Read Exodus Chapter 13. After you have read the chapter, read the passages below to help you dive deeper into the Chapter. Conclude in Prayer.
Sanctify to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and animal; it is Mine” (Ex. 13: 2)
Sanctification of the firstborn: "That was the first commandment of the Lord to Moses, directly after the exodus. It is not a command or a commandment, as much as it is a gift and a promise. As by the exodus of the people from bondage, and their setting forth to the higher Jerusalem, the believer enters into the possession of God, to become a living member in His royal Kingdom, saying: “He is Mine” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
Christ; our Firstborn - "God requested the firstborn of man and animals, and later requested also the first fruits of the harvest, vine, and oil. The Lord had been particular in this issue as it is clear in the Books of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. By offering the firstborn to the Lord, the whole lot would be sanctified, as though offered to the Lord. That was a symbol of the Lord Christ, our Firstborn, and the Firstborn and head of all creation (Colossians 1: 15, 18; Romans 8: 29). He presented Himself on our behalf, we, His lowly brothers, offering His life to God the Father as a sacrifice of obedience, and of unblemished love. So we may be accepted by His good Father, as a fragrance of pleasure. Hence, humanity united to Him, and became an object of pleasure and favor to God the Father.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
Unleavened Bread : The leaven refers to “malice and wickedness” (1 Corinthians 5: 7, 8), and to hypocrisy. That is why St. Ambrose advices us, saying, “If people (the Jews) celebrated the feast of Passover by eating unleavened bread for seven days, every Christian is committed to eat of the body of the true lamb, Christ, and to lead a simple holy life all along the seven days, all the days of his life. Be careful to keep away of the old leaven, and do not remain in it, O brethren. According to the warning of the apostle, ‘Purge out the old leaven’ (1 Corinthian 5: 7), that is to say, purify yourself of it. If you kept yourself away from all the evil, so called the old leaven, and fulfilled by faith all your resolutions when you were baptized, then you will be true Christians.” St. Athanasius, the apostolic, comments on the words of the apostle, “Let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5: 8)… “that you put off, concerning your former conduct... that you put on the new creation... we would then be celebrating the feast as we should.” Some fathers like Origen believe that the old Passover was connected to the unleavened bread, so as to keep the believers from getting leavened by the leaven of the world anticipating the new leaven of the Kingdom of God (Matthew 13: 33). It is noteworthy that the Lord Christ, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, used leavened bread, as He carried our sins in His body.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
The wandering of the people - "The people got confused when they found themselves walking in a route different than the one that leads to the land of the Philistines. As they were not yet trained to freedom, God intended to let them go through a bit of training in the wilderness, before they reach the land of freedom, “lest perhaps the people change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt” (Ex. 13: 17).” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
“And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had placed the children of Israel under solemn oath, saying, “Surely God will visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here with you” (Ex. 13: 19)
The bones of Joseph - "It is as though Joseph prophesied that his people would eventually come out of the land of Egypt, and settle down in the land of promise. So his request to them carried a symbol of his yearning for resurrection. He desired for his body to rest in the higher Jerusalem, when he carries the new nature fitting for the heavenly. St. Aphrahat comments on what Moses did saying, [The bones of that righteous man, were to him, far more valuable and better than all the gold and silver that the children of Israel took with them from Egypt, and then corrupted]. The bones of Joseph remained forty years in the wilderness, and when Moses died, Joshua inherited them, and buried them in the land of promise as a treasure.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
“But now, having reached Etham, which, according to the scholar Origen, means a sign, and is the third station at the edge of the wilderness (Ex. 13: 20). It is not possible for the believer to enter into the wilderness with all its passions and temptations, unless he reaches the third station, which is the experience of the resurrection with the Lord Christ, and to have God proclaim Himself to him, supporting him day and night.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
“God 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” (Ex. 13: 21)
"You do not see this sign in Rameses nor in Succoth, during the first and second stages of the journey, but it comes with the third stage, where God’s proclamations begin. Recall what was written, when Moses said to Pharaoh, “We go three days journey into the desert and sacrifice to the Lord our God” (Ex. 5: 3). By that he did not want Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go to where God’s proclamations will be, unless he allows them to proceed to enjoy the secrets of the third day. Listen to what the prophet says about the Lord, “On the third day He will raise us up, and we may live in His sight” (Hosea 6:2). The first day represents the Passions of the Savior. The second day represents His descent to Hades. The third day represents His resurrection. 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. If we follow the apostle’s words, showing us that these signs signify “Baptism,” that whoever is baptized into Christ Jesus, is baptized into His death (Romans 6: 3), and is raised with Him on the third day. The apostle talks about such a man, saying, that God raises him up, and lets him sit together with Him in the “heavenly places (Ephesians 2: 6). Therefore, when you acquire the secret of the third day, you will be led by God, and shown the way to salvation." - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
"If the apostle sees that in the pillar of cloud it gave shadow to the people, (the Baptism, through which we gain the Spirit of adoption by the Holy Spirit), St. Basil, the Great, sees in it, the shadow of the grace of the Holy Spirit, that cools down the flame of our lusts, by putting our members to death. (Colossians 5: 3). By that, the pillar of fire would be a shadow of the enlightenment that we gain through Baptism, to walk along to the way of God the Savior, through the darkness of this life.” - Fr. Tadros Y. Malaty
Heavenly Father, as we have just departed Egypt, we thank You for the Promise of Your Firstborn, Jesus Christ. By Him, we can overcome, and only through Him can we be prepared for entering the waters of the Red Sea, so that we may cross over to the promised land. We know dear God, that this is the purifying water of Baptism, in which we die with Christ, and resurrect again with Him. Through this death dear Father, we resurrect as Your adopted children. It is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us. Please Lord, let us remember how You walked before the people as a pillar of cloud and pillar of light, to protect them and to light their way. By Your Holy Spirit, cover us with the cloud of Your grace, enlighten us with His purifying fire. Amen.
Posted on Sat, December 17, 2016
by Mathew Shehata