Chapter 33 A New Beginning

This month shall be unto you the beginning of months (Exodus 12:2).

There is a distinct change here in the calendar. The new year was moved from autumn to spring, the time God redeemed Israel out of the bondage of Egypt. God made that physical redemption a wondrous picture of the spiritual redemption which we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. There was something tremendous in Israel’s salvation.

It demonstrated Heaven’s superiority over the whole organized empire of evil. It set forth God’s purpose and intention to gather out of the nations a people for His name. All that pharaoh represented was drained to the last drop of its vitality and was laid in death. The exceeding greatness of God’s power was toward His chosen people. God registered that day as a red-letter day—a day much to be remembered. So began a new year.

A New Beginning in Redemption

Until redemption was effected, Israel was under dominion of a foreign power—a mighty tyrant. The people were held in bondage, were made to do slavish tasks, were whipped by cruel taskmasters, and were driven to distraction. But God Himself saved them by a method of His own devising, and through it demonstrated the greatness of His power.

It began with a sacrifice of blood (Exodus 12:5-7). The blood of a lamb had not only to be shed, but had to be used by those who were to be saved by sprinkling it on the lintels and doorposts of their homes. Sheltering under the sprinkled blood, they were given God’s guarantee of security when He would pass over Egypt in judgment. God said, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Exodus 12:13). Their redemption, therefore, was founded on the shed blood of a substitutionary sacrifice.

They then fed on the roasted lamb (12:8). This was to give them strength for their coming journey. The sacrifice was to be “roast with fire”—a clear emblem of Christ suffering the wrath of God. God’s hatred of sin must be shown: His majesty maintained, His truth preserved. His people, then, by feeding on the lamb, were to derive vigor and strength for their new journey of life.

Further, all leaven had to be purged out of their homes (12:15)—representing the putting away of all evil. “Purge out therefore the old leaven,” said Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:7, as he took his figure from ancient Israel’s command to sweep their homes of that which spoke of destructive evil.

Finally, they were to pass through the Red Sea: type of a new and living way—through death to life. It was a way that no man could make. It meant escape into life: a going down into the place of death to rise on ground of resurrection to live a new life.

A New Life Under Divine Government

The redeemed of the Lord were to have no earthly king. “This month shall be unto you the beginning of months.” Why? “Because I redeemed you.” Why did God redeem Israel? Not that they were to go on living as they once did. They were now to be under divine government—governed by the God of Heaven. In Egypt they had been a loose company, disorganized and scattered. Now they were molded into one people with the Lord Himself as their Head, their Teacher, their Defender.

They were fed with heavenly manna. Their new life began in a wilderness to teach them that this world could not supply any need. They were thus made utterly dependent upon God for the provision to maintain their new life—the manna which God sent from heaven picturing the coming Christ as “the living bread which came down from heaven” (John 6:51).

They were governed by heavenly principles. For four hundred years they had been slaves in Egypt, mixing with heathen, forced into compromises. Redemption separated them from all that! The Word of the living God was now to be the rule of their behavior.

They were instructed in heavenly worship. Life for them was now centered in the Tabernacle—a pattern of God’s house in the heavens. Within the Tabernacle was a symbolic manifestation of God’s holy presence in the Shekinah glory within the holiest of all. They were taught how to approach God through sacrifice, which prefigured Christ, and thus to be accepted of God in their worship.

They were assisted in heavenly guidance. The Lord went before them by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. The wilderness was a trackless waste. They could not find their own paths. But the Lord was their Guide, their File Leader, and so forward they moved each day.

They were equipped with heavenly power. It was by this alone they were able to endure the trials of the journey and overcome all their enemies. So long as Moses held up hands in prayer, the Lord’s people were kept safe from the assaults of Amalek. The Lord was a banner over them. They won through, not by the skill of their own fighting, but by the preserving power of God.

A New Destiny Through Divine Help

A new generation crossed the Jordan into the Promised Land. In typical teaching it meant a deeper identification with the death of Christ, a burial of selfism which had so plagued them in the wilderness. As they moved on to possess their possessions given them of God, there are three things to note.

First, the Lordship of Christ. He was represented in the appearance of “a man over against” Joshua, and He said, “As captain of the host of the LORD am I now come” (Joshua 5:13-14). He had come to take over.

Secondly, they ceased feeding on manna—that which came down from heaven and represented Christ in His life on earth. They now fed upon “the old corn of the land”: that which grew upward out from the earth, and represented Christ in His resurrection and exaltation.

Thirdly, they were protected by a drawn sword. “There stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand” (Joshua 5:13). There would be battle—warfare. But they were to be led forth in triumph by the Lord, and were to be protected by His defense of them. Through Him, they were to possess their possessions given them of God.

Oh, teach us more of Thy blest ways,
Thou holy Lamb of God!
And fix and root us in Thy grace,
As those redeemed by blood!

For this, oh may we freely count
Whate’er we have but loss,
The dearest object of our love,
Compared with Thee, but dross.

Engrave this deeply on our hearts
With an eternal pen,
That we may, in some small degree,
Return Thy love again.

James Hutton