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Vayikra/Leviticus 27:25 And every valuation shall be in the shekel of the sanctuary
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This verse comes in the middle of a discussion concerning the valuation of fields in particular, but other items as well, that have been dedicated toAdonai. Two types of financial transaction may follow from such a dedication and a time period is also involved: the jubilee year when the field would revert to its ancestral owner or family. The priests were not, essentially, farmers and would not want to farm a field - particular one that might be remote from Jerusalem or any of the cities where priests would live - for years until the jubilee in order to bring the crops from that field into the Temple treasury, or undertake the sale of the crops to release their monetary value. The donated field was therefore available for sale; the priestly treasury could sell the field to a arbitrary third party, who would then farm it until the jubilee, for a sum representing the value of the crops that could be expected over that period, discounted to represent the forward investment. Alternatively, the field could be redeemed by its ancestral owner or family, who might not have been the person who donated it to Adonai; again, a valuation method is given which differs slightly from the 'sale' value because it is their own field.
In all cases, however, the Torah stipulates that the valuation must be made in sanctuary shekels and the text goes on to quantify exactly what a "sanctuary shekel" means in terms of another unit of measure, the gerah. This tells us three important things about the valuation. Firstly, the valuation must be made in precise monetary terms, not by comparison to the yields of other fields or the value of other types of asset; the valuation must be explicitly quantified so that everything is transparent and above board and could, if necessary, be challenged. In the case of the redemption valuation, there is a precise formula involved based on the area of the field, the average yield per unit area and the number of years until the year of jubilee. Secondly, the valuation must be in a universally accepted unit, the shekel used in the sanctuary and maintained by the priests and Levites; therefore assumed to be strictly honest and consistent. Thirdly, the valuation is made in hard currency; the unit is not subject to variation, inflation, re-valuation or fluctuation, and is always backed by the resources of the Temple and thus by G-d Himself.
Through this passage and its parallels, the Torah teaches that everything has a value and that whether for sale, for offering to G-d or for redemption purposes, that value can be calculated. More, since these particular valuations - and other passages that allow different size or value offerings to be made by either by people who can afford them or by the poor - are intricately involved in people's relationship with G-d, it teaches that G-d also values each person and that each person is unique and has a known and specific value to G-d. Ultimately, when talking about atonement, the Torah explains that only blood has the power of atonement: "For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement" (Vayikra 17:11, NASB). The ultimate value of life is a life; this is why a murderer is to be killed: not only as a punishment but because a life demands a life.
Matthew and Luke both record Yeshua teaching his talmidim about the value G-d places on human life, particularly in the face of opposition or persecution. Sandwiched between important promises about the secrets of those who would oppose the gospel being brought out into the open and Yeshua acknowledging before the Father those who acknowledge Him before men, we find this text: "Aren't sparrows sold for next to nothing, five for two assarions? And not one of them has been forgotten by G-d. Why, every hair on your head has been counted! Don't be afraid, you are worth more than many sparrows" (Luke 12:6-7, CJB). Even apparently insignificant little birds such as sparrows, that were sold in the markets for very small sums of money, had a value. They were valued individually by G-d who considers their lives important; the Matthew text says, "Yet not one of them will fall to the ground without your Father's consent" (Matthew 10:29, CJB) to emphasise that G-d numbers even the days of sparrows and that none die without His permission. So, Yeshua continues, you, His disciples then, we, His disciples now, have a value much greater than sparrows to G-d so that even the hairs on our heads (between 90,000-140,000 per person) are numbered and known to Him.
The same rules for valuation that are found in the Torah apply equally to our relationships with G-d. G-d values each one of us, saint or sinner, "for it is not his purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins" (2 Peter 3:9, CJB). It is to this end - that we should come to know him - that G-d Himself initiated what Derek Prince referred to as the "Great Exchange"1. G-d offered hard currency: "For G-d so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son so that whosoever should believe in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16); He paid the standard unit - life for life - "[He] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:14, NASB); He offered a precise valuation: "He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of G-d in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NASB). Yeshua even signed and sealed the transaction with His own blood.
Whilst G-d's love for us and the value that He places on us cannot be taken as a licence to disregard His calling on our lives or His commandments that we should keep, it is important that we realise just how much G-d has done for us and how highly He values us. Be encouraged with this today and hold your head up as a valued and highly prized child of the King, a member of the Body of Messiah and citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
1 - See Derek Prince, "Bought with Blood: the Divine Exchange at the Cross", Chosen Books, 0800794249
Further Study: Proverbs 16:11; Job 38:41; Romans 8:3-4
Application: Do you struggle with your self-worth in the kingdom? Do you sometimes find it hard to think that G-d really loved you enough to send Yeshua to die on the cross for you? Do you worry that you're only here by mistake or even that you shouldn't really be here at all? If so, then this is for you. Every person has a precise and known value to G-d, each individual is unique and special, everybody matters to Him. The Great Exchange happened for you!
© Jonathan Allen, 2009
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