Consecration of the Firstborn
13 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.”
The Feast of Unleavened Bread
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.”
Pillars of Cloud and Fire
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 Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 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. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
Exodus 13 Commentary
by Hank Workman
We want to get from here to there in the least amount of time possible. We’re wired that way I think, or at least I am. I’m kind of a deadline guy; I like to spend the least amount of time diddle-daddling along. Ironically, it’s not always about what is waiting on me at the other end, although that is a driving factor for sure, it’s about not wanting to simply waste my time.
Many times determining what route I will take to get somewhere I’ll look at the options as to what will save me the most time. In all seriousness, if I can cut off 7 minutes, believe me, I will go the route that does so. This is an ongoing process even while I’m driving!
When it comes to spiritual goals and the purposes of God in fulfillment of dreams – obviously my thinking is much the same. There is even a current situation right now that is absolutely driving me crazy, if I were honest, because I’m not seeing the destination in sight. There’s been confirmation after confirmation that God is working – but He’s also taking His time in the finish. This drives me daily to my knees.
Today’s passage really resonates with me in God leading the Israelite’s. There was a quicker route they could have taken but it was not in His plans. He purposely led them away from the direct route for protection. What was known as the coastal route was the shortest and best way to go.
Yet, had they taken this they would have encountered numerous Egyptian military outposts of which the people were not equipped to meet. Although it had easy roads and there would have been places for food and water to be purchased the dangers were much greater. He led them instead into the desert itself.
The stark reality is God led the people the way that was best for them. As 1 Corinthians 10:13 mentions He will not give us more than we can handle. He Himself knows the end destination and many times the path of which He leads us is not the direct route. Yes, this is for protection of unseen things we could encounter but it also speaks to His building a reliance on Him through the journey. The way of which He is leading each of us is in our best interest on so many different levels and will drive us to our knees again and again to trust Him in faith.
God knows what He’s doing. Remind yourself of that if you’re finding yourself on a route that you would have never chosen. God is faithful and He will help you get to the destination. He is also doing a work in you through what we may consider a detour.
Exodus 13 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
As Hank has mentioned, the way God led was definitely the “road less traveled.” The people did not go directly toward Canaan. There were traditionally three main routes from Egypt to Asia. The most popular route was the “way of the land of the Philistines” which Scripture makes clear they could not travel on.
Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.”Exodus 13:17 NASB
Basically, God led His people to a dead end. Yes, you read that correctly. It was a dead end.
God often knows the route that we want to take but many times the route that looks comfortable, logical, and familiar will only lead us back to our bondage! When you listen to God and follow Him by faith, He may lead you to a dead end. We hate dead ends, but God loves them. Dead ends are where we lose control and He takes control. They create an urgency and desperate need for Jesus.
We would do well to ask ourselves, what God-fearing, faith-filled believer was ever abandoned by God in their dead-end situation?
Go to the Scriptures and show me a true believer who was betrayed by God. Show me a believer who was denied the strength to continue. Show me a place in the Bible where God failed to deliver His people. Who was separated from God’s love?
This is why these stories are all over the Bible. They aren’t just feel-good stories that offer us encouragement; they are real historical accounts of people just like you and I! Though we may view dead ends as the end of something, God views them as the beginning. We know this because He put Himself in a human body to die and then He raised again to change us forever.
On their detour, God’s people had to stop at Sinai before heading to Canaan, and the Lord was going to lead and protect them the entire journey. This is what I love most about this chapter. During a time when the route was unstable, the people were unstable and the future was unknown, God’s presence was magnified. He led them and filled in the gaps where they lacked faith and hope.
The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.Exodus 13:21-22 NASB
The pillar of cloud and pillar of fire would remind them that they were with the Lord and that He was also with them. It’s a powerful reminder of how He leads us today. When He leads us into uncharted territory, we will experience His power and authority at deeper levels than ever before. He will give us reminders and keep us on point. He will not take His presence from our sight.