SIGNIFICANCE of the ‘RANSOM’ that CHRIST has PAID for US
January 27 Bible Reading: Exodus Chapters 28-30
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. 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 30:11-12, 14-15)
This directive from God was given during the forty days that Moses spent with God on Mount Horeb to receive His commandments and statutes (24:18 - 32:7). In the above passage, we read that Jehovah God commanded His people to give “every man a ransom.” This ‘ransom’ was a monetary one, a half shekel of silver, and it was in order “to make an atonement for their souls.” The term ‘ransom’ is related to the words for atonement and propitiation (v. 10; 29:36, 37). The idea was to pay a price for one’s life. The Israelites had to acknowledge that their lives were from God and governed by Him by giving Him an offering of money. The payment served as an act of individual atonement and was an assertion of God’s total rights over Israel.
To understand the privilege of redemption, we should turn back to see how God had dealt with the children of Israel in the past (13:15; 22:29; Num. 3:40–51). The Israelites required to be redeemed as they were a people in captivity groaning in bitter bondage. The might of God, the Redeemer, was then displayed through His ten plagues upon Egypt. The character of God’s redemption was seen through the purchase made by the blood of the lamb that was killed on behalf of the firstborn son of the Israelite. The duty of the redeemed was to be in total obedience to God as they now enjoyed their privilege of worshiping God in His holy habitation. In the numbering of Israel God was dealing with the people whom He had redeemed for Himself, appropriating what was His, and assigning to each and all their place before Him. God was no respecter of persons and His redemption views all men on the same level before God!
God ordered every male Israelite twenty years old and above to pay half a shekel as a ransom for himself. It guaranteed protection against plague (v. 12). This payment, the same for rich and poor, was levied whenever there was a census and this was used to finance the service of the tabernacle. This ransom money would be paid by an individual only once in his life, and would go to the support of the temple. At the outset it was used to make silver sockets to support the boards of the tabernacle. Silver speaks of redemption, which is the foundation of our faith. Redemption was needed by all and was available to all on the same terms!
The money collected was to furnish the tabernacle (30:16), but it also had an important symbolic value: it was a “ransom … to the Lord” (30:12), and the “atonement money” (30:16). It represented the atonement for sin, made by Christ and foreshadowed in the blood of the sin offering of atonement (30:10). The half-shekel atonement money that accompanied each census witnessed to Israel’s dependence on the Lord’s mercy. Perhaps the small size of the payment was intended to remind everyone that no amount of money could possibly satisfy God or purchase one’s soul!
There is a practical application to be made for us through this directive today. We should remember that we have also been redeemed by Christ from the clutches of Satan through the ransom money that He has paid on our behalf through His own precious blood that he has shed on the cross of Calvary. We are deeply indebted to Christ, who has given His all for redeeming us from eternal death. By ransoming us, Christ has acquired total rights over us, and He is entitled to our recognizing this every day of our lives. Our lives should show evidence of the fact that we are not our own any more. Since we were bought by a price and now belong to God alone, let us glorify God every day through our bodies by doing what pleases Him (1 Cor. 6:20).