The concept of the first being last and the last being first is found throughout the Bible. Jesus said, “So the last will be first and the first will be last” at the conclusion of His parable about the workers in the vineyard, (Matthew 20:16), and several other times.
This principal goes back at least to the birth of Esau and Jacob. Esau was the first-born, but Jacob received the blessing. This was not only because of the scheming of Jacob, but because Esau had no regard for his blessing as first born. Esau lived in Edom and the Lord through the prophet Obadiah makes it clear that He was not happy with Esau. The prophet says, “There will be no survivors from the house of Esau. The Lord has spoken.” (Obadiah 18)
The Lord has frequently referred to Israel as his intended “bride”. The giving of the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai was intended to be a marriage contract. This occurred in the Spring. Israel was to be the Spring Bride. But, while Moses was on the mountain receiving the contract, the bride was down on the plain committing spiritual adultery with the golden calf.
Later, the Lord said, “I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me; I was found by those who did not seek me. To a nation that did not call on my name, I said, ‘Here am I, here am I.’” (Isaiah 65:1) The word “nation” in this passage is the Hebrew word goy, which means Gentile. This was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost, when the Church came into being. Pentecost is during the early harvest. The Church is the Early Harvest. We Gentiles, became the Spring Bride.
The Lord still has plans for Israel. This will probably occur in the Fall. The prophet Zechariah notes that the Feast of Tabernacles will be a special time during the Coming Kingdom. (Zechariah 14:16) Another name for this feast is the In-Gathering or the Harvest Feast. Israel will be the Fall Harvest. Israel will be the Fall Bride.
The New Testament contains twenty-seven books. They are divided into three groups of nine, just like the nine-branched Hanukkah Menorah.* The first group, Matthew through Galatians are addressed to a Jewish audience. The next group, Ephesians through Philemon, are addressed to Gentiles. Paul specifically addresses Gentiles in Ephesians 2:11. Philemon is a picture of the Church going home, its debts paid by someone other than itself. The next group of nine books begins with Hebrews, and concludes with The Revelation. The books to the Gentiles are inserted in the middle of the books to the Jews.
This New Testament structure is another picture of the first being last and vice-versa. The plan of the Lord has always been focused on the Jews. We Gentile Christians are a parenthetical insertion in His plan. How thankful I am to be included in His plan. Praise His Name!
* Hanukkah was not celebrated during Old Testament times. It began about 167 B.C. The nine-branched Hanukkah Menorah may be a New Testament precursor.