February 14, 1993

Numbering for Warfare

Ex 30:11-16 As I was studying in the book of Exodus, I came across a very interesting passage in 30:11-16. At first reading, it seems very insignificant, but upon closer examination, it is well worth our attention.

This section deals with the Atonement-money which the Lord commanded Moses to collect from the men of Israel.

At the command of the Lord, when the men of Israel were numbered, each one was to give half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary. A half shekel was equal in weighed to about 122 grains of wheat, or about 1.00 today. The purpose of giving the money was to prevent a plague from among the men at their numbering, and the funds were for use in the sanctuary.

By this tax being listed first among the supplemental instructions concerning the sanctuary, it is considered first in importance by the Lord.

The numbering as commanded here by the Lord for tax purposes appears a little confused, and there are three thoughts on it. I will only give you the one I feel fits the context best. What I am giving is a condensed version of my more detailed study in this section. If you would like, I will provide the detailed study which includes the tax question put to Christ in Matt 17:22.

Let me open by quickly mentioning these six things about this tax levied by the Lord through Moses:

1) even though the money was required of every man who was numbered to prevent a plague among them, it was called an offering.

2) although the money went to the service of the sanctuary, it was considered the Lord's money.

3) according to Exo 38:25-28 & Numbers chapter 1, the first time this "tax" was paid, it was a one-time tax paid by every male who was twenty and over.

4) after the initial numbering and payment, this tax appears to be a continuing tax upon every male when he reached the age of twenty.

5) it could be considered a continuing emergency tax; it was paid again by all war age males every time the army was mustered for warfare.

6) Every man, rich or poor, gave the same amount.

The purpose of the money was to make an atonement for their souls; it was a covering which protected them from the Lord's wrath. Then when the money was used for the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, it was a memorial, or reminder, before the Lord.

In the military context of this tax, it covered or wiped away the guilt of the one paying the tax, so that the sinful man was protected from the punishment of the righteous judge. Thus it provided protection for the one going to battle from the just justice of the Lord God as the man fought the Lord's battle.

I have 10 points of implications from this tax.

1) while Moses is on the mount in Exodus 30, he is commanded to number the people. The first numbering seems to have taken place on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they were come out of the land of Egypt, Num 1:2. Numbers 1:3 (Exo 38:25-28), make it clear that this numbering was a military numbering, ie. they counted the army.

Thus the book of Numbers is a military book: it is preparing the people of God for the warfare which is about to come to pass as they take Canaan. The Book of Numbers not only prepares the army by actually counting them, it also instructs them in how they are to fight and what they are to do after they take the land. The book of Numbers records the numbering for military service, and must not be dismissed lightly.

2) it was a military tax; the Lord's command to number the people was to number the men only for military service. It was done in preparation for warfare.

Note these points about the military:

A) every male was drafted into the army of the King for the furtherance of the Kingdom. There were no exceptions and the men had to pay for the privilege of fighting in the Lord's army. In other words, every man was drafted into the King of kings' army and had to pay for the privilege.

B) there was no draft exemption or deferments; not even the "handicapped" were exempt from this draft and payment. Although everyone had to show up for battle, there were opportunities for them to go home,Deut 20:1-9.

De 20:1-9 When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, [and] a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God [is] with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; For the LORD your God [is] he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man [is there] that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it. And what man [is he] that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not [yet] eaten of it? let him [also] go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man [is there] that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her. And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man [is there that is] fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart. And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

Deut 20 clearly tells us that even godly warfare is not fought at the expense of the family.

Every male was required to be numbered and taxed. There is a place for everyone, there is a job for every one in the Lord's army.

C) there was no upper age limit. A man could be to young to fight the Lord's battles, but he could not be to old. Thus, there is no retirement from this King's army. Every man is in it until he dies.

D) there were no women included in this numbering of the Lord's army. Warfare in this King's cause is man's work; it is hard, hot, dirty and bloody. It involves long hours, disappointments, discouragements and confrontations with evil and wicked persons who are determined to destroy all that our King stands for.

But the woman does most certainly have a place in the war:

Even in the OT, there was a place for women in the service of the sanctuary. Although the OT Scriptures are not really clear as to what service they did, we have maybe a hint of their OT service in the NT:

Mt 26:69 Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. Lu 2:37 And she [was] a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served [God] with fastings and prayers night and day. Joh 18:16 But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter. 1Ti 5:5 Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

God made the woman to be a helpmate for her husband as he waged the King's war. He made her to help him and encourage him as he fights; God did not make her and equip her to lead in the Lord's battles. (The Lord may well raise up women to do the work for the King when the men fail, but it is a mark that the men are now failures and worthless for the cause of the King.)

Paul gave the place of the women in this warfare: Tit 2:5 [To be] discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.

Her place is not a lower place; rather, it is an equal place with her husband: they are heirs together, 1Pe 3:7 Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with [them] according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered. The women have at least an equal place, if not superior place, in this warfare as they train the next generation of soldiers.

Paul gives further instructions concerning widows in 1 Tim 5:1-16.

Observation: I personally believe that one of the major reasons why the fundamental Baptist movement has failed is because they used women as their front line troops in their bus ministries. The women were not numbered in this numbering for warfare. Obviously, even in the book of Judges and with women such as Deborah, the women did not pay this military tax. This shows us that there is indeed a place for women in the Lord's army, but it is not doing what the mem have been called to do.

E) the tax was used for the initial building and then the continued upkeep of the sanctuary where God met with His people, Ex 30:16. Thus it reminded both the Lord and His people that they were fighting the Lord's battles and not their own. It spoke of God's protection of His people in their warfare & service, and that protection was given only as they moved in faithful obedience to their Commander and Chief, the Lord God.

In other words, man cannot go off and fight his own battles and expect the Lord to protect him. Yes, the battle is the Lord's, but God's protection is only for the faithful and obedient who are serving in His army.

1Sa 17:47 And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle [is] the LORD'S, and he will give you into our hands. 2Ch 20:15 And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle [is] not yours, but God's.

3) the half shekel was to be paid to the Lord. Its purpose was to buyatonement, or protective covering, for the ones who were going to war. Thus it spoke of covering the soldier's sin from the face of the holy, righteous God, so God could provide protection and victory for them as they fought the Lord's battles. It reminded the people before they went into battle that their safety and victory was totally dependant upon the Lord of Hosts, Pr 21:31 The horse [is] prepared against the day of battle: but safety [is] of the LORD.

4) This payment shows us that God's protective grace is not free, yet it is within reach of every man. It was half shekel for every war age male; it was low enough that the poor could pay it, and it was low enough not to be oppressive to the rich. It was not a progressive tax.

Grace is freely available to sinful man, but it had to be purchased. Someone had to pay the price. Of course, we know that Christ paid that price. (Cf. Mat 18:25ff.)

5) this payment spoke of dependance upon the Lord as men fight the Lord's battles, and assured victory to His faithful obedient people through and by the grace of God. Sinful man can only be victorious in this sinful world by the grace of God which covers his sin; that victorious and covering grace was purchased by money in Ex 30. The men of Israel clearly understood the implication of this tax. InNum 31:50, the men of the army gave over and above the required amount which they gave at their mustering before the battle; they gave over and above in thankfulness for the Lord's protection in battle. Thus they recognized the Lord's providential protection of them in battle. (We have therefore brought an oblation for the LORD, what every man hath gotten, of jewels of gold, chains, and bracelets, rings, earrings, and tablets, to make an atonement for our souls before the LORD.)

6) this payment clearly assumes there is a war going on, and that there will continue to a war until all things are subdued to King Jesus. It spoke of the Lord's protection as men fought in His warfare against evil. Christ is our protection; He paid our ransom Mt 10:45; 1 Ti 26; 1 Pe 1:18, 19. Moreover, He said that He would be with His faithful, obedient people as they would fight His battles, in Matt 28:19, 20.

7) the payment of the tax was according to weight, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, Ex 28:24. Thus proper weights and measures are a religious function; they are a theological issue and fact. False weights and measures are war against the God Who changes not. As a side note: the metric system is man-centered, thus antigod, because the scriptures measure according to cubits and inches and miles.

8) this tax pointed to the holiness of God, and that all men are equally sinners before the Lord: all men are on equal footing before the cross of Christ. God is no respecter of persons, and one law covers all people of all times.

9) the money represents the individual; the individual was set aside to wage war for the kingdom of God, and thus the sanctuary of the Kingdom is built upon the money given by these men. Many times much of the spoil was dedicated to the sanctuary, but here the very basis of the sanctuary is the "mustering" tax.

Exodus 38:25-28, records the amount of funds which came in from the numbering tax and what they were used for: to make specific parts of the tabernacle, the silver foundations, the hooks and rods which held the sanctuary together.

The hundred talents, and a thousand seven hundred and threescore and fifteen shekels were used thusly: 100 talents for casting the foundation for the tabernacle, namely the 100 sockets upon which the tabernacle rested, and the remainder was used for three more things: to make the hooks for the pillars which held up the curtains, for placing a silver cap upon the tops of the pillar and for making the silver rods which held the pillars of the court together.

The tax after this first tax was for upkeep because the tabernacle would have been built. In other words, the Kingdom of God is built and held together by warfare, by hard work and sacrifice.

The effort in the Kingdom of God is likened to warfare throughout Scripture.

Ac 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, [and] exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Ro 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 2Co 10:4 (For the weapons of our warfare [are] not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Eph 6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. 1Ti 1:18 This charge I commit unto thee, son Timothy, according to the prophecies which went before on thee, that thou by them mightest war a good warfare; 1Ti 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. 2Ti 2:4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of [this] life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.

10) one last point:

When we compare Deut 20:1-9 with Lk 14:15-24, we see an unusual fact: in the Lord's parable of the great supper, those bidden offered the excuses listed in Deut 20:1-9. Thus the implication is that those bidden in Christ's parable realized that there was far more involved in the certain man's call than just going to a great supper, a fine meal; it was a call to warfare and the supper was a preparation for that warfare. They were not willing to commit themselves to that war, so they used the law of Moses to excuse themselves. The certain man then opened the invitation to the great supper to anyone who was willing to come.

I am afraid that many misunderstand the call of the Lord; they view it as merely an invitation to a good fine meal, a great supper, in the kingdom of God, rather than for what it really is: a call to warfare for the King here and now.

The kingdom of God and the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ is built by the grace of God; the Kingdom and the Church are build upon the hard work of men with their wives at their side.

Where are our efforts being invested? in the institutes and kingdoms of men or in the kingdom of God?