SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- As in previous chapters, this one starts off with instructions for building a structure to be used for sacrifices in the Tabernacle (in this case, the structure is an altar made out of acacia wood and built to certain parameters).
- God instructs Moses to take census of the people he was leading, and also to make each person pay a ransom when they were counted.
- The final few sections of the chapter outline instructions for the use of spices in sacrifices.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Taking a census wasn't (and still isn't) uncommon, but it was (and still is) unusual for each person to pay a ransom. God included this instruction because he was once again setting the stage for the impact of Jesus' death on the cross to be clear to the Israelites. Thousands of years after this ransom-infused census was taken, Jesus himself explained (in Matthew 20:28) that he came to earth to serve people, and to give his life as a ransom.
- Humans are naturally pretty sinful -- we all do things we wish we didn't, and we all have tendencies that pull us away from God. Ultimately, because of our sin we deserve death; we are death's captives.
- A ransom is a payment that is demanded in order for a captive to be set free. Jesus' death on the cross does just that: it serves as a ransom for the death that we would otherwise deserve. Because of what Jesus did, we can live an abundant life with him now, and when we die on this earth we will spend eternity with him.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- If you have accepted Jesus' death for you and given your life to God, your ransom has been paid. You don't have to fear death, and through God you can overcome the sinful temptations and tendencies that seem to overwhelm us. Is there a sin you're currently struggling to overcome? If so, talk to God about it and ask him for guidance to get past it. He has already paid your ransom by overcoming death, and he is eager to help you face whatever temptations or circumstances you're wrestling with.