We humans are to serve Christ, Who is God. Paul tells us of the first man Adam who was made a living soul; and the last Adam, Who is Christ, was made a Quickening Spirit (1 Cor 15:45). The first Adam was not spiritual, but was natural or from earth; the Second Adam (Christ) is spiritual and is the Lord from heaven (1 Cor 15:46-47). Sin and death entered the world through the first Adam and passed on to all men; we all have sinned (Rom 5:12). We humans are natural like the first Adam. When Christ the Second Adam came, He brought salvation to the world of those who believe and we as believers serve the Second Adam, Christ. So the first Adam (humanity) serves the Second Adam (deity) or the elder serves the younger.
“And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).
We see the theme of the elder brother serving the younger brother throughout the Old Testament. It is the theme of the second born son receiving the birthright. This was the case with Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Ephraim and Manasseh, etc.
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed” (Genesis 21:9-13).
Isaac, the second born, was the possessor of the birthright: “in Isaac shall thy seed be called,” so Ishmael, the elder, or firstborn son, did not receive the birthright of being the firstborn son, thus served the younger, Isaac.
When Jacob and Esau, who were twins, were born, Esau was born first, and Jacob came out grasping Esau’s heel. While in the womb, the two fetuses were quite rambunctious; the two nations were fighting even before birth. So Rebekah prayed and asked why. Yahweh answered and told her two separate nations were in the womb and the elder would serve the younger.
“And Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah to wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padanaram, the sister to Laban the Syrian. And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:20-23)
“And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red, all over like an hairy garment; and they called his name Esau. And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them” (Genesis 25:24-26).
Esau came in from hunting and was very hungry. Jacob, momma’s boy, was cooking stew. Esau asked Jacob for some stew and Jacob said only if you will sell me your birthright. Esau complied, not even suspecting what was happening.
“And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright” (Genesis 25:29-34).
Even though Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of stew, he did not take it seriously and still expected to receive the lion’s share of Isaac’s estate. Rebekah and Jacob never forgot and Rebekah arranged a sneaky way for Jacob to be sure he received the birthright. When Isaac was old and his vision was dimmed (there were no eyeglasses or cataract surgery then), he sent Esau out to the hunt to get him some venison so that he, Isaac, could eat and then give Esau his blessing as the firstborn son. That blessing would secure the birthright to Esau.
While Esau was out hunting, Rebekah told Jacob to go out to the flock and get her two kids that she would prepare for Isaac to eat. Then Jacob was to take the meal in to Isaac and receive the blessing meant for Esau. Jacob was a smooth skinned individual and Esau was hairy so Rebekah gave him a set of Esau’s clothing with Esau’s smell on the garment to wear and deceive Isaac.
“Go now to the flock, and fetch me from thence two good kids of the goats; and I will make them savoury meat for thy father, such as he loveth: And thou shalt bring it to thy father, that he may eat, and that he may bless thee before his death. And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man: My father peradventure will feel me, and I shall seem to him as a deceiver; and I shall bring a curse upon me, and not a blessing. And his mother said unto him, Upon me be thy curse, my son: only obey my voice, and go fetch me them. And he went, and fetched, and brought them to his mother: and his mother made savoury meat, such as his father loved. And Rebekah took goodly raiment of her eldest son Esau, which were with her in the house, and put them upon Jacob her younger son: And she put the skins of the kids of the goats upon his hands, and upon the smooth of his neck” (Genesis 27:9-16).
Then Jacob went in to Isaac and Isaac thought it was Esau so Isaac unknowingly gave Jacob the blessing. Jacob was not innocent in this deceit; he lied to his father.
“And she gave the savoury meat and the bread, which she had prepared, into the hand of her son Jacob. And he came unto his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I; who art thou, my son? And Jacob said unto his father, I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me: arise, I pray thee, sit and eat of my venison, that thy soul may bless me. And Isaac said unto his son, How is it that thou hast found it so quickly, my son? And he said, Because the LORD thy God brought it to me. And Isaac said unto Jacob, Come near, I pray thee, that I may feel thee, my son, whether thou be my very son Esau or not. And Jacob went near unto Isaac his father; and he felt him, and said, The voice is Jacob’s voice, but the hands are the hands of Esau. And he discerned him not, because his hands were hairy, as his brother Esau’s hands: so he blessed him” (Genesis 27:17-23).
When he learned of the subterfuge, Esau was angry and threatened to kill Jacob, but Jacob fled to his uncle Laban in Haran:
“And Esau hated Jacob because of the blessing wherewith his father blessed him: and Esau said in his heart, The days of mourning for my father are at hand; then will I slay my brother Jacob. And these words of Esau her elder son were told to Rebekah: and she sent and called Jacob her younger son, and said unto him, Behold, thy brother Esau, as touching thee, doth comfort himself, purposing to kill thee. Now therefore, my son, obey my voice; and arise, flee thou to Laban my brother to Haran; And tarry with him a few days, until thy brother’s fury turn away” (Genesis 27:41-44).
Jacob had twelve sons, but only two were from his favorite wife, Rachel. They were Joseph and Benjamin. The others were from Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah, Jacob’s other wives and concubines.
When Joseph was born to Rachel after his ten elder brothers were adults, Jacob, also known as Israel, loved him more than the others and the others became jealous.
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him” (Genesis 37:3-4).
The brothers sold Joseph, who was only a teenager, into slavery and put blood on Joseph’s coat and told Jacob that Joseph was killed by a wild animal.
“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content. Then there passed by Midianites merchantmen; and they drew and lifted up Joseph out of the pit, and sold Joseph to the Ishmeelites for twenty pieces of silver: and they brought Joseph into Egypt” (Genesis 37:26-28).
And they took Joseph’s coat, and killed a kid of the goats, and dipped the coat in the blood; And they sent the coat of many colours, and they brought it to their father; and said, This have we found: know now whether it be thy son’s coat or no. And he knew it, and said, It is my son’s coat; an evil beast hath devoured him; Joseph is without doubt rent in pieces” (Genesis 37:31-33).
In Egypt Joseph was sold to Potiphar, who was Pharaoh’s captain of the guard. He was a good servant and Potiphar promoted him to head of his household. Potiphar’s wife lusted over Joseph and made a pass at him while Potiphar was away. Joseph ran from her but she grabbed his garment as he fled. She told Potiphar that Joseph tried to rape her and when she screamed he fled leaving a part of his garment. Potiphar put him in prison.
Joseph languished in prison for better than two years. God made Joseph a favorite of the jailer who made Joseph the trustee and put him in charge of the prisoners and the inner workings of the prison. While there the King jailed his cupbearer and baker. They had dreams which Joseph interpreted and the interpretation came true. The baker was executed and the cupbearer restored to his position, which is what Jacob said would happen.
Two years later Pharaoh had a dream that no one could interpret. The cupbearer remembered Joseph who was brought into Pharaoh’s court and interpreted the dream. The interpretation was that there would be seven years of bumper crops and then seven years of famine. Joseph told Pharaoh to store grain during the good years so there would be grain available during the years of famine. Pharaoh was so impressed with Joseph that he put Joseph in charge of the operation and made him second in command over all of Egypt. That was God’s plan all along.
When the famine came, it was in Egypt and in Canaan. Jacob sons now numbered eleven because Rachel bore Benjamin and died in childbirth. So Benjamin became Jacob’s favorite. The famine was severe so Jacob told all his sons except Benjamin to go to Egypt to purchase grain. The brothers went to Jacob but did not recognize him. He was dressed like an Egyptian noble and he was now an adult. But Joseph recognized them. Eventually Joseph revealed himself and he and his brethren were reconciled and Jacob’s entire clan moved to Goshen in Egypt at Pharaoh’s pleasure.
Joseph had married Asenath, an Egyptian and the daughter of Potiphera the priest of On. They had two sons, the elder was Manasseh and the younger, Ephraim. They were Jacob’s grandchildren and a delight to him. Jacob took the boys as his own sons and blessed them. He was old and his vision was weak. Joseph guided the two boys to his father Jacob and put Manasseh by his right hand so the eldest son, Manasseh would receive the birthright; he guided Ephraim to the left. But Joseph crossed his hands putting his right hand on Ephraim the younger. Joseph protested but Jacob insisted and blessed Ephraim, the younger over Manasseh, the elder. Thus the elder served the younger.
“Joseph moved the boys, who were at their grandfather’s knees, and he bowed with his face to the ground. Then he positioned the boys in front of Jacob. With his right hand he directed Ephraim toward Jacob’s left hand, and with his left hand he put Manasseh at Jacob’s right hand. But Jacob crossed his arms as he reached out to lay his hands on the boys’ heads. He put his right hand on the head of Ephraim, though he was the younger boy, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, though he was the firstborn” (Genesis 48:12-14).
“But Joseph was upset when he saw that his father placed his right hand on Ephraim’s head. So Joseph lifted it to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. “No, my father,” he said. “This one is the firstborn. Put your right hand on his head.” But his father refused. “I know, my son; I know,” he replied. “Manasseh will also become a great people, but his younger brother will become even greater. And his descendants will become a multitude of nations.” So Jacob blessed the boys that day with this blessing: “The people of Israel will use your names when they give a blessing. They will say, ‘May God make you as prosperous as Ephraim and Manasseh.'” In this way, Jacob put Ephraim ahead of Manasseh” (Genesis 48:17-20).
The entire saga of Joseph and Jacob is contained in Genesis Chapters 38 – 49. The theme of the elder serving the younger can also be applied to Solomon. He was the tenth son of David, but he received the birthright and became King. There are other examples of God choosing the younger over the elder. God accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. He chose Gideon over his elder siblings to fight the Midianites.
Do you know Jesus Christ as your Savior? He is going to return to the world soon. Are you ready? When He does if you do not know Him as your Savior, you will join all those who do not know Him in “Outer Darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat 22:13-14).