Consecration and Proclamation
All that our Lord does is for His glory and for the salvation of his people. Here in this passage, we read of some institutions (circumcision and the redemption of the firstborn) that God gave the children of Israel that leave us wondering how these institutions fulfill those twin purposes.
For starters, why were only Israelites allowed to partake of the Passover, with the exception that strangers might partake if they were circumcised? Indeed, no uncircumcised male could eat of the Passover. Why? Circumcision was the sign of the covenant. It was the way one was included, and a very personal way, indeed. It was a sign in one’s own flesh, an indelible mark, in a most private place. You thereby belonged to God’s covenant community. To be uncircumcised was to be outside that community and outside that covenant. God may love and care for other nations (for example, the city of Nineveh in the Book of Jonah), but the people of Israel had a special relationship with Him. And so does the Church today. Only our circumcision is not in the flesh, but of the heart, a spiritual circumcision far superior to that made with hands (Romans 2:28-29; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:11).
And why was the firstborn of man redeemed; that is, why was a sacrifice brought for him? Because the Lord spared the firstborn of Israel when He passed over their houses for the Egyptians. They were spared because of the blood of the lamb on the doorposts. So the Lord required of them a sacrifice in return, a memorial of what He had done for them, and a sign of their redemption purchased by blood. Now the blood of the eternal and true Lamb is upon our doorposts, the doorposts of our circumcised hearts. And we offer up a different sacrifice, the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15-16).
These two institutions of the Old Testament spoke of the consecration of Israel unto the Lord: They belonged to God and were His people. The last part of the passage speaks of proclamation: Rehearsing to one’s children the great deed of God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt as the reason for the institutions. Proclamation begins at home with one’s own offspring, for the promise is for you and for your children (Acts 2:39). And we have an even greater story to tell our little ones.