And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the statute of the Passover: no foreigner shall eat of it, 44 but every slave[a] that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him. 45 No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it. 46 It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones. 47 All the congregation of Israel shall keep it. 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. 49 There shall be one law for the native and for the stranger who sojourns among you.”
50 All the people of Israel did just as the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
13 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.”
3 Then Moses said to the people, “Remember this day in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the Lord brought you out from this place. No leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 5 And when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month. 6 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the Lord. 7 Unleavened bread shall be eaten for seven days; no leavened bread shall be seen with you, and no leaven shall be seen with you in all your territory. 8 You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.
11 “When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, as he swore to you and your fathers, and shall give it to you, 12 you shall set apart to the Lord all that first opens the womb. All the firstborn of your animals that are males shall be the Lord‘s. 13 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. 14 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. 15 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.’ 16 It shall be as a mark on your hand or frontlets between your eyes, for by a strong hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”
As we close out chapter 12 and enter into chapter 13 we get further instructions on the Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and the consecration of the firstborn to the LORD, in terms of the continual practice of these things for Israel. We have seen the Passover instructions for THE Passover night in the land of Egypt, and now we see the specific laws surrounding the continual keeping of these events for Israel as they go forward out of the land of Egypt.
Let’s first consider the instructions for the continual keeping of Passover for Israel as we saw them in the last part of chapter 12. The first statute given is in verse 43, “no foreigner shall eat of it.” And then the following verses are going to qualify and explain that statute and what is meant by it. Immediately following in verse 44 it says, “but every slave that is bought for money may eat of it after you have circumcised him.” Allow me to pause here and briefly say that as we go through Exodus, we will address the slavery issue head on, but that is not what we’re going to do today, as this passage simply mentions slaves in passing. We will get to all kinds of laws concerning slaves and deal with that issue. But we’re not going to get caught up in that today, I simply charge you to take the Word of God and not be ashamed of it, and look to the point that is being made here as we will see today.
So back to the point. No foreigners may eat the Passover, but purchased slaves that have been circumcised may eat the Passover. Now a purchased slave here would not be speaking about an Israelite who had entered into indentured servitude or something like that. A purchased slave, would be a foreigner that was purchased. So foreigners are not allowed to participate in Passover, except if you have purchased a foreign slave who has been circumcised, they may. Now why is this? Why a purchased circumcised slave, and not a free foreigner? One reason is that such purchased slaves were then considered as part of the household. They were not mere property or animals, they were part of the household. In other word, a slave who has become part of a new household, is no longer a foreigner. Even though he still comes from a different ethnicity and bloodline, he is now considered part of a new Israelite household, no longer a true foreigner. Secondly, he had to be circumcised as well, which at this point I still think goes back to the Abrahamic covenant of circumcision. So in other words he is now in the covenant. So such a one is no longer a foreigner, but he is part of an Israelite household and a circumcision covenant member. This is different from what we see in verse 45, where it says, “No foreigner or hired worker may eat of it.” So if someone is a foreigner and they’ve rolled into Israel with a work visa and they are just there to work and conduct business, they may not eat of it. They are a foreigner, even if they are employed and hired to work for an Israelite, that is different than a purchased slave.
But that’s not all. Verse 48 describes a situation where there is a foreigner who is sojourning or living amongst the Israelites, and maybe he really likes sojourning among them. Maybe he’s really benefited from them and appreciates their laws and reveres their God, and he decides he wants to participate in the Passover. Well he is not allowed to just do that, but if he truly wants to, then he and all the males of his household, must first be circumcised and then they may participate. Then it says in verse 48, “he shall be as a native of the land.” So he is circumcised and then has become as a native. He is considered a native and no longer a foreigner.
So all these instructions boil down to the fact of circumcision. Basically, if anyone wants to participate in the Passover, they must be circumcised. In other words, they must enter the covenant. Passover was for God’s covenant people. So the prohibition against foreigners was not so much about being a different ethnicity, it was about being outside the covenant, and thus not having the blood shed in circumcision. Bloodshed was a requirement, just like it was necessary to have blood on the doorposts in the Passover. No blood on the doorposts, no Passover. No circumcision, no Passover.
Furthermore, I would add, that because the Passover animal was a sacrifice, I believe that the nature of the atonement of Christ is also typified in the exclusivity of who could participate in the Passover. It was limited to those who had the blood. I think that typifies the limited nature of the atonement, or the efficient nature of the atonement – that it is for those for whom the blood is directly applied. Or another way to look at it is to see this typologically showing the exclusivity of Christ. Only those who have His blood applied to them are passed over by the wrath of God. Christ is the only way you may be passed over by divine wrath. And strangers and enemies to God may come into the church, and become a part of the people of God only through the blood of Jesus Christ, and thus are no longer enemies and outsiders.
Speaking of the sacrifice of Christ, verse 46 tells us that the Passover animal must be eaten within the house, and it says, “you shall not break any of its bones.” Now we don’t see this talked about a lot in the Bible, but it is talked about in a few prominent places. Obviously here in the Passover, which is very prominent. As a Passover statute to not break any of the animal’s bones, this would have been on the minds of every generation of Israelites that kept the Passover. It would’ve been something they were constantly reminded of, not just one random law that is easily forgotten. But then it shows up again in another prominent place. And that is in the Psalter, which later generations would sing and know as part of the book of Praises. Psalm 34:19-20, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones; not one of them is broken.” So what begins in Exodus, as a picture of the Passover Lamb, that its bones are not to be broken, develops into a picture of a righteous man in the Psalms, where God will keep the bones of the righteous man. This development helps set up the picture of a righteous man who is the Lamb of God, whose bones are not broken. And this is what the Apostle John picks up on. John 19:31-36 says this, “Since it was the day of Preparation, and so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken and that they might be taken away. So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”
So the fact that John says Jesus’ legs were not broken in order to fulfill the Scripture tells us that we need to read and understand the Passover as being about Christ, and the Psalms as being about Christ. The Passover instructions and that Psalm are not directly spoken as formal prophecies, yet Christ is said to have fulfilled them.
The Jews of Jesus’ day should’ve seen what John was teaching – “Christ’s bones were not broken because He is our Passover Lamb!” A remnant of those Jews believed, but many rejected their Passover Lamb – that was given first to the Jew! But as His own received Him not, the gospel went out to the highways and the byways and strangers, foreigners, and sojourners were brought in to the feast to eat, to have this Christ, our Passover Lamb. Many of us were brought in, having our hearts circumcised in regeneration and receiving Christ as our own, joining His household and His people.
Consecration to the LORD
After these Passover instructions, chapter 13 begins, “The Lord said to Moses, “Consecrate to me all the firstborn. Whatever is the first to open the womb among the people of Israel, both of man and of beast, is mine.” So here God lays out His claim of true authority and ownership as the sovereign and God of His people. The firstborn of man and beast that is consecrated to the LORD, is representative of the whole belonging to the LORD. The Passover brought the people out of Egypt, out from under Pharaoh, and consecration sets them apart now to the LORD – they belong to Him and Him alone. It is the LORD they must follow and obey, they are no longer in Egypt under Pharaoh. The connection of the Passover and Consecration was to remind the people of this – Pharaoh and the Egyptian gods are no longer over them, instead they belong to Yahweh. He has the rightful claim of authority on them. Then the following verses explain the continued practice of the feast of unleavened bread as they enter into the land God is giving them. Then after that in verse 11-16 are instructions for consecrating sacrifices. Now we might ask, why are the instructions concerning unleavened bread stuck in between the instructions for consecration in verse 1-2 and verse 11-16? One is the simple connection between the Passover and unleavened bread. But second, the theme of unleavened bread shows us the theme of Passover and consecration to the LORD – remove the leaven of Egypt, because God is giving you a new land. Depart with the old, because God is giving you something better.
So let’s look at the consecration instructions in verse 11-16. Every firstborn male of animal and man is the LORD’s. In verse 13 God gives the people a choice. Every firstborn male donkey, they can redeem with a lamb. So if they wanted to keep the donkey, they can redeem it through the sacrifice of a lamb and keep the donkey. Or, if they preferred, they could give the firstborn donkey to the LORD by breaking its neck. So when it comes to the animals, an animal would have to die, as a sacrifice consecrated to the LORD. They could choose to redeem an animal, but it would be redeemed only through the death of another on its behalf.
Then verse 13 says, “Every firstborn of man among your sons you shall redeem.” So when it comes to every firstborn son, God does not allow child sacrifice. He requires their redemption, which means, they would be redeemed through the sacrifice of another, of a lamb on their behalf. So God does not take their sons for sacrifice. He is not like the other gods. He is not like Pharaoh who sought to slow their growth and remain dominant over them. God desired their multiplication and growth. He wanted to give them the historical future and victory over other peoples whose gods, like Molech, demanded their children in sacrifice to him. God’s plan was for His people to take dominion through life under Him. But when Israel rebelled at various times and turned to giving their children to Molech and forsook their God, they did not achieve dominion and success apart from God, but their idolatry led to their diminishing and demise against other nations. By way of application, so many Christians today have offered their children up to other gods, by giving them to an unbelieving state for their education, or by offering them up to the god of sport, or things like that. In so doing, they are losing out on the future, historically. The way we would “consecrate” our children today, so to speak, is by making sure they are taught and discipled in the ways of God in the home and in Church participation. It’s by making sure they are receiving a distinctly Christian education and worldview training, and that their lives are properly ordered around God.
You will also have Christians today who believe in baptizing their infants as setting apart their children for God. Now we believe they are in great error in doing so. And that is a huge discussion, as you know. But suffice it to say that when we are dealing with New Covenant ordinances, we look to the New Testament for instruction on its ordinances, and when we do, we find no such instruction. They would make other arguments of course, but when it comes to the issue of consecration in this passage, it is about God’s salvation in the Exodus, and preeminently about Christ, not a New Covenant ordinance. So to that let us proceed.
Why was it about the firstborn here? Verse 14-16 tells us, “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.’” So it was to show them that the price of rebellion and sin was death. And through the death of firstborn males comes redemption.
Now consider our Lord. In Luke chapter 2 it tells us of the birth of Christ, in verse 7 it says that Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, then it says in verse 21-23, “And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every male who first opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord”).” So Jesus was the firstborn from Mary’s womb, circumcised and consecrated according to the law, holy unto the Lord. But this Jesus, who was born under the law, in accordance with the law, would be the firstborn to redeem men from the law. This Jesus was the firstborn son that was sacrificed to redeem all the sons of God, that there would be no more need for consecration sacrifices.
Think also of the significance of the firstborn. Being the firstborn son came with all sorts of responsibilities and rights. Typically they would receive the inheritance or the main portion of it. When the parents died, the firstborn son would be given all sorts of responsibilities of decisions and care for the rest of the household. Not only was Jesus the firstborn of Mary, but He is God’s only begotten Son, He is called the firstborn from the dead. As God’s only Son, the Father puts all things into His hand. And in our union with Christ, He is our elder brother, who procures and provides all things for us. We have all things in Him. Romans chapter 8 talks about all the glorious things that we have in Christ as sons of God, that we are heirs with Him, and verse 29 says, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” So Christ is the firstborn, and we are the many brothers that are heirs with and in Him.
Colossians 1:15-18, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” So the rights of the firstborn points to the preeminence of Christ and all that we have in Him as our elder brother.
Considering our text in Exodus again, the firstborn male donkey, the firstborn sons, were redeemed with a lamb. I mentioned a few weeks ago how the lamb represented the son, in that the lamb died on behalf of the son, in the place and stead of the sons. And Jesus is the firstborn, who is the Lamb of God, that dies in the place of and on behalf of all the sons of God, to redeem them. We are redeemed with a Lamb. And God is fully satisfied with the death of His Spotless Son on behalf of all of His redeemed sons.
So when we consider the statutes concerning the Passover, circumcision, consecration, unleavened bread, and so on, we understand that we are no longer under them. Through them we learn of Christ, who fulfills all of these things, and puts an end to them, and we are redeemed through Him, and we are to have faith that He is enough. So these laws are no longer in effect for anyone to keep, because Christ fulfilled them and we are in the New Covenant. The New Covenant is better because we read these things and are spurred on to faith in Christ, not to keeping these shadowy ceremonies.
The New Covenant is better, for man-made circumcision is not required. Instead, we receive circumcision of the heart (regeneration), which is a work of the Holy Spirit, which is all of grace. It is a gift of grace, and not a work of the hand. Blood no longer is to be spilled, for Christ’s blood was spilt for us, which speaks a better word.
The New Covenant is better because we can keep our yeast and our starters going on as long as we want. There is no literal land we must purge from our homes, nor is there a literal promised land that is better that we must get our leaven from. The whole earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. All the earth has been given to Christ and He has authority over all of it for us to take dominion in.
The New Covenant is better because we no longer have to sacrifice the firstborn of our livestock, or break our donkey’s necks, or sacrifice our sheep on behalf of others. Instead, God gives them to us to keep and to use as we see fit under His authority. All that we have certainly still belongs to the Lord, but He no longer requires blood, death, and sacrifice in return, for He has supplied all of that Himself, through the sacrifice of His Son, the Lamb of God. We simply make sacrifices of praise to God for all He has done for us and given to us. And we present our bodies as a living sacrifice, living unto God, not putting to death. Certainly we also still give materially to the Lord, but it is not a sacrifice for sin or for wrath appeasement, Christ gave all that was necessary for that. Instead, we give generously and from a cheerful heart from what God has given us. And how could our hearts not be filled with gratitude in knowing that all this and more is what God has freely given to us in Christ?