A lesson to remind us that the Bible is constructed in layers—line upon line, precept upon precept.
Human gestation takes about nine months, so we still have a little longer to think about Rebekah’s pregnancy and the two boys in her womb! Remember the Lord had explained to her: “Two nations are in your womb, two peoples shall be separated from your body; one people shall be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” (Gen 25:23). What does this all mean? These are some of the biggest ideas in the Bible. At the simplest level, the two sons would be founders of two people groups who would wrestle throughout their history. They are the Jews and the Edomites, later called Idumaeans. Herod, who sought to murder the child Jesus, was an Idumaean. But we mentioned in our last study that they also represent two ways of seeking for a righteous standing with God. The son born first had certain rights in a patrilineal society (where possessions pass from father to son), and the Jewish people thought they had an automatic right before God because of their status as His special people. But the Lord Jesus explained to one of their religious leaders, Nicodemus (whose name tellingly means “victorious among the people”), “You must be born again” (Jn 3:7). The first birth, like the son born first, will not get you into God’s kingdom. You will need a second birth, the new birth, which does not come by merit, or religious activity, or inheritance, but simply as a gift from God because He is gracious and because you believe what He says. The old preachers used to say, “If you’re only born once, you’ll die twice (see Rev 21:8); but if you’re born twice, at the most you will only die once.” And what of God’s statement that “the older shall serve the younger”? Ah, pregnancies require patience! That’s for our next lesson.