The Why behind the What and the How

May 2, 2014 at 9:56 am | Posted in Exodus | 2 Comments
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Exodus Chapter 13 gives the ordinances for observing the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread.

That thou shalt set apart unto the LORD all that openeth the matrix, and every firstling that cometh of a beast which thou hast; the males shall be the LORD’S.

Exodus 13:12

The firstborn would belong to the Lord – both men and beasts – as a reminder of the stewardship principle of returning to the Lord our first and best, as well as the final judgment/plague that delivered them from Egypt.

And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck: and all the firstborn of man among thy children shalt thou redeem.

Exodus 13:13

Donkeys were unclean and therefore unacceptable to God. The work of unclean donkeys is unacceptable to God, but it is still owed to God. This is a reminder to us that, as unclean sinners, our work “for God” is unacceptable in the sense of meriting His favor, but it is still owed to Him, and it is our obligation to perform it.

But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.

Luke 17:7-10

Under the Law, unclean donkeys could be redeemed by a substitute, but unredeemed donkeys had to die. In the same way, apart from a Redeemer to take our place, as unclean, unacceptable, and unredeemed sinners, we would have to “die” spiritually and eternally.

And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:

Exodus 13:14

The looking-forward to a sinless sacrifice should have been a constant thought among all the Jews, so that they should have been able to recognize the Messiah as the fulfillment of these types. The idea was to teach their children not just what to do and how to do it, but what it meant. Parents must teach their children the “whys” of Christianity, and the idea of the faith behind it. They must understand that we do the things we do because we believe the Word of God.

And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.

Exodus 13:16

Later on the rabbis probably went too far in taking these “phylacteries” literally.

My son, keep thy father’s commandment, and forsake not the law of thy mother: Bind them continually upon thine heart, and tie them about thy neck.

Proverbs 6:20-21

But there are good reasons for keeping God’s laws and commandments always before our eyes, and we may imitate the principle if not the practice. We keep them “upon our hands” in the sense that we need to be open and obvious about our faith. We keep them “between our eyes” in the sense that we stay focused on God’s Word. We keep them “around our necks” in the sense that we remember them to keep us from swiveling our head at every worldly attraction that passes by. Christians aren’t free from service. We are free to serve in truth. The Israelites had served Pharaoh, and they were still serving. Only now, they were serving the right God.

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  1. […] offer as an exchange for God’s forgiveness? How can we “pay Him back?” Or bribe Him? We are bankrupt when it comes to […]

  2. […] but Still Speak Today (Exodus 12) 17. Remembering the Garlic (Exodus 12-13; Numbers 11:4-10) 18. The Why behind the What and the How (Exodus 13) 19. A Three-Item To-Do List before Leaving Egypt Behind (Exodus 13) 20. Two Miracles: A […]


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