Saturday after Septuagesima Sunday
Posted on February 23, 2019 byunder
Scripture: Exodus 13:1-22 (NKJV)
13:1 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.”
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. 4 On this day you are going out, in the month Abib. 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. 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.’ 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.
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. 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.
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.’ 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.”
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.” 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.
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.”
20 So they took their journey from Succoth and camped in Etham at the edge of the wilderness. 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.
Since the Lord spared all the firstborn males of Israel, He claimed all their future firstborn males as His own. For common animals this meant giving them back to the Lord through sacrifice. For work animals it meant either killing them or redeeming them—buying them back from the Lord—through the sacrifice of a lamb. The firstborn sons of Israel also belonged to the Lord. They, too, had to be redeemed. The whole tribe of Levi eventually became part of the redemption price for the firstborn of Israel.
The firstborn Son of Mary was lawfully consecrated to God soon after He was born, in accordance with the words of Moses in today’s reading (cf. Luke 2:22-24), but no mention is made in Luke’s Gospel of a redemption price that was paid for Him. (The sacrifice Mary and Joseph offered was for Mary’s purification.) This makes sense, because Jesus was wholly devoted to the Lord and never departed from the Lord’s service. Indeed, He Himself was the fulfillment of the consecration of the firstborn.
The firstborn of Egypt and Israel represent all people. All should rightfully die for their sins. But Christ Jesus, the Firstborn over all creation, took the place of all men and was sacrificed as the redemption price, as the propitiation for the sins of the world. And now God, in His mercy, has promised to spare from death all who believe in Christ the Redeemer. Just as the Passover itself pointed ahead to Christ, so also the consecration of the firstborn was a shadow of the Savior.
We pray: O Lord, hear favorably the prayers of Your people that we, who are justly punished for our offenses, may be mercifully delivered by Your goodness, for the glory of Your Name; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Savior. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.