"You shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess." Deuteronomy 5:33
Text: Expdus 30 : 11-15
TAKING A CENSUS OF ISRAEL
Taking a formal census of the nation would be a very normal and wise thing to do. The Lord commanded Moses to order a census to be taken. However, there was a special element that made this census quite special.
“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.
Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty
years old and above, shall give an offering to the LORD.
The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than
half a shekel, when you give an offering to the LORD, to make
atonement for yourselves.'”
EXODUS 30: 11-15
1. “That there may be no plague among them”
This word of warning underscores the importance of carrying out this census in the right spirit. (King David carried out a census in the wrong spirit, for he took pride in the strength of his army, and was severely disciplined by the Lord (Cf. 2 Samuel 24).
2. Numbering of those who were twenty and above
In all likelihood this would be a numbering of the men. They would represent the strength of Israel. However, to prevent any pride from gaining undesired entrance into the heart and thus corrupting it, a special offering was introduced.
3. A special “ransom” was to be paid
The word “ransom” would remind Israel that they have no reason to take any special pride in themselves! They were ransomed by the LORD Himself from the cruel hand of the Pharaoh of Egypt!
4. A token sum of money
This “ransom” was essentially a token sum. The rich were not allowed to pay more than the half-shekel. The poor were not exempted from paying this half-shekel, because it was easily affordable.
5. “To make atonement for yourselves”
This ransom money was closely tied to the doctrine of atonement! No amount of money could ever bring about atonement. Therefore this is only of symbolic significance.