Beginning in Exodus chapter 12, the Passover, which we have thus far covered over four sermons, has been the central event in focus. Next week we arrive at one last Passover text in chapter 13:1-2 and 11-16, wherein the Lord saves the firstborn of the Israelites while judging the Egyptians by taking the lives of their firstborn (12:29). After saving the firstborn of Israel and those within their doors, the Lord then declared to Moses that they were to be set apart: “Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine’” (13:1-2). The word “consecrate” in the original is ‘Kadash,’ meaning ‘to be set apart,’ in this context, unto the Lord. What is this referring to? The firstborn who are consecrated may refer to the priests of Exodus 19:22: “And let the priests also, which come near to the Lord, sanctify themselves, lest the Lord break forth upon them.” We find these priests serving the Lord by making burnt offerings unto God in Exodus 24:5; this ministry is later taken over by the sons of Levi.
Interestingly in verses 11-16, Moses gives us further insight on the firstborn, as all of the firstborn animals were to be given to God as a sacrificial offering upon entering the Promised Land. But one animal, the donkey, along with man, was singled out to be redeemed. “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” (13:13). As a ceremonially unclean animal, the donkey most likely represents all unclean animals. But man is also mentioned; like the unclean donkey, man was also to be redeemed. Although our text doesn’t specify the redemption price, Numbers 18:15-16 does: “Everything that first opens the womb of all flesh, which they bring to the Lord, whether man or beast, shall be yours; nevertheless the firstborn of man you shall surely redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. And those redeemed of the devoted things you shall redeem when one month old, according to your valuation, for five shekels of silver.”
Redemption is costly. There was a price paid at the Passover – the life of an unblemished Lamb and the redemption price of the firstborn consecrated to the Lord. All this points to the firstborn of all creation (Col 1:15), Jesus Christ, who paid the ultimate price for our redemption (Mt 20:28), giving His very life so that we may live with Him (1Th 5:10).