The record of the exodus from Egypt is suspended here to bring in certain things that are now important to the children of Israel in their new standing with God. You might say that God called a “time out” here to give the people some instructions, just as an athletic coach does, to enables him to give his players some instructions on how to proceed.
Israel is still in Egypt but the teaching here is based on the certainty they will be brought out. It is given as though they are already on their journey and it anticipates their being in Canaan. The believer in Jesus Christ is so secure that God views us as if we are already in heaven.
God doesn’t bestow His grace on people unless He has established His claim on them and He reveals some of His claims on Israel here. Those who have been redeemed become the property of the Redeemer. Portions of 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 state; "Ye are not your own; for ye are bought with a price." It is the same principle that the Lord applied here.
EXODUS 13:1-16. 1: "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2: Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. 3: And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 4: This day came ye out in the month Abib. 5: And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee, a land flowing with milk and honey, that thou shalt keep this service in this month. 6: Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD. 7: Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days; and there shall no leavened bread be seen with thee, neither shall there be leaven seen with thee in all thy quarters. 8: And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9: And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD's law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt. 10: Thou shalt therefore keep this ordinance in his season from year to year. 11: And it shall be when the LORD shall bring thee into the land of the Canaanites, as he sware unto thee and to thy fathers, and shall give it thee, 12: That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD's. 13: And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem. 14: And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage: 15: And it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the LORD slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem. 16: And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt."
The feast of unleavened bread is spoken of here. It signifies a holy life and it was held immediately after the sprinkling of the blood. This shows that being sheltered by the blood and the obligation of a holy life can never be separated. It is given here a second time with instructions of how and when to observe it. Israel was to observe it, along with the sanctification of the firstborn, even when the Lord brings them into the Promised Land.
Verse 3. “Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.”
God ordained the feast of unleavened bread to be remembered forever in connection with two things. First, with the day of their redemption. "Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage." (verse 3) His people were to remember their deliverance, the day He brought them out of darkness into light, that is, from under the judgment for their sins into the saving grace of God. Second, they were to remember Who delivered them. "For by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.” (verse 3) They were indebted to the Lord alone and this feast was to be part of the remembrance.
Concerning remembrance, our Lord Jesus read this scripture in the synagogue in Nazareth where he had been brought up: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18-19.
This is a reminder that only God could redeem them and save them from judgment.
It’s significant that immediately after they were told to remember the day they came out of bondage and Who it was that delivered them that this is added; "There shall no leavened bread be eaten." (verse 3) Again, leaven speaks of sin, and as a redeemed people they were to obey the Lord and abstain from sin. God looks for holiness in the redeemed because He is holy and it is He that redeems us from our sin.
For the seven days, including the celebration of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread, no leaven was to be seen in their dwellings and they were to observe this ever after.
Each father would be held responsible to the Lord to teach his son the significance of the feast and explain why no leaven could be permitted. Leaven portrays sin and sin would be inconsistent with the redemption they had experienced. Verse 8. "This is done because of that which the Lord did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt. 9. And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD's law may be in thy mouth," That tells plain enough what God wants.
In Psalm 119:9 the psalmist wrote; “Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word.” and in verse 11, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.”
The instructions for sanctification of the firstborn are given next. "Every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem." (verse 13)
It’s interesting that the firstborn of a donkey is to be redeemed the same way as a man. The firstborn of the donkey was to be redeemed with a lamb; the firstborn of Israel were redeemed with a lamb on the Passover night. The donkey was to be destroyed if it wasn’t redeemed and the Israelites would have been destroyed if God hadn’t redeemed them with the blood of the lamb.
God classifies man, in his natural state, with the firstling of a donkey. Both are unclean and doomed to destruction unless redeemed with a lamb. That sort of puts man in his place. Is there anything more humbling to the pride of the natural man than to have God compare you to a donkey? But, remember, that is how God sees us in our natural state as sinners.
When Ishmael, the son of Abraham and Hagaar and the father of today’s Arabs, was born, God told Abraham “He will be a wild donkey of a man, His hand will be against everyone, And everyone's hand will be against him;” Genesis 16:12. God called him a donkey. Are we any thing different in God’s eyes than that son of Abraham is?
Man’s eternal destination is hell unless he is redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God. By nature, all mankind is lost and helpless and without God's grace, unless we have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb of God. This magnifies the grace of God who gave His only Son to redeem us to Himself.
The believer is always associated with the Lamb of God who took away our sins. In our natural state, we couldn’t have fallen lower but by grace we can’t have been raised higher. God has chosen the believer "to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brethren." Romans 8:29.
Verses 14 tells us that a father was to impress this truth on his son. The son was to be taught that the Lord claimed him equally with his father, that both alike, as redeemed ones, owed their service to the Redeemer. God wants the believer to see himself and his family as belonging to the Lord. However, apart from individual faith in Christ, there is no salvation. The head of the household is responsible to keep the Lord’s means of salvation always before his children and to remember that he and all his are the Lord's. With God's blessing, and only then, will he be able to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Ephesians 6:4b
Exodus 13:15. “and it came to pass, when Pharaoh would hardly let us go, that the Lord slew all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man, and the firstborn of beast: therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all that openeth the matrix, being males; but all the firstborn of my children I redeem.”
God judged all the firstborn of Egypt with death but He based His claim to all the firstborn of Israel on the basis of redemption by the blood of the lamb.
Israel was spared solely on the grounds of the death of another, the blood of the lamb. It was on the principle of substitution; and this is the grounds for salvation today.
If God spared the firstborn because of the Pascal Lamb, He also claimed them as His own. The believer belongs to Him because it is He who has redeemed us. God, in the person of Jesus Christ, took our place and bore our sins in His own body on the tree. 2 Corinthians 5:15. “And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.”
Exodus 13:17-22. "And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt. 18. But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. 19. And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him; for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. 20. And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21. And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."
God chose the way for His people through the wilderness. If He leads His people into the wilderness, He’ll provide and take care of them in every respect and He’ll expect obedience to His word.
He was very careful in choosing their path. He would not tempt them to disobey Him through their weakness. He "led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”
He had other purposes in doing this, it’s true, but notice that He chose a particular path to lead them out in regard to their present condition and state of mind. "Like a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame; He remembereth that we are dust." Psalm 103:13-14.
God will lead the believer into the paths we should follow if we seek His will.
Now the bones of Joseph that have been preserved for at least 350 years are mentioned. We read that while he was on his deathbed, Joseph made them promise this. Genesis 50:24-25. “And Joseph said unto his brethren, I die: and God will surely visit you, and bring you out of this land unto the land which he sware to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 25: And Joseph took an oath of the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you, and ye shall carry up my bones from hence.”
In the book of Hebrews we can read how God viewed Joseph’s action. "By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones." Hebrews 11:22.
Here we read God's response to that faith. Moses must have had enough to occupy his mind on this Passover night in arranging for the departure of so large a multitude. Moses really didn’t need the extra responsibility of locating some centuries old bones and packing them for transport. But he was faithful to the oath the children of Israel had taken and had handed down from generation to generation.
I’m sure there was little probability when Joseph was dying that his people would leave Egypt. Nevertheless he rested on the sure promise God had given to Abraham, Isaac, and his own father, Jacob. His oath was remembered and the bones of the patriarch accompanied them in the exodus. This is an excellent example of the faithfulness of God as well as how precious in His sight is the faith of His servants.
Verse 20 names their first camping place. "They took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness." This and other places were all in Egypt but their location can’t be proven today. What is important is the people were divinely guided on their march. God selected their path and guided them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night, all through their wanderings for forty years.
His presence never left them as long as they were in the wilderness.
This illustrates the truth that the Lord is the believer’s guide and He is always near day and night. God never says "Go," He always says, “Follow me." He left us this example that we should follow His leading. The Psalmist wrote; “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Psalm 119:105.
Scripture doesn’t record any guidance given in Egypt nor any needed when they reached the Promised Land. This points to an important truth, it’s only when we’re in the wilderness that God needs to show the way. The wilderness portrays the Christian’s life in this hostile world and it’s here that we need His guidance. We have the scriptures to show the way we should walk, where to rest and when to march. He Himself will undertake for us and we need only to keep our eyes of faith continually on Him.
He is my Savior through
the blood of The Lamb of God,
is He yours?