The Law of the Census and Poll Tax--Part 2
Jan 12, 2009
In my book, Secrets of Time, I showed that when Israel entered the land of Canaan, they were supposed to begin keeping rest years and Jubilees. In other words, they were to plant crops for six years, and then rest the seventh. This was not dated according to the Creation Jubilee System, but according to their actual entry into Canaan.
If they had entered 38 years earlier (when they were supposed to), they would have entered on the 50th Jubilee from Adam, and hence, their calendar would have coincided perfectly with the Creation Jubilee Calendar. But instead, they entered the land 38 years late (Deut. 2:14), so the calendar they actually followed was skewed by 38 years and thus reflected an imperfect kingdom.
Even so, Israel never observed a rest year or a Jubilee from Joshua to David.
My book shows that in the 38th year of David's reign, Israel had missed 62 rest years and eight Jubilees. They owed God 70 years. Sin is reckoned as a debt, so Israel had a debt of 70 years for not complying with the covenant terms by which He had given them the land in the first place.
This is the hidden factor behind "the anger of the Lord" in 2 Sam. 24:1. The reason is not given in the text itself, but is only revealed by a study of the laws of time.
"Now again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, 'Go, number Israel and Judah'."
When we understand that Israel's sin created a debt of 70 years, we can see that God was demanding full payment on that debt. Hence, in the aftermath of these events, 70,000 Israelites were killed (2 Sam. 24:15). That is a thousand for every year of debt being charged to them.
But before God could lawfully bring judgment upon Israel, He found it necessary to remove their divine protection which they had obtained in the final census under Moses. So God incited David to take another census, this time without the half-shekel redemption money, in order that they be not protected from the plague.
This judgment took place as a sovereign act of God, and God takes full credit for doing it. Even His motive was revealed, at least partially. This did not mean that David could blame God and avoid repenting for his sin. No indeed. In verse 10 David says, "I have sinned greatly in what I have done." David took responsibility for it, even though God was ultimately behind it. He did not use the sovereignty of God to excuse himself.
Likewise, in 1 Chron. 21, where the story is repeated, verse 1 says that "Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel." David did not simply say, "The devil made me do it." Either way, David took responsibility. In my view, God called one of his employees (the devil) and empowered him to incite David to number the people in order to bring judgment upon Israel for their sin. The devil is God's Chief of Police, the executioner of divine judgment.
But Joab, who was given the responsibility of numbering the people, did not want to take the census, and so he refused to number Levi and Benjamin. We are not told if David specifically commanded that the Levites be numbered, but if so, it was wrong. Levi was not to be numbered in a military census (Num. 1:49), because they were not part of the military. Their job was to conduct spiritual warfare and "war the warfare" in the Tabernacle. At any rate, 1 Chron. 21:6 says,
"But he did not number Levi and Benjamin among them, for the king's command was abhorrent to Joab."
We are not told Joab's motive for refusing to number Benjamin, but we can certainly see the prophetic reason. From God's perspective, Benjamin represented the sons of God. Benjamin was Joseph's younger brother. When Joseph was born, he was named Joseph as a prophecy of another son who was to come--i.e., Benjamin. Gen. 30:24 says,
"And she named him Joseph, saying, 'May the Lord give me another son'."
In prophetic types, Joseph is a type of Christ, the Son of God, and Benjamin is the type of His younger brother, "the sons of God." Heb. 2:11 says, "He is not ashamed to call them brethren." So when Joab refused to number Benjamin along with Levi, he spared them any divine judgment that was shortly to come. Benjamin remained covered by the previous census under Moses. The account in 2 Sam. 24:5-8 shows that Joab began numbering the tribes in the north, and then swung around toward the sea to the south, and finally ended at Jerusalem, which stood at the border of Benjamin.
When the census ended, God then revealed to David his sin, and David repented. God then gave David three choices of judgment. He chose the shortest time--three days of plague at the hand of God. 2 Sam. 24:15 says,
"The Lord sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning until the appointed time [i.e., the evening sacrifice in mid-afternoon]; and seventy thousand men of the people from Dan to Beersheba died."
But when the angel began moving toward Jerusalem to judge the Levites and the tribe of Benjamin, God stopped the judgment (vs. 16). In other words, the 70,000 who died were from the other 11 tribes, and did not include Levi or Benjamin. This was to show us that the sons of God are the divinely-protected ones in the midst of judgment. As I have shown, not only Benjamin but Levi also represented all the First-Born sons in Israel and served as a type of the sons of God.
This incident ought to be of comfort to those who are the obedient sons of God. The divine judgment upon Babylon today is not designed to judge His children, but rather to bring judgment upon the rebellious system that does not recognize God as Creator and Owner of the Universe.
Back in 1993 when we were getting organized to begin the Jubilee Prayer Campaign, I was led to number the people for battle. I knew that the final number would be significant. With this, I required that people send a half-shekel silver coin if they wanted to be registered for battle. Of course, not many people own such coins, but "coincidentally" I discovered a place that had minted coins precisely for this purpose. I bought quantities for $4.95 each so that people could simply send me $5 to buy a coin. My shipping cost in purchasing the coins came to more than five cents each, but I only lost a little money on each transaction.
On the last day of the original phase of the Jubilee Prayer Campaign, Nov. 29, 1993, we received our 414th application with $5. I knew then that we were to hold a second prayer campaign from January 26-30, 1994. The final tally of people who were numbered came to 490.
Many more people have since joined us in spiritual warfare, but there is no further need to collect a half-shekel coin, because we are not taking another official census. It is the same as the generations born in Israel after Moses' final census. None of them were officially numbered (until David's time), yet they were covered by the half-shekel that their forefathers had given.
So it is today. The number 490 (above) was divinely engineered to be a specific number representing the entire body of "blessed" ones. That census covers all of the sons of God until such time as another census might be taken.
The census, however, does NOT cover Babylon or its citizens. Babylon is coming under judgment, and any earthly organization that is part of Babylon, whether it is secular or religious, will find itself under judgment to whatever degree is pertinent.
Out of this divine judgment, David purchased the property for the future Temple. Good always comes out of divine judgment, for it is corrective, not destructive per se.
This is the second part of a series titled "The Law of the Census and Poll Tax." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones