Exodus 13* The first-born sanctified to God The remembrance of thepassover commanded. (1-10) The firstlings of beasts set apart.(11-16) Joseph's bones carried with the Israelites, They come toEtham. (17-20) God guideth the Israelites by a pillar of cloudfire. (21,22)1-10 In remembrance of the destruction of the first-born ofEgypt, both of man and of beast, and the deliverance of theIsraelites out of bondage, the first-born males of theIsraelites were set apart to the Lord. By this was set beforethem, that their lives were preserved through the ransom of theatonement, which in due time was to be made for sin. They werealso to consider their lives, thus ransomed from death, as nowto be consecrated to the service of God. The parents were not tolook upon themselves as having any right in their first-born,till they solemnly presented them to God, and allowed his titleto them. That which is, by special mercy, spared to us, shouldbe applied to God's honour; at least, some gratefulacknowledgment, in works of piety and charity, should be made.The remembrance of their coming out of Egypt must be kept upevery year. The day of Christ's resurrection is to beremembered, for in it we were raised up with Christ out ofdeath's house of bondage. The Scripture tells us not expresslywhat day of the year Christ rose, but it states particularlywhat day of the week it was; as the more valuable deliverance,it should be remembered weekly. The Israelites must keep thefeast of unleavened bread. Under the gospel, we must not onlyremember Christ, but observe his holy supper. Do this inremembrance of him. Also care must be taken to teach childrenthe knowledge of God. Here is an old law for catechising. It isof great use to acquaint children betimes with the histories ofthe Bible. And those who have God's law in their heart shouldhave it in their mouth, and often speak of it, to affectthemselves, and to teach others. 11-16 The firstlings of beast not used in sacrifice, were to bechanged for others so used, or they were to be destroyed. Oursouls are forfeited to God's justice, and unless ransomed by thesacrifice of Christ, will certainly perish. These institutionswould continually remind them of their duty, to love and servethe Lord. In like manner, baptism and the Lord's supper, ifexplained and attended to, would remind us, and give us occasionto remind one another of our profession and duty. 17-20 There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was only afew days' journey; the other was much further about, through thewilderness, and that was the way in which God chose to lead hispeople 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 thinkhe leads not his people the nearest way, yet we may be sure heleads them the best way, and so it will appear when we come toour journey's end. The Philistines were powerful enemies; it wasneedful that the Israelites should be prepared for the wars ofCanaan, by passing through the difficulties of the wilderness.Thus God proportions his people's trials to their strength, #1Co10:13|. They went up in good order. They went up in five in arank, some; in five bands, so others, which it seems rather totheir faith and hope, that God would bring them to Canaan, inexpectation of which they carried these bones with them while inthe desert. 21,22 The Lord went before them in a pillar, or appearance ofthe Divine Majesty. Christ was with the church in thewilderness, #1Co 10:9|. Those whom God brings into a wilderness,he will not leave nor lose there, but will take care to leadthem through it. It was great satisfaction to Moses and thepious Israelites, to be sure that they were under Divineguidance. Those who make the glory of God their end, and theword of God their rule, the Spirit of God the guide of theiraffections, and the providence of God the guide of theiraffairs, may be sure that the Lord goes before them, though theycannot see it with their eyes: we must now live by faith. WhenIsrael marched, this pillar went before, and pointed out theplace of encampment, as Divine Wisdom saw fit. It sheltered byday from the heat, and gave light by night. The Bible is a lightto our feet, a lantern to our paths, with which the Saviour'slove has provided us. It testifies of Christ. It is to us likethe pillar to the Israelites. Listen to that voice which cries,I am the Light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walkin darkness, but shall have the Light of life, #Joh 8:12|. JesusChrist alone, as shown in the Bible, and as the Holy Spirit, inanswer to prayer, recommends him to the soul, is the Way, theTruth, and the Life, #Joh 14:6|.
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