“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘When you take a census of the Israelites to count them, each one must pay the Lord a ransom for his life at the time he is counted. Then no plague will come on them when you number them. Each one who crosses over to those already counted is to give a half shekel… This half shekel is an offering to the Lord. All who cross over, those twenty years old or more, are to give an offering to the Lord'” (Exodus 30:13-14, NIV).
The census was actually a way to determine a record of military manpower. But, when Moses enlisted men for military service, he was also to take a ransom from each twenty-year-old or more male and use it for the construction and ministry of the Tabernacle.
“Crossing over to those already counted” literally meant passing over to those who are mustered. It meant joining the ranks of the enlisted men. By passing muster the Israelite male effectively became a soldier in the Israeli militia–the Lord’s army.
So, each Israelite male twenty years of age or more was required to pay atonement money to support the work of the Tabernacle (vs. 16) when he was counted, or mustered. He was required to pay a ransom of a half-shekel. This Tabernacle half-shekel later formed the basis for the Temple tax (see Nehemiah 10:32-33).
Just as Israel was commissioned to conquer the enemies that occupied the promised land, the citizens of God’s Kingdom are commissioned to battle the forces of evil that attempt to destroy people’s souls.
When you become a citizen of God’s Kingdom, you are enlisted in heaven’s national guard. As a citizen-soldier of the Kingdom of God you are a holy warrior who must be prepared to wage war against the kingdom of darkness.
Like the ransomed Israelites of the census, redeemed humanity is mustered to serve as soldiers in a holy war–men and women of peace carrying swords of truth to wage war against evil and deception.
And your marching orders are found in the commissioning words of Jesus: “Go and make disciples of all nations… and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:11-12, NIV)