PART VI – TRANSITIONAL ASPECTS OF THE LAMP-STAND MODEL
SUBPART A – MESSIAH – HEAD; The Incarnation of Christ
Article 2 – FIRSTBORN OF GOD
a. Prophetic Meaning of the Firstborn
b. Our Holiness is the Firstborn Born-Within
c. Holiness as Derived from the Deliverance of the Prophetic Needy Man
Article 2 – FIRSTBORN OF GOD
a. Prophetic Meaning of the Firstborn
In the prophecy of Isaiah there is a reference to the “firstborn of the poor”. Who might this be?
And the firstborn of the poor shall feed,& the needy shall lie down in safety; I will kill thy root with famine, & he shall slay they remnant.. Is. 14:30
The Hebrew word translated “firstborn” in the KJV literally means just that. This is the universal word for “firstborn” throughout the KJV. Therefore it is inexplicable that the NASV would render it “most” as in “most helpless”.
When Isaiah’s prophecy reads; “the firstborn of the poor shall feed”, this is reference to the Levitical principle of the “firstborn son” who is “Christ”, the firstborn of humanity. This is a concept denoting special strength and favor above that of any second, third, or later children. We find an allusion to the “strength of the firstborn” in the prophecies of Jacob concerning his child, Reuben:
Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Gen 49:3
We find that although Reuben was the firstborn of Israel, he did not receive the blessing of the firstborn given that he had defiled himself. Nonetheless, the birthright of the firstborn is a concept beginning in the patriarchs and incorporated into the Mosaic law. The Law read that when a man has sons from two wives, one hated, and one loved, but where the son of the hated-wife his firstborn:
. . . he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he has: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. Deu 21:17
The “firstborn” was heir to a double portion of his father’s wealth by right of inheritance. This was guarantee of the supremacy and authority of the firstborn son. This stands as an allegory for what? . . . Jesus Christ, as the “firstborn” of God’s children. This principle is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus Christ is the “firstborn” of many of God’s children by the words of Paul:
For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Rom 8:29
God’s will was that His Son, Jesus Christ would become the firstborn of many more children in His kingdom. This concept of the firstborn goes quite beyond our common understanding of the principle. Modernly, we make little or no distinction in the firstborn child. In ancient days the concept of the firstborn had more significance. And in prophecy and things spiritual, the concept of the firstborn is of profound implication. For it is to the firstborn that belongs the substance and strength of the father. This was a principle that was laid down in the law of Moses relating to the rights of the firstborn son, and served as a backdrop for an understanding of things spiritual. The firstborn was to have the preeminence above the other sons and represent the strength of the father’s house. Just as it was spoken concerning Reuben:
Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Gen. 49:3
In describing Reuben, Jacob uses this same Hebrew word; on in reference to his “strength” as the firstborn. However, we know that the preeminence was taken away from Reuben because his sin against his father. Neither did the second and third-born inherit the rights of the firstborn due to their violence against the city of Shechem. For this reason Jacob cursed their anger (ie. the anger of Simeon and Levi) and prophesied their dispersal in Israel. Therefore the strength and preeminence of the firstborn seems to have fallen upon Judah, of whom Jacob prophesied:
Judah, your brothers shall praise you, Your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons shall bow down to you. Gen. 49:8
Therefore the rights of the firstborn fell to the fourth-born as the tribe of Judah picked up the prophetic mantle and became the progenitor of the coming Messiah.
If this principle represented in the “strength of the firstborn” had significance in the Law, it has much more profound meaning in knowing of things spiritual! When we say today that Jesus Christ is “the firstborn among many brethren”, we probably are not appreciating the significance of what this means. His status of the firstborn signifies something vital in our relationship to Him and to the Father, and is a vital component of our salvation. Consider Paul’s words:
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. Col 1:18
The Lord’s “preeminence” as the “firstborn” is not a trifling distinction. His title as the “firstborn from the dead” sets Him in peculiar order to the host of the sanctified. For He is Himself their sanctifier! Without the strength of the Father being made His own strength, there would be no strength for the reclaiming of God’s elect! Therefore it is Jesus Christ who “leads forth their host by number”. He, Himself is the covenant, and He, Himself constitutes their identification in the Father and strength unto salvation. As the firstborn of God, He is higher than any and all dominion that could rise up against us with threat or accusation.
Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. Ps. 89:27
Therefore there is no principality or power that is higher than the Firstborn of God. Rather it is through repentance from the service to these things that we may see Him, touch Him, and even have His divine nature wrought within us! Through repentance we come to share in Christ. Therefore, even for all the sins of Ephraim, Ephraim finds rest where Ephraim finds identification in Christ.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Jer. 31:9
This is a vital gospel principle and goes to the heart of saving faith in Jesus Christ. Through Christ is the great gathering of God’s sheep. For ultimately, Israel will not return to God from whom they have strayed unless they had been founded upon faith in Jesus Christ. It would do them no good in returning unless they believed in His power to justify, advocate, intercede, consecrate, and sanctify within them and on their behalves! In their own strength, they washed-out spiritually and must die. God has a “firstborn Son”, and he is not “Adam”. God’s firstborn is the prophetic fulfillment of; “David, My servant, with My holy oil have I anointed Him.” The prophecy goes on to say:
Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. Ps. 89:27
While Adam may be the “first Adam”, he is not the first “son of God”. For the “Son of God” is He that is the “everlasting Father”. Therefore John the Baptist, who preached the faithful gospel of God, made very clear the distinction between the “earthy” and the “heavenly”, when he said:
“This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’” John 1:30
John could not have been speaking in the natural-sense given he was born some months prior to Jesus. Rather he is speaking mystically. Christ existed before the natural man. He alone is God’s firstborn. Jesus Christ therefore holds the preeminence as the rightful heir of God with all the title, power, and resources of God that is due the firstborn.
b. Our Holiness is the Firstborn Born Within
God brought His only begotten Son into the world that those believing upon His Son might themselves be conformed thereto. Christ, manifested to men, is that power to become Sons of God through conformity to the image of His Son in a way not theoretical, but substantial. The holy-nature of God made accessible to the man. Therefore Peter writes:
These eat; “the living bread which came down from heaven”. And because they eat “the living bread” they themselves partake of the divine nature of God unto the; “exceeding great & precious promises” that are “eternal life” in Christ. Thus Isaiah declares the Word of the Lord:
I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King. Is. 43:15
In the first century something happened that is too wonderful to adequately grasp with the intellect. God walked among us. Even if we do not consider what He said or what He did, His mere presence in human flesh has phenomenal meaning in the spiritual world. His incarnation changed humanity. For God Himself dwelt in flesh and blood humanity. Therefore Jesus Christ is rightly referred to as “the Holy One”, a fact which even the demons observed:
Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? Art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God. Luke 4:34
He came sanctified from the Father:
Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? John 10:36
Notice the order of events! He does not say that He was “sent into the world, and then sanctified”, for that would be the sequence of the church. Rather He says that He was “sanctified, and sent into the world.” Note also the connection between His original condition as “sanctified” of the Father, and His attribute of being the “Son of God”.
Strangely enough, “Adam” himself is referred to as the “son of God”:
. . . the son of Enosh, the son of Seth, the son of Adam, [the son] of God. Luke 3:38
However, the original Greek does not expressly state “son of God”, but rather literally states “of God”. Therefore, the original Greek makes no real distinction between Adam and the rest of the material creation, which also would be “of God”.
Considering again Isaiah’s prophecy, the word of God states; “I am the Lord, your Holy One”, meaning that not only is the Lord “holy”, but He is our “Holy One”. Therefore the apostle Paul writes:
But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, & righteousness, & sanctification, &redemption. I Cor. 1:30
c. Holiness Derives from the Deliverance of the Prophetic Needy Man
Isaiah’s prophecy expresses the result of God’s firstborn coming into the world – that result being that; “the needy will lie down in safety”. The Hebrew word translated “safety” in the KJV reflects the common usage of the word, examples of which include:
Deu 12:10 . . . and when he gives you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
Ps 4:8 I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, LORD, only makest me dwell in safety.
Ps 78:53 And he led them on safely, so that they feared not:
Prov 1:33 But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.
There is a prophetic principle in the “poor and needy man”. This stands as a metaphor for the place to which God humbled Himself in the Person of Christ. Elsewhere in Isaiah’s prophecy we read, in connection with the grace that is to be realized for the elect of God:
The foot shall tread it down, even the feet of the poor, and the steps of the needy. Is. 26:6
The “poor” and “needy” involved a tenet of the Law that the “poor and needy” be treated generously:
For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor & to thy needy in thy land. Deut. 15:11
Defend the poor & fatherless: do justice to the afflicted & needy. Deliver the poor & needy; Rid them out of the hand of the wicked. Ps. 82:3-4
O let not the oppressed return ashamed: let the poor & needy praise thy name. Ps. 74:21
God shall grant divine intervention to deliver the “poor and needy” man:
He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, & shall break in pieces the oppressor. Ps. 72:4
All my bones shall say, LORD, who is like unto thee, which deliverest the poor from him that is too strong for him, yea, the poor & the needy from him that spoileth him? Ps 35:10
Why is it the “poor and needy” man that God shall deliver? Because this is the place to which Jesus Christ humbled Himself! It is His voice that is the prophetic-cry unto God:
But I am poor & needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: Thou art my help & my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God. Ps. 40:17
But I am poor & needy; make haste unto me, O God: Thou art my help & my deliverer; O LORD, make no tarrying. Ps. 70:5
Jesus Christ humbled Himself in the earth to the extent of death on the cross. In His incarnation and His death, He assumed the role of the “poor and needy” man for the sake of all of those that would be humbled for the purposes of redemption via the work of the Holy Spirit; and this, with the view that He might raise them up again in newness of life also by His Spirit. Thus we hear in the prayers of prophecy, Jesus Christ praying with us, and us in Him! The firstborn Son of God having the standing to call upon His father for His deliverance. And what was the response of the Father to the cries of His Son:
For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him. Ps. 12:5
This is the wonderful promise made to the “poor and needy”, that they shall be delivered from the things of this world and thereby enter into things of the next. If we are not “poor and needy” we will miss the deliverance of God that is in Christ.
For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, & him that hath no helper. He shall spare the poor & needy, & shall save the souls of the needy. Ps. 72:12-13
It was His cross that allowed the powerful intervention of God’s love in the interest of humanity with whom Christ identified:
Therefore doth My Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I might take it again. John 10:17
The elect will pass through this place of the poor and needy man that they may identify with Christ and that Christ may identify with them. It is this principle of the deliverance of the needy man that works His holiness within His body, the Church:
But you are come unto mount Sion, & unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, & to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly & church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, & to God the Judge of all, & to the spirits of just men made perfect. Heb 12:23
 H1060 bekôr bek-ore’ From H1069; firstborn; hence chief: – eldest (son), first-born (-ling).
 Gen 35:22 And Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard it.
 H202 ‘ôn one Probably from the same as H205 (in the sense of effort, but successful); ability, power, (figuratively) wealth: – force, goods, might, strength, substance.
 Genesis 49:4 “Uncontrolled as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed.”
 Genesis 49:7 “Cursed be their anger, for it is fierce; & their wrath, for it is cruel. I will disperse them in Jacob & scatter them in Israel.”
 See commentary on Isaiah 40:26 Because of the greatness of His might & the strength of His power for discussion of the strength of the firstborn.
 See commentary on Hosea 12:3-5 Yes, he wrestled with the angel & prevailed; discussing necessity of Jacob usurping birthright belonging to Esau.
 Psalm 89:20
 Luke 3:38
 Parallel passage is identical in Mark 1:24
 H983 beṭach beh’-takh From H982; properly a place of refuge; abstractly safety, both the fact (security) and the feeling (trust); often (adverbially with or without preposition) safely: – assurance, boldly, (without) care (-less), confidence, hope, safe (-ly, -ty), secure, surely.