Exodus 13 & 14
13:1-2. “Consecrate to me all the first-born”. This means males and the reason should be obvious. The Egyptians were killing every male born to the Israelites, and God had just caused the angel of death to pass over the homes marked with the blood of the lamb and keep safe the first born sons of the Israelites. These first born sons, then, are owed to God, and God commands that they be consecrated to Himself.
“Consecration to God” means to set apart a person for God’s use, and not for normal use. The first born sons are, then, clearly recognized as priests for their families. There will we a subtle modification to this before too long.....
Priests, traditionally, offer sacrifice and prayers on behalf of others. “Preaching” is just one of many roles for Catholic priests, while it is often the main or even exclusive role for non-Catholic “ministers”.
12:3-10. “Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage.....”.
In what way do you “remember” the American Revolution? I remember many things I’ve read and what my teachers told me. I remember seeing the place where George and his friends crossed the Delaware, and even the tree where they hanged the spies who ratted out their plans to the Hessian soldiers who ignored their warning and ended up dead. But to “remember” in the sense meant in the Bible and the Church, I must really identify with the soldiers and join in the saving victory. I suffer under the intolerable taxes without any voice in government. I must board in my home foreign soldiers who prevent me from owning military style guns to protect myself. I am saved from all this and more by George and his good friends — today — not just in 1776.
(By the way, “Washington’s Crossing” is in my old High School district!
And, the spies were hanged 2 blocks from my high school.)
As future generations “Remember”, they realize that God’s saving work continues today, as God makes us present to the saving work of old. God is outside of time, and in observing the family based Passover meal the Israelites enter the same event. They personally have been slaves in Egypt — not only those people who lived long ago. God leads them into freedom — not only their ancestors. God makes us members of His household as we “remember”. This is what Jesus meant when saying “Do this in remembrance of me.” — He was celebrating this Passover meal.
Ex 12:11-16. Here the firstborn “sons” are redeemed — not consecrated! The consecrated become priests for the community. The “redeemed” are not killed, but in their place another is offered to God. Notice that “redemption” is for humans and cattle. They must either redeem their ass with a lamb, or break its neck. The firstborn “sons” of the Egyptians’ cattle were also killed, so the Israelites owe a debt of gratitude.
Ex 13:15-22. We learn that Moses did something else in preparing for the first Passover — he got hold of Joseph’s bones to carry back to Israel to be buried with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The other 11 sons of Jacob don’t get this honor.
Also, note that God is predicting that the Israelites will be tempted to “repent when they see war, and return to Egypt”. Here “repent” means “turn back to a life of sin”! Rather an unusual meaning, as it usually means “turn back to God and His ways.”
We see that Pharaoh has gotten angry, and tries to “un-send” away the brick makers!
Some of the Israelites start saying what will be repeated many times “Why did Moses bring us out here to die — we’d be better off as slaves....”. Watch for this.
What does this mean for us? We turn away from sin, and Satan keeps watching for opportunities to turn us back to sin. We must remain vigilant!
The Red Sea parts and the Israelites march through, but the Egyptians who pursue get stuck and many drowned. This is the “Baptism” of the Israelites, and prefigures our own. Water brings death to the Egyptians while saving the lives of the Israelites from the deadly Egyptian army. Our baptism is a death to sin so that we can live for God.
Note that every Israelite now owes their lives to God, not just the first-born sons.....
Fr Jim Dubrouillet
on Tuesday, March 24 at 6:00AM