We’ve reached chapter 13, and in one sense ‘the Exodus’ has already happened – Israel has left Egypt for good (12:51). But this is just the beginning of the Israelites’ journey as they learn how to become what they are: Exodus people. To paraphrase the closing words of CS Lewis’ The Last Battle:
For them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in Egypt had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which goes on for ever.
And their new life as the free people of God begins in two ways. Firstly, God gives them ways to keep on remembering and re-enacting what he has done for them (vv.1-16). They will need these living reminders when things get tough and they are tempted to forget God’s salvation.
Similarly, as God’s people today we are commanded to remember and re-enact the way in which God delivered us ‘with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect’ (1 Peter 1:19).
Secondly, God guides them. He does not take them by the direct route (vv.17-18), but he is with them day and night (vv.21-22).
We may be frustrated when God does not take us via what appears the most straightforward way. We may kick against his will or try to manipulate events towards an alternative outcome. But God has a plan which we do not see, and he will lead us if we place our hands into his hand.
Are you ready for God’s next chapter for your life?