God’s Firstborn Sons
By Arlen L. Chitwood
Then you shall say to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn.
So I say to you let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.” (Exodus 4:22, 23)
But now thus says the LORD, who created you, O Jacob, and He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises. (Romans 9:4)
The nation of Israel is God’s “son” because of creation. God performed a special creative act in the person of Jacob (Isaiah 43:1); and, as a result, not only Jacob, but his descendants through his twelve sons — forming the nation of Israel — are viewed in Scripture as God’s “son.”
Then, the nation of Israel is more than just God’s “son.” This nation, because of a subsequent adoption, is God’s firstborn son. That is, God, at a time following His creative activity surrounding Jacob and a nation emanating from his loins, adopted this nation, placing the nation of Israel in the position of His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, 23).
Note Isaiah 43:5-7 relative to both creation and sonship:
Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your descendants [the descendants of Jacob in v. 1] from the east, and gather you from the west;
I will say to the north, “Give them up!” And to the south, “Do not keep them back!” Bring My sons from afar and My daughters from the ends of the earth —
Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.”
The reference is to a future re-gathering of the Israelites from a worldwide dispersion. The Israelites, in connection with creation mentioned in verses one and seven, are referred to as God’s “sons,” with “daughters” used contextually within this same thought — i.e., within the thought of creation resulting in “sonship.”
(With respect to both males and females viewed in relation to sonship, the nation as a whole is almost always spoken of in the sense of a son, or in the sense of sons when referring to individuals comprising the nation [which would include both males and females].
For example, the expression used in verses such as Exodus 1:1, 7, 9 or Acts 5:21; 7:23, 37 to describe all those comprising the nation [both males and females] is “the sons of Israel” [NASB (The Hebrew word translated “sons” in Exodus 1:1, 7, 9 and other similar Old Testament passages is ben, and the Greek word translated “sons” in Acts 5:21; 7:23, 37 and other similar New Testament passages is huios. These respectively are the Hebrew and Greek words for “son,” and both should be so understood and translated)].
Thus, the use of “daughters” in connection with “sons” in a verse such as Isaiah 43:6 must be understood in the preceding respect. It must be understood in a similar respect to the way God’s wife [Israel] is also viewed — as God’s son. And the same would hold true relative to how Christ’s wife is to be viewed yet future. His wife [to be comprised of Christians] will also be viewed the same way Israel, the wife of Jehovah, is presently viewed — as God’s son.
The way in which the government in God’s kingdom was originally established, only sons could rule. Then, in relation to man and the earth, two things are seen in this respect: only firstborn sons can rule; and there has to be a husband-wife relationship within this rule, with the wife, of necessity, also being a firstborn son.)
Isaiah 43:7 clearly states that every descendant of Jacob is himself a special creation, as Jacob is seen as a special creation back in verse one). Whether this is understood as a passing on of the sonship status through birth, or as God stepping in at the time of birth and performing an individual, creative act, is immaterial. The fact remains that, because of creation, Jacob is seen as a son of God; and, through procreation, all of his descendants are seen in Scripture individually as sons of God, with the nation as a whole seen collectively as God’s son (Exodus 4:22, 23).
This entire thought of creation and sonship, followed by adoption, is what separates and sets apart both the Jewish people individually and the nation of Israel as a whole from all the Gentiles (individually, or nationally). Scripture makes a sharp distinction between Israel on the one hand and the Gentile nations on the other. The Jewish people comprise a separate and distinct nation that is not to be “reckoned among the nations” — the Gentile nations (cf. Numbers 23:9; Deuteronomy 7:6; Amos 3:1, 2).
The Government of the Earth
In keeping with this same line of biblical teaching as it pertains to regality, Satan — positioned by God as the earth’s ruler in the beginning (Ezekiel 28:14) — has ruled the earth, uninterrupted, since that time. And Satan’s rule has always been under God, though a rebel ruler under God following his fall.
Throughout Man’s Day, Satan has carried out this rule through the nations. And he accomplishes this rule through a complete gradation of powers and authorities within his kingdom — i.e., through angelic rulers (fallen angels), to whom power and authority has been delegated.
Particular angels have been placed over particular nations. Then, under each of these angelic princes placed over nations, there are numerous other angels assigned to occupy lesser positions of power and authority.
This is the manner in which the government under Satan, in the heavens, is revealed to presently exist; and this established government, with respect to individual nations, angelic princes, and lesser angelic rulers assigned under these princes, apparently corresponds to a complete gradation of powers and authorities within the various nations on earth (Daniel 10:13-20).
However, there is one exception to Satan’s rule in this respect. In Satan’s kingdom, there is no angelic prince and there are no lesser angelic rulers holding positions over Israel. Israel is a separate and distinct nation, God’s firstborn son, and is not to be “reckoned among” the nations.
The angelic prince that exercises this type of power and authority over Israel during Man’s Day is revealed to be Michael, an angel not associated with Satan’s fall and his kingdom. And any angelic rulers under Michael would also, of necessity, be outside of Satan’s domain and rule (Daniel 10:21).
Note Revelation 12:1ff in this respect. Israel and the nations are in view on the one hand (vv. 1-6), and Michael and his angels, along with Satan and his angels, are in view on the other (vv. 7-9), with everything being regal in nature.
(In the preceding gradation of powers and authorities, the angelic rulers — whether those consisting of Satan and his angels, or of Michael and his angels — exercise power and authority from a heavenly sphere. All hold their positions under God [though Satan and his angels are rebel rulers], and all rule through those whom God has placed in positions of power and authority on the earth.
“The heavens do rule” in this respect. This rule begins with God [in the heavens] and progresses through angels [also in the heavens] to man [on the earth]. “There is no power but of God,” and “the powers that be [whether in the heavens, or on the earth] are ordained of God” [cf. Daniel 4:17-26; Romans 13:1, 2].
During the present day and time, angels — both within and without Satan’s kingdom — continue to hold previously appointed regal positions [appointed by God] in the preceding respect. Note that even those represented by the twenty-four elders in Revelation 4, 5 remain crowned and retain a regal connection with God’s throne until a particular, revealed time yet future. And that future time is associated with events immediately following the present dispensation, events occurring near the conclusion of Man’s Day, anticipating Christ and His co-heirs taking the kingdom [ref. the “Appendix,” “Crowns before the Throne,” in the author’s book, Ruth].
The things reiterated in the preceding three paragraphs form fundamental, foundational biblical teachings surrounding the government of the earth — past, present, and future. And possessing a proper understanding of the government of the earth forms a fundamental, foundational basis for properly understanding numerous related things surrounding Israel and the nations seen occurring in the world today.)
Knowing the things surrounding how the present kingdom on this earth is established — which includes not only the nations but Israel as well — is the key to seeing and understanding the central and primary reason for Satan’s continuous hatred of the Jewish people down through the years. And this is something that has resulted in or has had a direct bearing upon all of the anti-Semitism over centuries of time, as well as the present unrest in the Middle East.
The emanating point for all anti-Semitism is Satan, and he carries out his numerous anti-Semitic endeavors through the Gentile nations, over which he and his angels rule; and the basic reason for all anti-Semitism is centered in Israel’s identity and position among the nations — God’s firstborn son, the one existing apart from Satan’s present governmental rule, the one possessing the right to hold the scepter, and the one who one day will hold the scepter.
Note Romans 9:4 in this respect:
who are Israelites, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the service of God, and the promises.
God’s “adoption” of Israel is mentioned first, which necessitated a prior sonship standing, for only sons are in a position to be placed as firstborn sons through adoption. Then “the glory” is mentioned, along with “the covenants,” “the giving of the law,” “the service of God,” and “the promises.” All of these together are regal in nature and have to do with God’s firstborn son, a land, and a theocracy.
In relation to any of the six things mentioned in Romans 9:4, all of the Gentile nations find themselves in exactly the same alienated position. No Gentile nation can qualify to lay claim to anything in this list, for there is no special creation among any of the Gentile nations, allowing sonship and a subsequent adoption to exist. The only way that any Gentile nation can have any type of association with the things listed in this verse is seen in Genesis 9:25-27. And this section of Scripture, early in Genesis, shows the place that God has decreed that the Gentiles occupy in relation to Israel throughout Man’s Day, once this nation, through Jacob and his progeny, had been called into existence.
In Genesis chapter nine, of the three sons of Noah, Shem was the only one revealed to have God (v. 26). And if either of the other two sons (Ham or Japheth), alienated from God in this respect, were to receive spiritual blessings, they would have to “dwell in the tents of Shem” (v. 27). That is to say, they would have to come to the one in possession of God and spiritual blessings. They would have to come to and ally themselves with Shem.
And that is exactly the position in which Israel and the Gentile nations have found themselves throughout millennia of time, find themselves today, and will always find themselves. Of all the nations on earth, Israel, the nation descending from Shem through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the only nation having God; and the God whom Israel possesses has decreed that all spiritual blessings are to flow through the nation that He has singled out as His firstborn son.
Thus, for the Gentiles to be blessed — today, or at any time yet future — they would/will have to do the same thing seen among Noah’s sons in Genesis 9:25-27. They would/will have to come to the one in possession of God and in possession of spiritual blessings. They would/will have to come to and ally themselves with Israel.
(Note that “the God…of the Gentiles” in Romans 3:29 is a reference to saved Gentiles, not to Gentile nations [cf. Romans 1:16; 2:5-16; Galatians 1:11-16; 2:2-15; 2 Timothy 1:11]. The nations have gods, but… [cf. Psalm 96:5].)
Exactly the opposite though is happening today. Israel, viewing matters from the vantage point of the nation’s present position of disobedience and unbelief, fails to understand her God-ordained position among the nations; the Gentile nations, alienated from God and His revelation to man (something that has come through Israel), have no concept at all of Israel’s present position; and by and large, the vast majority of Christians in the world today, because of their ignorance of biblical teachings surrounding Israel and the nations, find themselves in a position, as it pertains to the true knowledge of God and world affairs, that is little different than that seen among Israel and the nations.
God though will shortly bring an end to and rectify the entire matter. The present dispensation has almost run its course. And when the present dispensation ends, God will resume and complete seven unfulfilled years in His dealings with Israel during Man’s Day, bringing an end to Man’s Day and the Times of the Gentiles.
That is to say, God will shortly once again step into the affairs of the human race, remove the Church, and then complete seven unfulfilled years of the prior dispensation. And, having brought matters to a completion in this respect, God will have finished His 6,000-year period of work comprising Man’s Day, completely straightening out at that time all the things that man has often only made worse through his vain efforts to improve or to rectify matters.
In this respect, note two things: (1) the present existing situation in the Middle East, apart from Messiah; and (2) that which is about to exist, when Messiah is once again present.
Israel and the Nations Today
In relation to that which is clearly taught in Scripture, a situation exists in the Middle East today that should, on the one hand, not exist, but, on the other hand, has to exist. And that situation concerns a remnant of Jews leaving their place among the Gentile nations, to which the Jewish people in time past had been driven, and returning to the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
In this respect, according to the type in Numbers 35:15-34 and that which has occurred in the antitype, the slayer has returned to “the land of his possession” before it was time for him to return. He has returned before “the death of the high priest,” something expressively forbidden by Scripture.
“Israel” is the slayer. The nation is guilty of blood, the blood of their Messiah (Acts 2:23, 36; 3:14, 15; 7:52), and is presently unclean through contact with the dead body of their Messiah. And Scripture is clear that cleansing cannot occur until the third or seventh day, with Israel presently living during the second or sixth day (Numbers 19:11-22).
The slayer cannot return until the antitype of that seen in “the death of the high priest.” Only then can the slayer be allowed to return to the land, with atonement subsequently provided (the word translated “satisfaction” [KJV], “ransom” [NASB] in vv. 31, 32 is a cognate form of the Hebrew word for atonement).
“Christ” is the High Priest in view in the antitype. And the termination of His present ministry in the sanctuary is that seen through the termination of the high priest’s ministry (occurring through death in the type). Christ’s present ministry is patterned after the order of Aaron, and this ministry will one day end, which will be the antitype of that seen through the end of the high priest’s ministry in Numbers 35:25, 28, 32.
Only then can the slayer be allowed to return to the nation’s land; only then can Christ come forth as the Great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek; and only then can cleansing be provided for the slayer (ref. “Appendix 1,” “The Death of the High Priest,” in the author’s book, Esther).
God uprooted Israel from her land and drove His people out among the nations because of unbelief and disobedience. And the reason for the Jewish people being driven out in this manner was to effect repentance, resulting in belief and obedience. In short, the Jewish people were to remain scattered among the Gentiles and suffer at the hands of the Gentiles, under Satan, until such a time as repentance was effected.
Thus, in the light of the current alignment of nations in the Middle East, one central question emerges: What is the slayer doing back in the nation’s land — removed from numerous Gentile lands where the Jewish people were scattered — both before repentance and before Christ completes His high priestly ministry in the sanctuary?” That, of course, can have only one answer.
God, in His sovereign control of all things has allowed the slayer to return, for a revealed purpose. God has allowed the slayer to return in order to effect the fulfillment of end-time biblical prophecy, for, according to prophecy, a nation, must exist in the Middle East during the latter days.
But God drove the Jewish people out among the Gentile nations to effect repentance, and He has not changed His mind concerning where He has decreed that His people will be residing when repentance occurs. This alone should tell a person that the present remnant in the land will have to be uprooted and driven back out among the nations — something that can never occur once God restores the Jewish people in accord with His numerous promises (cf. Deuteronomy 30:1-5; Ezekiel 36:24-28; 37:11-28; 39:25-29; Joel 3:1-21).
An unrepentant and unbelieving remnant is back in the land today to set the stage for that which is about to occur. God is about to remove the Church and once again turn back to His people, Israel, dealing with the Jewish people during Daniel’s unfulfilled Seventieth Week, bringing them to the end of themselves and to the place of repentance.
Only then can God deal with them in relation to the Old Testament prophecies surrounding the nation’s restoration.
(Note that to associate the present return of a remnant — over 5,000,000 strong, forming the present nation of Israel — with God’s promise through the prophets that He would one day restore His people to their land is an oxymoron. That is to say, it is a contradictory statement. And God simply does not do things in a contradictory manner. Things of this nature are left for man.
God cannot presently restore His people to their land in accord with that which the prophets have foretold, for He has made matters very clear in His Word concerning both the time of Israel’s return and the existing conditions surrounding the nation’s return. And neither presently exists — the time [the termination of Christ’s present ministry in the sanctuary has not occurred], or the conditions [according to the prophets, Israel will repent and return in belief, not in their present unrepentant and unbelieving state].
Thus, the present existence of the nation of Israel in the Middle East can have nothing to do with God’s promise through the prophets to one day remove the Jewish people from the nations into which He has driven them and place them back in their land. And that should be simple enough for anyone to understand, for, if the present restoration is a fulfillment of God’s promise of restoration, God would be acting contrary to that which He has revealed in His Word — an impossibility.)
Israel and the Nations yet Future
Israel in the Middle East today is as Jonah on board the ship in the book of Jonah. Jonah was out of place on the ship, fleeing from the Lord in a disobedient and unrepentant state, and asleep down in the hold of the ship (1:1-3, 5). And Israel is out of place in the land today, fleeing from the Lord in their disobedient and unrepentant state, and asleep in relation to the nation’s calling.
As Jonah sought to flee from the Lord’s presence, a great storm arose on the sea, of a magnitude that put all those on the ship in danger, producing conditions completely beyond their control (1:4). And, because of Israel’s presence in the land, in the antitype, this is exactly where matters are headed in the Middle East — the Gentile nations ultimately finding themselves in a genocidal turmoil, of a nature completely beyond their control.
The “sea” carries a dual metaphorical meaning in Scripture — the Gentiles, and the place of death (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:1, 2; Colossians 2:12; Revelation 13:1).
In the type, Jonah, at the height of the storm, was cast from the ship into the sea, and repentance ultimately resulted; and, in the antitype, Israel, at the height of the turmoil about to occur, will be removed from the nation’s land and be driven out among the Gentile nations, where repentance will ultimately occur.
It was after two days, on the third day, in the sea, that Jonah repented; and it will be after two days, on the third day, among the nations, that Israel will repent.
Scripture clearly reveals numerous details about that coming day when the entire nation of Israel will find herself among the nations — both those presently in the land and those still scattered among the nations (cf. Joel 3:1-8; Matthew 24:15-31; Luke 21:20-24; Revelation 11:2).
Israel, in Gentile lands in that day, will be brought into such dire straits through Gentile persecution that the nation will have no recourse other than to turn to and call upon the God of their fathers. And God, according to His promise, will then hear and bring to pass their long-awaited deliverance (cf. Exodus 2:23, 24; 3:7-10; 4:20-23; 2 Chronicles 7:14).
Why have the nations, under Satan, persecuted Israel throughout history? And why will the nations, under Satan, persecute Israel, yet future, during the Tribulation, to the extent seen in Scripture? The answer is clear. It is because of Israel’s identity and destiny — God’s firstborn son, destined to take the scepter.
Why has God allowed this persecution to occur in the past, and why will God allow the nations to persecute Israel to this extent yet future? The answer is exactly the same as to why the nations have persecuted and will continue to persecute Israel. It is because of Israel’s identity and destiny — God’s firstborn son, destined to take the scepter.
God will use Satan’s hatred of and efforts to destroy Israel through the Gentile nations to bring His firstborn son to the place of repentance. Only then can God’s son realize the rights of the firstborn.