Exodus 13

* The first-born sanctified to God The remembrance of the

passover commanded. (1-10) The firstlings of beasts set apart.

(11-16) Joseph's bones carried with the Israelites, They come to

Etham. (17-20) God guideth the Israelites by a pillar of cloud

fire. (21,22)

1-10 In remembrance of the destruction of the first-born of

Egypt, both of man and of beast, and the deliverance of the

Israelites out of bondage, the first-born males of the

Israelites were set apart to the Lord. By this was set before

them, that their lives were preserved through the ransom of the

atonement, which in due time was to be made for sin. They were

also to consider their lives, thus ransomed from death, as now

to be consecrated to the service of God. The parents were not to

look upon themselves as having any right in their first-born,

till they solemnly presented them to God, and allowed his title

to them. That which is, by special mercy, spared to us, should

be applied to God's honour; at least, some grateful

acknowledgment, in works of piety and charity, should be made.

The remembrance of their coming out of Egypt must be kept up

every year. The day of Christ's resurrection is to be

remembered, for in it we were raised up with Christ out of

death's house of bondage. The Scripture tells us not expressly

what day of the year Christ rose, but it states particularly

what day of the week it was; as the more valuable deliverance,

it should be remembered weekly. The Israelites must keep the

feast of unleavened bread. Under the gospel, we must not only

remember Christ, but observe his holy supper. Do this in

remembrance of him. Also care must be taken to teach children

the knowledge of God. Here is an old law for catechising. It is

of great use to acquaint children betimes with the histories of

the Bible. And those who have God's law in their heart should

have it in their mouth, and often speak of it, to affect

themselves, and to teach others.
11-16 The firstlings of beast not used in sacrifice, were to be

changed for others so used, or they were to be destroyed. Our

souls are forfeited to God's justice, and unless ransomed by the

sacrifice of Christ, will certainly perish. These institutions

would continually remind them of their duty, to love and serve

the Lord. In like manner, baptism and the Lord's supper, if

explained and attended to, would remind us, and give us occasion

to remind one another of our profession and duty.
17-20 There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only a

few days' journey; the other was much further about, through the

wilderness, and that was the way in which God chose to lead his

people Israel. The Egyptians were to be drowned in the Red sea;

the Israelites were to be humbled and proved in the wilderness.

God's way is the right way, though it seems about. If we think

he leads not his people the nearest way, yet we may be sure he

leads them the best way, and so it will appear when we come to

our journey's end. The Philistines were powerful enemies; it was

needful that the Israelites should be prepared for the wars of

Canaan, by passing through the difficulties of the wilderness.

Thus God proportions his people's trials to their strength, #1Co

10:13|. They went up in good order. They went up in five in a

rank, some; in five bands, so others, which it seems rather to

their faith and hope, that God would bring them to Canaan, in

expectation of which they carried these bones with them while in

the desert.
21,22 The Lord went before them in a pillar, or appearance of

the Divine Majesty. Christ was with the church in the

wilderness, #1Co 10:9|. Those whom God brings into a wilderness,

he will not leave nor lose there, but will take care to lead

them through it. It was great satisfaction to Moses and the

pious Israelites, to be sure that they were under Divine

guidance. Those who make the glory of God their end, and the

word of God their rule, the Spirit of God the guide of their

affections, and the providence of God the guide of their

affairs, may be sure that the Lord goes before them, though they

cannot see it with their eyes: we must now live by faith. When

Israel marched, this pillar went before, and pointed out the

place of encampment, as Divine Wisdom saw fit. It sheltered by

day from the heat, and gave light by night. The Bible is a light

to our feet, a lantern to our paths, with which the Saviour's

love has provided us. It testifies of Christ. It is to us like

the pillar to the Israelites. Listen to that voice which cries,

I am the Light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk

in darkness, but shall have the Light of life, #Joh 8:12|. Jesus

Christ alone, as shown in the Bible, and as the Holy Spirit, in

answer to prayer, recommends him to the soul, is the Way, the

Truth, and the Life, #Joh 14:6|.
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