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In Exodus chapter 13 we read about God's instructions for the dedication of the firstborn. Note that based on this law that Jesus, the firstborn of Mary & Joseph, was dedicated to God in the Temple in Jerusalem as we see in Luke chapter 2 verses 21 through 24: "On the eighth day, when it was time to circumcise him, he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived. When the time of their purification according to the Law of Moses had been completed, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the Law of the Lord, “Every firstborn male is to be consecrated to the Lord”), and to offer a sacrifice in keeping with what is said in the Law of the Lord: “a pair of doves or two young pigeons.”" I think it's also interesting to note that Mary & Joseph did not present a lamb, but a pair of doves or two young pigeons. This portion of the law came from Leviticus chapter 12 verse 8: "If she cannot afford a lamb, she is to bring two doves or two young pigeons, one for a burnt offering and the other for a sin offering."" Below is an image of Jesus being dedicated in the temple:
Today in Exodus chapter 13 verse 17 we read what I found to be an intriguing verse: "When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them on the road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest way from Egypt to the Promised Land. God said, "If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." That last sentence really stood out to me. It makes sense. It was wise for God to do this. But... then I think about our lives today. What if we are faced with a challenging spiritual battle our lives? Will we change our minds about God and return to our "Egypts"? Our Egypts might be the places where we are / were comfortable - enslaved to a sin though we may have been. As I think more about this, I do believe that God is sensitive in our lives, just as he was in the Israelites lives in this verse, as to what we can handle. I do not think he will send us a temptation or a trial greater than we can bear. But I also know that trials do come. And I pray that as the trials come, that we don't go back to our "Egypts"! but that we press on toward the "Promised Land". Below are a couple of maps - both showing the "traditional" routes of the Exodus. There have been some other routes suggested in recent years - if anyone has thoughts/info on these alternate routes, please post up in the Comments below.
In verse 21 we read: "The LORD guided them by a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. That way they could travel whether it was day or night." Do you sing in your church the worship song, "Lord you're leading me. With a cloud by day. And in the night. Glow of a burning flame. Everywhere I go I see you. Everywhere I go I see you."? I LOVE this song - and today we read about where this song came from. (I think this song is on one of Michael W Smith's Worship CD's as well) God's presence was made manifest among the Israelites in the cloud by day:
And in the pillar of fire by night:
Imagine seeing these pillars of cloud by day or fire by night and being led by God out of Egypt and in the desert! And then in Exodus chapter 14 we read about the parting of the Red Sea. Great commentary on Exodus chapter 14 and the Red Sea is at bible.org at this link.
In Exodus chapter 15 we read an amazing song that Moses and the Israelites sing to God after passing safely through the Red Sea! Some commentaries say that this is the oldest recorded song in the world! Music played an important part in Israel’s celebration and worship. Does music play an important part in your celebration and worship of God? (I know not everyone is musically inclined, so don’t feel bad if this is not a yes.) In what ways does worship music manifest itself in your life? In church, do you really sing the songs to God and God only? And not worry about what your voice sounds like to your neighbors? In your car, do you ever bust out with some loud and true worship singing to God? How do you typically "sing" your praise to the Lord? (couldn't resist this photo below... :)
The other comment to make on the song in chapter 15 is that this song seems to be a very significant development in the relationship of the people of Israel and God. The people of Israel now seem to really embrace and worship God as their God as we see in verse 2: "The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my victory. He is my God, and I will praise him; he is my father's God, and I will exalt him!" Wow... I love that language. Is God your strength? And your song? Commentary on The Song of the Sea and Exodus chapter 15 is at bible.org at this link.
Worship Video: Today's readings in Exodus remind me of Sara Groves song "Painting Pictures of Egypt:"
Have you been painting pictures of Egypt? Click here and paint no more!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will exalt him." Exodus 15:2 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you would not want to return to your "Egypt" - whatever that might be. Pray that you would keep your eyes, mind and heart fully on Jesus and His Promised Land ahead.
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Back to my reflections above on music from the song in Exodus 15 - One thing I personally struggle with is listening to worship / Christian music versus secular music. I grew up listening to all the 80’s / early 90’s bands you could think of. And I have come to realize that many of the lyrics from these bands are really full of hopelessness, existentialism, sexuality, addiction, narcissism, etc. And yet, for some reason I typically still like the tunes... I had one friend tell me that after he became a Christian he literally threw away most of his CD collection - which was all secular CD's. I guess I still sometimes struggle with being in the world and not of the world. What do you think is the line of listening to / enjoying secular music, versus it literally being bad for you? Please let me know your thoughts on secular music - do you listen to it? Do you avoid it? Are you cautious about it in any way? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
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