Sonship, part 17: A responsibility of the firstborn
Our study of Jacob-Israel’s adoption of the two sons of Joseph and his placing them as his own firstborn suggests two principles which are borne out elsewhere in the Scriptures.
Number 1: A godly father will consider certain spiritual and moral qualifications of his sons before selecting which of them is to receive the blessing of primogeniture. If the chronological firstborn are wicked or cruel, as with Reuben and Simeon, or— and this certainly is applicable in our day as well—if they are unbelievers in the God of their fathers, they may be displaced from the blessing of primogeniture. This has a very practical reason behind it as well, and that is this:
Number 2: One of the reasons the blessing of the firstborn included a double portion was because the firstborn, among other responsibilities, had to care for his aging parents. Of course, if the chronological firstborn son is a son of Belial, a wicked man, a man who does not follow the ways of Yahweh, then, chances are that that wicked son will not obey the commandment to honor his father and mother.
If a wicked firstborn were given the double portion of his father’s wealth, he may refuse to care for his aging parents, squandering the inheritance elsewhere. Thus we see the practicality of the father passing over him and giving the double portion to the son whose character is upright, one who has the moral qualities of leadership and responsibility.
Remember that leadership, according to Jesus Christ, is being the servant of all. Furthermore, didn’t He also say something about being faithful in the little things, or a few things? For anyone who has aspirations of being a “great leader of the people,” it would be interesting to see how well they take care of their own parents.
In applying this to the life of all Christians, it is certainly true that one cannot provide what one does not have—and that applies to parents as well as children. Throughout history there have been countless millions of fathers who simply have not been able to accumulate much of an estate to pass on to their children.
Of course, this is especially difficult when one is living in a feudal society where the lord of the manor takes a large share of the fruits of a man’s labor.
Today in America, the lord of the manor is called our uncle. And Uncle Sam and the other levels of government, along with the usury banking system—Mystery Babylon, if you will—confiscate a great portion of the wealth of the people.
So if a father has virtually no estate to bequeath, under the fifth commandment, that does not mean the children can ignore their aging parents. After all, the parents presumably provided for their children for the first 15 or so years of their lives.
But no matter what the circumstances, honoring your parents includes caring for them in their old age and infirmity to the best of one’s ability, regardless of whether or not a father has any estate to give his child.
I am going to leave it at that: Take care of them to the best of your ability. I am not going to say that you must take them into your house or you must do this or you must do that. Everyone’s circumstances are different, so I am not going to make any hard and fast rules about this.
The Scripture says “honor thy father and thy mother…,” so I think each grown son and/or daughter must seek the Lord’s will in how best to honor and provide for your parents in your own particular situation. However, Jesus did have something to say about this topic and we will continue with that next time.