Exodus 30:11–13: “Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: ‘When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs). The half-shekel shall be an offering to the LORD.'”

September 2nd, 2019 by Pastor Ed in devotional

Here in Exodus 30, God instructed His people in the concept of redemption. He told them when they counted the people, or took a census, “every man shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD,” and that the ransom must paid in silver. A shekel and a “gerah” were units of measurement (weight) of silver. Once the Jewish leadership had collected all the half-shekels, they simply counted them to determine the number of males 20 years and older. But this verse says that if they counted the people without ransoming them, there would be a plague. Even to this day there is a reluctance among many in Israel to count the citizens. They remember that there was a plague brought on in King David’s day for numbering the people. God’s main reason against it is that it is easy for man to trust in his own strength and his own numbers. We need to remember to always trust the Lord.

This concept appears in a small but picturesque miracle found only in the ex-tax collector Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus paid His and Peter’s temple tax. It was a startling depiction for Peter (and us) of Jesus’ coming atonement on the cross for our sin. Jesus walked Peter through the logic of God the Son being free from paying the temple tax. If anyone was exempt from “temple tax,” clearly God the Son was. But then Jesus lovingly laid this picture down at Peter’s feet: “Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you” (Matt. 17:27). As God the Son, Jesus had the right to refuse to pay the tax; however, He willingly gave up that right and paid the price anyway.

Even though Jesus is the sinless Son of God, even though He owed no tribute for sin, Jesus died for sin as though He Himself was a sinner. He willing paid the price for all our sin with His once-and-for-all sacrifice. As Paul wrote, “For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:20).

“LORD, in gratitude we seek to further Your kingdom by being obedient servants. Use us we ask in Jesus’ name.”