Monday, March 3, 2014

The Ransom for a Census

12 When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.
13 This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs:) an half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord.
14 Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the Lord.
15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.
16 And thou shalt take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shalt appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation; that it may be a memorial unto the children of Israel before the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls. (Exodus 30:12-16)
It seems odd that a census might require a ransom to be paid for all the males to prevent a plague, but the language of “ransom” and “to make an atonement for your souls” should tip us off that the Lord wanted to use the occasion of a census to teach something about Christ’s atonement.

In verse 12, notice the repetition of the thought:
“when thou takest the sum of the children of Israel”
“when thou numberest them”
“when thou numberest them”

Who is “thou”?  “Thou” is the prophet.  So the occasion is the numbering the males by the prophet, which would require everyone to come to the prophet’s presence to be counted, either bodily or by representation.  This might be symbolic of the truth that someday everyone would stand before the Lord to be judged.   Counting and giving an account are very near concepts to each other.    Without any atonement, no one could come back into the presence of God; all would merit death.   This truth is represented by warning a plague would reduce the number of Israelite men if they don’t pay a ransom.

This teaches me that I remain on this earth on the sufferance of my Heavenly Father and that because of Christ’s atonement, someday I will be resurrected and come back into His presence to give an account of my life.  I want to be prepared for that day and Christ provides the means for that too.