Is it just me, or does God seem to always pick the non-eldest son for great things? That seems totally counter-intuitive to the way the world actually works. Most people put all their hopes and expectations in the first-born son. Most people give all the rights, privileges, and inheritance to the first-born son. Most people expect their first-born son to take care of them when they are old. But, here in Exodus, we know that Moses, the one chosen by God to lead His people out of Egypt, is NOT the first-born son. In fact, his brother Aaron was three years older than him when they went to Pharaoh (Aaron, 83, Moses, 80 – neither of them young).
Non-First-Borns in the Bible
Here are a few more non-first-born sons that God used through history:
- Adam and Eve’s third son, Seth’s descendants led to Noah.
- Noah’s son Shem’s third son, Arphaxad’s descendants led to Abraham.
- Abraham’s second son, Isaac (born 13 years after Ishmael) was the child of promise.
- Isaac’s second son, Jacob became Israel and the father of the twelve tribes.
- Jacob’s eleventh son, Joseph became vice-Pharaoh of Egypt and saved the nation Israel from famine.
- Moses is the second son of his mother and the one chosen by God to deliver his people from Egypt.
- Later on, we can see even some of the most famous kings were not first-born sons: David was the eighth and youngest son of Jesse.
- Solomon was the second son of David (after God killed the first because of David’s sin) with Bathsheba (also not his first wife).
God isn’t limited by human understandings of position and dues. In fact, it seems that he OFTEN chooses the least of the choices to make great or to do something great, because it is through the least of these that His power and glory can be seen most greatly. 1 Corinthians 1:27 puts it nicely:
But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
God wants His glory to be known, and what better way to do that than to choose an unexpected hero? The underdog, the least of these, the one that most other people think is insignificant. Because when the long-shot comes through and does something amazing, everybody wonders where that miracle came from. And when that underdog points his finger back up to heaven and gives all the credit to the One who made things possible, God gets glorified.
So, for all the non-first-borns out there, all the underdogs, downtrodden, and heroically-challenged: Don’t think you’re insignificant. God may yet use you for great things. Be open to His purposes, His calling, and His will for your life. And if he does call you and use you, be ready to return credit where credit is due.
And for all the first-borns, don’t think that your birth order privileges you for anything more from God than your siblings. Humanity may give you higher honors, but God is an equal-opportunity Blessings-Giver. And it seems that he even favors younger siblings at times. So, if anything else, don’t look down on your siblings, but rather respect them and encourage them to pursue God and be open to His calling. And be wary of your own life too. Be careful to follow God well so that He doesn’t simply pass over your “self-privileged” mindset in favor of your more humble siblings.
Chapter 8, 9
The plagues begin! These will be discussed in full detail in the following post.