A Short Study of Exodus 13:13

“And every firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break his neck; and all the firstborn of men among thy children shalt thou redeem.”
(Exodus 13:13)

I find this to be more than a coincidence that the redemption of an ass be found together in the same verse as the redemption of God’s children and even more impressed that it required the same sacrifice to redeem it. The only explanation for this verse is that God intended to typify all unregenerate men with the ass. Job said, “Vain man would be wise, though he be born like a wild ass colt.” (Job 11:12) Why would the Holy Ghost choose a jackass to picture natural man? Let me give you three good reasons.

First: Because the ass is judged under the law of God to be unclean. Isaiah, the prophet, said to his self righteous kinsmen, “For we are all as an unclean thing and all our righteousness are as filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Secondly: The Holy Spirit compares natural man to the ass because he is so similar in nature. Man in his fallen condition is stubborn and must be broken to be of any value. The scriptures do not teach that man cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God but that he will not. Our Lord did not say you cannot come to me, He said “you will not come unto me that you might have life.” (John 5:40) Stephen gives testimony to this fact in Acts 7:51, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: As your fathers did, so do ye.”

Thirdly: The Holy Ghost compares unregenerate man to an ass because he is an ignorant senseless beast. Is this not exactly the way ungodly men are set forth in the scriptures? “They walk in the vanity of their mind, having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart” (Ephesians 4:17-18) David said, “So foolish was I, and ignorant; I was as a beast before thee.” (Psalm 73:22)

But let us not leave this passage seeing only man. Let me see also the gracious hand of sovereign grace that chose to use and sanctify such a beast for divine service and therefore made provision for his redemption. And to reveal this glorious type our Lord Jesus took to himself a wild ass’ colt, bound because of his nature, and one “…whereon never a man sat.” (Mark 11:2) and rode him triumphantly into the Holy City and there offered Himself a sacrifice for him. A Lamb for an ass! This is consistent with the word of God, with the gospel of His redeeming grace, and with the experience of my own heart. Oh, thank God for the Lamb!

D. Pruitt

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