"In the Order of their Birth" - by Rev Eric R Towse

AS recorded in the Old Testament, God gave specific instructions to Moses for the establishment of religion for the Israelites. In addition to the Law, It included exact measurements for the Tabernacle, its furnishings, the priesthood, sacrifices for atonement and acceptable worship. One of the most unusual requirements was that of the Ephod, or breastpiece which was to be worn by the High Priest. (See Exodus 28: 1-14) This plate was inscribed with the names of the twelve sons of Jacob "in the order of their birth." Why?  Was this an arbitrary instruction, test of obedience, or was there a deeper meaning here that had yet to be revealed? I think you will be shocked at the answer.

Jacob (whose name was changed by God to Israel - See Genesis 32), was the son of Isaac, son of Abraham, and had twelve sons from two wives and two handmaidens. Having children through surrogates was "Kosher" in those days, and Jacob accepted these sons as his children who also shared in the inheritance of the Promised Land. Jacob's sons were: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin. (See Genesis 29 and 30). 

These are the names that were listed, in the order of their birth, on the Ephod displayed on the chest of the High Priest of the Israelites. But why in the order of their birth? The profound answer is discovered when one realizes that Hebrew names have meaning to them. Using the footnotes of the New International Version of the Bible, for example, one can discover the meaning of the names. Does this make a difference? Let's see:  Reuben: see, a son. Simeon: one who hears. Levi: attached. Judah: praise. Dan: he has vindicated. Naphtali: my struggle. Gad: good fortune. Asher: happiness. Issachar: reward. Zebulun: honor. Joseph: may he add. Benjamin: son of my right hand.

A spiritually blind person reads the names as: " Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, and Benjamin"

But, perhaps your eyes have been opened and you can understand it this way:

See, a son 
One who hears  
He has vindicated 
My struggle 
Good fortune  
May he add 
Son of my right hand.

Yes, even the High Priest wore an emblem that would forever remind his Chosen that one day the Son at His right hand would vindicate God's struggle and honor Him by living the sinless life and giving His life so that not only could the Israelites live, but that "the world, through HIm might be saved." (John 3:17).