Life-Study of Genesis

Life-Study of Genesisby Witness Lee

ISBN: 0-7363-0836-9
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry

Currently in: Chapter 96 of 120 Section 1 of 4

LIFE-STUDY OF GENESIS

MESSAGE NINETY-SIX

THE SHIFTINGS OF THE BIRTHRIGHT
IN THE SCRIPTURE

Genesis is a book of seeds. In this message, a parenthesis in our life-study, we shall consider another one of these seeds—the seed of the shifting of the birthright.

Perhaps you have never imagined that the birthright could be shifted. The birthright is the special portion of the firstborn. In nearly every race of people, especially in ancient times, the firstborn in a family inherited a special portion. Among the ancient Jews, this portion was usually a double portion of the land. According to the Bible as a whole, the birthright includes the double portion of the land, the kingship, and the priesthood. The priesthood brings people to God, and the kingship brings God to the people. The book of Genesis reveals that this birthright can be shifted from the firstborn son to the second son. In this book there are at least four cases of the shifting of the birthright: from Esau to Jacob (25:22-26, 29-34); from Zarah to Pharez (38:27-30); from Reuben to Joseph (49:3-4; 1 Chron. 5:1); and from Manasseh to Ephraim (48:12-20).

Furthermore, in the New Testament the birthright is shifted from Israel to the church. In Luke chapter fifteen the Lord Jesus indicates by means of the parable of the prodigal son that the publicans and sinners are like the second son, and that the self-righteous Pharisees are like the first son (Luke 15:1-2, 11, 25-28). However, in Matthew 21:28-32 the Lord shifts the birthright from the Jews to the publicans and harlots. Here the Lord reveals that the publicans and harlots are like the firstborn son who at first did not obey his father's word but later repented and obeyed it. Then the Lord likened the Pharisees to the second son who said that he would fulfill his father's word, but who actually did not obey it. Originally, the Jews were the first son. At the beginning of the Lord's ministry, they were still first. But at the end of His ministry, the Lord Jesus shifted the birthright from the Jews to the church. His word in Matthew 21:28-32 was spoken at the end of His ministry. In these verses the Lord likened the publicans and the harlots to the firstborn. The church is composed of redeemed and regenerated sinners. In God's economy they are the ones who have received the birthright. Hence, Hebrews 12:23 speaks of the church of the firstborn.


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