Torah Portion: Ki Tisa (To Take) Exodus 30:11-34:35
HafTorah: I Kings 18:1-39
Tonight I want to start right off with the question I sent out to you. Moses takes a census of the people and as a result of this census every person age 20 and older had to pay ½ shekel for an atonement for their soul. (Exodus 30:12) How can money count as an atonement. Leviticus 17:11 tells us that only the shedding of innocent blood of an animal can atonement come. So how do we reconcile this? Another meaning for the word atonement is ransom. And if we use that word it gives us a clearer understanding of what Moses is saying here. In battle they would be shedding blood and in the Torah when you shed blood a ransom must be paid for the taking of a life.
I think at the end of this we should be able to see and understand an important spiritual lesson. First 20 years old was the age of military service for Israel. Taking that clue we can see that this atonement had some connection with war. Shedding of blood, even in war is a serious a matter and not to be taken lightly. So when a person turned twenty he/she had to give this ½ shekel as an offering for the potential loss of enemy life in battle. G-d looks at any blood shed as serious and not to be taken lightly. Maybe this would change our view of war. Not to be celebrated but to be approached with the knowledge that people created in the image of G-d would die and so it was a very serious spiritual thing that was taking place. Later in Israel’s history this becomes known as the Temple tax and was used to keep up the Temple. Rich, poor, everyone paid the same tax.
Now for a moment let’s look at the bronze laver. Aaron and his sons were to wash their hands and feet before they ministered in the Mishkan. (Exodus 30:17-21) What was the purpose of this washing? We see somewhat the same principle in John 13:7-10 where Yeshua washes the feet of His disciples. In verse 10 Yeshua tells Peter that He who has bathed needs only to wash His feet to be cleaned. We have been cleaned by the blood of the Lamb. He is our laver. Though we were spiritually cleansed by our immersion into Him we also must return to Him for the washing of our souls. He is the source of living water by which we are kept continually clean. (Psalms 24:3-4)
Now I want to take just a moment to speak about the Sabbath. I don’t want to go into whether we should or should not keep it. That is a personal decision that each of us makes in our spiritual life. But I do want to look at what we can learn spiritually from the Sabbath. Only if we understand the spiritual background of the Sabbath can we understand verses like Hebrews 4:9-10 or II Cor. 5:17 where it says we are new creations. Like creation was finished on Friday, our salvation was finished by Yeshua. Can we add to it, is anything else needed? No, all that is left is for us to stop our own labor and enjoy what G-d has done. He made us completely new, holy, blameless. Our lives up until the day of our salvation were our “six days of labor.” By faith in Yeshua we have ceased from our own labors and entered His Sabbath and are now spending the rest of our lives in that seventh day, resting in what He has done for us. So, the actual day of Sabbath is/or can be a living picture of what Messiah accomplished for us in His death and resurrection.
The remainder of the Torah section covers Moses encounter with G-d, the golden calf and the results of it. We often hear that G-d of the Hebrew scripture was a G-d of wrath and judgment while the New Testament picture is one of grace and mercy. Is that true in what we read here? No. In fact maybe our understanding of grace needs to be looked at. How do we understand it? Do we see it as the unmerited gift of G-d? Really the word in Hebrew is “chen” which usually translated as favor. The favor of G-d is embodied in Yeshua (John 1:17) So the source of our favor or grace come through the favor found in Yeshua. Romans 3 24. That favor cost Yeshua something. However He gladly paid that price for us. My point is to never look at grace lightly. G-d showed Israel grace after the golden calf because of the favor of Moses with the Father. He shows favor to us because of Messiah. Therefore we can enter His Sabbath rest. Amen