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Firstborn

The Jehovah’s witnesses in refuse to believe that Jesus is Eternal God manifest in the flesh, and point to one of Jesus’s titles, that of ‘First Born’ to teach that He could not be 'Everlasting' and yet be the 'FirstBorn' at the same time.

One The short answer Two The fuller understanding


The short answer

The short answer is that in scripture the term 'firstborn' is used in the natural as a descriptive term for a person who is the first child born into a family as that child then was entitled to a double portion of authority and inheritance and had to take extra responsibilty within the family, but more importantly, it is also a spiritual term denoting special postion, authority and favor with God.

For instance Israel was far from being the first nation on earth. The nation came out of the loins of Abraham and Sarah, yet God gave it the title or 'crown' of 'firstborn'.

David was the last child to be born to Jesse, yet God gave him the title or 'crown' of 'firstborn'.

So Jesus was not only God's firstborn as being His only Begotten Son manifested in the flesh, but was also carried the spiritual crown of 'firstborn'

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The fuller understanding

First of all we must understand that this term ‘first born’ means very little today.

And so if we are going to understand what the bible is saying about Jesus through this rather unusual title, then we must turn once again to the deep roots in the old testament if we are to fully understand and appreciate the beautiful flower, the Rose of Sharon, that appears in the New testament.

And as we pick up the many verses referring to Firstborn scattered throughout the old testamen - look out for the glory that belongs to the longed for Messiah.

Everything in the Old Testament is really God’s excited finger pointing forward to, and painting a picture of His only begotten Son. The coming Messiah.
The real treasures lie just under the surface of the Old Testament. The casual observer will likely miss them. But the serious, hungry searcher will be rewarded.

Proverbs 25 verse 2 tells us that it is ‘The glory of God to conceal a matter, and the glory of kings to search it out’.

So let’s seek get into the scriptures and see what we find about the title ‘first-born’...

And straight away we come to the law of first metion in the Bible. Whatever a verse tells us at the very beginning if a Biblical theme is what will truly unfold throughout the theme, and so the first mention is always a key verse, and in this theme the first mention is in Genesis 49 verse 3 where Jacob is blessing his sons..

Reuben, you are my first born, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honour and excelling in power.

Its not too hard to get the first glimpse of what the crown on Jesus’ head might speak of..especially when we take a quick look at this theme being more and more fully amplified towards the end of the Bible in Colossians 1 verses 13 - 19

He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him ALL things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; ALL things were created by Him and for Him. He is before ALL things, and in Him ALL things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have His fullness dwell in Him.

So there we have the first verse that begins the theme.. you are my first born, my might, the first sign of my strength, excelling in honour and excelling in power. and there you have most of the fulfilment of the theme. ALL of Eternal GOD the creator of heaven and earth is fully manifested in God the Son. His might. His Strength. His Honour and His power.

And now that we’ve looked at the two bookends lets look at the body of verses that build up the theme and prepare this royal crown for Christ’s head.

We move from Genesis to Exodus where God lays down a divine first born principle.

Exodus 13; 1 & 2..
The Lord said to Moses,”Consecrate to Me every first-born male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to Me, whether man or animal.

& Exodus 22; 29
You must give Me the first-born of your sons.....Let them stay with their mothers for
seven days, but give them to Me on the eighth.

Exodus 13; 12 -15 (God speaking to Moses..)
..you are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. All the first-born males of your livestock belong to the Lord. Redeem with a lamb every first-born donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every first-born among
your sons..(15)When Pharoah stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed every first-born in Egypt, both man and animal. That is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first
male offspring of every womb and redeem each of My first-born sons.

& Exodus 34; 19
The first offspring of every womb belongs to Me, including all the first born males
of your livestock, whether from herd or flock. Redeem the first-born donkey with a
lamb, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem all your firstborn sons.

After captivity the first-born law was restored again in Israel.
Nehemiah 10 ; 36
As it is also written in the law, we will bring the first-born of our sons and of our cattle, of our herds and of our flocks to the house of God, to the priests ministering there.

The First-born was the most precious of all children.
Micah 6 ; 7 (- What can I offer to the Lord?..)
Shall I offer my first-born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?

& Zechariah 12; 10
And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit
of grace and supplication. They will look on Me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for Him
as one grieves for a first-born son.

Objects of special love.
Genesis 25 ; 28 - Esau
....Isaac loved Esau..

Jeremiah 31 ; 9 & 20 - Ephriam
They will come with weeping, they will pray as I bring them back.
I will lead them beside streams of water on a level path where they will not
stumble, because I am Israel’s Father, and Ephriam is My first-born son.

..Is not Ephriam My dear son, the child in whom I delight?
Though I often speak against him, I still remember him.
Therefore my heart yearns for him. I have great compassion for him.

The first born inherits special rights. Deut.21; 17 (- in this case where the first born has been born to the unloved of a man’s two wives)
He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the first-born 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 first-born belongs to him.

Rights could be sold or given away. Genesis 25; 31- 34
Jacob replied, “First sell me your birthright”..so he swore an oath to him, selling his birth-right to Jacob..So Esau despised his birthright.

& Hebrews 12 v 16 - 17
..See that no one is sexually immoral or godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son. Afterward as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.

Could be forfeited by misconduct Genesis 49. 3 & 4 & 1 Chronicles 5 ; 1
The sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel (he was the first-born but when he defiled his father’s marriage bed, his rights a sfirst-born were given to the sons of Joseph, son of Israel-so he could not be listed in the genealogical record..’

Redeemed with silver and gold. Numbers 18 verse 14 - 16
Everything in Israel that is devoted to the Lord is yours. The first offspring of every womb, both man and animal, that is offered to the Lord is yours. But you must redeem every first born son and every first born male of unclean animals. When they are a month old you must redeem them at the redemption price set a five shekels of silver

Priveledges of the first born.
1. Precedence in the family - Genesis 48; 13,14
- And Joseph took both of them, Ephriam on his right towrad Israel’s left hand
and Manasseh on his left towards Israel’s right hand, and brought them close
to him. But Israel reached out his right hand and put it on Ephriam’s head,
though he was the younger, and crossing his arms, he put his left hand on
Manasseh’s head, even though Manasseh was the first-born.
verses 17 - 20..
-When Joseph saw his father placing his right hand on Ephriam’s head, he was
displeased, so he took hold of his father’s hand to move it from Ephriam’s head
to Manasseh’s head. Joseph said to him, “No my father, this one is the first-born,
put your right hand on his head. But his father refused and said, “I know, my
son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great.
Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants
will become a group of nations. He blessed them that day and said, “In your
name will Israel pronounce this blessing. May God make you like Ephriam and
Manasseh”. So he put Ephriam ahead of Manasseh.

(This is a significant section of scripture where the first born Manasseh, was passed over when Jacob deliberately crossed his hands and put Ephriam ahead of Manasseh. Ephriam represents us, the church, or the group of Gentile nations Jacob mentions in the blessing, while Manasseh represents the single Jewish nation. This was God pointing forward to the day when He would cross His hands at Calvary and put the gentile church ahead of the Jews who were in reality before us in being brought into God’s family. As Paul tells us they were the true olive tree
and we are the wild olive branches grafted in.)

2. Authority over the younger children. Gen 27: 29
( - Jacob bestowing first-born blessing..)
“Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed.
May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness - an abundance
of grain and new wine. May nations serve you and peoples bow down to you
Be lord over your brothers and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
May those who curse you be cursed, and those who bless you be blessed.”

1 Samuel 20 ; 29 (Here David is under orders from the first- born in his family)
- ‘Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my
brother has ordered me to be there..’

Jesus is our older brother, the first born in God’s family and so we the younger brothers must obey His authority.Romans 8 ; 29..For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the first-born among His brothers.


3. The father’s title and power. 2 Chronicles 21; 3
-Their father had given them many gifts of silver and gold and articles of value,
as well as fortified cities in Judah, but he had given the kingdom to Jehoram
because he was his first-born son.
Jesus has of course been given the Father’s Kingdom in full and the Father’s
title and power..
All that belongs to the Father is Mine -John 16; 15
All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me - Matthew 28; 18
We have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into the ‘Kingdom of
His Son’ ...Colossians 1; 13

4. A double portion of inheritance. Deut. 21 ; 17
- He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the first-born by giving him
a double share of all he has. .

The title ‘First born’ in the bible is shown to be both a physical fact which carries with it as we have seen, family authority, honour, blessings, priveldges, and responsibility, and on different occasions, it is also revealed as being a mantle of spiritual authority, or a crown, carrying with it the equivalent spiritual honour, blessings, priveldges, and responsibility - both facets of which come together beautifully in Jesus as both the son of man and the Son of God.

On the spiritual level for instance, Israel was certainly not the first nation formed on this earth (through Abraham), but God bestowed this first-born spiritual mantle of blessings and authority upon Israel.

Exodus 4 : 22..Then say to Pharoah, “This is what the Lord says. “Israel is My first born son, and I told you let My son go so he may worship Me. But you refused to let him go..so I will kill YOUR firstborn son!”

Like wise, physically, or in the flesh, David was actually the last born, the absolute youngest son in his father Jesse’s large family, yet God chose to appoint him His first-born as we read in Psalm 89; 27..

He will call out to Me,’You are my Father, my God, the Rock, my Saviour.
I will also appoint him my first-born, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.

He received the first-born mantle of authority from God, and it had nothing to do with his birth at all.

Adam was the first man to be created and in Genesis 5 ; 1 and Luke 3 verse 38
he is called the son of God .. and from then on man continued to beget man right down to where Jesus came from Mary. He was her first-born son.

In keeping with the divine laws laid down by God Jesus was taken to the temple on the eighth day to be dedicated to God.

Luke 2; 21- 24
On the eighth day when it was time to circumcise Him, He was named Jesus, the name the angel had given Him before He had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Maary took Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord - as it is written in the law
of the Lord, ‘every first-born male is to be consecrated to the Lord- and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the law of the Lord, “:a pair of doves or two young pigeons’

The difference with Jesus, was that while Joseph was Jesus’ legal father there, and therefore of his geanealogical line, the line of David, His real Father was God.

The seed or the sperm did not come from the perishable flesh of Joseph, but was the imperishable seed of God planted in Mary’s womb.

That’s why in Matthew chapter 1 we have a long rather boring geanealogical list
declaring which man begot which man, that is until we come to Jesus. Then in verse 16 it simply changes to.. begot Joseph, the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.

God creates man, and then created man begets created man.
That we can understand. It happens every day somewhere close to us.

But here in Isaiah, we read of Everlasting God begeting Everlasting God.
The virgin bore a child who is ‘Immanuel’. God with us.

We can speak of it. But who can understand it.?
Who can get their thinking gear around the incarnation?

Who can explain God? Who can explain the mystery of Christ?  I can’t !
But I’m in good company, Paul couldn’t either.

1 Timothy 3 ; 16
Beyond all question the mystery of godliness is great.
He appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up into glory

And again in Collosians 2: 2 when he writes.
The mystery of God, namely Christ..

I must let God be ‘I am who I am’ or ‘I will be what I will be’.
Not what I want Him to be, or, what I can cope with Him being.

In Job 11; 7 we read of this fruitless struggle in man’s mind to fully understand
the mystery of God..to confine Him within logic.
“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty?
They are higher than the heavens - what can you do? They are deeper than the grave- what can you know? Their measure is longer than the earth and wider than the sea”

He can and did manifest Himself in a burning bush, a whirlwind, a cloud or a pillar of fire. Or He can and did manifest Himself as an angel. And as a wheel within a wheel. Always keeping man at a formal and fear filled distance.

Until, when the time was right, and He chose to humble Himself and take on a servants nature and come amongst us

No bush, no whirlwind, no cloud, no pillar of fire no angel or no servant can manifest themselves as God.  But God can manifest Himself in them.

God has always known that the truth of this equality with God is difficult for us to wrestle with or to grasp.

Paul writes in Phillipians 2 : 5..
Your nature should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
Who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

That’s why Jesus is simply just ‘Jesus - the Son of God’.

And John 4; 15 tells us ..If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God,
then God lives in him, and he in God.

John says in the opening chapter of his epistle..That which was from the beginning,
which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, which our hands have touched - this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.. ..our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ.

...with the Father and with the Son..   Different - yet totally inseperable.

So many have fallen into serious error, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, by insisting that God must be capable of being completely understood, and be capable of being explained logically to our satisfaction, and so be neatly contained within the confines of our tiny created minds, - and so they remove the mystery of the incarnation, apply common soulish logic, and replace God’s Son with a created angel whom God simply terms the ‘My Son’ at the Jordan river to suit His purposes here on earth. They offer a person called Jesus all right, all correctly badged or termed the son of God, but whom on closer questioning is not the one and only Son begotten from God, but Michael one of the chief angels created by God. God and an archangel. Different - and totally seperate.

This reduces the magnificence of ‘Immanuel’ from ‘God with us’, to Michael the archangel with us.

Or reduces the world's best known scripture..

‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have everlasting life’

to...

For God so loved the world that He gave an archangel so that whoever believes in the archangel might not perish but have everlasting life.

Or the words of Jesus Himself ..“When you have seen an archangel you have seen the Father”

And yet God’s word is crystal clear. His first-born is not a created angel given the badge ‘The Son of God’, but is the ‘Son of God’, and fully God the creator.

Hebrews 1 ; 5 - 13
To which of the angels did God ever say, “You are My Son, today I have become your Father”, or again, “I will be His Father and He will be My Son, ..and again when He brings His first-born into the world He says, “Let ALL God’s angels worship Him.

In speaking of the angels He says, “He makes His angels winds, His servants flames of fire (that is He does not make them anything else)..

..but about the Son He says..”Your throne O GOD, will last forever and ever..He also says, “In the beginning, O Lord, YOU laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of YOUR hands..and finally in verse 13 God repeats this truth..
To which of the angels did God ever say, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet”

That’s why in 1 John 4 ;2 we read of how to test the Spirit behind the church.
This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God. Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist.

A created angel simple termed the Son of God is not ‘Christ come in the flesh’.
The spirit that teaches this is the antichrist. Created angels can fall, as we know with the created angel Lucifer (who was probably an archangel).

The antichrist tells people to put their faith in an archangel manifested in the flesh
to save us. He offers us an archangel as a redeemer and as a rock to stand upon.

He is the deceiver. He is the father of lies.

God’s word reveals again and again the immovable fact that God alone, is and always has been, and always will be the only Rock we can safely stand on.

Only God saves. In Isaiah He tells us there is no other Rock, no other Saviour,
no other Redeemer, no other God but Him. No other God before Him and none after Him.

The Bible tells us that God is the Rock, the Saviour, the Redeemer.
And the biblew tells us that Jesus is the Rock, the Saviour., the Redeemer.

The Bible tells us that God is the First and Last, and the Alpha and the Omega.
And the bible tells us that Jesus is the First and Last and the Alpha and the Omega.
God is our Shepherd. Jesus is our Shepherd.
Sovereign power belongs to God the Father.
Sovereign power belongs to God the Son.
God is the beginning and the End.
Jesus is the beginning and the End.
God created the heavens and the earth.
Jesus created the heavens and the earth.
God is the judge of all men
Jesus is the judge of all men.
God sustains all things.
Jesus sustains all things.
All the fullness of Deity dwells in the Father.
All the fullness of Deity dwells in the Son.
The Father’s most common title is Lord and God.
And Thomas affirmed Jesus as exactly that.

We, the church, are now fully God’s sons through adoption into His family, but Jesus was God’s only begotten Son and the first born of this wonderful family of God that we have been called into by grace.

The bible tells that we are co- heirs with Christ and so entitled to share in all the priveldges of the first-born in God’s family. We are the church of the first-born. And while, as we read in Numbers 18, the first born in the old covenant were redeemed with silver and gold, we have been redeemed with something much more precious.

1 Peter 1 ; 18
For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect....(23) for you have been born again, not of perishable seed (human sperm) but of imperishable seed (God’s Spirit)

Let’s get a glimpse of our share in the first-born inheritance..

Hebrews 12 ; 22 & 23 ..you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly .. the church of the first- born whose names are written in heaven.

And finally we’ll let Paul say it all again for us in Colossians
1; 17 & 18..

He is before ALL things, and in Him ALL things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church, He is the beginning and the first-born from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy.For God was pleased to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile to Himself ALL things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood on the cross.

The lamb redeeming the donkey.


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