December 16, 2022
“The wealthy may not give more, and the poor may not give less, than half a shekel when giving the contribution to the Lord to atone for your lives. Take the atonement money...”
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“The wealthy may not give more, and the poor may not give less, than half a shekel when giving the contribution to the Lord to atone for your lives. Take the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the tent of meeting. It will serve as a reminder for the Israelites before the Lord to atone for your lives.” Exodus 30:15-18
The technical expression for “ransom” occurs three times in the Torah, and each time it refers to money paid by one who is guilty of taking human life in circumstances that do not constitute murder. Such a ransom was forbidden in the case of deliberate murder. You could not simply murder someone, pay an agreed-upon price, and have your sin atoned for via your debit card, so to speak.
This concept underlies the “half-shekel atonement” of today’s passage. The same phrase is used in connection with the offering of plunder after the Midianite battle, in Numbers 31:52. Those men registering in the census were those registering for military duty…all non-disabled men. The soldier who was marching into battle was (in the eyes of Heaven) a potential taker of life, although not a deliberate murderer.
The soldier is to be impressed with the fact that, high as the aims for which he goes into battle may be, war remains a necessary “evil.” Therefore, a ransom is to be paid at the time of mustering (for the taking of life) long before the actual fighting occurs.
Whether rich or poor, the tax was the same. All souls taken are of equal value and all life-takers of equal guilt in the eyes of God. Hence, all are to give the same ransom.
Concerning our guilt, Jesus paid our ransom.
“For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, am, Messiah Jesus, who gave Himself – a ransom for all, a testimony at the proper time.” 1 Timothy 2:5-6
The redemption of the Messiah is offered to all people, regardless of nationality or social standing.
“And they sang a new song: You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals; because you were slaughtered, and You redeemed us for God by Your blood from every tribe, and language, and people, and nation.” Revelation 5:9
Those present at Jesus’ trial cried, “May His blood be on our children and us!” Yet Jesus prayed,” Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34 In effect, He was asking that their murderous intents and actions, zealous as they may have been, be counted as “unintentional killing,” while He personally paid their ransom for the act. Ponder the depth of His great love for you. Do you feel the gravity of His sacrifice?
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