Moses gives the children of Israel their first set of instructions outside of Egypt. They center on remembering this moment forever.
All the statutes Moses gives the people now are ones he received in connection with the final plague. He was told of the remembrance observance with unleavened bread prior to the Passover night. But he just received the consecration of the firstborn statute while as Succoth. This would NOT be the end of Israel’s instructions from the Lord but it was a firm beginning.
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Moses and Aaron survey the people. Moses has just shared the message he received from the Lord with Aaron. Now it is time to address the people. So they can be heard by all, Moses had Aaron stand with him on the stone grouping where he had met with the Lord.
Since telling the people that the Lord was going to bring them out of Egypt, Moses and Aaron have only once given them specific directions to follow. That was in preparation for the final plague. Those directions were given to protecting their lives from the plague of the first born by performing the sacrifice exactly as the Lord commanded.
When Moses first came to the children of Israel to deliver God’s message to them they wanted nothing to do with him. They were happy with the message IN THE BEGINNING. But when Pharaoh made it harder on them instead of releasing them, they wanted nothing more to do with Moses. That didn’t stop the Lord working through Moses on their behalf though. Now he was standing here with a freed people. He was contemplating how they were going to react to him sharing the Lord’s commands.
Yes, the people had come to respect that he spoke for the Lord. Yes, they had followed the commands he had delivered from the Lord. But now he was standing before a free people. What were they going to do? Would they still follow him? He REALLY didn’t want this job in the first place, but the Lord wouldn’t let him off. He had a job to do FOR THE LORD. After ALL He had just done for the people, Moses KNEW he could not back down. The people needed the Lord’s leading now more than ever, even if they didn’t see it themselves.
Moses takes a deep breath and then calls for quiet. “People, I need your attention. Quiet down please. The Lord has something He wishes to share with you.” It took several minutes and repeating the call to order three times before there was quiet in the group. Finally all eyes were on Moses and Aaron as they stood before the people.
“Remember this day! This is a momentous day. It is the day the LORD brought you out of the land of Egypt; the land of slavery. He did it with a STRONG HAND. As an observance to Him no leavened bread shall be eaten…”
One person is heard to say, “There isn’t any here to eat even if we wanted to.” There are a few chuckles in the crowd at this remark.
“…Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. And when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which He sword to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month” (verses 4-5)…
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Sorry to interrupt our story but I wanted to point something out to you. When reading today our passage I was struck by the fact that this whole company of people were expecting to move on into the Promised Land at this point in time. They had no idea what lay ahead at the moment but their faith was strong AT THAT MOMENT.
God’s intent was to bring this group into His promises too. AT THAT MOMENT He wasn’t planning to move onto the next generation. His plan included THIS group. He KNEW what lay ahead because He is God, but He was ready to do for THIS group what He had promised all along.
Also, Moses let it be known here that this practice would begin when they reached the Promised Land. He wasn’t expecting it to take 40 years to do so though. I would bet he expected to be celebrating the Passover in the Promised Land the following year.
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“…As a remembrance to the Lord, for seven days you will eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day there will be a feast to the Lord. During this seven days there is to be no leaven found in your homes or even in your territory. This is an observance that you will pass on to your children and your children’s children. And when you teach them to observe this remembrance you will tell them why we do this. You will say to your sons, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ This observance will be as much a part of you as your own hands or foreheads. Your unshackled hands and unbound foreheads will testify of this to you each day. Your mouth will speak of the wonders the Lord has done for you and the laws that He has given you in as His own people…”
Heads are nodding around the congregation as the people contemplate the fact that there are no longer chains or fetters to bind them to the brutal toil that was previously their lot. Spontaneous praise rings out to the Lord from the people. “Praise be the God who has rescued us from our chains.” “Honor belongs to the God of our fathers for ALL He has done!”
Moses and Aaron allow the praise of the people to fill the valley for a while before continuing on. There is more but this praise to the Lord is heartfelt and well earned by Him. As the praise diminishes Moses gathers the people’s attention again.
“The Lord has another statute He intends us to observe. It has to do with the final plague He has just brought. As Egypt lost its first born of man and beast, so the Lord calls for our firstborn of man and beast as His own. You are to consecrate that which first opens the womb of all your flocks and herds. ‘All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord’s. Every firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem. And when in time to come your son asks you, “What does this mean?” you shall say to him, “By a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of animals. Therefore I sacrifice to the Lord all the males that first open the womb, but all the firstborn of my sons I redeem”’ (verses 12b-15). This too shall be as familiar and important as your own hands and foreheads.”
The people were silent following Moses’ last words. They were reflecting on the significance of all that the Lord had done. Moses and Aaron waited in place while the people reflected. Before too long praise again began to fill the air. The people had accepted the Lord’s decrees as well as taking to heart the reasons behind them. Moses breathed a sigh of relief and gave thanks to the Lord himself for this miracle too.
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Thank You Father for redeeming me! Your redemption cost You more than an animal sacrifice; it cost Your Son’s life. But my redemption is in spirit where theirs was in flesh. Mine is for a lifetime and beyond. Mine also covers forgiveness for when I would try and wander “back to Egypt.”
What remembrances do You want me to keep? I love Christmas and Easter but they have changed significantly since my children have grown. I miss making Jesus a birthday cake each Christmas. I still have the birthday cake on my calendar and as an ornament on my tree. Maybe I should go through the Jesse Tree countdown with Steve. Thank You Holy Spirit for reminding me of that tradition. I’m going to do that!