May 2006

Cover Image

From the editor: "Seen in me" (Philippians 4.9)
J Grant

Mistaken Identity (1)
W Alexander

The First Book of Samuel (12)
J Riddle

Book Review

The Offerings (13)
J Paton

Question Box

Ashes of the Red Heifer (1)
T Ratcliffe

Whose shall those things be? (1)
M Hayward

Notebook: The Prophecy of Obadiah
J Grant

Bonds of Fellowship and Love (4)
C Logan

Whose faith follow: John Rae (1838-1920)

His Example (Jn 13.1-17)
J Coutts

With Christ

The Lord’s Work & Workers

Notices

Question Box

Does the expression, "…the love of the Father is not in him", indicate that the person is not saved (1 Jn 2.15)?

It must first of all be noticed in the context that the apostle John is addressing the young men of v.14. John is speaking to believers in the family of God, and in addressing the little children, young men, and fathers he indicates different stages of spiritual development of each believer. The little children are the babes in Christ. It is a different word from that used in v.12 where it is a term of endearment for every believer. The children know the Father, but the fathers have attained to that deeper knowledge of Christ – they know "him that is from the beginning". W Kelly said, "I have known a great many Christians, but few fathers"! The young men are the believers who have learned the secret of victory over the evil one. All believers are on the same groundwork of grace, but there are differences and degrees among the children of God as to spiritual maturity.

When John says, "…the love of the Father is not in him", he means that it is not in him as a controlling principle. Any believer who loves this world is not being controlled by the Father’s love. This should be contrasted with 3.17 where failing to show love to our brethren causes John to ask, "How dwelleth the love of God in him?". Carefully notice that it is not the love of the Father, but of God, because the context there is dealing with the evidence of divine life in the believer. It must then be clear that the young men spoken to in 2.15 are believers in whom there has been manifest the spiritual energy to overcome the evil one. The three features marking the young men of v.14 can only be true of those who are saved. The young men are especially cautioned to beware of the world. A believer may have overcome Satan, but victory in the past is not in itself sufficient to guarantee victory in the future. Let it be always remembered that the essence of worldliness is the love of passing things, but its cure is for the believer to aim to do the will of God (v.17).

John J Stubbs

Did the birthright pass to Jacob when he bought it from Esau (Gen 25.33)?

The term "birthright" applied to the peculiar advantages, privileges, and responsibilities of the firstborn son. In the days of Jacob and Esau, the right of primogeniture was more of a custom, with certain aspects of the birthright being later incorporated into the law. The father had the right of transferring it from the eldest son to another more deserving son, e.g. the birthright of Reuben was "given unto the sons of Joseph" (1 Chr 5.1).

It was normal for sons to inherit their share of their father’s estate; however, the firstborn son customarily received a double portion (Deut 21.17). The firstborn son was given dignity and authority over his brethren; this is suggested in Genesis 49.3-4.

God claimed the firstborn of every family as His; "the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me" (Ex 22.29). The possession of the birthright in patriarchal times conferred upon the firstborn the privilege of being God’s representative. It was a priestly function; in the course of time the sons of Levi were set apart for this purpose (Num 3.11-13).

In the context of the covenant made with Abraham, there was another very important dimension to the birthright, namely, that the seed of the firstborn should not only possess the land, but also that he should be the channel of blessing to all the families of the earth. The firstborn of Isaac would be in the direct line of the Messianic promise.

The Scripture states clearly, "he sold his birthright unto Jacob" (Gen 25.33). This is confirmed in the New Testament: "Esau…for one morsel of meat sold his birthright" (Heb 12.16). Indeed, the whole transaction was confirmed with an oath (Gen 25.33). The birthright thus passed immediately to Jacob. The emphasis is not so much upon the fact that Jacob bought the birthright, but rather that Esau sold his birthright.

Scripture does not offer one word of criticism of Jacob, rather it unequivocally condemns Esau: "Esau despised his birthright" (Gen 25.34). Evidently the birthright did not mean anything to Esau. He was a "profane person" (Heb 12.16); he was a man who, for the gratification of a momentary appetite, bartered eternal wealth.

The Lord had said, "the elder shall serve the younger" (Gen 25.23). However, Jacob should have understood that this prophecy would have been fulfilled without his scheming. God would have worked out His purpose in His own way.

David E West

 

 

« Newer | May 2014 | April 2014 | March 2014 | Older » Articles & Question Box | News & Notices Author | Title | Date Print Edition | Email Notices for Online Edition Christian Living Today | Ritchie Christian Media History | Contact Us