March 17, 2023

Whom are you following?

Exodus 13

Sara Sargent
Friday's Devo

March 17, 2023

Friday's Devo

March 17, 2023

Big Idea

God reveals the way and His will through His Word.

Key Verse | Exodus 13:21

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night.

Exodus 13

Consecration of the Firstborn

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.”

The Feast of Unleavened Bread

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. Today, in the month of Abib, you are going out. 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. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a feast to the LORD. 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. You shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 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.”

Pillars of Cloud and Fire

17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle. 19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph 1 13:19 Samaritan, Septuagint; Hebrew he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones with you from here.” 20 And they moved on from Succoth and encamped at Etham, on the edge of the wilderness. 21 And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.


[1] 13:19 Samaritan, Septuagint; Hebrew he

S2:055 Exodus 13

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Dive Deeper | Exodus 13

Our daughter Blake loves to go her own way. She dislikes being told what to do and enjoys making her own choices. I'm sure she feels her way is the "only right way." Our ways feel incomprehensible to her at this point in her life.

She's two. Not only is she developmentally incapable of reasoning with us, but we in no way expect this from her. It's our role to guide her and provide for her. In fact, we find immeasurable joy in providing her with unconditional love and everything that flows from it. If this type of love, care, provision, and guidance can occur in our broken world by sinful and imperfect people, imagine how much MORE this is true of our very perfect God!

Our Father desires to provide for us and continuously lead us. The problem is that, like the Israelites and my daughter (and me!), we have a natural tendency to want to go our own way despite how little we know compared to our all-knowing God. "There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death." (Proverbs 14:12) 

God knew it was best for His people to follow Him, so He provided a miraculous pillar (Exodus 13:21), which was physical evidence of His constant presence and guidance in their lives. It NEVER left the Israelites. In fact, its appearance adapted in order to make its presence fully known no matter the time of day. The Lord wanted the Israelites to follow Him, and He wants us to do the same.

When following God feels difficult or uncomfortable, we can rest in the knowledge that the Lord already knows what is going to happen and that nothing is a surprise to Him (Psalm 139:16). He has a perfect plan and will guide us along the way (Isaiah 58:11). In a world where there's an endless supply of leaders to follow, we must seek God's presence and follow where He leads. Are you following Him today?

This month's memory verse

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

– John 14:27

Discussion Questions

1. So fellow Journeyer, it's been on your mind since you saw the title of this devotional. Whom are you following?

2. Are you willing to follow God no matter what? Even when you can't see the end of the story? Even when it doesn't make sense in your own understanding? Even when it's difficult and uncomfortable? Even when it _____?

3. How can you give up your own desires (Luke 9:23) to better surrender your life to the Lord?

4. Commit to praying daily for the Lord to clearly lead you, for eyes to see the pillars (big and small) He sets forth in your life, and for complete trust as you follow Him.

Respond to Today's Passage

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Hugh Stephenson

Q1.-Q4. Christ alone. My pagan gods are gone. Luke 9:23 is daily prayer. So’s Hebrews 12:1-3 Imbedded in the Passover instructions are a set of reminders and commands to help us/them remember who God is and what he’s done for us. Provision and Protection come as part of faithfulness- ‘the people of Israel are now called to act faithfully in order to appropriate the means by which the Lord will “pass over” them during the tenth plague.’ Atonement & Protection- Blood on the doorposts reminds them a substitutionary sacrifice is needed - and that they are protected from paying the consequences that others pay due to their non-belief. Sovereignty – The Passover story is a reminder that Yahweh is the one true God and He acts on our behalf, (Genesis 1:26-28). The entirety of this part of the story attests to God’s justice and judgment. Sovereignty- Pagan gods are worthless.

Hugh Stephenson

Promises- you will ”come out of Egypt with great possessions”. (These will be key in building the tabernacle). Not adhering to these rules was “…repudiating the spiritual lessons contained in the symbols”. They would be cut off. Presence- God was always with them and always visible via the Shekinah in the cloud and the fire. The cloud and fire provided shade and light. -I am called to follow God with a heart that is unfettered, unfaltering and contented, (paraphrase). “The line of thought referred to merely expresses the idea, that the Israelites were not only to retain the commands of God in their hearts, and to confess them with the mouth, but to fulfil them with the hand, or in act and deed, and thus to show themselves in their whole bearing as the guardians and observers of the law.

Hugh Stephenson

As the hand is the medium of action, and carrying in the hand represents handling, so the space between the eyes, or the forehead, is that part of the body which is generally visible, and what is worn there is worn to be seen.” TC Notes Preparation- “The people marched in an orderly fashion (v. 18). This is the meaning of "in battle formation." Moses had not yet organized them as an army.” -Be equipped and trained for battle. This is a battleship, not a cruise ship. Arm yourself, (Ephesians 6:10-20, 1 Peter 3:15). "So, what was the content of the saving faith of people in Old Testament times? It was in believing two things: -God delivered His people from Egypt, and -this deliverance was for 'us' as well as for them." Psalm 71:16 Knees down, palms up No Clean Suits

Michael Sisson

Re: Ex 13:2 Ex 13:2 (NASB) “Sanctify to Me every >>>firstborn,<<< the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.” See also Ex 4:22; Heb 2:11. Adam was the firstborn of mankind. Would not the “second Adam” likewise qualify? (1Cor 15:22; Col 1:15) Re: Ex 13:13 The verses which follow would seem to equate enslaved Israel with the donkey and the lamb with Messiah, our Pesach. See pp Ex 34:20. Re: Ex 13:19 The fulfillment of Gen 50:25. In other words, Moses brought the "bones," or "essence" or "substance" of Joseph with him.

Chris Landry

Hi Sara! Thanks for leading the journey today. It's comforting to know that my 2yo is similar to another 2yo. :) Lord, let us [Christian parents with little kiddos] be pillars for our young kids while they are impressionable. In the same way You were/are for those that are fresh out of slavery like we just read today. Q1 - On my best days I follow Christ. My worst days, I follow Chris. Q2 - I've not had suffering like some of those closest to me. Lord willing, in my impending suffering, I want to remember how God rescued His people out of slavery or how he spared them with the Passover Lamb. So yes, I'm willing to follow Jesus through it all. And I trust my Community Group would be a huge "pillar" to follow when that time comes. Q3 - The cross takes care of 1) Sin and 2) Self. So I must bear it daily or my life will wreak havoc on those I love deeply. I love the idea of looking for pillars in my life that I can follow. Thank you for that visual reminder from the Scriptures today. Here's to not being a spiritual 2yo today. 😄🙏🏻

Sue Bohlin

Thanks so much, Sara! Yahweh went with His people in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night so they would always know He was with them. Thousands of years later, Yahweh entered the world as a human being and just before returning to heaven, Immanuel (which means "God with us") told His disciples, "I am with you always, to the end of the age." (Matthew 28:20) But no pillar of cloud or fire this time. Instead, He provides something better . . . MUCH better: He indwells His people! He is not only WITH us, He is IN us--permanently! It's like having a pillar of God's presence installed inside us who have trusted in Him. This is part of the unimaginable glory of the gospel. God Himself comes to live inside the human heart and make His home in us (John 14:23). And He releases into us the same power that raised Christ from the dead, to transform us and enable us to live lives that align with His heart and character. Mind blowing!!

Amy Lowther

1. I am following God and Jesus. 2. I am willing to follow God in everything I do. Some things are more challenging than others but following God through it all is the right decision. 3. I can give up desires I have and better surrender to God if I consider His values as I make my decisions so life will be as good as possible 4. Prayer: God lead me as only you can. I surrender to your ways. Let your ways continue to be all that I use in everything I do. Amen.