The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the LORD, to make atonement for yourselves.
A half-shekel was a very small but significant amount, so small that even the poorest in Israel could afford it. It was significant because it was a ransom for the souls of men. The great in Israel were worth no more than the lowly, they were all required to pay the same ransom. The rich could give no more and the poor could give no less, because worldly gain and status had no bearing on their value in God’s eyes. Whether they were well-known or unknown, wealthy or poor, in seats of power or beggars on the street, no one was exempt from this offering. One price was to be paid by all sinners because no soul is worth more than the next.
Today we know that Christ shed His blood for the atonement of all who believe in Him, and there’s no payment more or less that is sufficient. You can give all of your worldly possessions away, but your soul is worth no more than the poor believer next to you. You can shed your own blood in the service of Christ, and it will be counted as your reasonable service. Though our heavenly rewards differ according to our obedience to the call of God on our lives, our worth in God’s eyes does not change.
The rapist who repents near the end of their life and the famous pastor who was raised in church were both bought with the blood of Christ, and neither soul is worth less than the other. Paul’s letter to the church of Phillipi gave no exceptions when he said “in humility esteem others better than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3). Jesus said that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). He did not put emphasis on their past, their possessions, their status or position. It was simply “heaven rejoices” because one more soul was saved, heaven rejoices because one more soul was redeemed.