Exodus 13 : Festival establishment and God’s lead

December 16, 2023 ·

God instructs the Israelites to consecrate all their firstborn, whether from people or animals, to him. He then reminds them of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is seven days of eating bread without yeast, followed by a great festival on the seventh day. Each firstborn child is to be redeemed by sacrifice of a lamb. These traditions are all to remember the original passover, when God killed all of Egypt’s firstborn. 

Now out of Egypt, God leads his people on a longer route, which doesn’t pass through Philistine land, so that they don’t get discouraged by going straight from Egypt to war. Moses had the bones of Joseph with him. God lead his people as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day. 

Key verse:
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.

My thoughts:
We are just starting to get into the law, with God commanding about festivals. The first five books of the Bible are considered the books of the law, however the first book, Genesis, is entirely narrative. The remaining five books contain different proportions of law and narrative, and there is much more law from now on in. Ultimately it is the law of the Old Covenant, so we do not assume that it is to be followed by those under the new covenant, under Jesus. However, in the old law we can often see the nature of God, which is still relevant now, and we see some aspects of morality, which we are still expected to strive for as Christians. For example, we don’t celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but we do follow the Ten Commandments, such as ‘don’t murder’ and ‘don’t steal’. 

One of the aspects of God’s character which comes out strongly in the law is the use of sacrifice. It is often the death of a lamb in payment for sins, or in this chapter, in place of the firstborn. This is an important idea to understand in light of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for the entire world. 

Moses is taking Joseph’s bones out of Egypt to keep the promise that Joseph’s brothers made to him. 

This chapter uses the imagery of a sign on your hand and forehead. This imagery is used to show something that you are not trying to hide, something the world can see, and that you will not forget. In this case it is their national identity. This imagery is also used throughout the Bible, and in Revelation, where it is used in reference to the sign of Satan on the hand and forehead, to show that people had completely sold out to Satan. 

God appearing as fire and a cloud shows God’s relationship with Israel as the guide.

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