The Silver Sockets: Or The Atonement Money

(Exodus 30:11-16; 38:27).

This is one of the plainest types of redemption to be found in the Word of God. The men of Israel from twenty years old and upward were to be numbered, and at their numbering they must give the half shekel as a “ransom for their souls.” There is no such thing as being numbered and eligible to fight the battles of Jehovah, save by bringing this atonement money. Not only so, but the judgment of God will fall upon them if they do not bring it. Alas! we are living in days when thousands upon thousands are enrolled in the professed hosts of the Lord, who do not know what it is to be redeemed, and what is worse still, who do not believe they need it. Judgment is ahead of them: not the rest of heaven, but the torments of hell.

All are brought to one common level here as to their need, and the same ransom must be brought by all. The rich man cannot add to it, nor may the poor man bring less. So God will have nothing from man, but His Son. No human righteousness or merit can be added to Christ, and less than Christ will not do.

The silver itself, as well as its use, is typical of Christ. We might ask why God should choose a silver coin in value nearly equal to a twenty-five cent piece, or English shilling? Silver is a pure metal, white and precious, and in this Christ, as the Holy Son of God, is surely brought before us.

We read that “a shekel is twenty gerahs.” Then a half shekel would be ten gerahs. Think you God gave us that bit of information for no purpose? Ten gerahs! Why do I need a ransom? Because I am under the curse of a broken law, of ten commandments. Then here is Christ, who will bear its judgment, as my ransom.

The word shekel means “weight.” Half a shekel then would just mean “half-weight.” But how could that set forth Christ? It might remind us of ourselves of whom it could be said, as well as of Belshazzer of old, “Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.” Yet it did proclaim Christ. Did you ever ask yourself, “What is substitution?” Perhaps you say, “It means one dying in place of another.” Well, that is true, but you might add, one dying as another. When Christ died for me, He died as me. As we read in 2 Cor. 5:21, “For He hath made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin.” And Christ in grace took that place. As we often sing:—

Our sins our guilt in love divine,
Confessed and borne by Thee.

The word “silver” in its root meaning has, we understand, the sense of “to turn pale through longing, fear, or shame.” Ah! well might this recall the Cross to us. Think of what it meant to hang with felons on a Cross, with that vulgar, morbid crowd staring at Him! His words in” the Psalm might then express His feelings, “Shame hath covered My face.”

David’s Omission of the Half Shekel; and its Fatal Consequences. (2 Sam. 24).

In this passage David ordered Joab, the captain of the host to take the number of Israel. That strange and ambitious man, seemed to see that David was making a mistake, and against his will took the number of the men who were eligible for the army. That was a very costly census taking to David, for no less than seventy thousand of his army were taken away by the plague. Passing by the pride of numbers, which reveals itself in David at this time, we see something deeper in this incident. God had said, “When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then they shall give every man a ransom for his soul unto the Lord, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.”— Exodus 30:12.

We see no reference at all to the atonement money in this case, and we do see the plague. Is there not a very solemn lesson in this for our own day. How many are enrolled under the “banner of the cross,” as they put it; in the church or some of its auxiliary societies, but they have never known redemption. The saddest part of it is, they have never learned their need of it. The simple question, “Did you ever discover that you were only fit for hell?” would make them indignant. They were never bad enough to go to hell. They are not soldiers of the Lord, for all that He has in His army have been redeemed. And for those who have not, there is nothing but judgment.