Through the Bible in a Year: Exodus 13 through 16

The Schedule

Exodus 13:1-2: Sanctification of the Firstborn

Since God had just spared all the firstborn, human and livestock alike, of the Israelites, he declared that all the firstborn are his. We shall see as we go along that this is done as a very precise business transaction. Eventually, God will trade them for the Levites (Num. 3:41).

The Levites are the descendants of Levi, one of Jacob’s twelve children and thus one of the tribes of Israel. They were entrusted with the care of the tabernacle (later the temple) and its tools.

Exodus 13:4: The Month of Abib

The Jews have a complicated calendar, which they still use for religious holidays. Abib is the first of their months, though it is now called Nisan, ever since the seventy years of captivity in Babylon in the 6th century BC. After the Babylonian captivity, the Jews spoke Aramaic, a language very similar to Hebrew.

Abib occurs around March or April in most years.

According to 1 Kings 6:1, the exodus occurred 480 years before the beginning of the reign of Solomon, which would mean we are reading about events that occurred around 1450 B.C. Solomon’s reign is understood to have begun around 970 B.C.

Exodus 13:14: Training the Next Generation

In this verse, God explains that one of the reasons for the rules of the firstborn is to keep the next generation in mind of the things God has done.

In Deuteronomy 6:1-13 we will see that this is something God wants us to do with great diligence.

One generation shall praise your works to another and shall declare your might deeds. … They shall eagerly speak of the memories of your abundant goodness and shall sing of your righteousness. (Ps. 145:4,7)

Exodus 13:17-22: Marching to the Red Sea

The journey to the Red Sea was not a short one. You can see a discussion of what we know about the journey at

I was unable to find an estimate on how far that march was. I can look on the map and see that’s a big march. If you find an actual distance, please share it with the rest of us!

This is also where we’re told that God was with them in a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night to provide light. How spectacular is that!

Exodus 14:1-10: Pharaoh catches the Israelites

It would be easy to fault the Israelites for their utter lack of faith when Pharaoh’s army shows up. It is right for God to fault them because their lack of faith. After everything they saw during the plagues, their unbelief here is an insult to God.

We, on the other hand, probably have no room to talk. Instead, it would be good for us to look at ourselves and see the areas in which we are practicing unbelief on a daily basis. What are we worried about? What are we frightened of? And what has God said about those things?

Who are you that you should be afraid of a man, who will die, and of a son of man, who shall become like grass, and you forget the LORD your Maker, who has stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth? Why have you feared continually and daily because of the oppressor, as if he were ready to destroy? Where is the fury of the oppressor? … I am the LORD your God, who divided the sea, whose waves roared. Yahweh Sabaoth [The LORD of Armies] is his name. I have put my words in your mouth, and I have covered you in the shadow of my hand, so that I may plant the heavens, lay the foundations of the earth, and say to Zion, "You are my people" (Isaiah 51:12-13,15-16)

Exodus 14:13-30: God Parts the Waters, Delivers Israel, and Destroys the Egyptian Army

At least Moses believed. God told Moses to raise his rod, which had become the rod of God, and split the Red Sea.

When you read the story, do you think that when the pillar of God moved between the Egyptian army and the Israelites, protecting the Israelites all night long, that maybe Pharaoh and his army should have gotten the hint?

Exodus 15:1-20: The Israelites Rejoice

God’s people are always at war. When Christians fight earthly wars, claiming that they are doing it in the name of God, such as the Crusades or modern Islam vs. Christianity gun battles, we have forgotten that we are a spiritual kingdom.

The new covenant is a spiritual kingdom, and it fights spiritual battles (2 Cor. 10:3-5; Eph. 6:11-18).

Jesus answered, "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight so that I would not be delivered to the Jews. But now my kingdom is not from here." (Jn. 18:36)

Once that it’s established that I’m talking about fighting spiritually, it’s important to know that our God takes sides. He is battling, not negotiating. His concern is truth, and only afterwards is he concerned about peace (Matt. 10:32-37).

Exodus 15:21-27: The Waters of Bitterness

Marah means "bitter."

The Israelites were singing, shouting, and dancing the praises of God in v. 20, and they’re grumbling in unbelief in v. 24.

God doesn’t shut down the emotional praises of his people (Luke 19:39-40), but he doesn’t trust them, either.

Exodus 16:1-3: Israel Complains Again

If the people complained at Marah, they fell apart in the Wilderness of Sin (a Hebrew word that means "thorn" or "clay," not "sin"). They were wishing to die!

I can’t imagine they really wished they had died. I don’t believe that they were living in the luxury they described.

The Israelites were complaining, not worrying about whether anything they were saying was true.

How many of us are like that? It is human nature, but we are no longer mere humans (1 Cor. 3:3; 2 Pet. 1:3-4). We are sons of God who have received the Spirit of God, and we must neither complain nor lie.

Do everything without grumbling and complaining so that you may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. (Php. 2:14-15)

This is not beyond us. I want to give you two examples of choosing to see God’s goodness rather than complaining. I hope you’ll forgive me that one of those is me. My video was done about six months ago, you can stay tuned with my current situation at my "Thrilled to Death" blog. You can be inspired by Nick Vujicic at

Exodus 16:4-21: Manna from Heaven

Feeding the Israelites in the wilderness for 40 years with a bread that descended from heaven each day is impressive.

Manna got its name from the Hebrew words for "What is it?" (Man hu).

It was an amazing food. Because of the Sabbath laws, the Israelites were only supposed to gather it six days per week. Manna, however, only lasted one day, not two! So God’s miraculous provision was that on the sixth day of the week, what was gathered would last two days.

As amazing as Manna is in and of itself, it is just as amazing as a picture of the bread of God on which we live today, God’s Word.

  • We can’t store up God’s Word for the future. We need it fresh and new every day (Matt. 4:4).
  • Jesus’ body is the manna of the new covenant (Jn. 6:31-36). It was broken for us, his blood was shed for us, and we eat and drink the Lord’s supper to remember that he is our food (Matt. 26:26-30).
  • Manna came from heaven and is not the work of human hands, and Jesus came from heaven as well.

There’s more. Manna is more cud that needs to be chewed repeatedly.

Exodus 16:32-36: Manna, the Testimony, and 40 Years

These verses assume some things that you don’t know yet.

The omer of manna was saved by Aaron by putting it in front of "the Testimony." The Testimony was almost certainly the tablets that God gave to Moses with the ten commandments on them, but those did not exist yet!

This passage also mentions that the Israelites ate manna for 40 years, which is true, but the plan at this point was for the Israelites to get to Canaan much faster than that! The 40 years of wandering didn’t happen until the Israelites were judged for their unbelief when they arrived at Canaan a year and a half down the road.

This isn’t a problem for the text. Who knows where along the line all of this was written? It is certain that Deuteronomy could not have been written until the very end of the 40 years. So the fact that Moses or his scribe wrote these things here isn’t a problem.

For those of you that are new to Exodus, though, there is a reason you don’t already know about the Testimony.

We will reach the Testimony and the ten commandments tomorrow.

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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