The Right of the Firstborn

Wendy Blight

Day: 21 | Plan: Deuteronomy

Today's Reading: Deuteronomy 21

Deuteronomy 21:17 (NIV) He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.

God knows the heartache, pain, jealousy and scandal that come when His children operate outside the marriage covenant. We find God’s original intent for marriage in Genesis 2:24, “… a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.” One man. One woman. Forever.

But man had other ideas. Throughout the Old Testament, we encounter men ignoring God’s plan for marriage and taking more than one wife. We also witness the tragic circumstances that unfold when they do.

Just ask Jacob, Leah and Rachel. (Genesis 29) Their story reads like a soap opera. Jacob loved Rachel from the moment he laid eyes on her. Jacob asked for her hand in marriage. Rachel’s father agreed but then tricked Jacob into marrying Rachel’s older sister, Leah. Because Jacob still desperately loved Rachel, he worked a deal to also marry Rachel, his true love. Jacob had sons by both women. But Leah’s sons came first.

Our verse today sets forth a law to address this very situation. It protects the rights of the firstborn son. The law states that the firstborn son receives a double portion of his father’s inheritance. This is his birthright. Period. So even when the firstborn son was the son of the less-loved wife, that son received his double portion. The father could do nothing to mess with the firstborn son’s birthright.

Don’t you wonder if God had Jacob and Leah’s story in mind when He established this law? Our God does not reward disobedience. Specifically, He would not reward a husband who sought to deny firstborn status to the one to whom it rightly belonged so he could give it to the son of the wife loved more. The double portion remained with the son to whom God originally assigned it … always and forever.

The beauty of this story for New Testament Christians is this: We too have an inherited birthright status through Jesus.

Here’s how it works. Jesus holds the position as the firstborn and only Son of God. (Hebrews 1:6; Colossians 1:15) As God’s Son, Jesus receives authority, power and position. (Acts 2:36; Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 19:16)

Christ promises to share His inheritance with us. (Romans 4:13; Galatians 3:29; Romans 8:29) We are joint-heirs with Jesus!

What does this mean for us? It means God has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings that belong to Jesus. (Ephesians 1:3; 1 Peter 1:3) His blessings are our blessings. The fruit of God’s Spirit that lives in Him, lives in us. (Galatians 5:22-23) The love that fills His heart fills ours. (1 John 4:7)

Let’s spend our lives not only discovering but also walking confidently in all that Jesus is and all that He has for us. And let’s be careful to never trade or throw away our inheritance. Treasure it now and forevermore.

Prayer: Father, thank You for trading Your Son’s life for mine. Thank You for making me a joint-heir with Your Son. Thank You for wrapping me in a robe of righteousness so that You no longer see my sin, but Your goodness and holiness. Keep these precious gifts ever before me and help me live a life of gratitude with every word I speak and every action I take. In Jesus’ name, amen. 

More Moments:

We see the influence of the firstborn and double portion not only here but throughout Scripture.... Read More

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