God's people have been freed, but the first thing He reminds us in our freedom is that we belong to Him.
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Exodus 13 (ESV)
1 The Lord said to Moses,
2 “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,
3 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.
4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out.
5 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.
6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread,
and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord.
7 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.
8 You shall tell your son on that day,
‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’
9 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.
10 You shall therefore keep this statute
at its appointed time
from year to year.
11 “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,
12 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.
13 Every firstborn of a donkey
you shall redeem with a lamb,
if you will not redeem it
you shall break its neck.
Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.
14 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.
15 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.’
16 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.”
17 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.”
18 But God led the people
around by the way of the wilderness
toward the Red Sea.
And the people of Israel
out of the land of Egypt
equipped for battle.
19 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.”
20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness.
21 And the Lord went before them
by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way,
and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light,
that they might travel by day and by night.
22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
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Exodus 13 Summary
The Israelites are in the process of evacuating Egypt, where they had been enslaved. The first thing that God says to His newly freed people seems somewhat strange: All firstborn males, both human and animals belong to God.
Remember the context here: the Israelites are now free because God has just executed all of the firstborn males in Egypt, causing Pharaoh to finally relent and send them out. God wants Israel to know that their firstborn belong to God every bit as much as the Egyptian firstborn did.
As the people hurriedly leave, Moses announces the details of a new annual holiday that will become the focal point for their year, designed to remind them and their children to come of the power of God's hand in freeing them from slavery.
What a sight this must have been! The people rushing out, following a pillar of fire, being given all sorts of valuable items from the Egyptians, with Moses excitedly moving through their midst motivating them with the announcement (much of this was probably sung) of a new feast which they'll be celebrating in the Promised Land of milk & honey.
God wastes no time putting the Israelite's new found freedom in perspective. They were not freed from slavery so that they could do whatever they pleased, but just as they'd belonged to Pharaoh, they now belong to God.
This is just one of the many parallels the exodus has with our lives as Christians. We were freed from slavery to sin, and now we belong to Christ.
This chapter introduces many symbolic concepts the rest of the Bible will draw on: leaven stands for sin which exponentially expands, the people finding salvation under the blood of the lamb, the idea of redemption, and God's people being led by Him.
ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father freed us from slavery by His mighty hand (v3)
ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that you will be led by the pillar of fire/smoke, which you have today in the form of God's Word.
ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED: