Exodus 13 Commentary
The ritual of consecrating every firstborn male is explained in details – they belong to the LORD. The ritual itself serves a purpose. It is a reminder to coming generations of God’s faithfulness and mighty work in redeeming Israel. Any Christian ritual that doesn’t lead us back to God is dead and must not be observed.
But we also notice another dimension. Christian rituals are for our children. Children ask a lot of questions. We hope one of the questions is why we take Holy Communion or why we pray before taking a meal. Prayer before a meal is thanksgiving but it is also a ritual which can help us remind our children of God’s generosity.
On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ Exodus 13:8 NIV
This ritual is communal, but only in communication. The practice is very much personal. Each man must relate to his own salvation and explain it to his son.
The Pillar of cloud by day and a Pillar of fire by night signifies the presence of God. It also means Israel made progress regardless of time – day or night. The Pillar of fire by night provided light for the community in the night.
By carrying the bones of Joseph, Moses is keeping to a rich tradition of the patriarchs. Egypt wasn’t their home. We can also see how well the LORD prepared Moses for the task he had for him. The LORD made sure Moses was raised up in the palace, where traditions and culture were defined and preserved.
We can easily understand why Moses undertook the task of recording for us the history of God’s people. We can also understand why Moses is keen on communicating the godly culture as the LORD directed him. He appreciated the importance from his days at the palace.
Redemption is defined for us here. But again we know it is just a symbol. There are layers of applications. The immediate application is that an animal must die instead of a son. The picture given is that both Egypt and Israel are sinful and deserve the same punishment but the animal has saved Israel.
Previously, we saw how the blood saved Israel. That was the only reason the angel of death skipped over an Israelite home.
The higher level of application brings us to you and me. Both of us are sinners. Someone called Jesus died instead of us. And both of us have been told to apply his blood on the doors of our hearts. That is the only way to find salvation. So one does it and the other fails. But the call of God is that none should die.
These symbols are important for us today as they bring into sharp focus the eternal will of God for our lives. The LORD wants us to live in righteousness and not die in our sins
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