As the youngest child in my family, I have often mused on why the eldest child in the family (and boy in particular) historically got the biggest share of an inheritance. It seems to be pretty cross-cultural. Even today, where there is a choice in a larger family, the eldest child generally gets best pick of the bedrooms! Equal rights for runts, I say! I suppose there are survival reasons why these things have taken root in human behaviour, and to be honest, I didn’t get a bad deal as the youngest myself! (I’m anticipating some family feedback here!)
So we come to the story of the birth of Isaac and Rebekah’s twins, Esau and Jacob. (Note the age order – we usually refer to them as Jacob and Esau – why? Or perhaps I should ask why we generally use age order when listing children in a family!) They are jostling within the womb, so Rebekah enquires of the Lord, and this response demonstrates she was truly the right wife for Isaac. The prophecy she receives puzzles me. If God intended Jacob to be the leader, why not arrange for him to be born first? Why go to all the trouble of rearranging the birthright and blessing? It would surely have been easier for God to move them into the right position for Jacob to be born first. Perhaps that’s what all the squirming was about. Even as an unborn baby, God grants us free will. Maybe Esau chose to push for first place, when it was God’s plan for Jacob?
That’s just a guess. But of course we do know it was God’s plan for Jacob to be in the lineage of Jesus, to be the one God blessed and used, the father of the nation of Israel.
That’s a real encouragement for all of us. Whatever our position in the family, wherever we are born, whatever our childhood circumstances, God can overcome any obstacle, human or otherwise, to fulfil his plans concerning us. In fact the only person that can be a total blockage to God’s blessing for me, is me!