>Not the first individual, but another

God used unexpected individuals for His plans and purposes

Brian Kuehmichel
May 8, 2023

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. Psalm 33:12

But we are bound to give thanks alway to God for you, brethren beloved of the Lord, because God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth. 2 Thessalonians 2:13

As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God." Romans 9:25-26


There were numerous circumstances detailed in Holy Scripture where one person who appeared to possess an assigned, expected, or coveted position was not the person whom God ultimately used to fulfill that position. God passed by the expected person and used another unexpected individual for His plans and purposes. There were numerous examples.

Adam - Jesus

The first example was that Adam's duties and obligations were ultimately fulfilled by Jesus. Adam was created and established as the federal head of humanity. He was to be the intermediary between God and humanity for God had directly spoken to Adam giving him specific directives and boundaries to convey to all other humans. But because of Adam's choice of sin this primary intermediary position, later titled as "high priest" (Heb 4:14-16), was ultimately fulfilled by Christ Jesus. Apostle Paul explained it this way.

1Cor 15:21-22, 45-48 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. ... 45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. 46Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. 47The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. 48As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.

Adam was given the charge to take dominion over the earth, to name the animals to show his authority over them, to learn about the provisions God had placed in His creation for man's benefit, and to fill the earth with more humans to extend this dominion. All of this was to be done while excercising self-control (Gen 2:16-17). To accomplish this Adam was given an helper suitable to assist him, a fellow human of his own nature because she was made from part of his own flesh. Eve was made fully human but uniquely different and given in marriage to Adam to help Adam co-create more humans. Along with their parents these children were to increase their dominion over the earth. These children were to carry out God's expanding and diverse work for humanity who in turn with their helpmates would co-create more children to do likewise. Meanwhile God would continue to visit Adam to communicate with him and guide him in carrying out the assigned duties and purposes. But Adam and Eve though less of God than of themselves and so sin entered into thid world. This began a journey of "not the first" circumstances demonstrated in scripture.

Gen 1:28-29 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Gen 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Gen 2:19-20 And out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

Gen 3:8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden.

Gen 3:11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

Cain - Seth

Eve had thought that their son Cain was to be the promised son (Gen 3:15). But his conduct leading to the death of Abel. This brought a change of circumstances when Cain was punished. Another child, a later son Seth, received the privilege of carrying on the generational family leading to the Savior (Luke 3:23-38; Matt 1:1)

Gen 4:1-8 1And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the Lord. 2And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. 3And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord. 4And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the Lord had respect unto Abel and to his offering: 5But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. 6And the Lord said unto Cain, Why art thou wroth? and why is thy countenance fallen? 7If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. 8And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.

Japheth - Shem

The first born of Noah was Japheth with Shem the second born while was Ham the youngest son (Gen 5:32; 10:21; 9:22-24). The lineage leading unto Christ Jesus (Luke 3:23-38; Matt 1:1) came through Seth. Nothing adverse was stated about Japheth in his conduct (Gen 9:23) but he was not the schild through whom the Savior would be born. Japheth received a blessing from Noah but Noah emphasized that Shem held to the worship of God above his brothers.

Gen 9:26-27 And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.

Haran - Abram

Terah was a man whom God richly blessed for multiple lives of his progeny were detailed in scripture. He had four children and twenty-three grandchildren. Of Haran: Lot, Milcah, and Iscah (Gen 11:27-29). Of Nahor: Huz, Buz, Kemuel, Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel. And Tebah, Gaham, Thahash, and Maacha (Gen 20:21-24). Of Abram and Hagar: Ishmael (Gen 16:11, 15). Of Abraham and Sarah (Gen 11:29; 17:17; 20:2, 5, 11-12): Isaac (Gen 17:19; 21:3). Of Abraham and Keturah (Gen 25:1): Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (Gen 25:4).

One of Terah's sons and his daughter were singled out for special use by God. But the other sons were also used in their family generations. Haran, the firstborn son, died early not living out the longer lives of his father and siblings (Gen 11:28). Now God had said to Abram "in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." It was "not the first" son of Terah but the third son through whom Christ Jesus came into the world (Matt 1:1; Luke 3:23-34).

Matt 1:1 The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.

Luke 3:23-34 23And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was the son of Heli, 24Which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Janna, which was the son of Joseph, 25Which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Amos, which was the son of Naum, which was the son of Esli, which was the son of Nagge, 26Which was the son of Maath, which was the son of Mattathias, which was the son of Semei, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Juda, 27Which was the son of Joanna, which was the son of Rhesa, which was the son of Zorobabel, which was the son of Salathiel, which was the son of Neri, 28Which was the son of Melchi, which was the son of Addi, which was the son of Cosam, which was the son of Elmodam, which was the son of Er, 29Which was the son of Jose, which was the son of Eliezer, which was the son of Jorim, which was the son of Matthat, which was the son of Levi, 30Which was the son of Simeon, which was the son of Juda, which was the son of Joseph, which was the son of Jonan, which was the son of Eliakim, 31Which was the son of Melea, which was the son of Menan, which was the son of Mattatha, which was the son of Nathan, which was the son of David, 32Which was the son of Jesse, which was the son of Obed, which was the son of Booz, which was the son of Salmon, which was the son of Naasson, 33Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda, 34Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,

Ishmael - Isaac

Sarai was barren (Gen 11:30). By the instigation of Sarai Abram conceived a son through Hagar. This son was to be a substitute son for Sarai. Hagar's son was named Ishmael (Gen 16:11, 15) and was the firstborn son of Abram. This was not God's intention! Thirteen years later God gave Sarah a new name and gave her capacity to bear a son (Gen 17:15-19) just as he had promised. Ishmael was not the son promised by God to Abram through Sarai (Gen 12:1-3) but was born of human effort by an impatient Sarai. Isaac, the second son of Abraham, who was the intended son became both a preview of and the ancestor of Christ Jesus. [See: Generally Accepted Old Testament Types]

Gen 16:1-4, 15 1Now Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar. 2 And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the Lord hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai. 3 And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. 4And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived: and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes. ... 15And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his son's name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael.

Gen 17:15-19 15And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. 16And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. 17Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear? 18And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! 19And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. 20And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. 21But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.

Gen 21:12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

Esau - Jacob

Isaac married when forty years of age (Gen 25:20) and did not have any children until he was sixty years old (Gen 25:20-26). His firstborn saon was Esau, called Edom because he was very ruddy (red), and the second twin was Jacob. Esau held his birthright in low esteem because he sold it when hungry for a simple meal (Gen 25:29-34). Jacob honored God's blessing and the spiritual and physical inheritance from his ancesters. He was described in this way, "Jacob was a plain man, dwelling in tents," (Gen 25:27). That expression "plain man" is elsewhere translated as a righteous or virtuous man. This expression given in the same context as the cheap view of the birthright expressed by Esau provided a stunning contrast of spiritual attitudes. The second son sought God's words and promises and in turn received them, but the first son despised them.

Gen 32:9-10 And Jacob said, O God of my father Abraham, and God of my father Isaac, the Lord which saidst unto me, Return unto thy country, and to thy kindred, and I will deal well with thee: I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth, which thou hast shewed unto thy servant; for with my staff I passed over this Jordan; and now I am become two bands.

Heb 12:16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

Reuben - Joseph

Jacob had twelve sons: six by Leah, two by Zilpah, two by Bilhah and two by Rachel. They were born in this order: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph, and Benjamin; and one daughter Dinah by Leah. The firstborn of Leah was Reuben and over six years later the firstborn of Rachel was Joseph. When Reuben showed his sexual perversion toward his father's concubine Bilhah (Gen 35:22) he lost his privileges as the firstborn son. But both of the next two sons, Simeon and Levi, perpetrated the slaughter of the men of Shechem (Gen 34:25). Jacob then transferred this position to another firstborn son named Joseph, born from another mother.

Gen 35:22a And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine: and Israel heard it.

Gen 37:3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours.

Gen 39:2 And the Lord was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian.

Gen 48:22 Moreover I have given to thee [Joseph] one portion above thy brethren, which I took out of the hand of the Amorite with my sword and with my bow.

Gen 48:21 And Israel said unto Joseph, Behold, I die: but God shall be with you, and bring you again unto the land of your fathers.

Manasseh - Ephraim

Seven sets of circumstnces occurred in Jacob's ancestry and personal experience where the first individual was not used but another was selected to fulfill God's purposes. Is there any wonder then why the righteous and very astute Jacob took Joseph's sons, Manasseh and Ephraim (Gen 41:51; 46:20), and gave the primary blessing to the second son but not to the first son? More than this, Jacob gave the promise of lineage for Shiloh (another name for the promised Messiah, Gen 49:9-10) to Judah who was the fourth son of Leah. Thus neither the first, second or third son of Jacob received the blessing of the ancestry for Christ Jesus. This was given to the fourth son, Judah (Gen 29:31-35).

Gen 48:13-20 13And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near unto him. 14And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh's head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. 15And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, 16The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth. 17And when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraim's head unto Manasseh's head. 18And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. 19And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations. 20And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.

Saul - David

When Israel through its tribal elders came to Samuel and asked for a king God granted them a king according to their perspective. The man anointed was tall, handsome, well proportioned, rugged, and capable for military leadership. Saul started out demur and willing to follow God's leadership through his prophet Samuel. But when granted power he changed toward authoritarian, self-serving, demanding, jealous, abusive, vindictive, and worthless in leading Israel toward God.

1 Samuel 9:2 And he had a son, whose name was Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people.

1 Samuel 9:20-21 And as for thine asses that were lost three days ago, set not thy mind on them; for they are found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on thee, and on all thy father's house? And Saul answered and said, Am not I a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel? and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? wherefore then speakest thou so to me?

1 Samuel 11:6-7 And the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard those tidings, and his anger was kindled greatly. And he took a yoke of oxen, and hewed them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the coasts of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done unto his oxen. And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.

1 Samuel 13:8-9, 13 And he tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed: but Samuel came not to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him. And Saul said, Bring hither a burnt offering to me, and peace offerings. And he offered the burnt offering. ... 13And Samuel said to Saul, Thou hast done foolishly: thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever.

1 Samuel 14:18 And Saul said unto Ahiah, Bring hither the ark of God. For the ark of God was at that time with the children of Israel.

1 Samuel 14:24, 29 And the men of Israel were distressed that day: for Saul had adjured the people, saying, Cursed be the man that eateth any food until evening, that I may be avenged on mine enemies. So none of the people tasted any food. ... 29Then said Jonathan, My father hath troubled the land: see, I pray you, how mine eyes have been enlightened, because I tasted a little of this honey.

1 Samuel 15:1-28 [Saul disobeyed God's directive to utterly destroy all Amalkites, "utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass."] 17And Samuel said, When thou wast little in thine own sight, wast thou not made the head of the tribes of Israel, and the Lord anointed thee king over Israel? 18And the Lord sent thee on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed. 19Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the Lord, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the Lord? ... 26And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel. 27And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent. 28And Samuel said unto him, The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

1 Samuel 19:1, 10 And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David. ... 10And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin: but he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.

1 Samuel 23:14 And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God delivered him not into his hand.

1 Samuel 28:6-8 6And when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. 7Then said Saul unto his servants, Seek me a woman that hath a familiar spirit, that I may go to her, and enquire of her. And his servants said to him, Behold, there is a woman that hath a familiar spirit at Endor. 8And Saul disguised himself, and put on other raiment, and he went, and two men with him, and they came to the woman by night: and he said, I pray thee, divine unto me by the familiar spirit, and bring me him up, whom I shall name unto thee.

After Saul's corruption of character demonstrated by his words and conduct David was selected and anointed to be the next king of Israel.

1 Samuel 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the Lord hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the Lord hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the Lord commanded thee.

1 Samuel 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.

2 Samuel 5:3 So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed David king over Israel.

Eliab - David

The prophet Samuel was directed to Bethlehem and anoint the son of Jesse that God would select (1Sam 16:1-5). Jesse and his sons were called to a special sacrifice and Jesse was asked to present his sons before Samuel. But God turned away from the first, second, third unto the seventh son, "Again, Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these" (1Sam 16:10). Then the eighth son was called in from the fields to appear before Samuel and David was selected for anointing.

"And he [Jesse] sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he. Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah." (1Sam 16:12-13).

Amnon, Absalom, and Adonijah - Solomon

David had six sons born to him while he served at Hebron as king over Judah. The first son Amnon chose to participate in sexual perversion by raping his younger brother's daughter Tamar (2Sam 13:1-20). The second son was given no further mention in scripture. The third son Absalom had schemed and then killed Amnon for his wickedness (2Sam 13:28-29). After this Absalom rebelled against David and died (2Sam 15:1-18:15). The fourth son Adonijah led a rebellion against David's authority as king many years later and was rebuffed by the selection and anointing of Solomon as king (1Kgs 1:5-43).

2Sam 3:2-5 2 And unto David were sons born in Hebron: and his firstborn was Amnon, of Ahinoam the Jezreelitess; 3 And his second, Chileab, of Abigail the wife of Nabal the Carmelite; and the third, Absalom the son of Maacah the daughter of Talmai king of Geshur; 4 And the fourth, Adonijah the son of Haggith; and the fifth, Shephatiah the son of Abital; 5 And the sixth, Ithream, by Eglah David's wife. These were born to David in Hebron.


Through multiple examples under varied circumstances God has not chosen those who first appear to be valuable according to this world's thinking. But God has chosen broken, tarnished vessels to be objects of His mercy.

Job 10:4 Hast thou eyes of flesh? or seest thou as man seeth?

1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.

1Cor 1:26-29 26For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: 27But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: 29That no flesh should glory in his presence.

James 2:5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

Rom 9:23 And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory,

Eph 5:8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light.

1Pet 2:25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.