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by Arno Clemens Gaebelein
THE BOOK OF EXODUS
The word “exodus” means “way out” or “going forth.” The book has been given this Greek name because it relates to the history of the deliverance of the children of Israel from the house of bondage and how they were led forth by the power of God. It needs hardly to be stated that this second book of the Pentateuch is closely linked with Genesis. Without the events recorded in the final chapters of Genesis, the book of Exodus would have no meaning; without the continuation of the story of Israel in Egypt , the book of Genesis would be in an unfinished state. The promises given by God to the patriarchs which we find recorded in Genesis, make this book a necessity. For instance, we read in Genesis 15:13-14 : “And He said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be stranger in a land that is not theirs and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; and also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge; and afterward they shall come out with great substance. To Jacob the Lord said, I am God, the God of thy Father; fear not to go down to Egypt ; for I will there make a great nation of thee” (Genesis 46:3 ). The fulfillment of these predictions and promises, as well as others, are seen in the book of Exodus.
The close connection with the book of Genesis is also learned by the first little word with which Exodus begins. It is the Hebrew conjunction “ve.” The Authorized Version has translated it with “now,” but it really means “and.”
Each of the four books, which, besides Genesis constitute the Pentateuch, begins with this little word. It fully establishes the fact that these books form one great record and must have been written by one instrument. Origin- ally the present division of the writings of Moses into five books did not exist. He wrote in a continuous way, which formed one record. The division into five parts, we doubt not, was made under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
The Higher Criticism
The book of Exodus has been treated by the higher critics in the same manner as the first book of the Bible. Its inspiration and the Mosaic authorship have been denied as well as the great judgments and miracles of which we read in Exodus. What ridiculous inventions have been made to explain some of the miracles wrought by the power of God we care not to follow.
The school of the destructive Bible criticism claims that Exodus is of a composite origin. The same confusing nonsense of a “Jehovist-Elohist-Priestly” narrative with a number of redactors, with which they dissect Genesis, has been applied to Exodus. Canon Driver, an ardent disciple of the fathers of higher criticism, makes the following statement: “The two main sources used in Exodus are those now generally known as ‘Jehovist-Elohist,’ the chief component parts of which date probably from the seventh or eighth century before Christ, and the ‘Priestly’ which is generally considered to have been written during or shortly after the Babylonian captivity.” According to these statements Moses had nothing whatever to do with the composition of this book. We do not care to invite our readers to a closer inspection of this higher critical dissecting room, nor do we wish to burden our pages with the infidel assertions of these so-called “learned men.” It is a hopeless labyrinth of theories and contradictions, which lead gradually but surely into the outer darkness. Yet these pernicious inventions are taught in many colleges and seminaries of the different evangelical denominations.
A Jewish rabbi of considerable learning, after a close examination of the arguments produced by the critics, has of late shown their absolute worthlessness from a literary point of view. He declares, “All these and similar analyses of the sources of Exodus and the conclusions based thereon are entirely wrong.... The theory that the book of Exodus was compiled from previous works is not sufficiently supported; and the attempt to analyze it into its component parts is a hopeless one, for all the elements of the book are closely welded together into one harmonious whole (Rabbi Dr. Benno Jacob of Goettingen , Germany).
But it does not take scholarship to discover the truth of the last sentence, that “all the elements of the book are closely welded together into one harmonious whole.” Every intelligent reader of Exodus makes this discovery. The impression is at once created that only one person wrote this book, and that this person was intimately acquainted with the history of the period which Exodus treats. That the author was Moses is indisputable.
In Exodus 24:4 we read, “And Moses wrote all the words of the Lord.” In Chapter Exodus 34:27 another command to write is given, “Write thou these words.” The Hebrews speak of the Pentateuch as “the law,” and “the law of Moses.” The book of the law, the law of Moses, now divided into five parts, was in existence at the time of Joshua (Joshua 1:8 ).
The Witness of the New Testament
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the infallible Son of God, perfect in knowledge, said to the Sadducees: “And as touching the dead, that they rise, have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake to him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob” (Mark 12:26 ). Our Lord thus gives positive evidence that Exodus is the book of Moses. See also Luke 20:37 . Exodus is quoted twenty-five times by Christ and His apostles, and there are almost as many allusions to it scattered throughout the New Testament books. The rejection of the inspiration of Exodus means the rejection of the inspiration of the entire New Testament, and worse than that, it means the rejection of the testimony of the Son of God.
Israel’s Birthday Book
The book of Exodus may well be called “ Israel ‘s birthday book.” Israel entered Egypt as a family and left Egypt as a nation, brought forth by the grace and power of God. Jehovah calls Israel “my Son, my Firstborn” (Exodus 4:22 ).
The national birthday of Israel is recorded in this book. First we find the travail pains in the house of bondage, preceding the birth. The birth itself takes place in the twelfth chapter, when sheltered by blood they went out, to leave Egypt behind. The memorable month in which they were redeemed by blood was now to be “the beginning of months,” the beginning of a new year, the starting point of their national existence. Then followed their deliverance and redemption by the power of God at the Red Sea , the giving of the law and the statutes and their divine calling as a nation to be “a kingdom of priests and an holy nation.”
Perhaps no other Old Testament book is so rich in typical teachings as Exodus. The power of Satan and God’s salvation by blood are most clearly revealed in the first part of the book. The Lord Jesus Christ and His work in redemption are foreshadowed throughout the book. The two great phases of the gospel of God, so fully and blessedly revealed in the Epistle to the Romans, are found in type in Exodus. These two phrases are, redemption from the guilt of sins and redemption from the power of sin. The former is seen in type in Israel ‘s Passover experience, and the latter is typified by the overthrow and destruction of the Egyptians in the Red Sea . These two great events give us two aspects of the death of Christ.
And how rich and full in typical meaning is the tabernacle with its different appointments and its priesthood. Here we find Christ everywhere. Various experiences of God’s people may be traced in the conflicts and victories of Israel , their failure and unbelief. The annotations of the different chapters take notice of all this.
Equally important are the dispensational foreshadowings. Israel ‘s suffering in Egypt is typical of their history of sorrow and tears until their final restoration and fulfillment of God’s promises to them as a nation takes place. God’s dealing in judgment with Egypt foreshadows future judgments in store for the world. The deliverance out of Egypt is a pattern of their future deliverance, when they will be brought back. To this Jeremiah 16:14 refers: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, As the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt , but, As the Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the countries, whither He had driven them.” The life of Moses, as a type of Christ, gives other dispensational hints of great interest. It is a most blessed book. May He guide us by His Spirit and unfold its precious truths to our hearts.
The Division of Exodus
We do not find in the book of Exodus a characteristic word like the word “generation” in Genesis, which points out the division in that book. Exodus contains a continuous story. We believe the key text for this book is found in the third chapter, in the words which the Lord spoke out of the burning bush to Moses, whom He called to be the leader of His people. We find them in chapter Exodus 3:7-8 .
And the Lord said, I have surely seen the affliction of My people which are in Egypt , and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians; and to bring them up out of the land unto a good land flowing with milk and honey, unto the place of the Canaanites: and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites and the Hivites, and Jebusites.
These are beautiful words. They tell us that the Lord took notice of the affliction of His people and heard their cry. He was now ready to act in their behalf and to deliver them out of the house of bondage. In the eighth verse we have the two parts of Exodus indicated. The Lord announced two things He would do for His people. 1. I am come down to deliver them out of the hands of the Egyptians. 2. And to bring them up out of the land unto a good land flowing with milk and honey. Exodus has two great parts which correspond to these two statements.
I. ISRAEL’S DELIVERANCE OUT OF THE HANDS OF THE EGYPTIANS
1. The House of Bondage (Exodus 1:1-22 )
2. Moses the Chosen Deliverer (Ex. 2-4:28)
3. Moses and Aaron in Egypt (Exodus 4:29-7:13 )
4. The Nine Plagues; the Tenth judgment Announced (Exodus 7:14-11:10 )
5. Redemption by Blood: The Passover and the Law of the Firstborn (Ex. 12-13:16)
6. Redemption by Power (Exodus 13:7-22 ; Exodus 14:1-31 )
7. The Song of Redemption (Exodus 15:1-21 )
II. THE JOURNEY TOWARDS THE PROMISED LAND. ISRAEL AT SINAI
1. The Experiences in the Wilderness (Exodus 15:22-18:27 )
2. At Sinai: The Covenant and the Law (Ex. 19-24:18)
3. The Tabernacle and the Priesthood (Ex. 25-31:18)
4. Israel ‘s Sin and Rebellion (Exodus 32:1-35 )
5. Moses’ Intercession and its Results (Ex. 33-34:35)
6. The Building of the Tabernacle (Ex. 35-39:43)
7. The Tabernacle Set Up: The Finished Work and the Glory (Exodus 40:1-38 )
We learn from this division and analysis that the first section begins with the groans of the enslaved people in the house of bondage and ends with the song of redemption, sung by the redeemed and delivered nation. The beginning of the second section shows the redeemed people in the wilderness of Shur and describes their experiences; it ends with the finished work and the glory of the Lord filling the tabernacle. Both sections are prophetic. Israel ‘s groans and captivity will end in deliverance. Their wilderness wanderings will yet terminate in a future of glory, with Jehovah in their midst.
THE ATONEMENT MONEY
(by Henry W. Soltau, The Tabernacle, Priesthood and the Offerings.)
The word silver in Hebrew is frequently translated money. It was indeed, the precious metal ordinarily in use, in all transactions of buying and selling; and even at this day, in many countries, it is the current money of the merchant. Francs, dollars, thalers, scudi, are all coins of Silver; and mercantile transactions are generally calculated in one or other of these coins, in most of the countries of Europe , and indeed of the world.
We have two memorable instances in Scripture, where life was bartered for silver. Joseph for twenty, and the Son of God for thirty pieces. The idea therefore, of price or value, especially attaches to this metal. It ranks also with us, as one of the precious metals; and though not displaying the brilliant glory of the gold, it is especially beautiful, by reason of its soft purity and unsullied whiteness; and like gold, it corrodes not, and wastes not in the fining pot, though subject to the intense heat of the furnace.
The silver, used in the construction of the tabernacle, was all derived from the atonement money.
The whole range of God’s truth rests upon two great verities: the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, the Son of Man--and His work of atonement on the cross. Throughout the history of God’s ancient people, type after type, and shadow upon shadow, reiterated the absolute necessity of atonement. And while the law prescribed commandments, to obey which Israel fatally pledged themselves, it at the same time contained abundant ritual observances, which testified to man’s incapability and need, and prophesied of One, who while they were yet without strength, should, in due time, die for the ungodly. As a covenant of works, it was a ministration of death. But to one who was really a child of Abraham, it must have shone out, like the face of Moses, with a prophetic glory; and have pointed onwards to the Lamb of God; in whom all the shadows of good things to come passed into substance.
This type before us, of the atonement-money, preached a very clear and blessed gospel. It told out the great truth, that birth in the flesh availed nothing. An Israelite might trace up, in unbroken succession, his descent from Abraham, or from one of Jacob’s sons. Still, that sufficed him not, if he desired to be entered on the roll as one of God’s soldiers and servants. The Jews, in the time of the Lord, could say, “We be Abraham’s seed”; and the Samaritan sinner claimed Jacob as her father. But they were captives of the devil, and of fleshly lusts; and their human pedigree had not raised them out of the dominion of sin. God had therefore enjoined that, whenever Israel were numbered as His people, every man must give a ransom for his soul. The price was fixed by God himself. Each man, whether poor or rich, must bring the same. One could not pay for another; but every one must tender his own ransom-money, of pure silver, and of perfect weight. “Half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, (a shekel is twenty gerahs) a half shekel shall be the offering of the Lord” (Exodus 30:13 ). Other gospel truths here shine out. When the question came to be one of ransom, the poor and the rich, the foolish and the wise, the ignorant and the learned, the immoral and the moral, stood on the same level. Each person was estimated by God at the same price. He proved Himself no respecter of persons. And so it is still. The third chapter of the Epistle to the Romans defines the state of every one in the whole world, and levels the way for the gospel. John the Baptist prepared the way of the Lord by his voice, calling all to repentance, declaring all to be in one condition, needing change of heart. And the Lord Jesus began to speak of the great salvation to hearts thus prepared. The chapter above referred to makes the path straight for the proclamation of justification through faith in Christ, by pronouncing that all are under sin; that every mouth must be silent; that all the world is guilty before God; and that there is no difference between the religious Jew, and the irreligious Gentile; for, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
Another truth enunciated in this type is, that salvation must be an individual, personal matter; between the soul and God. Every man has to bring his own half shekel. One of the devices of Satan at the present day--and it is spread far and wide--is the way in which he obscures this truth, by inducing whole communities to believe they are Christians; made such, either by baptism, or by some formal profession of religiousness; and placing, in the lips of thousands, “Our Saviour,” and “Our Father”; and thus beguiling them into the thought that they are included in a general redemption of mankind, which affects the whole human race. Constantly, therefore, in speaking to persons, we find the reply: O yes, we are all sinners: and Christ has died for us all.
Each individual Israelite had to present himself to the priest, bringing with him his own piece of money as a ransom; and his name would then be entered in God’s book. The Lord Jesus, in the 6th chapter of John, says: “Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink His blood, ye have no life in you.” Eating and drinking are actions which one cannot perform for another. The food, taken into the mouth, becomes one’s own, and ministers strength and nourishment to the body. So, the death of Christ must be appropriated by each to himself. The soul has to say, My Saviour; My Lord; My God. I have been crucified with Christ. Christ loved me, and gave Himself for me. Just as assuredly as the Israelite of old had to eat the manna he had collected for his own sustenance; or according to his eating, to make his count for the lamb.
The half shekel was to be of silver; the unalloyed, unadulterated metal. Three things are probably here presented to us in type: the Lord Jesus as God--as the pure and spotless One--and as giving His life a ransom for many. The silver, being a solid, imperishable precious metal, may have this first aspect: its chaste whiteness representing the second; and its being ordinarily employed as money or price, may point out its fitness as a type of the third.
The weight was also defined by God: “the shekel of the sanctuary”; kept as a standard in the tabernacle; and perhaps bearing some stamp or inscription to authenticate it. Its weight was twenty gerahs. The half-shekel, brought by each man who desired to be numbered, was to be compared with this. God kept the just weight and the just balance; and His priest would neither take dross instead of silver, nor receive less weight of the precious metal than was required by the Lord. With confidence the true-hearted Israelite would ring out the silver sound, from his half shekel before the priest: with confidence would he see it put into the balance. And, in the blessed antitype, with confidence does the believer sound out, in the ears of God, and of the great High Priest of His sanctuary, his full dependence on Christ and His precious blood. He knows that this price is up to the full estimate demanded by God. He has one standard of perfection and purity, against which He weighs the hearts, spirits, and actions of men. Everything short of this standard, every one who fails to reach this sterling value, will be condemned; like the Babylonian prince, who was weighed in the balances and found wanting. To come short of the glory of God, is to be in the distance and darkness of corruption and death. How wondrous the grace, which has provided One, in whom we are raised from the depth of human misery, degradation and ruin, to the height of the throne and glory of the Most High! How passing knowledge, that love of God, which has not hesitated to plunge into judgment and wrath, His only-begotten Son, and to shed the blood of Christ like water, in order to redeem, from filthiness and sin, the worthless and the vile; and to number them among the hosts of light and glory, in the courts above!
There is a manifest allusion to the atonement-money in 1 Peter 1:18 ; “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation, received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.” An allusion, by way of contrast. What men consider precious metals, and free from impurity and corrosion, God calls “perishable” and “corruptible.” He says that gold and silver “canker” and “rust.”
The man who amasses wealth is an object of praise and envy. “Men will praise thee when thou doest well to thyself” (Psalms 49:18 ). But in this epistle, gain is denominated filthy lucre. The redemption, which God has paid for us, is no amount of corruptible things, as silver and gold. Lebanon is not sufficient to burn, nor the beasts thereof sufficient for a burnt-offering. Nothing less than the precious blood of Christ would avail. God has valued our salvation at no less cost, than the pouring out of His soul unto death.
The Hebrew word, from which the words ransom and atonement are derived, has a variety of senses all bearing on the same truth. Thus, we find the word includes the thought of covering over our sin; as a covering of pitch covers over the wood on which it is spread (Genesis 6:14 ).
The blood of the atonement blots out the page of sin, and hides it from the eye of God. The secret sins, which have stood out in their glaring evil, in the light of His countenance, are hidden by the blood sprinkled on the mercy-seat. It also means, to appease or pacify. Thus Jacob sent a present to (atone or) appease his brother Esau (Genesis 32:20 ). “The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will (atone or) pacify it” (Proverbs 16:14 ). “That thou mayest remember, and be confounded, and never open thy mouth any more, because of thy shame, when I am (atoned or) pacified towards thee” (Ezekiel 16:63 ).
This is the sense of the word in the New Testament-- propitiation ; God’s wrath being appeased in Christ through the shedding of His blood (1 John 2:2 ; 1 John 4:10 ).
Pardon and forgiveness are included in the word. “The blood shall be (atoned, or) forgiven them” (Deuteronomy 21:8 ).
Hezekiah prayed, “The good Lord (atone, or) pardon every one” (2 Chronicles 30:18 ); also, to reconcile.
“A sin-offering brought in (to atone, or) to reconcile withal, in the holy place” (Leviticus 6:30 ).
“And when He hath made an end of (atoning, or) reconciling the holy place” (Leviticus 26:20 ).
“Poured the blood at the bottom of the altar, and sanctified it, to make (atonement, or) reconciliation upon it” (Leviticus 8:15 ).
“So shall ye (atone, or) reconcile the house” (Ezekiel 45:20 ; also 15 and 17).
In the New Testament also, the word atonement is synonymous with reconciliation.
“To make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17 ).
“We have now received the atonement” (Romans 5:11 ; margin-reconciliation).
“Reconciling of the world” (Romans 11:15 ).
“That He might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross” (Ephesians 2:16 ).
“By Him, to reconcile all things to Himself” (Colossians 1:20 ).
To put off, or expiate.-- “Mischief shall fall upon thee; thou shalt not be able to put it off” (margin - expiate; Isaiah 47:11 ).
To disannul. - “Your covenant with death shall be disannulled” (Isaiah 28:18 ).
Ransom, or, satisfaction - “Deliver him from going down into the pit: I have found a ransom” (Job 33:24 ).
“A great ransom cannot deliver thee” (Job 36:18 ).
“Nor give to God a ransom for him” (Psalms 49:7 ).
Satisfaction.--”Yet shall take no satisfaction for the life of a murderer” (Numbers 35:31 ).
In the New Testament.--”To give His life as a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28 ; Mark 10:45 ).
Lastly: To purge or cleanse.--”Purge away our sins, for Thy name’s sake” (Psalms 79:9 ).
“By mercy and truth, iniquity is purged” (Proverbs 16:6 ).
“This iniquity shall not be purged” (Isaiah 22:14 ).
“By this, therefore, shall the iniquity of Jacob be purged” (Isaiah 27:9 ).
“The land cannot be cleansed of the blood” (Numbers 35:33 ).
We shall perceive from these various quotations, that the same Hebrew word translated atonement, signifies also, covering over; appeasing; forgiveness; reconciliation; expiation; disannulling; ransom or redemption; satisfaction; and cleansing.
One sense of our word atonement is, at-onement; two opposing parties being brought together in agreement as one. And the means whereby this is effected, the payment of a price, ransom or satisfaction. So, this beautiful type of the half shekel or silver, shadows forth the precious blood of Christ, as the redemption price provided by God. And, when the sinner estimates its all-sufficient value in the presence of God, he answers the action of the Israelite in paying down the silver half shekel; as it is beautifully expressed in 1 Peter 2:7 : “Unto you which believe, He is precious”; or, as it might be rendered, “He is the preciousness” your full satisfaction, and value also before God.
We have also another important aspect of truth portrayed in this type--viz.: that redemption brings us to, and fits us for God. The Israelite, who paid his ransom-money, was numbered as a soldier and a servant for God. A place was assigned him in the battlefield; and he had his position in the camp, appointed with reference to the tabernacle, the dwelling-place of God in the midst of the hosts. From henceforth Jehovah was his Leader, his Lord, his King. In like manner, the believer is redeemed to God, by the blood of Christ, from the world, and from slavery to sin and Satan; that he may be a soldier and a servant of the Most High; to be led, guided, and sustained by Him, who has called him out of darkness, into His marvellous light.
Two other words deserve our notice in this passage (Exodus 30:13-14 ). “Every one that passeth among them that are numbered.” And the word “offering” (30:13-15). The allusion, in verses 13 and 14 is to the sheep passing under the rod of the shepherd, as he numbers them (Ezekiel 20:37 ). “I will cause you to pass under the rod: and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant.” The priest took the place of a shepherd, counting the sheep of God’s hand. And as the true mark of the sheep came under his eye, in the ransom-money offered by each, he entered each in the book of the covenant. So the good Shepherd has laid down His life for the sheep; and they are entered in the Lamb’s book of life, because the atonement-price has been paid for each.
The word offering is a peculiar word in the Hebrew, signifying something that is lifted off the ground and presented on high; and is the word translated heave-offering. All the various offerings brought by the Israelites, as contributions for forming the tabernacle, the enumerated (Exodus 25:2-7 ) are called heave-offerings. This atonement-money was a peculiar piece of silver, separated off to God, and lifted, as it were, from the earth, with the special object of being paid into His treasury, as a ransom for the soul. So has the Lord Jesus been lifted up, first on the cross, to pour out His blood a ransom for many; and secondly, He has been exalted, and made very high, “to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31 ).
This ordinance was transgressed by David, as related in 1 Chronicles 21:0; 1 Chronicles 21:0 . Israel had settled down in self-contentedness and pride; David their king and shepherd, himself drinking into the same spirit. Satan, by God’s permission, was allowed to tempt the king, and provoke him, by whisperings of vanity and self exaltation, to number Israel. The desire in David’s heart was, not that God might be glorified and His promise made manifest, in the vast increase of His people; but that he, the king, might congratulate himself on the number of his subjects. “Number ye the people, that I may know.” “Bring the number of them to me, that I may know it.” Joab, to whom the command was given, though himself an ambitious worldly-minded man, yet was keen-sighted enough to perceive that this desire of his master was not of God. He even had some insight into David’s sin. He looked upon Israel as a people belonging to Jehovah; and on David, as committing a trespass in having them numbered for himself. But, like all unbelievers, though he could point out the fault, he was not able to direct David to the remedy. He did not allude to the atonement-money.
One result of this numbering was that even cities of the Hivites, and the stronghold of Tyre, were included in the tale; which could never have been the case had the silver half-shekel been required. At the present day, unconverted inhabitants of earth are too often classed as of the church of God, by reason of the same neglect, viz.: that they are not required to confess openly their confidence in the precious blood of Christ, before being reckoned among the hosts of God.
David’s heart soon smote him after the numbering was completed; he fully confessed his own sin and folly; he at once cast himself on the mercies of God for pardon, and preferred being dealt with in chastisement immediately from the Lord rather than fall into the hands of men. Accordingly, the plague (which had already been threatened, in Exodus 30:12 ) broke out amongst the people; and the destroyer stayed not his hand until the Lord, listening to the humiliation of David, and appeased by the burnt-offering, presented at the threshing-floor of Ornan the Jebusite, said “It is enough.” David in his intercession, manifests a soul restored to the Lord; and proves that he has discovered his former error; for he speaks of Israel as sheep, and as the people of the Lord; whereas he had numbered them as fighting-men, and for his own glory.
Also the price of the spot for the altar is paid in shekels of silver. There may be some reference to this in the atonement-money. The apparent discrepancy between the fifty shekels, mentioned as the purchase-money in 2 Samuel 24:24 , and the six hundred shekels of gold in 1 Chronicles 21:25 , may be reconciled on the supposition that the former money was paid for the mere spot on which the altar itself was erected; whereas the latter was the purchase-money for the whole place of the threshing-floor.
The blessed words “it is enough” were again, in principle, uttered by Jehovah from heaven, when He raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. Satisfaction had been completely made: the sword of vengeance had been buried in the heart of God’s own Son; the precious blood had been poured out; the full redemption-price had been rendered; and Jesus was raised from the dead; at once the proof of the perfect value of His own death, and to receive the due reward of His loving faithful obedience. “It is enough” may be a fitting superscription for the half shekel ransom-money.
It appears that the question asked of Peter, (Matthew 17:24 ) “Does not your master pay tribute?” (or, according to the margin, the didrachma) had reference to this ransom-money. Probably the payment, which had been instituted in Exodus 30:0 , of a half-shekel, when the Israelites were numbered, had in the course of time been converted by the Jewish rulers into a kind of poll-tax, payable for the uses of the temple. Peter, with his usual readiness, or rather rashness, answered the question in the affirmative, without referring, as he should have done, to the Lord Himself for a reply. And when he was come into the house, Jesus anticipated his request for the ransom-money, (to the payment of which he had just committed the Lord) by putting the question, “What thinkest thou, Simon, of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute? of their own children, or of strangers?” The Lord thus addresses him as Simon, instead of Peter. The Apostle had relapsed into the natural man; and Jesus uses the name, which Peter had received from his earthly parents, instead of the new name, given him on his confession of faith.
Peter had forgotten the late glorious scene of the transfiguration, when the Voice had sounded from the excellent glory, “This is my beloved Son: hear ye Him;” and he had committed two errors. Instead of harkening to Jesus, and learning of Him, he had acted on his own self-confident judgment; and instead of owning the Lord as the Son of God, he had lowered Him down to the position of a stranger, or captive, from whom a ransom was demanded by God. This serves to explain the Lord’s question quoted above. Peter replies to it--to his own condemnation--”of strangers. “Jesus saith unto him, “Then are the children free.” Jesus came to declare the Father. “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.” He had come to redeem them that were under the law; that those who believed on Him might receive the adoption of sons. Liberty of sonship, and not the bondage of servantship, not the slavery of bondmen confined under rigid commandments, was the liberty that Christ came to proclaim. The law, even in its type of the atonement-money, did not intimate the blessing of sonship. Grace and truth, which came by Jesus Christ, placed the believer in the freedom of new birth; as many as received Christ, were born of God. But Peter had not yet received the spirit of sonship. The Holy Ghost had not yet been sent from the risen Christ; and thus the apostle mingled up and confounded adoption and bondage, and lowered the Son down to the position of a stranger.
This is an instructive lesson to our souls; for the spirit of bondage is constantly working within us. It is of the flesh, of nature. It springs from Simon, the son of Jonas, instead of from Peter, a child of God. If we have known God, or rather, are known of God, we are no longer aliens or strangers, but children and heirs; and the spirit of slavery cannot dwell with the spirit of the Son. Law and grace can never be united.
The Lord Jesus, having claimed for Himself and Peter the liberty of children, adds: “Notwithstanding, lest we should offend them, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money (a stater), that take and give unto them for Me, and thee.” Thus, one piece of silver, brought up from the depth of the sea, was paid into God’s treasury, in which piece Jesus and Peter were both included. There seems to be a wonderful significance in this. The sea yielded up the precious ransom-money. The depths, with their billows and waves of wrath and death, were, so to speak, the birthplace of atonement. Jesus rose not alone, but inseparably linked on with His Church--one with Him in all His own preciousness--presented in Him to God in glory--laid up and hidden in God’s treasury above.
Whatever God’s demand against Peter, the blessed Lord was involved in the same demand: Peter’s responsibility became Christ’s--”for Me and thee”--and thus is Jesus now in the presence of God for us, to answer every liability, to render payment in the full for all our infirmities and sins, to save, to the very end, all that come unto God by Him. He has bound us up with Himself, in one bundle of life; and we can never look upon Him now, without also beholding in union with Him, the whole ransomed church of God, one precious piece of silver in God’s temple above.
THE JEWISH YEAR
Abib or Nivan--First month (April)
•Fourteenth day--Passover Feast •Sixteenth day--Firstfruits of the Barley HarvestZif--Second month (May)
Suvan--Third month (June)
•Sixth day--Feast of Weeks or Pentecost Firstfruits of the Wheat, etc.Thammuz--Fourth month (July)
Ab--Fifth month (August)
Elul--Sixth month (September)
Tisri--Seventh month (October)
•First day--Feast of Trumpets •Tenth day--Day of Atonement •Fifteenth day--Feast of TabernaclesSuccoth Bul--Eighth month (November)
Chislev--Ninth month (December)
•Twenty-fifth day--Feast of Dedication TebethTenth month (January) Shebat
Eleventh month (February)
Adar--Twelfth Month (March)
•Fourteenth and Fifteenth days Purim. The Jewish year begins with a feast commemorating the great deliverance out of Egypt. It ends with a feast commemorating another deliverance. Heman is a type of the Antichrist. Read the book of Esther.
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12