The Blessing of the Firstborn
By Rick McFarland
“Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, ‘CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE’), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” —Galatians 3:13-14
There is a pattern with the patriarchs of the Bible. The patriarchs are the men to whom God gave His covenant of grace before the Law. These men included Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, and Ephraim. God chose to make a covenant of grace and blessing with Abraham and his seed.
It is interesting to follow how this blessing was passed down from Abraham to his descendants.
The family blessing in the ancient world usually went to the firstborn. They had the birthright and the family blessing due them. However, when we follow the blessing of Abraham being passed down, we see a consistent pattern where the firstborn was rejected so that the younger child would receive the blessing of the firstborn.
In each case, this firstborn blessing was given to those to whom it was not owed and to those who were undeserving to receive it:
- Ishmael was rejected, and Isaac received the blessing.
- Esau was rejected, and Jacob received the blessing.
- Reuben was rejected, and Joseph received the blessing.
- Manasseh was rejected, and Ephraim received the blessing.
Why was this pattern repeated generation after generation? It was to show us that God’s blessing comes by grace and not by merit. God the Father had a firstborn Son—Jesus. He went to the cross for our sin and was rejected on the cross.
He cried out “My God! My God! Why have you forsaken me?”
The answer was so that the blessing would come upon the younger—you and me—who did not earn it or deserve it!