These small group studies of Exodus contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Exodus 13 Inductive Bible Study
- Consecrate the first born males (1-2)
- Reminder to celebrate the feast of unleavened bread (3-10)
- Details for consecrating the first born male (11-16)
- Leaving the land Egypt (17-22)
What does it mean to consecrate? Why did these belong to God? What about the rest of them?
Why the animals?
- To consecrate is to clean something or set apart something for the purpose of dedicating it to the Lord. This practice to dedicate the firstborn son is something like believers’ practice to dedicate babies to the Lord. Do you know what is baby dedication? What is the purpose? Why do parents do it?
- They were to consecrate their firstborn sons because these belonged to God. It doesn’t mean that the rest didn’t belong to God, but these belonged to God in a special way. They were spared judgment and saved because of God’s mercy. Also there is a general biblical principle that people are to give the first and best to the Lord. See Proverbs 3:9-10. We will discuss more about this consecration starting in verse 11.
Why should they remember this time of suffering? What kind of effect do you think remembering their time of slavery could have on them?
As Christians, what should we remember? What kind of effect might it have on us if we remember God saving us from our former lives of sin?
Who remembers what is leaven and why they weren’t allowed to eat it?
What does it mean that the land would be flowing with milk and honey?
Why do you think God repeats so many times to teach their sons about what has happened? Did the Israelites do this? What application can we get from this?
What does verse 9 mean “sign on your hand and reminder on your forehead”?
- These verses are yet another reminder to them to celebrate the feast of unleavened bread as a memorial for all generations. Remember that when they were leaving Egypt the bread didn’t have time to ferment/leaven, so this festival was a way to recall their thoughts back to the Exodus. They celebrated the feast not actually by feasting, but by essentially fasting from the better food. This was a way to focus their thoughts on what God had done for them.
- God brought them out by His strength. This is very clearly illustrated with the plagues. The Israelites didn’t do anything. They didn’t fight. They didn’t struggle. They didn’t run away. They didn’t even vote. Moses and Aaron were spokesmen who raised the staff and pronounced warnings and judgments, but it was God’s strength that brought about victory. God could have chosen any number of ways to save them from Egypt, including war. But He chose this way, one likely reason is because this way they would be more humble and more grateful. If it was because of their great numbers winning a military victory they may have become more boastful. We should always remember that no matter what successes come in our lives, they are due to God’s strength. Man plans his ways, but the Lord directs his steps. Sometimes this is not as obvious as it was in Exodus, but it is always just as true.
- The land would be a land flowing with milk and honey. This is clearly figurative language and not literal. They didn’t have to wade through honey or swim in milk when they got to the land. The milk would spoil and the honey would attract bees 🙂 JK. No, this figurative language means that the land would be abundant and plentiful, things that the Israelites discovered was quite accurate later in Numbers 13:23-27. The land was very fertile. It produced good fruit and good crops. God wanted to provide the best for His people.
- Here is yet another mention of teaching one’s sons about this festival. The things we see again and again in Scripture are important. God repeated this point multiple times because He wanted them to do it.
- The Israelites took verses like verse 9 quite literally, and they did and do things like binding Scripture onto their heads, wrists, and doorways. This kind of thing ended up turning into empty rituals for many where they honored God on the outside, but didn’t honor Him with their hearts (they honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.) See also Proverbs 3:3-4. We might think it is funny to do things like that, but Christians may have a lot of empty rituals too. I don’t know about you, but I know sometimes I do something out of habit, but my heart is not in it. Any examples? For me, I notice sometimes when I pray before I meal I catch myself reciting the same prayer every time and reciting it quickly so that I can start eating! To truly honor God before a meal from my heart I should slow down and instead of reciting something (like the Pharisees) speak to God from my heart with gratitude about what He has done for me and provided for me.
- This festival wasn’t something they were to do once and then forget. It was to be repeated every year. This section of Scripture is a good support for Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter, Good Friday, etc, which we celebrate every year to remember what Christ has done for us. But we should also remember to be serious and sincere when we celebrate and not turn these holidays into merely secular entertainment and parties.
Who did God swear to that He would give this land to the Israelites? Where can you find these promises?
How to present to the Lord every firstborn male?
What does the word redeem mean? Why was it necessary to redeem animals and the sons? What was to be done to the animal if not redeemed? Can we find any New Testament parallel to this? So who did the redeemed belong to? Who do we belong to? Why?
How do you think knowing that they could have died, but were saved by God, effected the lives of those who were redeemed?
How should the knowledge that God has redeemed us, allowing us to live, effect us?
How can we be consecrated to the Lord? What word similar to consecrated is often used in the NT?
How can we pass on this knowledge to the people around us and the younger generation?”
- The firstborn males, human and animal, belonged to the Lord. Technically everything belongs to the Lord, but as we mentioned earlier these belonged to God in a special way. He spared them from the judgment that everyone deserved and which the Egyptians got. He spared them because of the belief and action of their families in sacrificing the passover lambs. He could rightfully judge them for their sins unless something was sacrificed in their places. That was the passover lamb. This was their substitute. And it was a reminder of God’s justice and the high cost of sin.
- These firstborn sons were to be redeemed. Even after this, when parents had a firstborn son they were to redeem them (I think with a sheep or a pair of birds if they were too poor to afford a sheep). This was a reminder to the parents that the child belonged to God and would be devoted to God. It was a reminder of the high cost of sin. It was a reminder of what God had done for the Israelites back in Egypt. For the animals there was an option to either redeem the animal with another animal or kill the animal. For their sons, they had to redeem all of them. What does this show? Firstly, it shows us God values human lives more than animals. It wasn’t an option just to kill the sons and not redeem them. Secondly, it shows us God’s heart. He wanted to redeem the. He wanted to save them. He wanted to show them mercy. He did not desire to judge or kill them. He is a merciful God.
- At that time the firstborn sons were consecrated to the Lord and redeemed temporarily by a sheep or other sacrifice. Now God has redeemed us through His own Son. We are redeemed permanently. He has bought and paid for us. Just as the Israelites’ sons belonged to God, so we belong to God. Just as they were to consecrate themselves to the Lord and devote themselves to Him so we are.,
- As believers, we are to be sanctified. This is the NT word similar to the OT concept of consecration. Both have the concept of being set apart to the Lord. We are to be set apart to the Lord, to live our lives for Him in everything we do. 1 John 2:15. How can you be sanctified in your own life? What can you do to be set apart to God? 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. God has bought us. We belong to Him. We can never pay the debt back, but we can faithfully serve Him because of what He has done for us. We should not have forgetful memories though. Many of the same Israelites that were saved by God from Egypt shortly afterward started complaining and doubting.
See Numbers 6:1-8 for more on consecration.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace,”
Ephesians 1:7 ESV
“In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
Colossians 1:14 ESV
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4 For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that ye should abstain from fornication: That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour;
Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.
Ephesians 5:7-9 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;)
2 Timothy 2:21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Leviticus 27:14-16 And when a man shall sanctify his house to be holy unto the LORD, then the priest shall estimate it, whether it be good or bad: as the priest shall estimate it, so shall it stand. And if he that sanctified it will redeem his house, then he shall add the fifth part of the money of thy estimation unto it, and it shall be his. And if a man shall sanctify unto the LORD some part of a field of his possession, then thy estimation shall be according to the seed thereof: an homer of barley seed shall be valued at fifty shekels of silver.
Why did God not lead them directly to the Promised Land? What does this show us about His character? How about the Israelite’s character?
What lessons can we learn from this about God’s plans for us? About God’s knowledge of us? What do you think the Israelites though of this idea?
Why did Joseph want his bones taken back? What did the fact that he made this request show about his understanding of Israel’s future?
What was the purpose of the pillar of cloud? Fire? What was the cloud for? Why is fire often associated with God’s holiness? Can you think of any verses related to fire and holiness?
- John 2:23-25. Jesus knew what was in man. God created us and knows what is in us. He knew the weakness of the Israelites. He knew their doubts and their shallow faith. He knew that at the first sign of war they would want to flee back to the safety of Egypt. We saw that even after they were in the wilderness a while, when Moses sent spies in to the land, 10 of them came back afraid to go in and all the people sided with them. That was after God did even more miracles.
- I think we can learn from this that God may not always lead us the easiest or quickest way or the way that makes the most sense to us. I’m pretty sure a lot of Israelites were wondering where they were going. “Hey, Moses, need a map?” They would have been confused. Yet God had a purpose and a reason. Sometimes in our own lives we might face similar situations. We might wonder why God doesn’t give us the job we want, the spouse we want, the kids we want, the house we want, or whatever when we want. Why not let me be successful the first time? God has His reasons. We don’t always know them. In this verse, we have a rare look into what God is thinking, an editorial commentary on the situation.
- Moses followed the request of Joseph made hundreds of years before to return his bones to the land of Canaan. This request showed great foresight by Joseph in understanding that they would return again. It also shows that his heart was in Israel although his wealth and position was in Egypt. He realized that he was a sojourner in a foreign land for a time to complete a purpose God had for Him. In a similar way, we are sojourners in a foreign land (earth) for a period of time to complete the purpose God has for us. Where is your heart? Here or in heaven with God?
- God led them. God would not leave or abandon them. He didn’t just get them out of Egypt and then say, “Now you are on your own. Good luck.” God finishes what He starts. This applies to our salvation and it applies to His plans for our lives and it applies to His creation of the world. He said that He is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Start to follow Him and you will not be disappointed. Also this is a physical examples of the many promises in the Bible that tell us God will lead and guide us. He may not use a pillar of cloud or fire today, but the Bible and Holy Spirit are even better.
- The cloud was likely meant to cover God’s glory since His holiness would mean instant death for anyone who saw Him. This is a reminder about the holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. Fire is similar. Fire purifies and cleanses. Also at night it would act as a light to lead the people of Israel.
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