I have been listening to Rabbi Tovia Singer arguing that Israel is the firstborn of God. In so doing, he makes the case that Jesus Christ cannot, therefore, be the firstborn of God, and that Christians who hold to such a belief are guilty of 'replacement theology'.
I think he is wrong, at least in part, and I'd like to explain where I think he is in error.
Here's a passage to lead us in:
Exodus 4:22. 'And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel is my son, even my firstborn:'
So, 'Israel' is here assumed to be a reference to the children of Israel. Thereafter, Rabbi Singer will make the case that the firstborn son is consistently a reference to the children of Israel, brought together by God, under Moses, and under the Torah.
I would now like to ask, Where is Israel first mentioned in scripture?
Genesis 32:28. 'And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob ['following after, supplanter'], but Israel ['ruling with God']: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed'.
Interestingly, although Jacob 'shall be called no more Jacob', we discover that Jacob, son of Isaac, continues to be called Jacob, but interspersed with 'Israel'. Why is this?
The children of Jacob [Joshua 24:4] have a father, Jacob. Do the 'children of Israel' have a father, Israel? If so, what is the difference between the 'children of Jacob' and the 'children of Israel'?
The reason I make this distinction is because I think it matters. The children are a product of their father. Are the 'children of Israel' the ones who see God 'face to face' [Genesis 32:30]?
Do you think Rabbi Singer's claims about Israel as the 'firstborn son' are legitimate? Is it not possible that 'Israel' 'my firstborn' refers to BOTH head and body, to both Messiah and his followers?