It was time for the people to “put their money where their mouth was” in thanking God for freeing them. Every person would pay the same price; a ransom for their lives.
God wasn’t holding them “hostage” and demanding a ransom. Instead He had already freed them and was requiring an act of thanks. Each life was worth exactly the same amount. It didn’t matter if the person was rich, poor, famous, or an unknown. Each person, 20 years and older was required to pay this tax.
I have a question here; big surprise huh. Would there be an argument from some because they never wanted to be ransomed in the first place? I fully believe that if God hadn’t caused so much trouble in Egypt for the Hebrews that some of them would have decided to stay behind. But the Egyptians “drove them out” as an act of self-preservation. Several times already the people have voiced that they really didn’t want to go on this journey. Would they feel put upon when told to pay this tax?
The fact that God gave an incentive with the taking of the tax might have made the difference between resistance and acceptance. God said that by cooperating with the tax would result in “there be no plague among them when you number them” (verse 12b).
Ok. Here we go again; I have another question. This is the first census God had commanded to be taken. When He gives Moses these instructions He doesn’t say it is a one-time thing. Is He saying that every time they took a census they were to pay this “tax”/offering? Later on God told David NOT to count the people. When he did it anyway, did they pay the “census tax”? If they didn’t, would God have been as harsh with David’s actions? How often was the census taken? When Jesus was born His parents were traveling for a census. Did they have to pay the tax for that census too? Just some questions that occurred to me.
This tax/offering had a specific purpose. It was to help pay for the upkeep of God’s house; the tent of meetings. I am assuming that this money would run out if it was only collected one time, unless it was invested and the interest or gains were actually used instead. But then God is a God of multiplication too. He can take very little and do much with it. If in doubt ask the widow who fed Elijah or anyone at either of the two banquets Jesus served.
Something this “one size fits all” tax demonstrates is that God is no respecter of persons. EVERYONE paid the same price for their life. No life was more valuable than another. And no one was left out or exempt. If “A” then “B”. Not even the Levites were exempt from this tax/sacrifice and they wouldn’t be using any of these proceeds for their own support either.
I’m wondering if the price God set was a small sum that anyone should have been able to afford or if He expected the poor to be able to raise it somehow. Were there any poor in the group that just came out of Egypt? They were all told to ask their “neighbors” for gold and silver and God gave them favor so that they gathered much. So I expect even the person who received the smallest gifts would be able to pay this sum. So was the “poor” comment for later census?
I wonder if the children who were on the cusp of turning 20 felt dismissed. I believe this was the fighting age for Israel’s army, not the age of maturity. In the U.S. they are one in the same. You can gain early enlistment in the military with parental permission. But the authority to make the decision as an “adult” in the U.S. begins on the person’s 18th birthday. Israel it seems it was their 20th. (I know; that was another question. Anyone who has spent any time with me should be used to chasing questions with me.)
The price God set for each life was something He expected everyone to pay. He didn’t set it so high that some would be unable to reach it or so low that it appeared nearly worthless. HE valued each life and wanted to impress that upon His people. He also set the standard for “One price for all” later on. Jesus’ life would be that price and it was the HIGHEST price God ever paid and the HIGHEST price imaginable. Our payment is NOTHING in comparison! This is a FREE gift to me but as thanks for that gift my “payment” is obedience. It is a growing relationship with the Giver and worth EVERY second of it!
Thank You Jesus for paying my ransom! I don’t have the ability to pay the price demanded. I would probably have enough for the “census tax” that was a “ransom”/offering for the adults’ physical lives but the price of my spiritual life I will always fall short on. That is why You stepped up and paid the price in my place. And You paid that same price for EVERYONE who would accept it. Actually, You paid the price even for those who won’t accept it but it won’t do them any good because of THEIR refusal. Your work/gift is NOT lacking, it is just being “left unopened” by too many. I’m sorry Jesus. I wish I could change that. I pray what I have shared and will share helps at least one other person “open” Your precious gift of redemption.