How fitting that the Israelites begin their journey to the Promised Land and I am studying Exodus at this New Year. I am praying that this year will bring us closer to our Promised Lands and closer to a deeper relationship with God.
There are so many parallels between Exodus and Jesus and our walk as Christians. I am always amazed that the Bible, written by so many authors over such an expanse of time – 4000 years, holds together so well. God even uses the same symbols in different people’s hands to portray His messages. We are so blessed to have this powerful weapon of truth in our hands.
God has set apart His people, separated them out of Egypt and is leading them toward His land of promise for them. The problem, as God will show the Israelites and us, is that while we can be separated from Egypt (the world and fleshly things) it is much harder to pull Egypt and the World from us. A journey that should have taken the Israelites one year, going through seven campsites that God will use to teach His people certain lessons, will end up taking the people 40 years, and then only two of the original Israelites from Egypt will cross over, the offspring will be the ones to set foot in the promised land. That in itself is a lesson for us. By how we obey what God shows us, we can either delay or go more quickly to where God wants us to be. I struggled with this obedience to God far too many years, choosing to view God as an abusive father similar to my earthly father. The more I begin to see Him as a loving father, wanting the best for us, the easier it is to obey Him. But there are still pockets of resistance in my life that need turning over to Him.
The first campsite for our Israelites was SUCCOTH – which means TENT TOWN, and that was to show the Israelites (Heather’s idea) that life is temporary, that nothing is permanent on earth, that we need to set our sites on where God is leading us, to our land of Promise. What if the Israelites had decided to make permanent roots in Succoth? They would not have learned all that God promised them. So often we get to a point of a new development in our life and figure that we have arrived, but we haven’t arrived at anything but the next step on our journey.
The next campsite is ETHAM which means desert place. Haven’t you noticed that in your life, that after a few moments of great joy at the pinnacle of one point in our life we often end up in the valley, in the desert, feeling bereft. After Jesus was baptized and God spoke and the Holy Spirit came on Him, He went into the desert to fast and be tempted. Even though the lessons learned at the pinnacle points in our life are heady, there is much to be learned in the desert. One of the most powerful lessons I learned when I was in the desert, I didn’t realize until 40 years later, and that is – God is with us in the desert even though we don’t perceive Him as being there. There is no place that is without God.
God has given His people feasts to help us remember that He is with us during the trials and the tribulations. He has given us Passover – which is the sacrifice of the Lamb (Jesus) for our sins, and the Fast of Unleavened bread which lasts for 7 days – and reminds us of Him through communion. Notice that there are seven feasts to the year, seven camping sites in the wilderness, and then on the 8th is the Promised Land – our our New Jerusalem.
Exodus 13:1-2 Then the LORD spoke to Moses saying, “Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine.”
Did you catch the analogy? Pharaoh tried to kill all males. The firstborn of Egypt who were not protected by the blood of the lamb, were killed. Now God wants to remind the Israelites about his rescue of the people, and keep them focused on Himself. The Israelites are to give to Him the firstborn – and later we will see that the firstborn sons could be redeemed by silver (which represents blood – Jesus was sold for 30 pieces of silver). I really think that God wanted the firstborn offered to Him as a priesthood – and he wanted them consecrated to Him much the same way that Samuel was consecrated to God. But through massive disobedience, there will only be one tribe of priests – the Levites.
Now God gives the instructions for the feast of unleavened bread. Exodus 13:3 And Moses said to the people: “Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.”
Have you noticed a tendency in you that I sometimes exhibit – that I got delivered from so much, and then get focused on my day-to-day, grouse and complain. Often God will help me to remember just how far He has brought me, how much liberty I have now compared to the bindings of the past. God has helped me to grow so much. So often in my day-to-day, I forget just what He has delivered me from, and it is good to take a moment, a specific time and just remember with gratitude that He has brought me out of my Egypt, out of my house of bondage. And that I had nothing to do with it, it was His strong Hand that freed me. Everything I tried to do in my own understanding, in my own way failed. I only really got freedom by relying on Him. And it is true, that we need to avoid leavened bread in our lives – the leaven will be equated with sin, and Jesus often spoke of not eating the leaven of the Scribes and the Pharisees. We need to be careful about what we do with the freedom God has given us. Not only can we remain free, but we can look back, reach for the old leaven and find ourselves trapped and in bondage again. That is why we have to keep our focus on God.
An aside that does not relate to this chapter, but something that I see happening often, is that a person gets a revelation that leads to their freedom and assumes that that same revelation would help another believer in a similar situation. Sometimes it will, but often it puts an undo burden on the other believer. God works with us individually, and we need to realize that when He tells us to do something that gets us free, He has laid a groundwork of little steps that led us to the point of being able to take that step in freedom. What is right for me, may not be right for another believer. God might be working on another believer in a different area of their life. We will all end up at the same place of freedom, led by God. And when we try to put our steps toward freedom onto another believer, instead of liberating them, we could be adding to their burden. That being said, we are to reach out to unbelievers, and if God puts it on our heart to speak to a fellow believer, then we need to obey God, we just have to make sure it is really from God, and that it is delivered with love and with the other believer’s best interest at heart, not our own agenda.
Exodus 13:4 On this day (Passover) you are going out, in the month of Abib. That would be about April.
Exodus 13:5 And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service this month.
God tells the Israelites that WHEN he brings them into the land of the various “ites” that they shall keep the Passover. I think that during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness that the simple word “WHEN” will be clung to with hope. When implies that it will happen, it may not be manifest presently, but WHEN it is…. And then, once we are there, God gives us the task of remembering what happened in the past. So often we do not appreciate our present unless we pair it with our past to see exactly how far we have come. Sometimes it takes separation or someone else outside of our immediate circumstances to point out just what has happened.
Exodus 13:6-8 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 seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters. And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, “This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.”
Here is the reference to the seventh day. And notice that it then talks about a feast with the Lord. Spring forward to Revelation and we hear the phrase “on that day” or the “Day of the Lord” etc. Or the great feast we will celebrate – the Wedding Feast of the Lamb.” The idea of being unleavened, without sin, is something that can only be done with God’s help, through the shed blood of Jesus, through communion with Jesus. We need to remember that in our own power we can do NOTHING. Thank God that the LORD was with us when we came up from Egypt, but there is a hidden message here and that is that the Lord was with us IN Egypt too. For how else could He have been with us when we came up.
Exodus 13:9-10 “It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the LORD’s law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt. You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.”
Phylacteries that many devout Jews wear I think comes from this.
Notice the black box on the forehead that holds Torah verses, and the wrappings on the arm and hand. These are also called Teffilim and you put them on your left hand and arm, it contains two little boxes with prayers. One on your arm brings it close to your heart and the other one is put on top of your forehead over your brow.
Jesus will later condemn those who exhibit large outward signs of their piety, including phylacteries and fringes which are large and prominent. Jesus was more concerned with our heart condition instead of our outward signs of worship. What we realize is that we too hold verses in our brow, when we learn God’s Word and keep it in our hearts. It is not an outward, but an inward knowing. Pastor Don keeps reminding us that the more of God’s Word that we know, the more we are prepared for anything the world might throw our way.
I also find it interesting that in Revelation there is also a mark, an outward sign on the forehead and hand, the number of man that will be forced on man by the antichrist. Whatever God ordains, satan copies. There are no original ideas in satan’s realm, he just copies God’s. But the difference in the marks can best be seen by the fruit in a person’s life. Those who are marked by God produce love and freedom, those marked by satan end up in bondage.
I think I am going to stop here now, and continue with the rest of the chapter later, there is a lot to digest for me.
Praying you have a blessed and Happy New Year. I am still slowly getting to your sites.
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