“The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged'” (Numbers 5:5-7, NIV).
Many of the laws God decreed concerned the offering of sacrifices in the tabernacle as atonement for sin. Embedded in these acts of sacrifice were some fundamental principles for maintaining good relationships with God and other people.
The principle for maintaining good relationships with God and other people expounded in this verse is one that I’ve used with my children on several occasions when their conduct towards other kids or adults was inappropriate. You probably have, too!
And, it’s certainly one us adults should follow as well.
“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.
“You are following a different way that pretends to be the Good News but is not the Good News at all. You are being fooled by those who deliberately twist the truth concerning Christ” (Galatians 1:6-7, NLT).
We know from explanations later in this letter to the Galatians that some were teaching that Gentile Christians had to follow the Mosaic law.
“But whenever he went into the Tent of Meeting to speak with the Lord, he would remove the veil until he came out again. Then he would give the people whatever instructions the Lord had given him, and the people of Israel would see the radiant glow of his face. So he would put the veil over his face until he returned to speak with the Lord” (Exodus 34:34-35, NLT).
When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai (for the second time) with God’s commandments etched on stone tablets, the skin on his face was radiant from God’s glory because he talked with God face to face.
“For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.” The Apostle Paul has been explaining to the Galatians that Christians cannot obtain righteousness by circumcision and obedience to the Mosaic law and if you abide by one part of the law you are subject to obedience to all the law. Therefore, Christians do not place confidence in their own righteous actions or behavior to be justified before God, but they wait for God to work His righteousness in them and bring it to completion when they face God at the final judgment. So the righteousness we hope for is not something we can concoct for ourselves, but rather it is something God imputes upon us because of the sacrifice of Christ. Yet, we endeavor to live righteously in this life but in order to please God who loves us and not so God will grant us righteousenss. God grants righteousness to us because of Christ and He imparts His Spirit upon us to help us live righteously. Through the Spirit we have hope and wait for righteousness to culminate in our lives at the time when we stand before God justified by our faith in Christ.