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Scripture reading: Exodus 13

Review (Exodus 12)

The slaying of the firstborn of Egypt was the tenth and final plague, and it moved Pharaoh to thrust Israel out of the land where they had lived for 430 years (12:40-41). Having established the Passover as a perpetual memorial of the night the firstborn of Egypt were slain, God spared the households in Israel and all those who believed God and applied the lamb’s blood to the door posts (12:1-28, 43-51).

Exodus 13

The LORD then commanded that the firstborn of every household, both children and beast, be sanctified (set apart and dedicated) to the LORD as a memorial to Him (13:1-2). Remembering His covenant with their forefathers, the LORD promised to bring Israel into “a land flowing with milk and honey” (13:5). There, they were commanded to observe seven days of “unleavened bread” and to keep the feast of the Passover (13:6). Thus, being reminded of Israel’s sudden departure from Egypt and serving as a lasting memorial to the LORD’s deliverance (13:7).

Promising He would bring Israel into the “land of the Canaanites” as He had vowed (13:11), the people were to dedicate the firstborn male of every beast to the LORD (13:11-12). The firstborn of “clean” beasts were to be sacrificed, including lambs, kids of goats, and calves (Exodus 22:30; Numbers 18:17-18). Because the ass (donkey) was declared unclean, the firstborn of an ass would be redeemed with a lamb (the lamb being a sacrificial substitute). The clean (lambs, calves, or kids of goats) were to be sacrificed in the place of unclean beasts (13:13)

While some heathen nations sacrificed their firstborn sons and daughters to idols, Israel was commanded to redeem her firstborn (13:13b). Bearing in mind the sanctity of human life and that all humanity is sinful and universally “unclean” in the sight of God, the price of a firstborn’s redemption in Israel was set as “five sheckles” (Numbers 3:47; 18:16). Also, the people were to instruct their sons concerning the meaning of redemption (13:14-16).

The LORD knew that a nation of slaves would not be ready for the challenges of war against those nations that inhabited the land He promised His people (13:17). Therefore, rather than lead Israel on a direct route out of Egypt through the land occupied by the Philistines, the LORD guided Israel into the “wilderness of the Red Sea” (13:18). Also, fulfilling the vow their forefathers had made to Joseph, his bones were taken up from Egypt. He would be buried in Canaan (13:19).

As a visible testimony of God’s presence and providential care of His people, the LORD promised to shadow Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (13:21-22).

Closing thoughts:

To spare Israel the tenth plague and the death of the firstborn, the LORD required the lamb’s blood be placed upon the doorposts. Without the blood, the firstborn of the household would be slain. (So it is for all sinners, for “without shedding of blood is no remission [forgiveness; deliverance],Hebrews 9:22).

Remember, all the sacrificed lambs were a type, a picture, of God’s punishment of sin that would be satisfied in the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.  The author of Hebrews wrote: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many” (Hebrews 9:28). Paul wrote in his letter to Corinth, “For He [God] hath made Him [Jesus Christ] to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him”  (2 Corinthians 5:21).

If you have not, will you confess you are a sinner and trust Jesus Christ as your Redeemer?

Romans 6:2323For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Questions to consider:

1) Who did the LORD command Israel to sanctify, dedicate, and set apart to Him? (Exodus 13:1-2, 11-16)

2) What did unleavened bread memorialize? (Exodus 13:3, 6-7)

3) Why did the LORD lead Israel through the wilderness and not “through the way of the land of the Philistines?” (Exodus 13:17-18)

4) What two things did the LORD give Israel as a testimony of His presence and protection? (Exodus 13:21-22)

Copyright © 2023 – Travis D. Smith

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