By Companion Jack A. Holloway
Illustrous Associate Grand Chaplain, Grand Council of Florida
Tribute Money by Masaccio
Abraham listened to Ephron, and Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver that he had named in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weights current amonth the merchants. Genesis 23:16
Each one who is numbered in the census shall give this: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (the shekel is twenty gerabs), half a shekel is an offering to the LORD. Exodus 30:13
Companions, At each openeing, we hear as part of the duties of the Treasurer: to number an weigh out the shekels of the sanctuary. When God brought the Israelites out of Egypt, they had lived there for 430 years under Egyptian laws, customs, religion, and economy. In the Sinai wilderness, God created a nation from a ragtag group of slaves and gave them 40 years to adapt.
One of the first things God inaugurated was the "Shekel of the Sanctuary" or the weight to be used as the absolute standard. Before official coins (centuries later) a shekel was just a unit of weight. Previously, as Genesis 23:16 shows, there were many people and groups with their own standards.
Today Companions, there are still people and groups that like to use their own standards to judge their thoughts, words, and actions and the idea of an absolute moral standard for everyone is foolishness. However; the "Shekel of the Sanctuary" is still a metaphor for an "Absolute Standard" and that abosolute standard is of course the Holy Bible. This idea continues into the New Testament with Matthew 7:14 reminding us that "strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life".
Thank you Eternal God for giving us a firm foundation to build our spiritual house upon, and a narrow way to keep us from wandering astray like lost lambs. Amen.