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The sacred historian continues the interesting, history of Israel's deliverance from Egypt. The Lord commands that all the first born of Israel shall be sanctified to him from the womb, that it may be a standing monument in the church throughout all ages of the Lord's delivering his people from this bondage. The ordination of the feast of unleavened bread: the transmission of these great things to be in the instruction of their children; the first fruits of their cattle are appointed as a token of tribute to the Lord: and in cases of redemption, how to be redeemed. These points being settled, the relation of Israel's journey is reassumed. The Lord points out their way, and guides them by a pillar of cloud going before them. The children of Israel carry up the bones of Joseph with them as they had promised.
Was not this sanctifying, or setting apart the firstborn, intended principally to shadow forth a gospel mercy! Jesus the first-born among many brethren, was set apart by God. See John 17:19 ; Romans 8:29 . And hence is not the church of believers called the Church of the firstborn? Hebrews 12:23 .
One might have thought that that generation at least would never have been in danger of forgetting this deliverance. But alas! man in all ages needs memorandums of mercies to be continually brought before him. Hence the Lord graciously instituted the feast of unleavened bread. Reader! Are you and I in danger of forgetting our spiritual deliverance from Egypt by the Lord Jesus Christ? Did not our Lord institute his Holy Supper to this very end, that we might remember him? Luke 22:19 .
Reader! Fail not to observe, that both the bringing out of Egypt, and the bringing into the promised land, are ascribed wholly to God. And is not every step in our salvation the same? Ephesians 2:4-9 .
Observe the entire and complete state here figured out of a sanctified soul. There must not be the least portion of leaven. So far from mixing it in the offering, it was not even to be seen. It is said that the Jews were so exceedingly tenacious on this point that before the feast day they searched the house diligently lest there should be anything leavened under their roof, which their eyes might behold on that day. Oh! that the Writer and Reader were both so earnest in their spiritual examinations. I would say with David, Lord! Cleanse thou me from secret faults. Psalms 19:12 .
Who is there so earnest as is here enjoined concerning the instruction of his children? Reader! When you and I go to the altar of Jesus, and after celebrating that precious ordinance, when we return do we say to our children, This is done because of that which the Lord hath done for me? Oh! How very deficient are we in celebrating the praises of the Lord! And yet what subject upon earth so sweet, so important, so edifying. See a lovely picture of this kind Deuteronomy 6:6-9 .
See Exodus 22:30 ; Numbers 18:17-18 . These things evidently shadowed forth what Paul explains more fully. Romans 8:20-22 . Hence every unclean beast was to be redeemed or destroyed.
Here again to show the importance of the doctrine, precepts are given for the instruction of the rising generation, that in the ages to come the subject might not be lost. Reader, observe how the Israelite is taught to ascribe salvation wholly to the Lord. And shall not you and I? Psalms 3:8 .
If the map be consulted which points to the situation of Canaan, it will appear that from Egypt, the direct road was from the northern part of Egypt to the southern part of Canaan, and this was a short way of not above a week's journey. But then the Philistines, a warlike people, occupied the intermediate land. The Lord therefore caused the people to go a long circuitous way. See Psalms 107:1-7 . Besides the wisdom of this, there was much mercy in it also. Egypt was to be destroyed. See Exodus 9:15-16 . And therefore the Red Sea was to be made a port of safety to Israel, and the grave of Egypt. See Exodus 14:3-4 . Neither was this all. Israel was to be proved by a wilderness state before entering upon the promised land. See Deuteronomy 8:2 ; Exodus 3:12 .
Is not the harnessed state of Israel alluded to in a spiritual sense concerning the church, when described as an army with banners coming up out of the wilderness? Song 1-8. But the margin here reads by five in a rank.
Genesis 50:25-26 with Hebrews 11:22
The Holy Ghost by his servant Paul hath given us sufficient authority to explain this pillar of cloud, this Shechinah, in express application to the Lord Jesus Christ, the great angel of the Covenant. 1 Corinthians 10:1-9 . And so again by Stephen in his sermon, who as expressly saith, that Christ was in the church in the wilderness, Acts 7:37-38 . See Micah 2:13 . And who but Jesus goeth before his people now? The church in the wilderness enjoyed this standing miracle it is true, with their bodily eyes. But the precious manifestations now are not less certain. It is a voice behind us, or rather within us, saying, "This is the way" Isaiah 30:21 .
Psalms 78:14 . And is it not as constant, sure, and abiding now? Matthew 28:20 ; Psalms 121:4-8 ; Isaiah 4:5 .
Lord! Let all thy distinguishing mercies, (like those which were granted to Israel,) by which thou dost manifest thy love to my soul, be so deeply impressed upon my unthinking and forgetful heart, that by thy power they may live in my constant remembrance. And I would yet further pray concerning them, that the more distinguishing thy tokens of love in them are, the more sweetly they may be held in my esteem. Will my God also grant me grace, to be not eating my morsel alone; and while commemorating his mercies in redemption to my soul, hide the knowledge of it from those around me. But Lord make me communicative, in imparting the glad tidings to others. Chiefly may I remember thy precept, and teach my children, and my children's children, how by strength of hand, the Lord hath brought me out of worse than Egyptian bondage, even of sin and death. And since, Lord, thou hast been so gracious, as to bring me out, and art bringing me through the wilderness, I know that thou wilt bring me in to see that good land, which is the glory of all lands, even the goodly mountain and Lebanon. Dearest Jesus! during this wilderness state, and while exercised with wilderness dispensations, ever give me to see, that however rough and thorny the way, still it is the right way, to the city of habitation. Be thou my pillar of cloud by day, going before me in grace and wisdom, to direct: and be thou my pillar of fire by night, to surround me, and screen me from all danger. Lord, I would humbly cast myself upon thy care, for, like Israel, hitherto thou hast borne me as upon eagle's wings. Lord bring me home at length safely unto Canaan, that where thou art I may come, to behold thy glory, and to dwell before thee forever.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Exodus 13". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany