christ. When we give into sin, we squander the gift of life given to us. The damaged pieces of our life are not beyond God’s ability to repair and restore. Often, the elements of our blessing can be found in the seeds of our hardship.
Those who trust in God will only receive benefits in the end. When we spend our lives stressed out about the future, we waste what was given to us when we were born again into God’s kingdom. Rather than focusing on faith and gratitude, giving in to that desire can be tempting. But God assures us that He can be trusted and is at work in our lives according to His purpose.
What is the Significance of Birthright Today?
Birthright has meaning to us even today because it is granted to us through Jesus Christ. Jesus is the divine heir as God’s firstborn son. He rules over everything God created and will inherit everything God has made (Colossians 1:15-16). Also, because of Jesus’ sacrifice and death on the cross, we have become children of God and share in His eternal life.
We have been promised the birthright by God in three different ways: (1) image or the ability to reflect God’s likeness; (2) dominion or the power to exercise God’s authority; and (3) participation or taking part in God’s kingdom.
Image in God’s likeness
When God created man, He wanted him to reflect His likeness so that others could know and love Him. Nevertheless, with Adam’s fall, humanity lost all chance of accurately reflecting God. Yet Christ came to make known in full the invisible God and to be the reflection of God who cannot be seen.
Dominion over other living things
The second part of this birthright is the right to rule over other living things. God created man in God’s image so that he would rule over the planet and all its evils. As followers of Jesus, we have the right and the privilege to experience Christ’s subjugating power and to share in Christ’s rule with gratitude and stewardship.
Taking part in God’s Kingdom
Finally, as part of our great birthright, we have a place in God’s kingdom. This plan includes the present-day church as God’s kingdom and the final fulfillment of that kingdom in the millennium to come. Together as the church, we daily experience the kingdom’s righteousness, peace, and hope.
The concept of a person’s rights at birth is less widespread nowadays. Most of the time, we look to other people for the things we believe are due to us. People’s inheritances, or at least the money we are owed, are commonly thought to come from our superiors, coworkers, parents, or even spouses.
Nevertheless, by digging deeper into our identity in Christ, we may see that God is the one who bestows upon us our birthright. We are never at the mercy of others because He provides for our every need. God’s gifts to us contain valuable lessons. God made us in His image and intended for us to shine in this world through Christ, regardless of the sequence in which we arrived.
Our birthright as followers of Christ does not come from our flesh and parents but rather from God. Each child is given an infinite and generous portion of God’s blessings as part of their birthright in Christ. Our true heritage is not in earthly things but in an identity that comes from Him. It is an identity that is perfect and inseparable from God. God’s grace is at the heart of our birthright. The Lord’s mercy is more significant than our betrayal of selling our birthright for sin. God’s grace and acceptance are unwavering even when we reject His love.
Most importantly, our birthright is accomplished through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As Christians, we realize God’s plan and purpose for using humanity to reflect His glory when we follow Him and proclaim Him to the world. Jesus Christ, the exact representation of God, is resurrected in us, His Body.
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