exodus: 13: 1-22
The Lord said to Moses, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”
Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. And when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.
“When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord's. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.’ It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” And they moved on from
The covenant that God made with Abraham shows us God’s missional heartbeat - every nation will be blessed. God’s heart is for every tribe, every tongue, every nation. When we read Exodus, we need to remember that God is trying to raise up a people that will show the rest of the world what it looks like to be in relationship with the one true God.
At this point of our text, the people of God (Israel) had lost a sense of who they were. They were in slavery for 400 years. Everything that they know culturally has been informed by the paganism that they had been surrounded by.
In chapter 13, God begins to shape His people. He gives them commands on how to live and operate in such a way that they would be a people (a kingdom of priests) that proclaim the good news of who He is - to show how he reconciles.
God wants His people to be a distinct people. The way that He shaped Israel at this point of our text tells us a lot about how God wants to shape us. He is patient, gracious, and very intentional. God never deserts His people despite their unfaithfulness.
Let’s allow this passage to encourage us as He shapes us today.
We Are Set Apart
In Exodus 13:1-2, God calls the Israelites to consecrate all the firstborn to Him. God had called Israel His own “firstborn son”. If Pharaoh wouldn’t let this firstborn son go, God would take Pharaoh’s firstborn son. The authority and inheritance of the family line went through the firstborn son.
The idea of consecration is the idea of taking what is ordinary (a place, a utensil, or a person) and setting it aside for exclusively for holy purposes. You and I are consecrated by God. We belong to God! The understanding of your world must be through this fact. Everything about your life is His. You are not your own. Paul made this point clear as well. We are set aside in this world for the purposes of God (Romans 14:8). Everything in my life is rooted in that reality - I am not my own.
These lenses change how we look at every part of our lives. It causes us to look at our marriages in a really unique way. Parenting is now done through the lenses of “I belong to the Lord”. Contrary to culture, our money now belongs to the Lord. And the question now becomes, “how am I supposed to steward (manage) what belongs to the Lord?” We are a free people because we understand that nothing is ours.
Our own flesh pulls against the truth that I belong to God. My flesh says, “I belong to me!” I know what I want, need, and deserve. Everything in me and my culture pulls against this. Every commercial and show says, “You know what’s best for you”. My autonomous self kicks into high gear and tells me that I cannot be happy unless I do everything that my heart desires to do.
We Are Always Remembering
As God gives instructions in our text, we see God setting up ways that His people can be formed into what he wants them to be. God wants us to be formed the way that He wants us to be formed. In Exodus we see the establishment of feasts, fasts, and festivals intended to shape His people. Similar things still shape His people today. He uses things like our gatherings, our generosity, and our relationships. He brings the whole being into formation, not just the intellect.
In Exodus 13:3-10, God is weaving into His people the idea of remembrance as a part of spiritual formation. The feasts, fasts, and festivals were designed to interrupt the normal rhythms of life and remind them and root them back into their story. These things were intended to call them to consecration. These things would allow them to remember that God saved them. God has taken care of them. God delivered them. It was a chance to say, “you belong to Him. He picked you up out of the horrible place that you were in”. He wanted them to not only know it but also feel it. These annual rhythms would put the ordinary on pause.
Today, the Christian Church calendar helps us to keep this going. Things like Advent, Good Friday, Easter, and Lent are calendared to make us remember. More frequently, through partaking in the Lord’s Supper, we are to remember that God loved us while we were at our worst. These are some of the ways that we tune our bodies and lives. By these rhythms we remember that we are a consecrated people and that God is faithful.
We Are Led by The Holy Spirit
Exodus 13:17-22 shows us the kindness and mercy of God that led them the long way. After 400 years of slavery, God knew that the people of God would return to their chains if they saw the Philistines. Before they would see the Philistines, God wanted to shape and strengthen them. In order to bolster them, He took them the long way. Do not bemoan the long way to your desired destination, it is almost always God’s mercy on your life. He will not take you on the quick and easy way that will end in your destruction because He loves you.
In verses 21-22 God leads His people. Moses had told Pharaoh that they didn’t know where they were going. We are all tempted to dream of this kind of leading. Today, as Christ followers, we have something so much better than a cloud and a pillar of fire. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that illuminates and helps us see and understand the character and nature of God revealed to us in the Word of God. Knowledge of the Bible and theology does not make the things of the Spirit dead and
Rejoice that you are a part of the people of God! (1 Peter 2:9-10)
We Are A Chosen People!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
An Examined Life
As we continue to reflect on the sermon, allow these questions to guide your discussion with others concerning the conviction points and what you sensed God’s Spirit was doing in you through the preached Word. Jot notes to help you remember.
What was God doing in you through the message on Sunday?
Describe how you’ve grown in your understanding of the Gospel (good news of Jesus)?
How are you going to respond to God’s Word in your life?