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EXODUS13:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2 Sanctify unto me all the firstborn, whatsoever openeth the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and of beast: it is mine. 3 And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten. 4 This day came ye out in the month Abib. 6 Seven days thou shalt eat unleavened bread, and in the seventh day shall be a feast to the LORD. 8 And thou shalt shew thy son in that day, saying, This is done because of that which the LORD did unto me when I came forth out of Egypt."

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To "sanctify" means to "consecrate," to "set apart" from a common to a sacred use. The Egyptians often sacrificed their firstborn to their gods but here God is asking His people to give him the first born child and the first born beast. They were to give Him the first fruits from the fields, also. He still wants us to put Him first today but I'm afraid many of us leave Him until last! The month Abib litterally means "green ear" and would correspond to the month of March. It was the best season for undertaking a journey into the wilderness. The winter was over and the fields would be green. The passover is here instituted as a permanent festival of the Israelites and they were commanded to teach their children the meaning of the feast.

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EXODUS 13:17 "And it came to pass, when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God led them not through the way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near; for God said, Lest peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt: 18 But God led the people about, through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of the land of Egypt. 19 And Moses took the bones of Joseph with him: for he had straitly sworn the children of Israel, saying, God will surely visit you; and ye shall carry up my bones away hence with you. 20 And they took their journey from Succoth, and encamped in Etham, in the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: 22 He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people."

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Notice that verse 17 says that "God" led them out of Egypt! Moses was only their guide, God was the one who actually did the leading. A lot of people are letting a man or a group lead them and many are being led away from God. If the pastor or leaders in your church community are not teaching from the bible then they are not guiding you in the paths of the Lord. They are false teachers and you should not get caught up in their philosophy.

There were two ways from Egypt to Canaan. One was a short cut from the north of Egypt to the south of Canaan, about four or five daysí journey; the other was a lot further through the wilderness and that was the way God chose to lead his people. There are several reasons why God might want to lead them "through the way of the wilderness of the Red sea." One reason is that God had decided the final fate of the Egyptians; they would drown in the red sea. He had Moses lead them there. Another reason might be that He wanted to teach His people humility and also to prove them in the wilderness before giving them the promised Canaan Land. God needed time to teach them His ways and to give them the laws and ordinances they would need in order to worship Him. For Him to be able to speak to them as He needed to, they would have to have solitude and what better place than the desert. God reasoned in verse 17 that He would not take them through the land of the Philistines " peradventure the people repent when they see war, and they return to Egypt." These people had been slaves all their lives. They were not physically or spiritually prepared for war. It would take some training, some tests and some trials before they were ready to go to war. Today, we can't hope to win a single battle against Satan if we never pray, study God's word or go to church. Prayer is the way we communicate with God and the Bible is one way God has of communicating with us. We also need the fellowship of other Christians. Many times we are careful to watch our diet, exercise our bodies and stimulate our minds but we neglect our spirit. God knows what we are capable of and will not allow us to be tempted above what we are able to do! (1 Co. 10:13) It was much better that the Israelites go through the wilderness and prepare to meet the enemy head on. The way God took them allowed them to start out in battle with a less forbiding enemy than the Philistines and work up to the larger, stronger nations who opposed their entry into Canaan. As Joseph instructed before he died, they carried his bones out of Egypt with them.

God went before them in a cloud by day. This was the first appearance of the the shechinah or the divine Majesty, which was typical of Christ. This glory cloud must have been a real inspiration to the children of Israel as they left the only home they had ever known, the only way of life they had ever experienced. They had never been out of Egypt and must have been apprehensive about what was waiting for them. The cloud led them by day and the fire gave them light and comforted them by night. That is just what God wants to do for us today if we will just let Him. He will lead us as we go about our daily tasks and He will be there to comfort us when the darkness comes! Verse 22 says, "He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people." And, though you may not be able to see Him as the Nation of Israel did, He will always be there for you!

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Why do you think God takes His people through the desert sometimes? Has God ever taken you through a desert, or a trial, and shown you why?

I wish you would write to me and tell me your experiences.


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