There is a best–selling book that contains the most vital, essential principles and guidelines to a life of true happiness and lasting prosperity. In the pages of that book, which nearly half of all Americans claim to believe, can be found everything an individual needs to lead a meaningful life. That book is God’s holy Bible.
Within the pages of the Bible, one can read about ordinary individuals such as Noah and Abraham, Moses and Joshua, Ruth, David, Esther, and the apostles Peter and Paul. Ordinary men and women whom God called and used to do extraordinary things!
There is one other person, whose legacy continues to dominate the world scene to this very day, impacting our lives and those of billions all over the world—politically, economically and militarily. The story of this man and the descendants that bear his name is fascinating and riveting. It is a true story, historically proven, biblically ordained. This man’s name was Jacob.
Jacob was the youngest of twin sons born to Isaac and his wife Rebekah. In the Hebrew, the name Jacob meant “heel catcher” or “heel holder” because at birth “his hand took hold of Esau’s heel” (Gen. 25:26).
The Bible describes him as a plain man, who preferred the quiet life and stayed close to home. With his calm and peaceful disposition, Jacob stood in stark contrast to his elder brother Esau, a skilled hunter who enjoyed hunting and the great outdoors. But Jacob had an opportunistic nature, quick to seize and advantage when he saw one.
Such an opportunity came when Esau returned hungry and famished from hunting one day. He had had very little or nothing to eat while he was out in the field. About to pass out, he asked Jacob for some of the red lentil stew he had made. Jacob shrewdly demanded Esau sell him his birthright in exchange for the bowl of stew! And Esau readily agreed because he did not consider his birthright of any value. Later on, aided and abetted by his mother, Jacob willfully misled his father Isaac to deceitfully secure the birthright. There was really no need for such a nefarious scheme.
Fearful that unusual sensations in her womb would jeopardize her pregnancy, Rebekah “went to enquire of the Lord” (Gen. 25:22). God told Rebekah that two nations, two different people, were in her womb and that “the elder would serve the younger” (v. 23). God had purposed the birthright to be Jacob’s. If both he and his mother had waited patiently on God, Jacob would have acquired the birthright in a more honorable manner. And so, Jacob, the heel holder, was aptly named “supplanter” or “usurper” as well.
What was this birthright? What extraordinary privilege, what valuable possession did this birthright confer upon its recipient? The dictionary definition of birthright is the privileges and possessions a person acquires at birth. The Birthright is customarily passed on by the father to his eldest son.
Sifting through the truth
Very few scholars and theologians fully understand what this disputed birthright was all about. Cynics and detractors in the religious and secular communities trivialize it as nothing more than a tiny parcel of land for a small, insignificant group of people.
However, the evidence from the Bible totally and completely debunks such erroneous beliefs. In truth and in fact, the actual identity of Jacob and the understanding of the birthright he claimed is the vital master key that unlocks our understanding of end–time prophetic events.
To get to the truth, sift out the misconceptions about who Jacob is, and fully grasp the enormity and magnitude of the birthright, we must turn to the authoritative source of truth—God’s Word, the Holy Bible.
It all began when God commanded Abraham to leave his country and his relatives, all things familiar and comfortable, and go to a land He was going to show him. Together with this command, was God’s promise—conditional upon Abraham’s obedience—to make him “a great nation” (Gen. 12:2). Because Abraham continued to obey God in faith, acknowledging His power and supremacy, willingly yielding and submitting to His authority, God promised to make Abraham “the father of many nations” (17:4).
When God put Abraham to the test and commanded him to sacrifice his only son Isaac, Abraham in faith set out to obey, sadly but willingly (Gen. 22:2). Once God saw Abraham’s obedient attitude and his complete trust in Him, He quickly intervened and delivered both Abraham and Isaac from this excruciating trial by providing a ram to take Isaac’s place (22:12–14). God Almighty then promised his seed would be as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand of the seashore (22:17).
And this promise was now UNCONDITIONAL! It could not be broken! God had committed Himself to keep it.
As Abraham’s firstborn, Isaac would receive the same promises as his birthright (Gen. 26:4). It was this birthright that Esau sold to Jacob for a bowl of stew. And to Jacob then were conferred all of God’s promises to Abraham, as well as an additional blessing of material wealth and prosperity (27:28).
Enraged, Esau sought to kill Jacob, who fled and sought refuge in Padanaram the land of his uncle Laban, Rebekah’s brother. On his way there, God told him in a dream that his descendants would be as the dust of the earth, spreading out to the four corners of the world (Gen. 28:14).
Jacob married Laban’s daughter Leah, misled by Laban into believing she was the younger daughter Rachel, whom he truly loved. Eventually, he was able to marry Rachel as well.
Together with his family of twelve sons and a daughter Dinah, Jacob returned to Canaan a prosperous man with much goods and livestock. Along the way, he wrestled and prevailed with God who appeared in the form of a man. Because God was now convinced that Jacob would remain steadfast and persevere, that Jacob truly valued his birthright, God changed his name from Jacob, the supplanter and usurper, to Israel, meaning the prevailer or overcomer with God (Gen. 32:24–30).
At Bethel, God once again told Jacob his name is now Israel and that a nation and a company of nations as well as royalty would descend from him (Gen. 35:10–11).
Several years later, a severe famine gripped the land of Canaan. Jacob learned that there was food in Egypt and instructed his ten sons to travel there to secure provisions for the family and their livestock. They encountered a powerful administrator, Egypt’s prime minister and second only to Pharaoh himself, who turned out to be their brother Joseph, whom they had sold as a slave years before, and whom Jacob believed was dead. At Joseph’s insistence, his brothers persuaded Jacob to relocate the whole family to Egypt.
It was in Egypt that the birthright was about to be passed on to the next recipient of God’s promises.
Traditionally, Reuben, Jacob’s eldest son by his first wife Leah, was the legal inheritor of the birthright. But just like Esau despised his birthright and lost it, Reuben disqualified himself from inheritance because “he defiled his father’s bed.” So the birthright was passed on to Joseph, Jacob’s firstborn by Rachel (Gen. 35:22–24; I Chron. 5:1–2).
When Joseph learned that his father was gravely ill, he rushed to his father’s bedside together with the two sons born to him in Egypt—Manasseh and Ephraim. The ailing Jacob expressed his desire to adopt the two boys as his own sons to make sure they remain part of his family (Gen. 48:5). Joseph agreed to his father’s request.
With Joseph looking on, Jacob conferred the birthright upon Manasseh and Ephraim. But Jacob placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head instead of the elder Manasseh’s. Realizing that his father’s blindness may have caused him to err, Joseph respectfully reminded his father that his right hand should be upon Manasseh’s head, not Ephraim’s.
Jacob assured Joseph that he knew what he was doing. Both of these boys would grow into a multitude of people, but the younger brother Ephraim would become the promised company of nations, greater than Manasseh the firstborn who would eventually become the great nation that God had promised to Jacob (Gen. 35:11, 48:20).
Two sons, two nations
Thus were the birthright promises passed on to Ephraim and Manasseh, a double portion to Joseph as Jacob’s firstborn of his beloved Rachel (Gen. 48:21–22). None of Jacob’s other sons received the promises conferred by the birthright!
Today, when you mention the world Israel, it is the Jewish people that often come to mind. They are regarded as Israel. However, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were not Jews. The Jews are descendants of Judah, one of Jacob’s sons. This mis–characterization has led the majority of historians, biblical scholars and students of Bible prophecy to mistakenly identify Judah as the great nation and the ten tribes as the company of nations.
In the book of Genesis, there is a most important, very crucial element describing the passing of the birthright onto both of Joseph’s sons.
Notice what the dying Jacob says in Genesis 48:16: “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.”
Right here is that pivotal detail that many have overlooked and failed to understand! Jacob said “Let my name be named of them”. And his name was changed to ISRAEL!
Not only did Jacob adopt these two boys and confer the birthright on them both, but he gave them his name Israel.
The birthright promises were conferred upon Ephraim and Manasseh, not Judah!
It is Ephraim and Manasseh who are called Israel! It is their descendants who are called Israel, not the Jewish people who are the descendants of Judah!
The great nation and even greater company of nations rich and prosperous, possessors of military might and supremacy, spreading forth across the globe as a colonizing people, apply solely to Ephraim and Manasseh.
In the list of nations today, you will not find the countries bearing the name Ephraim and Manasseh. Throughout Bible history, there is no evidence of Ephraim becoming the promised company of nations nor of Manasseh as that great nation. If the Bible is indeed the revealed word of God, the God Whose words never fail, the birthright promises must be fulfilled! If they have been fulfilled, we must continue our search beginning at the close of Bible history until our present time.
Who then are Ephraim and Manasseh today? By what names are they known today? Where are they today?
Whoever they are, wherever they are, it is they and they alone who possess the birthright. Only they and not the Jews are inheritors of God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—promises of national greatness, unprecedented resources, wealth, prosperity and power. The clear and plain truth, the direct and straightforward answer will thoroughly astonish and amaze you!To be continued…
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