Exodus 30:11-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 19, 2008


Moses has been up on Mount Sinai with God receiving instructions on how to built the portable worship center we call the “Tabernacle. We’ve looked at the various parts of this portable worship center in the wilderness and have been learning that there was purpose and design in these things.  They teach us about heaven.  They teach us about God.  They teach us about how we are to worship and serve God.

:11-16 Ransom Money

:11 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

:12 "When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the LORD, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them.

censusro’sh – head, top, total, sum.

(Num 1:2-3 NKJV)  "Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, {3} "from twenty years old and above; all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies.

(Num 26:2 NKJV)  "Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel from twenty years old and above, by their fathers' houses, all who are able to go to war in Israel."

numberpaqad – to muster, number, reckon

:13 "This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs). The half-shekel shall be an offering to the LORD.

gerahgerah – a weight equal to the weight of 16 barley grains or 4 to 5 carob beans.

:14 "Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the LORD.

twenty years old and above – This is the age of those serving in the army (Num. 1:2-3).  In fact the same word “census” is used in:

(Num 1:2-3 NKJV)  "Take a census of all the congregation of the children of Israel, by their families, by their fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male individually, {3} "from twenty years old and above; all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies.

This ransom thing is going to be tied with this army “draft”.

:15 "The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves.

rich … poor – the Tabernacle belongs equally to the rich and the poor.

:16 "And you shall take the atonement money of the children of Israel, and shall appoint it for the service of the tabernacle of meeting, that it may be a memorial for the children of Israel before the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves."

This first batch of silver was melted down and used to make the silver sockets for the posts of the Tabernacle (Ex. 38:25-28).

(Exo 38:25-28 NKJV)  And the silver from those who were numbered of the congregation was one hundred talents and one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels, according to the shekel of the sanctuary: {26} a bekah for each man (that is, half a shekel, according to the shekel of the sanctuary), for everyone included in the numbering from twenty years old and above, for six hundred and three thousand, five hundred and fifty men. {27} And from the hundred talents of silver were cast the sockets of the sanctuary and the bases of the veil: one hundred sockets from the hundred talents, one talent for each socket. {28} Then from the one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five shekels he made hooks for the pillars, overlaid their capitals, and made bands for them.

for the service of the tabernacle – eventually this offering morphed into being collected annually as support for the Tabernacle and then the Temple.

(Neh 10:32-33 NKJV)  Also we made ordinances for ourselves, to exact from ourselves yearly one-third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: {33} for the showbread, for the regular grain offering, for the regular burnt offering of the Sabbaths, the New Moons, and the set feasts; for the holy things, for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.

Nehemiah only collected 1/3 of a shekel, perhaps because of bad economic times.

Jesus paid this “temple tax” by having Peter catch a fish with a coin in its mouth (Mat. 17:24-27)

(Mat 17:24-27 NKJV)  When they had come to Capernaum, those who received the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Does your Teacher not pay the temple tax?" {25} He said, "Yes." And when he had come into the house, Jesus anticipated him, saying, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs or taxes, from their sons or from strangers?" {26} Peter said to Him, "From strangers." Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. {27} "Nevertheless, lest we offend them, go to the sea, cast in a hook, and take the fish that comes up first. And when you have opened its mouth, you will find a piece of money; take that and give it to them for Me and you."

:12 ransomkopher – price of a life, ransom; from kaphar – to cover, purge, make an atonement

Though this word is based on the word for “atonement”, to cover for sin, I’m not sure God is saying that you can pay your way out of sin.

Putting extra money in the box in the back on Sundays isn’t going to make God forgive you.  Some people get the mistaken idea that if they blew it really big that week, they just need to put more money in the box.  That’s wrong thinking.
Payment for sin comes one way – from blood sacrifice.  Our sins are paid for by the blood of Jesus.

This word (kopher) is used in a couple of interesting ways:

1. Regarding oxen. (Ex. 21:28-30)
If your ox goes wild and kills someone, then the ox is put to death.  If you knew the ox was wild, then you could be put to death unless a judge imposes a “kopher”, a “sum of money” (Ex. 21:30) then you would pay the ransom for your life, you wouldn’t die.
(Exo 21:30 NKJV)  "If there is imposed on him a sum of money, then he shall pay to redeem his life, whatever is imposed on him.
2. Regarding murder. (Num. 35:31)
A person convicted of murder in the first degree was required to be put to death for their crime.  There was no kopher, no ransom allowed, no price that could keep them from a death sentence.
(Num 35:31 NKJV)  'Moreover you shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer who is guilty of death, but he shall surely be put to death.
3. Regarding manslaughter. (Num. 35:32)
A person who was convicted of accidental manslaughter (not murder) was allowed to live, but had to stay confined in a city of refuge for a period of time.  There was no kopher, or “ransom”, allowed as a way of “early release”.
(Num 35:33-34 NKJV)  'So you shall not pollute the land where you are; for blood defiles the land, and no atonement can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed on it, except by the blood of him who shed it. {34} 'Therefore do not defile the land which you inhabit, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell among the children of Israel.'"

Notice that shed blood brings defilement on a nation.  Crimes of murder and manslaughter need to be paid for appropriately.

Because our text has to do with the census of a military draft (vs. 14), perhaps the idea is that God is allowing for a “ransom” to be paid for the men who have been a part of battle.
The Bible allows for war.  It is not a sin for a soldier to kill his enemy.  But there is still a sense of defilement that takes place, a need for a “ransom”.  Soldiers pay a great price for defending our nation.
“About War” clip
We can’t pay a “ransom”, but we can remember to pray for our soldiers.

:12 plaguenegeph – blow, striking, plague

Is there a connection between David’s census (1Chr. 21), the plague that followed, and this verse?

Perhaps.  But keep in mind that when David realized that he had sinned, God gave him a choice as to what the penalty would be and a plague was just one of David’s choices.
It seems that David’s sin was more a sin of pride, wanting to have the world’s biggest army.  Perhaps he was more interested in trusting in his army than he was in trusting the Lord at the time.

:17-21 Bronze Laver

:17 Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying:

:18 "You shall also make a laver of bronze, with its base also of bronze, for washing. You shall put it between the tabernacle of meeting and the altar. And you shall put water in it,

Show Laver video.

The laver was to be placed between the bronze altar and the Tabernacle.

I used to think this was a big basin, but it seems that the better idea is something more like a real big coffee pot with a couple of spigots.

:19 "for Aaron and his sons shall wash their hands and their feet in water from it.

:20 "When they go into the tabernacle of meeting, or when they come near the altar to minister, to burn an offering made by fire to the LORD, they shall wash with water, lest they die.

They were to wash before going into the Tabernacle.  They were to wash before offering sacrifices on the bronze altar.


Always wash before serving

I mentioned the principle of “washing before serving” when we looked at how the priests were to wash as part of the ceremony that ordained them, the ceremony that got them started in serving the Lord.
The need to wash doesn’t stop after you get the job of priest.
You still need to be washed.  All the time.
J.Vernon McGee puts it this way:
I think that every Sunday, before we ever go inside the church, we should confess our sins for the week. Do not tell me that you don’t get dirty. Your eyes get dirty. Your mind gets dirty. Your hands get dirty. Your feet get dirty. You get dirty all right. One of the big troubles in our churches today is that there is too much spiritual B.O. We need to confess our sins to Him and wash before we go in to worship.
I’d like to suggest that our need for cleansing goes beyond what we do before church.  It ought to be a way of life.
At the very least the priests were going into the tabernacle morning and evening.  At the very least they were offering burnt offerings on the altar morning and evening.  They were constantly washing.  I wonder if they complained to each other about dishpan hands!

:21 "So they shall wash their hands and their feet, lest they die. And it shall be a statute forever to them; to him and his descendants throughout their generations."

What do you do when you are supposed to serve as a priest, but you are dirty and sinful?  Do you act like a hypocrite?  Do you quit your job?  The answer is to wash.

We’re going to look at three spigots on the laver.


Washed in the Word

We talked a few weeks back about the washing that comes from the Word of God.  Paul connected this with a husband’s love and Christ’s love for the church:
(Eph 5:25-27 NKJV)  Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, {26} that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, {27} that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Not all couples get this right:
A man from Berlin, Germany, took an unusual approach in trying to bring peace to his marriage. CNN reported that the man was using an old air raid siren to stun his wife into submission.  “My wife never lets me get a word in edgeways,” the man identified as Vladimir R. told the police. "So I crank up the siren and let it rip for a few minutes. It works every time. Afterwards, it's real quiet again."  The 73-year-old man's 220-volt rooftop siren was confiscated by police after neighbors filed complaints.  As for his wife of 32 years, she said “My husband is a stubborn mule, so I have to get loud."
"Man Uses Air Raid Siren to Quiet Wife, CNN.com (4-19-03); submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California
Jesus doesn’t blast us with His Word.  He loves us and washes us. Watch how it worked in one gal’s life:
Liz Curtis Higgs was one of the best-known disc jockeys in America, and she lived quite a…wild lifestyle without God. In fact, Howard Stern was the A.M. show, and Liz Curtis Higgs was the P.M. show. And one day Howard Stern said to Liz, “You know, you need to clean up your act.” Now, that really says something if Howard Stern is saying it.
And because Liz Curtis Higgs had been burned by so many men, and her heart had been broken…she became a militant feminist. And I underscore, militant feminist. But she had a Christian girlfriend who kept inviting her to church. So one day after a long, long time, she said, “Okay, I will go to church one time and one time only.”
So she went to church one time with her friend. And that week, the pastor just happened to be teaching on the Bible verse that says, “Wives submit yourselves to your husbands.” Not exactly a good verse to start with a militant feminist. And she got a little uptight, a little ticked, a little angry. But she continued to listen, and she actually heard the second part of the verse.… You see, the second part of the verse says, “And husbands—you sacrifice yourself; you give yourself for your wives just as Jesus Christ sacrificed himself for the church and died for her.” Who is asked to give their life up? The husband.
When Liz heard that part, she leaned over to her friend and said with a little cynicism, “I’d gladly give myself to any man if I knew he would die for me.” And her friend leaned over and said, “Liz, there is man who loved you enough to die for you. His name is Jesus Christ. That’s how much he loves you.” And it was not long after that that Liz dropped her guard, surrendered her life to God in love, and became a believer. Today she is a well-known Christian author and speaker.
Rick Warren, "You Were Planned for God's Pleasure," Purpose Driven Life Campaign Resources; submitted by Darin Reimer, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
God uses His Word to wash us, to change us.
The Psalmist writes,
(Psa 119:9 NKJV)  How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.


Washed through confession

There is another way that cleansing comes.
(1 John 1:9 NKJV)  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I know that for some of us the word “confess” or “confession” is a loaded term.  Some of you have pictures in your head of going to a booth in a church and talking to a priest through a screen.  That’s not exactly what the word means.
confesshomologeo – to say the same thing as another, to agree with
It means that you say the same thing that God does about your sin.  It means that when God says that what you’re doing is wrong, you are agreeing with Him.  It means that you tell God what you’ve done and you ask for forgiveness.  And when the Bible says that God forgives you, you agree with God that He’s forgiven you.
Confession brings cleansing.
Though confessing our sins is primarily done to God, there are also times when we need to confess sin to other people.
(James 5:16 NKJV)  Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.

If you have wronged another person, you need to ask them for forgiveness.  You need to confess your sin to them.

Some sins are hard to have victory over until we humble ourselves and admit that we have sinned.

People who have been in AA have learned the value of admitting their sins and problems to other people.

Some sins, like addiction to pornography, only thrive when we keep them in the dark, when we keep them to ourselves.  But humble yourself and admit you have a problem, and the sin will lose its power over you.


Washing each other

Sometimes other people need to be involved in our day to day cleansing.
Jesus talked about washing feet, and it wasn’t something you did for yourself.
(John 13:1-17 NKJV)  Now before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. {2} And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him, {3} Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, {4} rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. {5} After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

I am amazed at the place and time that Jesus is going to teach this lesson.  He knows He’s about to die.  In 24 hours He’ll be dead.  He will say a lot of things on that last evening, but He will start with a lesson about washing.

Jesus is at the end of His ministry.  Before He sends His disciples off into their own ministries, He teaches them a lesson about washing.

Before they serve, they must wash.

{6} Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, "Lord, are You washing my feet?" {7} Jesus answered and said to him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this."

Peter is objecting because feet washing was something that a servant was supposed to do.  If you didn’t have a servant, then the youngest child, or the person at the bottom of the ladder got the job.

It is interesting that none of the disciples had volunteered for the job earlier in the evening.

It didn’t seem right that Jesus should be the one doing the washing.

{8} Peter said to Him, "You shall never wash my feet!" Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me." {9} Simon Peter said to Him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!"

Peter doesn’t like the idea of not having a part with Jesus.  If Peter is going to get washed, then he wants everything washed.

{10} Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you." {11} For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, "You are not all clean."

The total “bathing” seems to be a picture of someone who has come into salvation, someone who has trusted Jesus to pay for their sins.  Peter is like a person who has bathed in the morning, but after a day of walking around on dusty streets with sandals, your feet get dirty.

{12} So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?

It’s time for the lesson.

{13} "You call me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am. {14} "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.

In other words, washing feet is no longer something reserved for the lowest person on the ladder.  It’s a responsibility every believer has.

{15} "For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. {16} "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. {17} "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.
We all need to learn to wash one another’s feet.
It should happen when we are together.
It involves the elements of cleansing – sharing God’s Word with each other, at times confessing our sins to one another.

The story goes that four friends used to meet for breakfast and prayer.  One day one of the fellows says, “I have to confess something to you guys.  I have become addicted to gambling.  Would you please pray for me?”  Another friend says, “Well, I have something to confess as well.  I have a drinking problem.”  The third friend decides it’s time for him to speak up as well.  “Guys” he says, “I have been having a problem with internet pornography.  Could you guys pray for me?”  The fourth friend has been listening to all this and has been getting increasingly excited.  Finally he says, “Well, since we’re confessing our sins to each other, I have to confess that I’m a gossip and I can hardly wait to get out of here!”

You need to be careful who you choose to confess your sins to.  Don’t confess to someone who is a gossip!

hands and … feet –

(Psa 24:3-5 NKJV)  Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? {4} He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. {5} He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation.

The bronze for the laver came from an interesting source:

(Exo 38:8 NKJV)  He made the laver of bronze and its base of bronze, from the bronze mirrors of the serving women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.

Who were these “serving women”?  What were they about?
Ryrie: Perhaps they served by singing or by cleaning the temporary tent.
serving womentsaba’ – to go forth, wage war, fight, serve

This is the first time the word is found in the OT.  The next two times it’s used it describes the kind of “service” that the priests perform at the Tabernacle.

The word is used twice in the verse, translated “serving women” as well as “assembled”.

You might translate it “the serving women who served”.  Or the “fighting women who fought”. Huh???

What we think of as mirrors, glass with a backing of shiny silver or aluminum, weren’t developed until the 1500’s. 
Ancient mirrors at this time were made of shiny polished metal, like bronze.  Egypt developed polished bronze mirrors around 3000BC.
It was customary for the Egyptian women to carry mirrors with them to the temples.
Another commentary writes:  “What had hitherto served as a means of procuring applause in the world might henceforth be the means of procuring the approbation of God” (Hengstenberg, Dissert. vol. ii.)


Focus on others, not yourself

Mirrors are all about “me”.
I don’t look in the mirror to see you.  I look in the mirror to see me.  I look in the mirror to see what I need to do to my face.  I look in the mirror to see how good I look in my new shirt.
These godly “serving women” gave up their mirrors so the laver could be made.
They gave up the focus on themselves so that others could be cleansed.
When my focus is on myself, all I can see are my own flaws.  Frankly it gets kind of depressing if my focus is all on me.
God’s desire is that I learn to be about washing the feet of others.
When teaching about washing feet, Jesus said,

(John 13:17 NKJV)  "If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.

blessedmakarios – blessed, happy

Unhappiness comes when I’m focused on myself.  Happiness comes from serving others.

Years ago, Dr. Karl Menninger of the Menninger Clinic was asked, “If someone felt a nervous breakdown coming on, what would you suggest that he do?”
“If you feel a nervous breakdown coming on, I would urge you to find somebody else with a problem—a serious one—and get involved with that individual, helping him solve his problem.”  In helping him to solve his problem, then in reality your own problem is going to disappear.  You’re no longer thinking internally.  You’re no longer letting things gnaw at your stomach.  You’re no longer getting disturbed about yourself because you’re not thinking about yourself. You’re thinking about others.
For some of us, life seems a bit too hard.  And I know that for some it certainly is.  But for some of us, the degree that it’s hard is based on the fact that the only thing we continue to look at is our own selves.
Get your eyes out of the mirror.  Spend a little time focusing on others.