KI TISA (When You Take) Ex 30:11–34:35; 1 Kings 18:1–39; Matt 9:35–11:1


“11 The Lord said to Moses, 12 “Count the Israelites (when you take a census) so that you will know how many people there are. Every time this is done, each man must make a payment for himself to the Lord so that nothing terrible will happen to the people. 13 Each man who is counted must pay 1/2 shekel of silver. (That is 1/2 shekel by the official measure. This shekel weighs 20 gerahs. 10 grams) This half shekel is an offering to the Lord. 14 Every man who is at least 20 years old must be counted. And every man who is counted must give the Lord this offering. 15 The rich must not give more than 1/2 shekel, and the poor must not give less than 1/2 shekel. All people will make the same offering to the Lord. This will be a payment for your life. 16 Gather this money from the Israelites. Use the money for the service in the Meeting Tent. This payment will be a way for the Lord to remember his people. They will be paying for their own lives.” (Ex 30:11–16 – Easy Read)

God specifically commanded Moses to take a census of the Israelites (Num 1:45) of all men over the age of 20 – military campaigns). It is important for us to recognise the importance of obedience – to do things under God’s direction. In biblical times, a man only had the right to count or number what belonged to him. Israel did not belong to David; Israel belonged to God. In Ex 30:12 God told 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.”

So when King David later decided to take a census of the people on his own initiative it incurred a great judgment resulting in an outbreak of a plague where over 70,000 Israelites perished. (2Sam 24)

Sometimes, we may venture to do something because it seems like a good idea (e.g., fasting; giving tzedakah indiscriminately but is not under His direction – (“Trust in the Lord with all your heart…”)

All of us make unwise choices from time to time with the best intentions, and although there are consequences, God will not judge us harshly for them. But there are certain types of unwise choices that do have far more serious ramifications. 

For example, because King Saul’s choice to disobey God’s instructions to destroy the Amalekites completely including all their cattle and possessions, led to the loss of his kingdom and ultimately his life: (1Sam 15)

“9 However, Sha’ul and the people spared Agag, along with the best of the sheep and cattle, and even the second best, also the lambs, and everything that was good — they weren’t inclined to destroy these things. But everything that was worthless or weak they completely destroyed.” 10 Then the word of Adonai came to Sh’mu’el: 11 “I regret setting up Sha’ul as king, because he has turned back from following me and hasn’t obeyed my orders.” This made Sh’mu’el very sad, so that he cried to Adonai all night.”

Why did Saul make the mistake of obeying God partially? Some believers may ask themselves the same question should they ever dare! Saul’s bad choice not only cost him personally but sparing temporarily the life of King Agag enabled the Amalekites to continue with an heir that almost resulted in the complete destruction of the Jewish people when they were in captivity under King Xerxes. Half-hearted obedience towards God creates much grief and sorrow.

The 7 letters to the churches in Asia (Rev. 2-3) describes in detail varieties of compromises made by the church throughout history that we should guard against. 

Compromising our relationship with God is a dangerous mistakes and often presents in subtle ways. It turns a truth into a half truth or nearly a truth and was the cause that led to the fall of humanity in the Garden of Eden.

Compromise leads to appeasement and political correctness. And so, we see things like abortion, gay life-styles immorality, anti-Semitism and other abhorrations, practices that the Bible clearly condemns that is widely accepted and actively promoted throughout  the church today.

What hope is there for believers who have been caught in the demonic web of deceit? There is the good and potentially not-so-good in all of this.

God promises to forgive us through Messiah Jesus when we recognise any  mistake we may have made, confess them to the Lord in genuine repentance. And so, we are forgiven, we forgive ourselves, and we learn to move on. A fool is not someone who makes mistakes but a person who keeps repeating them. 

But sometimes things can become more complicated because we still have to live with the consequences of any bad choices we may have made. Yet even in this, God can turn a situation that appears disastrous to His glory simply because He is Lord over all things! God will always have the last word and turn the worst mistakes for His purposes and for His glory!

Today, many believers are addicted to things they cannot gain victory over. How does God respond? In Him there is always hope and deliverance whenever there is true repentance.

Most of us happily show our good commandments, but the broken ones we keep concealed. But, recently I was shocked when my wife told me some of the things her students share with her. I was shocked at their honesty and transparency. They did not attempt to conceal anything or pretend to be what they were not, or appear super-spiritual and religious. Their raw honesty could almost be construed as being offensive to some people, but when one looks beyond this, one can see such a humility and a desire to walk in the healing and fullness which God desires for each one of us. 

It is a broken thing like the half shekel offering that every Israelite was required to bring to the Temple annually. It was something everybody could afford irrespective to how rich or poor one was. All of us have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (symbolic of a whole shekel) but He has made it possible through Yeshua to break the chains of sin and set us free.

This week’s Parshah refers to “Ki tissa et rosh”—“When you will lift up the head.” Our God is the lifter of our heads!  “But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.” Psalm 3:3… Through Yeshua we can experience redemption and healing. 

This week’s Parshah centres around a devastating mistake made by the Israelites which has reverberated through the ages and caused untold mourning for the Jewish people. The creation and worship of the golden calf whilst Moses was communing with God on Mount Sinai, a sin so severe that God threatened to destroy the whole Israelite nation. Moses’ response to this was to intercede on their behalf by saying: “If you do not forgive them, blot me out from the Book of Life that You have written!”

There are certain similarities facing the nation of South Africa and God is calling us to intercede that He would have mercy and restore it to a place of Godly favour rather than becoming a recipient of His fiery judgement. For a nation to experience revival and restoration there are conditions which God places before us without which we will never experience breakthroughs. 

When the Israelites were in the wilderness for 40 years God never gave up on them. Neither did Moses even after they broke his heart by worshiping the golden calf, Moses did not stop beseeching God to forgive them. He went so far as to say, “And if not, erase me from this book.” That is the quality of true intercession!

What the Israelites chose to exchange was the ultimate counterfeit of everything. If God could even forgive the Israelites for their blasphemy and rebellion where they sank to the very lowest of the low, how much more can He do so for us through the redemptive blood of Yeshua!

How much do we want to allow God to transform us or do we rather choose to remain within a relationship of halfheartedness and semi-obedience? To do so is like walking a tightrope without a balancing pole: or buying an expensive car and not taking out insurance! Compromise is to bite into the fruit of Satan’s allurements and enticements, buying into his lie believing somehow that there will be no consequences.

Raphael ben Levi