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Consecration Of The Firstborn (ch. 13:1 - 16)     


In verses 1 and 2 the Lord commands Moses to tell Israel that they must "consecrate", as the NIV puts it, every first born male, both animals and people.  The KJV uses the word "sanctify".  God is simply saying that every first born male must be set aside for Him.  As He killed every first born Egyptian, so every firstborn Israeli must be set aside for God. 


The idea of firstborn is a major topic throughout the Bible.  Jesus Himself is said to be the firstborn among a new creation of people.  These people are the redeemed who will be like Jesus in the next life.  Jesus became a new type of creation, although we need to realize that Jesus wasn't created.  The new aspect to Jesus is His glorified body that He did not have prior to His incarnation.


In verse 3 we see the word "consecrate" again.  This time the day that they left Egypt was to be consecrated, or set apart, as a special day.  It was to be a day of remembering when God delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians with His mighty acts of judgment.


Notice in verse 4 we see this is the month of Abib.  The word "Abib" is another name for the month of "Nisan".  Nisan is normally the word used when speaking of this month.  Nisan corresponds with our month of March.


In verse 5 we see the land of Canaan mentioned, the land that they would be heading towards.  Moses said that this land was promised by God to the Israeli's forefathers.  This is yet another reminder of the Abrahamic Covenant.  The forefathers would include, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and most likely Joseph as well.


Verses 6 and 7 are a reminder of the seven day feast of Unleavened Bread.  For seven days Israel was not to eat bread with leaven in it.  Even more than that, leaven was not even to be found in all of Israel.  Again, leaven in the Bible is symbolic of pride and sin.  During the deliverance or salvation of Israel , sin would not have any part.  This is truly a picture of the cross of Christ and the fact that sin was not found in Jesus, other than our sin. Jesus was thus punished for sin, not His sin, but our sin.


Verse 8 simply states that this feast was to be a time of remembering.  One problem that man has is to learn the lessons of history.  We may know our history, but we have a hard time learning from history.  The time of remembrance provided by the Feast of Unleavened bread was to make Israel learn that because God delivered them from the hands of their enemies in Egypt, He can do the same throughout history.  Israel has tended not to learn this lesson over the centuries, even though at times they celebrate the feast that is supposed to teach them the lesson.  The feast merely becomes a tradition, void of any lesson to be learned.  The same is true in the Christian church.  Much of our tradition is practiced, but the meaning and the lessons associated with the traditions are lost. 


In verse 9 we learn that the Feast of Unleavened Bread was to be like a sign, like a mark on one's hand or forehead.  This was a visible reminder of God's deliverance that should motivate Israel to obey the Law of God. 


Note the idea of a sign on ones hand or forehead.  Such marks are seen in other cultures other than Israeli culture.  We also see the same in the book of Revelation.  The mark of the beast is such a sign.  The saints also in the book of Revelation are seen with such a sign.  In this case with Israel there was no visible mark on the forehead or hand.  The text says that it was like a mark.  For this reason, some people believe the mark of the beast, and the mark on the saints in Revelation, are symbolic and not real marks.


In verse 11 we see that God commands that this feast must be kept year after year.  Israel was never to forget their deliverance out of Egypt.


In verses 1 to 13 the idea of the firstborn being consecrated to the Lord that we saw in verse 1 and 2 is further explained.  As the NIV puts it, God wanted Israel to "hand over" all firstborn males, both human and animals.  This simply means that God wanted them killed.  That's how God would get these males.  Only through death does one go to God. 


The idea that God wanted baby boys killed is strange to us.  Once again, God told Adam that in the day he disobeyed, he would die.  Death entered Creation in many ways because of Adam's disobedience. 


When God killed the firstborn sons of Egypt, He was in fact taking them in judgment.  When it comes to the firstborn in Israel He was taking them for himself.  Really, going straight to God at birth is better than living in a fallen world. 


All that being said, in verse 13 God made a provision for Israel.  Instead of actually killing the firstborn baby boys, they could be redeemed with the death of a lamb. If an Israeli father sacrificed one of his lambs to God, then the firstborn baby boy would not have to die. Once again, death was involved, but not the death of a human.


This is very important because this speaks to the death of Jesus very clearly.  In fact this is prophetic.  This is more than a command to Israel.  It is prophetic.  The lamb represents Jesus.  Jesus is called the Lamb of God in the New Testament.  As the lamb replaced the baby boy in Moses' day, so Jesus replaced us on the cross. 


We often think that Old Testament prophecy is only seen in what we call the prophetic books, like Isaiah, but that's not so.  All of the Old Testament is laced with prophecy.  The Law of Moses is just as much prophetic as it is a list of rules. 


We notice the word "redeem" in verse 13.  This will become one of the most important theological words in the Bible.  Many theological words have fallen out of fashion in modern times, and that's too bad, because they represent something real and very important to our salvation.  The lamb in Moses day was the means of salvation for the baby boys.  The lamb purchased the boys freedom, just as Jesus purchased our freedom with His death.  That's what the word "redeem" means.


In verses 14 and 15 we see what we've seen before. The killing of the firstborn is to be a remembrance of God delivering Israel from slavery in Egypt.  When sons and grandsons ask why Israel have this custom they are to have this explanation given to them so they will know of this great event, and so they will know that God can do the same for them. 


This shows us the importance of passing the truths of God on from one generation to the next.  It is the responsibility of every Christian parent, as well as every Jewish parent to teach their children the things of God.  


Notice in verse 16 we see mention of the forehead and hands as we saw in verse 9.  Note my comments in verse 9.


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