THE WORTH OF A SINGULAR VOW
But the worth of a special vow is at least six times more than that of the ransom for life because the least amount is three shekels (Lev. 27:6). In some cases there is a hundredfold difference because some have to offer fifty shekels (v. 3). Why is there such a difference? This is because Exodus talks about salvation, whereas Leviticus talks about consecration.
Consecration means that it is not a matter of how much one likes to offer. Rather, it is a matter of how much God thinks we are worth based on our willingness to consecrate. From the viewpoint of salvation, God considers all of us worth half a shekel; no one is worth more than another, and everyone is worth the same regardless of wealth and age. Our natural constitution is put aside completely by God because what causes us to be saved is the Son of God. No one can be saved by adding anything to or deducting anything from the Son of God. According to grace, all men are the same in that all have sinned, and the price of salvation is the same for all. Through Christ, God sees our worth as the same. God treasures us and considers us of worth. Nevertheless, this worth is in His Son. Hence, our worth derived as a result of salvation is the same before God.
However, this fact does not prohibit God from esteeming some believers as having more value than others. Although believers are all saved the same way and are all children of God, some are greater in spiritual usefulness, and their consecrations are more thorough than those of others. As a result, God considers them as having more worth than others. Here we should note two things: one is a man’s spiritual usefulness, and the other is his sincere consecration. God considers our worth based on our spiritual usefulness plus our sincere consecration. If we are useful spiritually yet without consecration, before God we do not have any value other than that obtained through Christ. If we are willing to consecrate and the consecration is sincere, we are of some worth in the eyes of God even though our age is only one month to five years old. It is very dreadful that a believer might not be worth anything before God! For the ransom of life, half a shekel is enough to guarantee his salvation. But with regard to consecration, if you would consecrate to God, you are of some value even though you may be only one month old.
The life of a man is divided into four periods: one month to five years old is childhood; five years to twenty years old is the period of youth; twenty years to sixty years old is the adult period; sixty years and above is the period of old age. As far as the Israelites were concerned, their age was based on their physical years. For believers, their age refers to the strength and depth of their spirituality.
Salvation is the same for all, whereas consecration depends on the individual. Every saved one should have some worth in the eyes of God. In Leviticus, ages of one month to five years old are valued at five shekels. Once a person is saved, he should be of some worth. God’s estimation of the value of those between one month old and five years old is five shekels. He who is newly saved should at least have some worth before God. But this worth stems from his consecration. Without consecration, God does not view us as having any value. After a person is saved, the only work of the Holy Spirit is to lead him to consecrate himself and live for God. Israelites of five years old to twenty years old can be compared to those young believers who are burning and have some spiritual experiences. The adult period signifies the strong, matured, and experienced believers.
But why is the value of those who are sixty and older reduced? Although Caleb was old in age, he was as strong as when he was young (Josh. 14:11). Psalm 92:14 says, "They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; / they shall be fat and flourishing." So we see that some old people are very good. Our spiritual condition indeed does not have to grow old. Yet there are some who have regressed in their later years! We should not think that our worth before God today will necessarily be maintained forever. It is possible that our spiritual condition may regress!
The worth of those between twenty and sixty years old was highest among all four groups. Not only so, God mentioned this group of people first in this portion of the Bible. What is the reason? This is because those who are twenty years and over are able fighters (Num. 1:3). When the twelve tribes were enumerated in Numbers 1, emphasis was put on the number of people who were over twenty years old and able to go forth to war. God’s evaluation of His people today is the same. Whosoever is willing to consecrate is of worth before God. No matter how weak that person is, he will not be worthless. However, those who are willing to stand up for God’s glory, who are willing to be one with God to destroy the evils, and who are willing to fight against Satan for God’s rights, are of more worth than other believers. God’s eyes are focused on the fighters.
Why is there a difference between the value of the male and the value of the female? This does not refer to the physical distinction (although for the Israelites it was according to the physical distinction), but to the strength or weakness of the spiritual life (1 Pet. 3:7). It is possible for one who has been saved for only one year to have more growth than another who has been saved for five years!
We know that there are differences in spiritual age among Christians, and there is the possibility of falling behind and also of advancing forward. In which condition are we?
"But if he is poorer than the valuation, then he shall be presented before the priest, and the priest shall value him; according to the means of him who vowed, the priest shall value him" (Lev. 27:8). What does this mean? According to our spiritual age, we should offer a certain amount. But once we come under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, we know that we do not have much to offer. We cannot afford what we should pay! At that time we can only come again to our High Priest and admit that we cannot afford it and ask Him to reevaluate us. We have to start all over again.
The weighing of silver is according to the shekel of the sanctuary. This means you are worth exactly how much God says you are worth; none can be more accurate than that. Our standard is not accurate, but the standard of the sanctuary is extremely accurate. What God values cannot be wrong by even one thousandth of a grain.
Our half shekel for salvation has been paid. Today we all should ask God, "O God! What is my value in Your hands?"
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), Chapter 8, by Watchman Nee)