Exodus 12:31 - 13:22

Sunday Morning Bible Study

February 3, 2008


It’s finally going to happen.  It’s been something like a year.  Seven times Moses uttered those famous words to Pharaoh, “Let my people go”.

We’ve seen the Nile turn to blood.  We’ve seen frogs, lice, flies, and all “hail” breaking loose. The final plague has come and all the firstborn in Egypt have been killed except the ones whose houses had lamb’s blood on the doorposts.

We’ve seen that these plagues were not just about making life miserable for the Egyptians, but it was about showing the superiority of Yahweh over these so called “gods” of Egypt.

It’s amazing the kinds of things that people will trust in, all to avoid the truth.

The Egyptians surrounded themselves with hundreds of gods.

In Romans 1, Paul talks about what people will do when they reject the truth about God being their Creator:

(Rom 1:22-23 NKJV)  Professing to be wise, they became fools, {23} and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man; and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.

We’ve tried to show how similar this process of Israel’s deliverance is to things in our own lives.

Sometimes God has to allow tragedy or disaster into our lives to wipe out those other “gods” that we trust in, things we find comfort in.

We lose a job. We get into an auto accident. We lose our health.
We lose a marriage. We end up in jail.

Sometimes it’s these kinds of things that make us realize that we need God and stop trusting in the other false “gods” which for us might not be a frog goddess, but it might be an addiction – drugs, alcohol, pornography.  Sometimes we find ourselves trusting in our money, our family, our job.

Exodus 12

:31-42 The Exodus

:31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, "Rise, go out from among my people, both you and the children of Israel. And go, serve the LORD as you have said.

:32 "Also take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone; and bless me also."

One of the earlier compromises Pharaoh had offered was to let just the men go and not the families.  Another compromise involved letting the people go but not their possessions like their flocks and herds.

Now Pharaoh is willing to let them go without any compromise.

:33 And the Egyptians urged the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste. For they said, "We shall all be dead."

The Egyptians are afraid that if the Israelites don’t get out of town, they will all be dead.

:34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, having their kneading bowls bound up in their clothes on their shoulders.

The idea is that when the permission came to leave, it happened so quickly that some things weren’t quite ready.  But they left anyway.

When it’s time to go, go.


Don’t drag your feet.

The time has finally come to leave.  And the people got up and left.  They didn’t wait for another couple of hours until it was more convenient.  They got up and left.
This is an important principle in our relationship with God.  Don’t drag your feet!
(1 Cor 10:13 NKJV)  No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.
God promises a way out, but we have to take it.
1Sam. 23 – Saul was chasing David and his men.  Saul was closing in, about to capture David and have him put to death.  But at the last moment Saul got a call from the home base saying that the Philistines were attacking, and so Saul left the chase in order to attack the Philistines.  When David found out that Saul had left, he took his men and left the area as well.  He wasn’t waiting around for Saul to come back.  He called that place the “Rock of Escape” (1Sam. 23:28)
God promises to make a “way of escape” for us, but we need to be ready to take that way out.  God always promises to provide an emergency “exit”, but we need to get up and get out of the burning building.
Today God offers you salvation through Jesus Christ.  Today God offers to pay for your sins.  Will you take the way out that God offers to you?

:35 Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing.

:36 And the LORD had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.

Moses had told the people prior to the tenth plague to ask for donations from their Egyptian neighbors. (Ex. 11:2-3)

(Exo 11:2-3 NKJV)  "Speak now in the hearing of the people, and let every man ask from his neighbor and every woman from her neighbor, articles of silver and articles of gold." {3} And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people.

This was part of the prophecy that God had given to Abraham 600 years earlier…

(Gen 15:14 NKJV)  "And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

These “donations” are in essence a small part of what the Israelites had coming to them after four hundred years of slavery.

Some of these treasures will be used in the building of the Tabernacle in the wilderness.

:37 Then the children of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children.

Rameses to Succoth – they are heading east, about twenty miles.  Rameses was the main city the Israelites lived in (Gen. 47:11).  “Succoth” means “booths”.

six hundred thousand men on foot – We’ll see in the book of Numbers that this number consisted of men between the age of twenty and above, men who will form the armies of Israel.

When you include women and children, the total number of Israelites leaving has to be something around two million people.

Some people have a problem with this number.  They say that it was too many people to be able to cross the Red Sea.  They say that the desert wilderness would have been unable to support this many people for forty years.

Exactly.  The Bible doesn’t dispute these concerns.  The Bible simply reminds you that there is a powerful, mighty God at work.  Haven’t you already noticed this fact through these plagues?

:38 A mixed multitude went up with them also, and flocks and herds; a great deal of livestock.

mixed multitude – the Jews weren’t the only ones to leave.  It is possible that the Israelites weren’t the only slaves in Egypt.  Others wanted to get out of Egypt as well.  It might even be possible that there are some Egyptians along.  It could be that some of the Israelites had intermarried with Egyptians or other peoples.

This “mixed multitude” is going to one day cause a lot of trouble (Num. 11:4-6)

(Num 11:4-6 NKJV)  Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: "Who will give us meat to eat? {5} "We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; {6} "but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!"

They are like the people who don’t mind hanging around Christians, they may even come to church, they may at times even pretend to be Christians, but they haven’t made that commitment to God yet.  And these people are going to have a hard time wanting to live life the way that God desires.

:39 And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they had brought out of Egypt; for it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared provisions for themselves.

:40 Now the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years.

:41 And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years; on that very same day; it came to pass that all the armies of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt.

:42 It is a night of solemn observance to the LORD for bringing them out of the land of Egypt. This is that night of the LORD, a solemn observance for all the children of Israel throughout their generations.

Exodus 12:42 (The Message) God kept watch all night, watching over the Israelites as he brought them out of Egypt. Because God kept watch, all Israel for all generations will honor God by keeping watch this night—a watchnight.

God kept watch, so the people were to keep watch to remember.

:43-51 Passover Rules

While the people have spent their first day away from their Egyptian homes, while they’re in Succoth, God gives some instructions…

:43 And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it.

Remember that the “mixed multitude” is along for the ride.  They may be sympathetic to the Israelites at time, but they are not Israelites themselves.  They are not circumcised. They want the “blessings” of Yahweh, but without the commitment of circumcision.

God does not want them celebrating the Passover.  Being a part of the blessed people requires a commitment.

It’s kind of like communion.  There are certain rules over who is eligible to take communion.

Communion is for believers.  It is for those who have put their trust in Jesus.

Communion is NOT for unbelievers.  It’s a mockery of God for a person who hasn’t asked Jesus into their life to take communion as if they care about what communion means, remembering that Jesus died for our sins.

:44-51 "But every man's servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it.

As God explains through verse 51, The blessing comes with the commitment of circumcision.

:45 "A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it.

:46 "In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.

:47 "All the congregation of Israel shall keep it.

:48 "And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.

:49 "One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you."

:50 Thus all the children of Israel did; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.

:51 And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt according to their armies.

armies – these are the men of Israel.  God is going to begin to refer to them as an army.

Exodus 13

:1-2 Firstborn Consecrated

:1 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,

:2 "Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine."

consecrateqadash – to consecrate, sanctify, prepare, dedicate, be hallowed, be holy, be sanctified, be separate

God wants Israel to consider all the firstborn to belong to Him.

At the Passover, God spared the lives of all the firstborn of Israel because they were under the protection of the blood of the lamb.

God says that since He spared their lives, they now have a special relationship with Him.  They belong to Him.

:3-10 Unleavened Bread

:3 And Moses said to the people: "Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten.

Tied to this deliverance from slavery in Egypt is this Feast of Unleavened Bread.

It speaks of haste – the people didn’t have time to allow all the bread dough to rise so the bread was “unleavened”.

It speaks of dealing with sin.  Leaven is a picture of sin in the Bible.

With the celebration of Passover, there was to be a stepping away from sin.
As Christians, Jesus set us free from the judgment of God when He died on the cross in our place.  But He doesn’t just want to forgive us, He wants us to move away from sin.
When Jesus talked to the woman caught in adultery, He forgave her, but He also told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11)

:4 "On this day you are going out, in the month Abib.

Abib – the Hebrew word means “in the ear”.  It was the month where the crops began to form the ears of grain.  It covers the months of late March and early April.

After the Babylonian captivity, the month was renamed to Nisan.

:5 "And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, which He swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, that you shall keep this service in this month.

a land flowing with milk and honey – a phrase that describes a fertile land.  Milk comes from happy cows. Honey comes from bees living with lots of crops.

:6 "Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD.

:7 "Unleavened bread shall be eaten seven days. And no leavened bread shall be seen among you, nor shall leaven be seen among you in all your quarters.

:8 "And you shall tell your son in that day, saying, 'This is done because of what the LORD did for me when I came up from Egypt.'

Do your kids know your testimony?  Can they tell people about how you came to know the Lord?  Are you passing on the legacy to them, the legacy of knowing Jesus?

:9 "It shall be as a sign to you on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the Lord's law may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.

:10 "You shall therefore keep this ordinance in its season from year to year.

Verse 9 becomes the basis for the practice among some Jews of wearing “phylacteries”. These are little leather pouches or boxes which contain short fragments of scripture, and are worn on the forehead and on the left arm above the elbow. (see also Deut. 6:8; 11:18)

Here’s a fellow wearing phylacteries on his head and left arm at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Perhaps God intended for the Israelites to literally bind pieces of scripture to their hands and forehead.

It seems to me that it is more likely that these things were meant to be a sign, something as obvious as if something were stuck on your forehead or your hand.

If something was tied to my hand, like my wristwatch, I see it all the time.

The idea might be that every time I celebrated these feasts, I remembered what God had done for me.

If something was tied to my forehead, I’m not sure I’m going to see it all the time, but everyone else is sure going to see it.

Jesus said,
(Mat 5:16 NKJV)  "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.


Can you see what I believe?

For the Jews, the “keeping” of the feasts were to remind them of what they believed, of what God had done for them.
For us, the things we choose to “keep”, the things we choose to obey demonstrate what we really believe.
If we’ll pay attention, we’ll find out what kind of things we really believe by what we “see” in our lives.
Hopefully others will be able to see by our actions what we really believe.
Can people “see” what you believe by how you live your life?
I woke up early on Saturday, like I’ve been waking up early most days the last couple of weeks.  I was worried about my dad.  We’ve been having to make difficult decisions about his care.  We’ve been wrestling with things like having him be in a nursing home.  We’ve wrestled with which one to put him in.  We’ve wondered if we’ve made the right decisions.

Saturday morning I woke up and realized that my anxiety and lack of peace was making it pretty clear that I hadn’t been trusting these things into the Lord’s hands.  Just realizing this and putting it once again in God’s hands brought relief.  For a few minutes.

Just what do you believe?
Do you believe that Jesus died to pay for your sins?  Can you tell that you are forgiven?  Can others tell that you’ve been forgiven?
Do you believe that God is all powerful?  Do you believe that God is good?  Do you believe that God really loves you?

Those are the kinds of things that ought to get you through the difficult times.  Are they?  Can others see it?

Do you believe that it is more blessed to give than to receive?  Do you believe that you love your neighbor as yourself?  Can other people see that you are more concerned about others than you are for yourself?  How obvious is it?
Are you able to tell from your own life what you truly believe?
Can others tell from your life what you truly believe?

:11-16 Law of Firstborn

:11 "And it shall be, when the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as He swore to you and your fathers, and gives it to you,

:12 "that you shall set apart to the LORD all that open the womb, that is, every firstborn that comes from an animal which you have; the males shall be the Lord's.

set apart to the LORD – every firstborn male animal is to be “set apart” to Yahweh.  That means that you will be giving it to Yahweh.  That means sacrificing it to Yahweh.

set apart ‘abar – (Hiphil) to cause to pass over, cause to bring over, cause to cross over, make over to, dedicate, devote

(Rom 12:1-2 NKJV)  I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. {2} And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

:13 "But every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb; and if you will not redeem it, then you shall break its neck. And all the firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.

redeem with a lamb – the concept is that of buying something back from God.  If God now “owns” all the firstborn, and you don’t want to give a firstborn to God, then you must buy it back by offering a lamb to take it’s place.

donkey – considered an “unclean” animal (Lev. 11), not an animal you could eat and not one acceptable for sacrifice to God.  So a firstborn donkey was either bought back with a lamb or else you were to kill it.

firstborn of man – you don’t sacrifice your son.  You will want to redeem your son.

We’ve been redeemed from the power of sin by the blood of the Lamb.

  Eventually God will offer a deal to the Israelites and swap all the firstborn sons for an entire tribe, the Levites.  That meant that the Levites belonged to God.  They served God.

:14 "So it shall be, when your son asks you in time to come, saying, 'What is this?' that you shall say to him, 'By strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

:15 'And it came to pass, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the LORD killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore I sacrifice to the LORD all males that open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem.'

all males – since only firstborn males were redeemed, could it be that only firstborn males died in Egypt during the Passover?

:16 "It shall be as a sign on your hand and as frontlets between your eyes, for by strength of hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt."

frontletstowphaphah – this is the technical word for phylacteries

:17-22 Into the Wilderness

:17 Then it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, "Lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt."

The land of the Philistines was on the coastal plain in the land of Canaan.  There would be heavy Egyptian fortifications to get by along the way.  If God took the people the short route to Canaan, they might have to fight and could become discouraged and head back to Egypt.

The route to the Philistines, from Ramses to Gaza, would take maybe two weeks, covering about 175 miles.  But these people weren’t ready to start fighting battles.  They’re just slave builders, not warriors.

:18 So God led the people around by way of the wilderness of the Red Sea. And the children of Israel went up in orderly ranks out of the land of Egypt.

the Red Sea – we’ll talk more about where this took place next week.


Delays might have purpose

Some of us can get quite impatient.
If I’m on a tight time schedule, and I’m driving in a 35 mph zone, I don’t want to get stuck behind a car poking along at 25 mph.  I get mad.  I get frustrated.  I want one of those secret agent cars where I press a button and a canon comes up out of the engine compartment and blows up the car in front of me.  Well, sort of…
What if God is trying to slow you down because you aren’t ready for what’s up ahead???
The Israelites weren’t ready for war yet.
What if God is trying to slow you down because He has something for you to do right in front of you?
Before the people are ready to take on the land of Canaan, they need to spend time with God in the wilderness.  They have an appointment to keep with God at Mount Sinai (Ex. 3:12)

(Exo 3:12 NKJV)  So He said, "I will certainly be with you. And this shall be a sign to you that I have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."

Have you ever been delayed or sidetracked, only to find one of those “divine appointments” waiting for you?


Training for war

Some might say, “Couldn’t God have taken them the short route and then simply delivered them by a miracle?”
But God didn’t choose to do it this way.
It seems that God chose rather to have the people be trained for warfare.
Some people live their life as if God is supposed to rescue them from every problem, and when God doesn’t rescue them, they blame God for not rescuing them.
Sometimes God wants us to fight the good fight and rescue ourselves.
The story goes that a big storm was on the horizon, and the police cars went through the small farming community to warn the citizens to head for high ground. Farmer Bill heard the warning, but decided that he was just going to stay put and trust God. When the rain began to fall, and the water began to rise, the firemen came by in a boat, offering to evacuate Farmer Bill, but he said, “No, I’m going to stay put and trust God.” Finally, as Bill had to climb out onto his roof to get away from the raging flood, a helicopter came by offering assistance, but Farmer Bill stayed put. When Bill got to heaven, he was kind of ticked off at God. He said to God, “How come you didn’t rescue me from the flood when I trusted you!” God gently replied, “Bill, I sent a police car, a rescue boat, and a helicopter. What did you expect?”

Sometimes the thing God wants us to do is to take action.  Sometimes God wants us to learn to fight the good fight.

:19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you."

When papa Jacob died in Egypt, his descendants took his body back to the land of Canaan and buried him in the cave that Abraham had purchased (Gen. 50:13).  But when Joseph died, he didn’t have them bury him in Canaan, but made them hold on to his bones in Egypt because he knew that one day the nation would return to the land of Canaan (Gen. 50:25).  It’s not until they arrive in Canaan and conquer the land that Joshua has Joseph’s bones buried at Shechem (Josh. 24:32).  Stephen indicated (Acts 7:15-16) that they may have brought back other bones as well.

The writer of Hebrews tells us:

(Heb 11:22 NKJV)  By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones.

Joseph demonstrated “faith” with this request.  He had faith that there was going to be more for his people than the land of Egypt.  He had faith that there was something more.

:20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness.

Etham‘Etham – with them: their plowshare";  not real sure where it was, there are a couple of possibilities.

:21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night.

:22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people.

There was one cloud, not two.

In the daytime, the cloud would bring shade from the desert.

At night, the cloud gave light.

Did you notice that it was the LORD leading them IN the pillar of cloud?

The pillar was a reminder of God’s presence with the people.


Led by His presence

This pillar of cloud was going to be one of the main ways that the Israelites were going to be guided through the wilderness.
All the people had to do in order to know where to go, was to follow the pillar of cloud.

If the cloud moved, they moved.

If the cloud stayed, they stayed.

All they had to do to know where God was leading them, was to follow His presence.
This isn't always easy for us, since we don't have a huge pillar of cloud to see with our eyes.
(John 3:8 NKJV)  "The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
Jesus compared the moving of the Spirit to the wind.
In a way, we’re kind of like a hot-air balloon.  Not just because we’re filled with hot air, but because the balloon is moved by the wind.
Sometimes the wind is pretty strong and it’s not hard to see which way it’s blowing.
Sometimes the Spirit moves more like a gentle breeze.  But God is still ready to guide you.
Sometimes the wind isn’t blowing.  Sometimes you need to stay put.
Where is the Spirit moving today?
Are we going to be in "tune" enough with His movement that we'll follow?
It takes some sensitivity to keep up with the blowing of a gentle breeze.