For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2000 James Melough


When the Lord gave Moses the instructions for building the tabernacle He gave him also instructions concerning what is described in Ex 30:16 as “the atonement money.”  “When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel ... they shall give every man a ransom for his soul.... This they shall give ... half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary.... The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel....” Ex 30:12-15; and in Ex 38:25 we learn that this atonement money was silver.

That it was merely a token, incapable of procuring a full,eternal redemption, is made clear in 1 Pe 1:18-19, “Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold ... but with the precious blood of Christ....”  The same truth is emphasized in its being a half shekel, for in Scripture, a half is the symbol of that which is incomplete.

This atonement money was merely a token.  It couldn’t secure the eternal redemption of the offerer.  In this respect it was like the sacrifices offered under the law, and in regard to which it is written, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices ... make the comers thereunto perfect.... For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins,” Heb 10:1-4.

Like those animal sacrifices, however, the silver half shekel is a type or symbol of Christ.  In the Israelite’s offering that piece of silver we have a symbolic picture of what the sinner must do to secure atonement for his soul: by faith he must present Christ to God.

In the process by which that silver half shekel was formed we see in symbol what it meant for Christ to become the believer’s “Atonement Money.”  As the silver was subjected to the fire, so was He subjected to the fire of Divine wrath against sin. (While the literal application is to disobedient Israel, it is generally recognized that the language of Lam 1:13 relates to the experience of Christ at Calvary, “From above hath He sent fire into my bones....”).  Apart from His willingness to endure that fire, there could be no atonement for sin, no redemption of men’s souls.



     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough