We hear a lot in our American pulpits about receiving God’s blessings, but not a word about our birthright as God’s people. This issue was addressed by an American Anglo-Israel minister over a century ago, and his words are even truer today.
“I have no hesitation to say, after over twenty-five years of experience with preachers and pulpit, that the majority of preachers are lazy and indifferent in study. For this reason many of them are deterred from examining any new theory. Many have said to me, and written to me, that if they accepted the Lost Tribe theory it would destroy nearly all their old sermons, and necessitate the making of new ones—a work they were not willing to undertake. It will, therefore, be a long time before the pulpit is reformed.” (Rev. Dr. Joseph Wild, “The Lost Ten Tribes and 1881,” p.137).
This book was published long ago in 1880, and the pulpits are still not reformed! As Dr. Wild intimated so long ago, the British-Israel “birthright” message is often rejected out of a lazy attitude that it is easier to go along with whatever is popularly taught. (I might also mention here the Easter bunny and Santa Claus festivities that are tacitly accepted and sometimes actively promoted in our churches.) Our birthright teaching is most often rejected in the pulpits, not because it is unscriptural, but because the ministers are!
In a similar vein of thought, during one of our church Bible studies in the Book of Genesis, someone asked why Esau would not have wanted the birthright? It really is no mystery. He wanted the privileges, but not the responsibility. How many are like that even today! Much of the problem in reaching ministers with our truth is indeed their laziness in going against the flow, championing a truth that is little known and would take a great deal of in-depth study and preaching to get across.
These facts are manifest in the Genesis account of Jacob and Esau: “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.” (Gen 25:31-33)
The word “birthright” here is translated from the Hebrew, “bekorah,” (Strongs 1062) meaning, “the firstling of man or beast; abstractly primogeniture: – birthright, firstborn.” Jacob received the rights of the firstborn covenant inheritance.
We read that Esau “despised” the birthright. “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.” (Gen 25:34)
The word “despised” here is translated from the Hebrew, “bazah” (Strongs 959), “A primitive root; to disesteem: – despise, disdain, contemptible, think to scorn, vile person.” Esau did not hold the birthright in proper regard and respect. He was not literally dying of hunger, he was just hungry! He lightly esteemed his heritage. Esau wanted the blessing but not the birthright. He did not care a bowlful of lentils about the birthright! Have you often met people with this attitude toward the British-Israel birthright message?
The account in Genesis 27 of Esau losing the blessing tells us much about his character. After learning from father Isaac that the blessing had been given to his brother Jacob, Esau expressed his feelings. “And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright; and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me? …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.” (Gen. 27:36, 41)
Esau’s focus was on the blessing. He hated Jacob “because of the blessing.” He was willing to kill over the blessing. In verse 41, he cried pitifully that he wanted the blessing, with no mention of the birthright. God arranged for him to lose both! There is a lesson in that for us.
The lesson of Esau was not learned by succeeding generations. Both Houses of Israel, ten-tribe Ephraim and two-tribe Judah, suffered national destruction/dispersion for their sin in “despising” God’s laws—a rejection of their covenant birthright responsibilities. “But the land shall be left behind them and shall enjoy its Sabbaths while it lies desolate without them; and they shall accept the punishment for their sins and make amends because they despised and rejected My ordinances and their soul scorned and rejected My statutes.” (Lev. 26:43) Who can then say that this birthright message is not important?
Some people will tell us that our teaching is not in keeping with Christian orthodoxy. Dr. Joseph Wild addressed this issue long ago. He wrote, “Some ministers, no doubt the majority of them, talk about holding on to the old landmarks and being orthodox for the very reason that to make a move implies labour, which they are not willing to give, hence they prate about orthodoxy and landmarks as a pretext to cover over their indifference. He is the most orthodox who searches after the truth…’Prove all things, hold fast that which is good’, says Paul. These pretended followers of Paul say: ‘Prove nothing, hold fast what you have got’.” (Dr. Wild, ibid., p.138). Ancient Israel suffered God’s judgment for their “orthodoxy” to false teaching!
It should not be forgotten, however, that this birthright message is not just “Old Covenant,” but a New Testament truth as well. The writer of the Book of Hebrews explains, “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.” (Heb. 12:16) The Greek word here translated, “birthright,” is “prototokia,” (Strong’s 4415) meaning “primogeniture (as a privilege): – birthright.” It is indeed a privilege to inherit the birthright, but just as importantly, there are responsibilities attached, as well. Without knowing our birthright, it is impossible to know the responsibilities we have as God’s servant people!
Christians today, like Esau, want all of the blessings God has in store for them, but not the birthright and its responsibilities. Yet preaching a theology of blessings without the birthright is only half a message. It is incomplete, fragmented and incoherent. The story of Esau should make it clear that God arranges for those who accept the birthright to have the blessings also. The two are tied together in the Divine purpose. If we reject the birthright, the blessings will be withdrawn as well!
So it is a definite truth that this British-Israel birthright message is important. Should we be deterred in our efforts to proclaim it? We sometimes hear people say, “What’s the good of it?” We can honestly reply that, actually, there has already been quite a lot of good. Through this message, people’s lives have been transformed, myself included! Judge Brettel Scott of the USA answered that question well in stating, “In my country it [British-Israel] has saved unknown thousands from suicide and despair…You are preparing the way of the Lord.” (National Message Magazine, 1-6-1934, p.8)