Life-Study of Exodusby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to a new item—the propitiation silver. Apparently this is easy to understand. Actually, the matter of the propitiation silver is not simple. In order to see into the depths of the truth related to the propitiation silver, we need to find out the reason this item is mentioned in Exodus 30 immediately after the record concerning the incense altar.
In understanding any kind of writing we need to consider the context. If we would understand a particular paragraph, we need to know what precedes this paragraph and what follows it. We should not try to understand the paragraph merely as a unit in itself. We need to follow this principle in seeking to understand the significance of the propitiation silver.
It is not easy to understand how the incense altar and the propitiation silver are related. In a simple way we may say that the relationship between them indicates that Christ’s ministry of intercession is based upon His redemption. But even this explanation is mysterious and difficult to understand, for many things are implied by it. Therefore, we need to find out the relationship between the incense altar and the propitiation silver.
We also need to ask why, at this juncture, the children of Israel needed a ransom, or why they needed the propitiation silver. Had they not already been redeemed? Yes, they certainly had been redeemed. Their redemption had taken place nearly a year before. Not too long after the children of Israel had been redeemed by the Passover lamb, they came to Mount Sinai. It is not easy to explain why the children of Israel needed the propitiation silver in Exodus 30 since they had already been redeemed.
Not long after I was saved, I read an article that said that the propitiation silver, the ransom silver, was a type of Christ’s redemption. This is correct; however, this understanding is superficial. The propitiation silver is related to the redemption of Christ. But why did God’s redeemed people need something further related to redemption? They had been redeemed in Egypt by the Passover lamb less than a year before. Why, after such a short time, did they need something further?
The redemption of God’s people in Egypt was accomplished by the blood of the Passover lamb. The lamb was slain, and the blood was applied to the doorpost. In this way the children of Israel experienced the Passover and were redeemed. However, in Exodus 30 redemption is not related to the blood; neither is it related to anything of the animal life. Rather, in this chapter redemption is related to silver, which is a mineral.
Christ’s life has three basic elements: the animal life, the vegetable life, and the minerals. Christ is a lamb. Here we have the element of the animal life. Christ is also wheat. Here we have the element of the vegetable life. Furthermore, Christ is the minerals, for with Him there are gold, silver, and precious stones.
Why is the redemption in chapter thirty not related to the blood of the animal life but rather related to silver? Some would say that the silver signifies the price paid for our redemption. According to their understanding, the silver in Exodus 30 signifies the preciousness in the sight of God of the blood of Christ shed for our redemption. Christ paid a high price to redeem us—the price of His own blood. In the sight of God, this price is precious and thus it is signified by silver. However, we need to see something further.
Another important question related to the propitiation silver is why it is called a heave offering. Verse 13 speaks of “half a shekel as a heave offering to Jehovah.” Verses 14 and 15 also refer to the propitiation silver as a heave offering.
I am glad to know that the Hebrew text here uses the word for heave offering. Most translations simply use the word “offering”; others use the word “contribution,” something the redeemed ones pay to God. But these versions do not indicate that the offering of the propitiation silver was a heave offering. Darby, however, was faithful, and his New Translation of 30:13 uses the expression “the heave-offering for Jehovah.” Furthermore, the margin of the New American Standard Version says “heave offering,” although the word “contribution” is used in the text. It is important that we have the exact translation. Otherwise, an improper translation will become a thick covering that will keep us from seeing the truth in the original text.
The propitiation silver, the price paid for our redemption, is definitely called a heave offering. Why is it called a heave offering and not a sin offering? Since this matter is related to our redemption, it seems that it should be a sin offering. We need to understand why the propitiation silver is considered a heave offering.
The Passover lamb was for all the children of Israel, both male and female, both young and old. But in chapter thirty the propitiation silver is only for males twenty years old and upward. Exodus 30:14 says, “Everyone passing over unto those that are numbered, from twenty years old and upward, shall give the heave offering of Jehovah.” The females and all those under the age of twenty are excluded. They have no share in this matter. Why is this propitiation silver only for males twenty years and above? This is another important question that we need to answer.
Exodus 38:26 says concerning the propitiation silver, “A bekah for every man, that is, half a shekel, after the shekel of the sanctuary, for every one that went to be numbered, from twenty years old and upward, for six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty men.” According to this verse, the propitiation silver was the ransom price paid for 603,550 males, aged twenty and upward. From Numbers 1:45 and 46 we learn that this was the number of males who were able to go forth to war: “So were all those that were numbered of the children of Israel, by the house of their fathers, from twenty years old and upward, all that were able to go forth to war in Israel; even all they that were numbered were six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty.” These verses reveal that the number of the males for which the ransom price was paid was the number of those who could be soldiers to form an army.
We now have five questions before us with respect to the propitiation silver. First, what is the relationship between the incense altar and the propitiation silver? Second, why did the children of Israel need something further related to redemption when they had already been redeemed in Egypt? Third, why is the propitiation silver called a heave offering? Fourth, why, after the redemption of the children of Israel by the blood of the Passover lamb in Egypt, was something related to redemption portrayed by silver at Mount Sinai, as described in chapter thirty? Fifth, why was the Passover lamb for everyone, but the propitiation silver was only for males twenty years of age and upward? If we can answer these questions, we shall have a thorough understanding of the propitiation silver.
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