Exodus 30 and 31-- The "Temple Tax" & Sabbath

Last time, we concluded with these thoughts and this picture: 


So what is wrong with this picture?

Maybe nothing.  My first impression was that it was wrong because of the blood on the horns, but: "And Aaron shall make atonement upon its horns once a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonement; once a year he shall make atonement upon it throughout your generations. It is most holy to the LORD." (Ex 30:10)


The altar of incense has been said to be symbolic of the prayers of the saints.  Why?


(Rev 5:8 NKJV)  Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.


In class this morning, Ken was talking about the temple tax:


(Mat 17:24 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?"


It is generally agreed that the “temple tax” had it’s origin with the tabernacle.  It is a passage that follows our last lesson:


(Exo 30:11-12 NKJV)  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.

(Exo 30:12 NIV)  ". . each one must pay the LORD a ransom for his life. . .”


(Exo 30:12 NCV)  ". . . every person must buy back his life from the LORD. . . .


(Exo 30:13) "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.


But how much is a half-shekel worth?


(Exo 30:13 NCV)  Every person who is counted must pay one-fifth of an ounce of silver.


(I the NCV is correct, the current value of silver is $13.53/ounce, I think.  That would make this tax $2.71 which is then hard to adjust for inflation, purchasing power, etc.)


(Exo 30:14) "Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the LORD.


It was what I would call a flat tax, or “per capita” tax!


(Exo 30:15) "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. {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."


The importance of Washing!


I believe it is symbolism, but it is important symbolism.  God wants His people to be clean.  Physical cleanliness is used as a symbol of spiritual cleanliness, and many say the laver is symbolic of baptism.


(Exo 30:17-20 NKJV)  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,

(Exo 30:19) "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.


“Lest they die” it was very important!

If it is symbolic of baptism, what does it say about baptism?


Who is in charge of building the tabernacle?

Would you believe that the one in charge was

 a God inspired man?


(Exo 31:1-6 NKJV)  Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying: {2} "See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. {3} "And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workman-ship, {4} "to design artistic works, to work in gold, in silver, in bronze, {5} "in cutting jewels for setting, in carving wood, and to work in all manner of workmanship.

(Exo 31:6) "And I, indeed I, have appointed with him Aholiab the son of Ahisa-mach, of the tribe of Dan; and I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans, that they may make all that I have commanded you:


Interesting statement: “I have put wisdom in the hearts of all who are gifted artisans.”   Who gave them their gifts?  Now God gives to these gifted ones “wisdom in the hearts.”

I think God still does that in degrees today.

I have often prayed that God would help me in a special way in delivering a sermon that I felt met a very special need, and I often feel that I was able to preach a sermon with added touches that helped.


The importance of the Sabbath is restated!


(Exo 31:12-18 NKJV)  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, {13} "Speak also to the children of Israel, saying: 'Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you. (Exo 31:14) 'You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death;

for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people.

{15} 'Work shall be done for six days, but the seventh is the Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.

{16} 'Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. {17} 'It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever; for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, and on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.'"


'It is a sign between Me and the children of Israel forever;


I think it is important to notice this statement.  It is clearly stated as “the children of Israel forever.”  I think this is important.  There is much confusion over the Sabbath Day.

This command is repeated several times in one way or other in the Old Testament; it is not stated once as a command in the New Testament.  Instead, we have this statement:


(Gal 4:10-11 NKJV)  You observe days and months and seasons and years. {11} I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain.


If Paul felt that the Sabbath should have been observed by them, this seems like it was a perfect place to say that?


(Col 2:13-17 NASB)  And when you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, {14} having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. {15} When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.

(Col 2:16) Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day-- {17} things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.


The Sabbath Day is a very confusing issue for many people, but I believe that it is no longer binding.


(Rom 14:5 NKJV)  "One person esteems one day above another; another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind.


The Chapter, and Our study, concludes with this verse:


(Exo 31:18) And when He had made an end of speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.


From the mountain peak to the depths of the valley or plane below—Lord willing this will be our study next time.


Bible Study with Harley   Scripture quotations marked "NKJV™" are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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