“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, according to the sanctuary shekel,which weighs twenty gerahs. 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. The rich are not to give more than a half shekel and the poor are not to give less when you make the offering to the Lord to atone for your lives. Receive the atonement money from the Israelites and use it for the service of the tent of meeting. It will be a memorial for the Israelites before the Lord, making atonement for your lives.” – Exodus 30:11-16
Exodus 30 is part of the Lord teaching Moses on Mount Sinai the laws by which the Israelites would be governed. There are a number of different offerings outlined, but this one caught my eye for a few reasons.
Some of the other offerings have considerations for those who were not as materially wealthy (Leviticus 14:21-22) so that what was expected depended on ability.
However, this offering is the same across the board, no matter their material wealth, everyone paid the same price for their atonement.
Atonement is making payment for sin. We know from the New Testament that all of the offerings and sacrifices of the Old Testament were placeholders until Jesus came as the perfect atonement for sin. They were pointing forward to Christ’s eventual coming. His offering of Himself as a sacrifice for sin paid for all of the sins under the Old Covenant as well as all of the sins under the New Covenant. There are no sins ever committed that were forgiven by anything other than the blood and sacrifice of Christ.
Hebrews explains the relationship between the Old Testament offerings/sacrifices and Christ.
“This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshiper. They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings—external regulations applying until the time of the new order.” – Hebrews 9:9-10
“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” – Hebrews 9:15
Hebrews 9:23-10:18 explains how Christ is the perfect sacrifice for sin once and for all, unlike the previous offerings and sacrifices that had to be given again and again.
And so, as we look at this offering for atonement in Exodus 30, we can see that it is pointing towards Christ coming to offer Himself as atonement for sin. Just as each person gave the same price no matter their station in life, so to the atonement for sin is the same no matter who we are or what we have done, namely Christ. His perfect sacrifice is atonement for any sin by any person.
“For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God,and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.” – Hebrews 2:17
“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement,[i] through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” – Romans 3:25-26