“Once when Jacob was cooking stew, Esau came in from the field, and he was exhausted. And Esau said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stew, for I am exhausted!” (Therefore his name was called Edom.) Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.” – Genesis 25:29-33
Birthrights were very big in Hebrew and Jewish cultures. When we read scripture, because of their cultural importance, they often serve as guides to understanding the significant bloodlines the Biblical narrative will continue to closely follow. The Mosaic law outlines numerous rules and regulations concerning birthrights, however, as we see here in the passage above, they held much value even before then. Jacob and Esau were the sons of Isaac, grandsons of Abraham. Esau was the oldest of the two, therefore, he had the birthright. The birthright of the oldest son was the right to inherit all the father’s property and blessing. However, as seen here, birthrights can be forfeited and/or taken away. In this case, Esau was so desperate for food, that he willingly sold his birthright for a bowl of stew.
Another example of a birthright that was taken away comes just a generation later when we look at Jacob’s sons. Jacob had twelve sons from his first wife, Leah. And he had two sons from his favored wife, Rachel. The oldest of the sons was named Reuben. Naturally, Reuben had the birthright to inherit Jacob’s property. However, in scripture we see that Jacob had other plans based on Reuben’s past bad decisions. Genesis 35:22 describes for us what happened. It says,
“And it came to pass, when Israel (Jacob) dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel (Jacob) heard it.“
Reuben defiled his father’s marriage bed. He dishonored his father, and no father would casually bestow upon his son his birthright and blessing after something like that. Instead of blessing his oldest son and giving him his birthright, in Genesis 49:3-4, we see Jacob saying this to Reuben:
“Reuben, you are my firstborn, My might and the beginning of my strength, The excellency of dignity and the excellency of power. Unstable as water, you shall not excel, Because you went up to your father’s bed; Then you defiled it— He went up to my couch.”
As a result, Joseph, being the first born of Jacob’s second wife, received the birthright.
We see this concept of a birthright carried all throughout scripture. Another way to describe a birthright would be a father’s will. When a father is nearing death, he shares his will to pass on his inheritance to the firstborn son, unless it was forfeited or lost to another. I’m sharing this message to you because this theme carried throughout scripture is absolutely beautiful in how it presents the Gospel. This theme reaches its full image in Revelation chapter 5. Verses 1 through 4 says,
“And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back, sealed with seven seals. Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and to lose its seals?” And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I (John) wept much, because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it.”
There are a couple significant items that we should observe here. First, we see a scroll with seven seals. This scroll is a will. It’s a birthright. The father is holding in His hand the will for his inheritance. Secondly, there is a strong angel asking “who can open this scroll?” We have a very notable description of this angel that I do not believe is by accident. This is a “strong” angel. Think of it like this, the biggest guy in the gym is going around asking if anyone can help him open a jar of peanut butter. It’s just a scroll. It should be easy, especially for this strong angel. I believe the use of this description points us to the fact that strength is not what is needed to open this scroll. You must be “worthy” to open it. I can’t verify this, but out of 14 sons, Reuben very well may not have been the biggest or the strongest. However, until he dishonored his father, he was worthy of the birthright for the simple fact that he was the first born. On the flip side, let’s say that Reuben was the biggest and strongest. Did that mean anything after he dishonored his father? No. The birthright was stripped from him. The will of Jacob was not given on the basis of strength. You must be worthy of it, and Reuben was not.
Thirdly, at this point in the story, we see that no one is worthy to open this scroll. John weeps because of this. No one is worthy to receive the Father’s inheritance; not any man on earth, nor angel in heaven. This is painting a very disheartening picture. John weeps because he sees the hopelessness of mankind here. Our nature is sin. We are all illegitimate heirs of our father’s inheritance. We have all dishonored our Father as Reuben did. We forfeited our birthright as Esau did. We are as unstable as water, and we will not excel. That alone is an impossible problem. However, there remains yet another impossible problem: God cannot die! What is the crux of a will? The crux is that the father must die first if you expect to receive the inheritance. I hope this does not apply to you, but we got people today that know their dad is loaded with cash. He’s got a nice house; he’s got that life insurance money racked up, and he’s got the car I want. But this old man just won’t die! In order to receive the inheritance of a birthright, the father, or the one with the will, must die. When we bring that back over here to the image created in Revelation, we see quite a massive problem. God is God. God is life itself. The very essence of creation itself is held together only because of the all-knowing and all-powerful God. He is eternal. He is everlasting. Even if we were worthy of receiving the inheritance, we would never receive it simply because God can’t die. Hebrews 9:16 says,
“For where there is a testament (a Will), there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is in force after men are dead, since it has no power at all while the testator lives.”
Even scripture recognizes this problem. However, it’s not unforeseen. Revelation 5:5-7 continues on to say,
“But one of the 24 elders said to me, “Stop weeping! Look, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the heir to David’s throne, has won the victory. He is worthy to open the scroll and its seven seals. Then I saw a lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the 24 elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne.”
God, in his infinite wisdom, killed two birds with one stone. That stone is Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is worthy to open the scroll. The humble, the meek, the bruised, the battered, the persecuted Jesus Christ is worthy. Who is Jesus, that makes him worthy? That’s the beauty of this passage of the Gospel. Is Jesus just a man? Is Jesus just a good moral teacher? Well, no because then he would have the same problem everyone else has. We are born with a sin nature. We are descendants of Adam. We are fallen beings. We are corruptible. There’s been tons of good moral teachers throughout history. There’s Gandhi, Muhammad, Buddha, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Aristotle, Plato. From our worldly perspective, these were some great men who influenced masses. They pressed on matters of morality and philosophy. They were giants of their time. Could they open the scroll as Jesus is said to? Are they worthy of the Father’s Will? No. They are men. They fall short. No one is truly good because no one is truly perfect besides God. The unescapable truth of the Gospel as presented here in Revelation is that Jesus IS GOD.
We just discussed the two preliminary elements that must be true for this picture of a will to be complete. This passage hits one of them. The testator, or the one who has a will, must die. Therefore, Jesus has to be God. The Gospel relies on this truth. He’s not just a good moral teacher. Anyone saying otherwise has completely missed the mark. Jesus, fully representing God, dies as a man so that the worthy may receive the birthright of the Father’s inheritance.
God has died, but for what purpose? Remember, there is another prerequisite for the handing down of God’s will. The testator dying is only half the problem solved. Who is worthy? Jesus, the Son of God. The firstborn son from the dead. Jesus simultaneously represents God as the testator who is to die, and the firstborn son to whom the birthright is handed over to. Colossians 1:15-18 says,
“He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And 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, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
We are all illegitimate children. We were all dead in sin. Our father is Satan. BUT GOD sent down His son – a perfect representation of Himself – to live a perfect life, die willingly and undeservingly so that the Son, being born again can receive a double portion of the Father’s inheritance. Jesus alone is worthy of the birthright. Deuteronomy 21:17 tells us,
“But he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved wife as 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.”
When mankind fell and rejected God, we became the unloved wife of the Father. Not “unloved” in the sense that God does not care about us. But we are unloved in the sese that we have departed from Him and defiled ourselves. We spat in His face and usurped his authority. We are detestable in His sight. We are filthy of sin in and of ourselves. However, instead of abandoning us, God had compassion on us and set out a plan of redemption through His son. Jesus is the acknowledged Son of the unloved wife as the firstborn from the dead who is given a double portion of all the Father’s possessions. God, in the flesh, became subject unto death, so that his son could receive the double inheritance. So that Jesus, the worthy, unblemished lamb of God could open the will. And through his spiritual bloodline, we too, receive the promises of God by confessing our sin and repenting to Christ, proclaiming that Christ is Lord. Hebrews 9:15 says,
“And for this reason He is the mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the internal inheritance.”
Those who believe in Christ are partakers of Christ’s inheritance. We enjoy the blessing of the Father. We are Christ’s adoption. We are His spiritual offspring. But we also serve right now as witnesses to the handing over of the Father’s will to Christ.
When describing the scroll in Revelation 5, we haven’t made mention yet of a very significant detail that would be clearly understood In Roman and Ancient Jewish cultures. This scroll is bound together with seven seals. Surrounding the time in which Revelation was written, a will was to undergo a legal sealing process to validate and confirm the process of handing over possessions, land, wealth, honor, and every other possible item in the will that could verifiably be given over to someone else. However, seven witnesses were present during this to make sure nothing was fraudulent, and that no one was cheating the system. The will was considered invalid unless sealed by seven witnesses. Legally, the will was made void if seven witnesses could not testify to the will of the dead person.
The seven seals represent the seven church types that were mentioned in the previous chapters in Revelation. Seven, being God’s number of perfection, represent the fullness of God’s people witnessing and testifying to Christ’s perfect life (His worthiness), His death (As the testator), and resurrection (As the first-born Son to receive his birthright). We witness and confirm the work of Jesus Christ. We see more confirmation of our role as we look to Revelation 5:5-7. There we see that the lamb had “seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth.” In the same vision, John sees a seven-branched candlestick burning at the throne, which the Bible tells us are “the seven churches.” (Rev. 1:20) The seven candlesticks relate to the seven eyes of the Lamb as well. Revelation 4:5 says,
“And out of the throne proceeded lightnings and thunderings and voices: and there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.”
This leaves no mystery about the identity of the seven eyes. WE are the observing eyes who witness all that Christ has done. The spirit of God speaks through us and testifies of Christ. The sevenfold spirit manifests itself through the seven church types in Revelation 2-3. That is why there are seven church types in Revelation. They represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is spread to every corner of the earth. The reference to the seven eyes also points us back to a passage in Zechariah 3:9, which says,
“Behold, the stone (the cornerstone of the temple) that I have laid before Joshua: upon the stone are seven eyes.”
Christ laid down His life as a ransom. He became the cornerstone for the building up of God’s house. These seven eyes are the seven churches built upon Christ, proclaiming Christ, and witnessing Christ.
“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” – Acts 1:8
We become Christ’s witnesses once the Spirit of God comes upon us. The whole Gospel story is validated by the sevenfold spirit always being present throughout history, testifying of Christ being worthy to inherit the Father’s Will!
As I get prepared to close here, I just want to end with what that beautiful double portion inheritance looks like. Blessed are those who read this book of Revelation because of the hope of the promised inheritance for those in Christ. Revelation 21:1-7 says,
Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.
Amen and Amen! This is the Father’s Will!