Take a moment to thank God now for his warm, loving presence and his care for you each day.
Read Exodus 13:1-16
 The LORD said to Moses,  “Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”  Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate 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. Eat nothing containing yeast.  Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving.  When the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites-the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey-you are to observe this ceremony in this month:  For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the LORD.  Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders.  On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the LORD did for me when I came out of Egypt.’  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.  You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.  “After the LORD brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors,  you are to give over to the LORD the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the LORD.  Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.  “In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the LORD brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the LORD killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the LORD the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’  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.” Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat would the "redeeming" of firstborn animals tell children?
There’s something special that happens when a father holds his firstborn for the first time, particularly if, as often happens these days, he’s been present throughout the birth. At last he can actually do something; and his physical connection to this little one can now begin. The mother has been carrying the baby within her; now, at last, he can share physically in its care and nurture. New fathers, in this and other moments, are often tempted to believe they’re the Creator! God reminds his people that all children, all nations, come from him (2), and it’s his “mighty hand” (3,9,14) that not only has brought their nation to birth, but has looked after it through an incredibly dangerous labor. So God helps the Israelites to realize that the precious gift of life is his, by requiring them to give all firstborns, human and animal (12), and the first sheaf of each harvest (Lev. 23:10), to him. This act of giving will remind them, whatever they’re thinking or doing (16), of God’s powerful action in their lives. And it will remind the children–the next generation–too!
What’s most precious to you? How can you, symbolically or actually, give it back to God? Decide how and when.
Lord God, I know that everything I have is a gift from You. I give You my sincere thanks.