Summary: Things Worth Remembering - Exodus Chapter 13 vs 1-22 – sermon by Gordon Curley PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request – email:


(1). Recalling (vs 3,9,14,16)

(2). Instructing (vs 9 & 16).

(3). Following (vs 17-22)



These are the top 6 things people most often forget:

• (6). Faces 42%

• (5). What was said 49%

• (4). Words. 53%

• (3). Telephone numbers 57%

• (2). Where something is 60%

• (1). Names 83%


• Just recently at my own Church;

• One of the leaders at the Sunday morning kids club,

• Asked the children to bring along an object that helps them remember,

• i.e. a camera, a photograph etc.

• The following week not one of the children remembered to bring an object!

• TRANSITION: In this chapter God gives his people;

• Things that are worth remembering!

• I want to pull out three threads from this chapter.

(1). Recalling (vs 3,9,14,16)

Verse 3:

“Then Moses said to the people, ‘Commemorate (Remember) this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand.”

Verse 9:

“This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Verse 14:

“In days to come when your son asks you, “What does this mean?” say to him, (Remember the facts, think back to what happened and explain) “With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.”

Verse 16:

“And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that (here is what they are to remember) the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.’”

It is very obvious that God wanted his people to remember what he had done for them:

• He wants to make sure that the next generation,

• And the one after that and the one after that etc.

• Will not forget what he has done.

• That he had set them free from the slavery of Egypt;

• He had redeemed them at great cost!


• At the dramatic conclusion of the musical, Camelot,

• The tragic figure of King Arthur calls a boy named Tom out of the bushes.

• King Arthur dubs the boy a "Knight of the Round Table,"

• But orders him not to fight in the battle.

• He is to "grow up and grow strong"

• So that he can tell of the ideals and accomplishments of Camelot,

• So future generations would remember.


• A similar scene takes place in the graphic novel by Frank Miller, ‘300’

• (Released as a feature film).

• One of the Spartan soldiers has lost an eye,

• So Leonidas the king of Sparta.

• Sends him back home to tell the citizens to "Remember us!" as the dying heroes’

• It is his way of telling his people that "Freedom has a cost."

• TRANSITION: For the Hebrew people to be free a price was paid.

• The death of a Passover lamb!

• But also the death of the Pharaohs (and Egypt’s);

• Firstborn sons was the price paid for their freedom.


• We took communion earlier;

• A reminder of the price paid for our redemption;

• The death of God’s one and only son who shed his blood on a Roman cross.

• Redemption: "always has a cost."

• The Bible says (1 Peter chapter 1 verse 18 – J.B. Philips paraphrase):

“For you must realise all the time that you have been “ransomed” from the futile way of living passed on to you by your fathers’ traditions, not with some money payment of transient value, but by the costly shedding of blood. The price was in fact the life-blood of Christ, the unblemished and unstained lamb of sacrifice”.

To help the people remember this, God gave them some instructions:

• They were to set apart their ‘firstborn sons’;

• And their firstborn animals.

• The firstborn represented the families and the nations strength,

• Its vitality and its endurance.

• God wanted his people to know;

• That its strength lay only in its dependence on God's strength,

• That its vitality came from the life which is in Him,

• That it would endure from generation to generation,

• Because He is the same and His years fail not.


• There is an interesting play on words that the NIV does not bring out in verse 12.

• The word translated 'give over' is really 'pass over,'

• So as God passed over the Hebrew people during the tenth plague,

• The Hebrew people are to pass over their first-born male to him.

• TRANSITION: they were to set apart their ‘firstborn sons’;

• And their firstborn animals.

Now this remembrance was to be more than just one day a year;

• It was a constant reminder each time a firstborn child or animal was born.

• That the firstborn belonged to the Lord.

• These instructions (ordinances) would take effect;

• When the Hebrew people were in the promised land (vs 11).

• You can find his instructions in Leviticus chapter 12;

• And Numbers chapter 18 verses 14-19.

• A sacrifice was made; a lamb was slain.

• Or if they were poor

• i.e. Mary & Joseph went to the temple to redeem the redeemer!

• They made a sacrifice of poor people;

• (pair of doves or two young pigeons - Luke chapter 2 verses 21-24)


• Now you must be asking how all this applies to us today.

• Well in the New Testament uses the same language regarding ‘consecration’.

• i.e. Romans chapter 12 verse 1:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.”


• When I go to watch my team at a football game;

• There may be 75,000 or 100,000 people at the game.

• But I know that one seat has been consecrated, ‘set apart’ just for me.

• It's been consecrated or reserved for my use only.

• TRANSITION: And that's what the word ‘consecrated’ means.

• The redeemed are to be those who are reserved & set apart for God.


• A Christian woman once said to her friend;

• "Will you please tell me in a word,", "what your idea of consecration is?"

• Holding out a blank sheet of paper, the friend replied,

• "It is to sign your name at the bottom of this blank sheet of paper,

• and let God fill it in as He will."


• I like the prayer that is a classic in brevity and poignancy:

• “Dear God, Your will, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. Amen."

• God wants us to be ‘set apart’ for his use DAILY,

• We belong to him, we are his, he has redeemed us at great cost!

• For the Christian;

• We do not belong to our families nor do we belong to our employer,

• But first and foremost we belong to God!

• It is God who owns us and has first claim upon our lives.

• Because of that fact;

• We should be better family members and better employees;

• As we reflect the attitudes and standards of God in our daily living.

(2). Instructing (vs 9 & 16).

• Whenever these sacrifices were made for the firstborn son or animal;

• It gave adults the opportunity to explain to their children;

• How God had rescued the firstborn in the land of Goshon on Passover night.

Verse 9:

“This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Verse 16:

“And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.’”

• The next generation will never know the works of the Lord;

• Unless the older generation tell them.


• There is a great deal today of Bible ignorance.

• The Bible Society recently reported that:

• (a). 9 out of every 10 people do not engage with the Bible.

• That’s millions of people for whom the Bible has no relevance!

• (b). A third of 15year olds did not realise that the nativity is a Bible story!

• (c). And a third of adults think the plot of the ‘Hunger Games’ comes from the Bible.


• The ignorance of our nation, reminds me of the story:

• Two men were talking together in a pub.

• The first man challenged the other,

• "If you are so religious, let's hear you quote the Lord's Prayer.

• I bet you £10.00 you can't."

• The second man responded, "You’re on” and he proceeded to say:

• “Now I lay my down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep.

• And If I die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take."

• The first man looked at him aghast!

• Then pulled out his wallet and said, "I didn't think you could do it!"

• TRANSITION: The only way to remove such ignorance;

• Is if the older generation tell the next generation the works of the Lord.


• The family responsibility is widely applied in the New Testament.

• i.e. Christian leaders are to instruct others (Titus chapter 1 verse 9).

• i.e. Older women are to instruct and equip others (Titus chapter 2 verses 3-9).


• E.F. Brown was a missionary to India;

• A co-worker of Brown’s came to the UK on furlough;

• And he gave reports of the work in many Churches.

• When he was asked; ‘what was it you most want in India?’

• He surprised everyone by saying, ‘Grandmothers’.

• They were lacking older, mature women in their Churches;

• Who could model and instruct the next generation.

• Tough Question:

• Do you older Christian model godliness to the young people of this Church?


• Three parts of the body are mentioned in verses 9 & 16;

• Our “lips” (vs 9), our “eyes” and our “hands” (vs 16).

• The Jewish people have taken this literally;

• And even today you will find Orthodox Jewish men wearing ‘Tefillin’


• Tefillin (sometimes called phylacteries);

• Are cubic black leather boxes with leather straps.

• Orthodox Jewish men wear them on their head and their arm;

• During weekday morning prayer.

• Observant Jews consider wearing tefillin to be a very great mitzvah (command).

• The boxes contain four hand-written texts from the Bible,

• In which believers are commanded to wear certain words on the hand and between the eyes.

• The texts are Exodus 13:1-10, 13:11-16; Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:12-21.

• The hand tefillin has all four texts written on a single parchment strip;

• But the head tefillin has four separate compartments, with a single text in each.

• As with all ritual objects there are very specific rules about how to make tefillin,

• And how to wear them.

As Christians we believe that the Lord was talking in a metaphorical way:

• God uses lifelike picture language in this passage

• And that is one reason as Christians we do not wear tefillin.


• Jesus in Matthew chapter 23 verse 5;

• Criticised the religious leaders of his day for drawing attention to themselves;

• By wearing these objects when all the time their hearts were far from God.

• Ironically, the very command to honour the Word of God;

• Was being used to dishonour the Word.

• I guess the danger for us as Christians is to wear a cross,

• Carry a big Bible, raise a hand in worship, and quote a creed;

• All without truly acknowledging Jesus Christ as the Lord in our hearts and lives!

Now as Christians we do not wear tefillin:

• But we too must allow the Word of God;

• To cleanse our “lips” (vs 9), our “eyes” and our “hands” (vs 16).

• To purify our Thoughts, Emotions, and Actions.

(3). Following (vs 17-22)

“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ 18 So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

19 Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, ‘God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.’

20 After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21 By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22 Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.”


• If you've ever seen the TV programme "Man vs. Wild,"

• You know that Bear Grylls knows how to survive in almost any conditions.

• Joke: Bear Grylls’ peculiar name is derived from two things:

• His favourite food, and the manner in which he likes to cook it!

• Now Bear Grylls’ might be able to cross a desert,

• And find his way to a certain destination.

• But for everyone else, who is not used to such terrain;

• We will find it bewildering, and we will easily become lost and in danger!

• TRANSITION: To Moses and his people,

• Untrained and inexperienced,

• God assures them of his presence and his guidance.

• The invisible God gave to his people a visible symbol of his presence.

Note: Verse 17-18:

• God could have lead them to the borders of Canaan in less than a week;

• God found it necessary to lead them out in the desert for forty years.


• It was not that Moses was a typical man and refused to ask for directions!

• The male’s inability to ask directions is genetic.

• That’s the reason why it takes 500,000,000 sperm to fertilize one egg.

• None would bother to stop and ask directions.

• TRANSITION: It was not that Moses was unable to follow directions!

• God did not lead them by the shortest route;

• And he tells us the reason why.

• The most direct route leads through Philistine country.

• The Philistines were a very fierce and warlike people;

• And the Israelites were not ready for war.

• The most direct route would also take them past a number of Egyptian outposts;

• And God knew that giving the choice between war and slavery back in Egypt;

• These people would again chose slavery.

• So God knew their weak condition at this time,

• He knew how fragile their faith was and so God does not lead them into temptation

Note: Verse 19:

• Joseph was so confident in the promises of God;

• That he commanded the people to take his body with them when they left Egypt.

• By doing this the bier would be a permanent reminder of the faithfulness of God;

• God always keeps his word,

• Even when you are wandering around a hot desert year after year after year!

So bear in mind that:

• So the people had a physical reminder of God’s promise;

• The bones of Joseph.

• They also had a supernatural reminder that God keeps his promises;

• A pillar of cloud to guide them in the daytime;

• And a pillar of fire to give them light at night.


• You and I have been given the Word of God to guide us,

• This is the completely reliable guide to our faith and conduct.


• “This Book is the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation,

• the doom of sinners, and the happiness of believers.

• Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding;

• its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable.

• Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe, practice it to be holy.

• It contains light to direct you,

• food to support you, and comfort to cheer you.

• It is the traveller’s map, the pilgrim’s staff,

• the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword, and the Christian’s character.

• Here paradise is restored, heaven opened, and the gates of hell disclosed.

• Christ is its grand subject, our good its design, and the glory of God its end.

• It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet.

• Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully.

• It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure.

• Follow its precepts and it will lead you to Calvary,

• to the empty tomb, to a resurrected life in Christ; yes, to glory itself, for eternity.”

• You and I have been given the Word of God to guide us,

• This is the completely reliable guide to our faith and conduct.

Quote: R.C. Sproul

“We fail in our duty to study God's Word;

Not so much because it is difficult to understand,

Not so much because it is dull and boring, but because it is work.

Our problem is not a lack of intelligence or a lack of passion.

Our problem is that we are lazy.”

• You and I have been given the Word of God to guide us,

• This is the completely reliable guide to our faith and conduct.


• Not a lotta people know this;

• But there about a thousand satellites that are currently operational in space;

• One of the features they put into every satellite is called ‘Auto-correcting’;

• Because if a satellite is left to itself it will lose its way.

• TRANSITION: Christians who are left to themselves will lose their ways!

• I won’t but I could name you some people who have done just that!

• God has given us his word to keep us on track!