For Richer or For Poorer

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There is no doubt that the gap between the rich and the poor in the world is getting bigger than ever before. It is a sad reality that there is such inequality in the world.

In the OT, when the Israelites came out from Egypt, such a condition also existed. There were the rich and the poor. Yet in the eyes of God, their lives were of equal value. How do we know this?

Exodus 30
15 The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the Lord to atone for your lives.

The background to this is found in the preceding verses:
11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. 13 Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel, according to the sanctuary shekel, which weighs twenty gerahs. This half shekel is an offering to the Lord. 14 All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the Lord.

Facts to observe:
Why atonement money?
The so-called atonement money was to be given whenever a census was taken. This offering is given as ransom for the life of those who were liberated from bondage in Egypt.

How much is the atonement money?
There is standard amount to be given. How much is half shekel? The gerah is the smallest unit of coin in those days and is 1/50 of an ounce, or 0.6 grams. The sanctuary shekel = 0.4 of an ounce of gold (20 times 1/50 of an ounce), or 12 grams.( If based on a price of 61.60 USD per gram, the approximate value of a sanctuary shekel would be $739.20 in today’s market rate (date today 02/03/2023).

Who must pay the atonement money?
All who cross over, everyone older than 19 years old, whether rich or poor.

Today we do not need to pay atonement money because Jesus Christ has paid the ransom on the cross for us. Our sins are atoned for when we believe and accept Jesus as our Saviour and Lord.

Each life is of equal value in the Creator’s sight. The rich did not give more and the poor not to give less. $700 is an absolute amount but of relative value. For the homeless sleeping on the sidewalk outside our home, $700×53.76 (USD to PhP exchange rate today) = PhP37,632 is a huge impossible amount. For Bill Gates, $700 is peanut.

One might say so unfair, the rich should give more. On the other hand, how about the fact that the poor had the same capacity to give? God is just – He did not require the poor more than what they could afford. He also did not ask the rich for more than what was required even when they could afford.

No man can earn his salvation. God did not liberate man based on his earning capacity. Freedom from slavery was granted based on His compassion. Justification from sin is achieved through the precious priceless blood of Jesus. Salvation is free yet costly.

Ultimately, the atonement money is about God’s grace – He rescued both the rich and the poor from bondage in Egypt. Both the rich and the poor were to remember the deliverance of God. The same applies today. Jesus died for all humankind – the haves and the have-nots. All are of equal worth in God’s eyes.

God’s grace and mercy – free but never cheap. My life is worthy – I should never take each breath for granted. In the eyes of God, I am worth the blood of His Son, Jesus.

Do you know your worth, my friend? For richer or for poorer, God loves you very much.

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