Text: Exodus 13:1-22
It’s been said that those who forget history are bound to repeat it. We don’t live in the past, but we must not forget it either. We see the importance of this in our story today.
At this point in our journey through Exodus, we’ve seen God come to the rescue of His people in some pretty impressive ways. They’re finally free.
But now what?
Since they had been enslaved for 10 generations, the Hebrew people knew very little: how to make bricks, how to be farmers and shepherds, and how to be slaves. But that was about it. There was so much they had to learn. That’s why God took time to prepare them, not only for their departure from Egypt, but for all the challenges their new freedom would bring.
And that started with the fight not to forget what God has already done for them.
“Remember, You Are Mine” (vv. 1-2, 11-16)
For their entire lives, every one of these Hebrews belonged to an Egyptian. They were not treated as people. They were considered property. So, a new identity needed to be established.
So God says, once you reach the promised land, here’s what you’re going to do: to remember how I spared all your firstborn sons from the final plague in Egypt, from now on, all your firstborn – from your children to your animals, belong to me.
Your firstborn clean animals, you’ll sacrifice as a holy offering to me. Your firstborn unclean animals, you’ll kill and not have use of. And your firstborn children, you will “redeem”. To give the first of something to God would cause the whole to be blessed. It represented giving God everything, recognizing everything we have belongs to Him.
Even though this wouldn’t start until they got to the promised land many years later, God wants them to know right now who they are by reminding them whose they are.
“Remember, I Fulfill My Promises” (vv. 3-10)
God was teaching them how to be a people, and more importantly, how to be His people. And that would require trust. So God helps them with another reminder. God gives them a feast that they will celebrate when they get to the Promised Land, the Feast of Unleavened Bread.
For seven days, they would eat unleavened bread. All during that week, no leaven (or yeast) is to even be found among them. God wants them to remember the Passover meal, that they ate in a hurry as they left Egypt. And, since leaven in the OT often represents sin, God is also reminding them of to His own holiness, and that God’s people must be holy as well.
And like before, God wants the kids to know as well (see verses 8-10). Tell you son, “It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt”. This was a first-hand account. Those leaving Egypt, this wasn’t some story they were told. This was a first-hand account. They saw the miracles of God with their own eyes. And God is reminding them, “Tell your kids! This is what God did for me!”
“Remember, I Will Lead You” (vv. 17-22)
God was not about speed and efficiency here. God did not lead Israel by the shortest route. Instead of going straight through the Philistine country, God took them around it, to prevent the Hebrew people from being tempted to fear in the face of war. God was protecting them while He was leading them.
Then God gave them an even more obvious sign that He was with them and leading them. He manifested His presence as a large column that appeared as a cloud during the day, and as fire at night.
God is telling them: “Here I am. I am the one guiding you. I am the one directing your path.” The journey they are about to embark on would be a journey like no other. But God wanted His people to trust Him. God is with them, and would not leave them.
These are all beautiful reminders God gave Israel then, and that He’s also giving us today. Let’s fight not to forget. Let’s constantly remind ourselves and each other of the awe and wonder of being redeemed, the joy of knowing you belong to God, that His is faithful in all His promises to you in Christ, and that He is going ahead of you, leading you every step of the way.