Now Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver and in gold. Genesis 13:2.
However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” Matthew 17:26-27.
Today your LORD (יהוה) God (אלהים) says:
I AM an ever present help in time of trouble, no matter who or what caused it, I am there for you. Yahweh Shammah, the LORD is there. Do not worry about your livelihood, seek first the Kingdom of Heaven and the righteousness I give you and all is added to you for life and godliness in Jesus without painful toil—like the lilies. “Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; but I tell you, not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these.” Luke 12:27. And Solomon was the richest man on earth, no one before or after has ever even come close to his wealth and he did not toil for it. It was all gifts.
Mine is the silver and Mine is the gold. Haggai 2:8. Every beast of the forest is Mine and the cattle on a thousand hills are Mine. Psalm 50:10. I gave you dominion over the works of My hands but I am the ultimate owner of everything. And you who are My children, who love Me and have faith in My goodness to you in Christ Jesus, are with Me always and all I have is yours. Luke 15:31. I even created the angels, the heavenly host, to minister onto you who are heirs of salvation in Christ Jesus. Hebrews 1:14. You can live days of Heaven on earth.
Everything is yours to take by faith. But if you do not take it by faith you will be like the elder son in the story of the prodigal son, you will be resentful, angry, serving Me out of fear rather than love, and accusing Me of not giving you the good things you desire. Luke 15:29.You will be begging for what I have already freely given you in Christ Jesus and yet you will never take it by faith, so you will never receive it and be thankful for it. You will pass up living days of Heaven on earth by your own foolishness. The problem is people believe this, even believers, that whether they have My promises working in their lives is all up to Me. But I already made up My mind and gave it to you in Christ, you just have to take it by faith, and faith speaks what I speak. BLESSING. Which includes provision and vindication.
And that is what today’s Life Lesson is about as we consider the next miracle in the gospel according to Matthew, and it is the paying of the temple tax. This was a tax of half a shekel (in Greek referred to as a “didrachma”) for every male over 20 years that was for the upkeep of the temple. I had only asked for it to be taken when there was a census undertaken counting My people to avoid a plague breaking out as atonement money. Exodus 30:11-16. David did not do that when he took a census and hence a plague resulted.
At the time of Nehemiah when the Israelites returned to rebuild the destroyed temple and walls of Jerusalem they voluntarily started a practice of giving one third of a shekel every year toward the offerings of the temple. “We also placed ourselves under obligation to contribute yearly one third of a shekel for the service of the house of our God: for the showbread, for the continual grain offering, for the continual burnt offering, the sabbaths, the new moon, for the appointed times, for the holy things and for the sin offerings to make atonement for Israel, and all the work of the house of our God.” Nehemiah 10:32-33.
Israel was under Roman rule at the time Jesus took flesh and dwelt among you so the Israelites did not take census, only the Romans did so since the Jewish people were under their authority. But the Pharisees and chief priests had made it a half shekel yearly tax for the maintenance of the temple in Jerusalem. I actually commanded the tithe to cover the upkeep of My house, but as you know from My Words to My prophet Malachi, the people were withholding their tithes for their own use and I called that robbing My house, hence the tax was imposed by the religious leaders. But Jesus had a few things to tell them about how they were actually using it.
This miracle is only recounted for you in the gospel of Matthew. It interested Matthew more than the others because he had been a tax collector for the Roman civilian tax before Jesus called him and he had never heard of anyone who had paid by this method. But I am always doing something new for you. Do you not perceive it?
It is a quiet miracle, just among Jesus and His disciples, but it contains much revelation for you to ponder and apply in your own life.
And so it begins, “When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the temple tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the temple (didrachma) tax?” Matthew 17:24. Jesus and His disciples resided at Capernaum, so it was here the tax would be collected from them for the upkeep of the temple in Jerusalem. Peter replied, “Yes.” Matthew 17:25. But he did not pay it for Jesus. And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” Matthew 17:26-27.
Do not just say “how amazing,” and continue on to the next chapter. Stop and ponder what took place and go deeper.
Peter needed the money to pay the tax. He did not hold the common purse for the disciples, Judas did (and that is another story). So before he could ask Judas for the money, Jesus wanted to teach a lesson from this. So He began, as He often did, with a question. When Jesus had asked the disciples who people said He was, He then asked who they personally said He was. Peter answered that He was the Son of the living God. Which was revealed to Him by Me.
So here Jesus is again affirming that truth to Peter which he already received by revelation, that He as My Son, which made Him equal to Me and One God with Me, should not be required to pay a tax on His own House where He had a place there forever, that is, in My house. Jesus in fact, as He moved among them, was the true temple of God, as He had revealed earlier when the Pharisees asked for a sign showing where Jesus got His authority over the temple when He cast out the traders and money changers. He responded that His body was the temple. “The Jews then said to Him, “What sign do You show us as your authority for doing these things?” Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews then said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken.” John 2:18-22. As Son He should have been exempt from the tax, but in order not to offend the leaders, and the tax was not for an evil purpose though I had not ordered it, Jesus told Peter to pay it, but He gave Him another lesson in how He instructed him to pay it.
Jesus told Peter “go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.” This was exactly the payment for two people. The authorities had only asked Peter about Jesus paying, but Jesus doubled it and included Peter.
Peter was a fisherman so this was not a difficult assignment for him and at Capernaum they were right at the edge of the Sea of Galilee where Peter had been fishing for most of his life. When I ask you to do something it will be in keeping with your knowledge and abilities. So Peter knew Jesus well enough that he went and did so immediately. He remembered how when there were no fish showing up when he had fished all night that Jesus simply got in his boat and told him to lower his nets in the deep water. To his amazement so many fish rushed into his net that his boat and the boat of James and John nearly sank and it was breaking their nets. He had seen the dominion authority Jesus took over fish. And sure enough, when he threw in a hook, the first fish that came up had one silver shekel in its mouth. When I tell you to do something it generally does not take long but is a one shot deal.
This is not a story just about the power of Jesus as God, no not at all, He had emptied Himself of His God powers and become one just like you in all things, though He never sinned or let the devil have any part in Him. But He knew that I had given mankind rule over the works of My hands. “When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained; what is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him? Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens AND THE FISH OF THE SEA, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.” Psalm 8:4-7.
And here is another witness, in fact, two more:
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule OVER THE FISH OF THE SEA and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Genesis 1:26. Here the first dominion I gave you was ruling over the fish of the sea. And I told you when I created you, “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and RULE OVER THE FISH OF THE SEA and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:27-28.
Jesus exercised the authority of a man on earth and commanded a fish to come to Peter’s hook, but there is more because that fish had to have a silver shekel in its mouth.
I told My prophet Haggai, “The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,” declares the LORD of hosts. Haggai 2:8. But now look to see the context in which I stated this, and you will find it is in the context of rebuilding My temple, My house, when I miraculously brought back the captives from Babylon to Jerusalem, “On the twenty-first of the seventh month, the word of the LORD came by Haggai the prophet saying, “Speak now to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and to the remnant of the people saying, ‘Who is left among you who saw this temple in its former glory? And how do you see it now? Does it not seem to you like nothing in comparison? But now take courage, Zerubbabel,’ declares the LORD, ‘take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,’ declares the LORD, ‘and work; for I am with you,’ declares the LORD of hosts. ‘As for the promise which I made you when you came out of Egypt, My Spirit is abiding in your midst; do not fear!’ For thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘Once more in a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD of hosts. ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the LORD of hosts. ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the LORD of hosts, ‘and in this place I will give peace,’ declares the LORD of hosts.” Haggai 2:1-9.
Please note that I am transferring all that silver and gold to the glory of My house. Which you now are. The church, Christ’s Body, the true temple of the Holy Spirit on earth. Christ in you, your hope of GLORY.
Jesus knew all My Word. He knew He could not only command the fish since I had given mankind rule over the fish of the sea, but because it was for My house, He could also shake the silver into the mouth of the fish. But how did He do that? Don’t you see? Who commanded the silver and the gold into My house? I did it as the LORD of Hosts—of the angels who are ministers to serve the heirs of salvation. Did Jesus not tell you He could have asked Me to send twelve legions of angels to Him? All He needed was one angel to go put that silver coin into the mouth of the fish and push the fish up to Peter’s hook. And that is exactly what took place. You might have otherwise wondered about the perfect timing.
Where is your faith?
In Jesus you are My children, born again by the imperishable seed of My Word and regenerated by the Holy Spirit, you are with Me always and all I have is yours. Luke 15:31. I have made you My heirs in Jesus, joint heirs with Him, My first born Son, and I have given Him everything. “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand.” John 3:35. And what did Jesus tell you who would believe in Him the night before He died? “The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and LOVED THEM EVEN AS YOU HAVE LOVED ME.” John 17:22-23.
And Jesus told you, “All things that the Father has are Mine.” John 16:15. And the Holy Spirit discloses them to you—all I have freely given you in Christ. In Him, Jesus has given you back your dominion authority on earth to rule over the works of My hands. Do not give it back to the devil as Adam did and so many do today.
“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Therefore you are no longer a slave, but a son; and if a son, then an heir through the gracious act of God.” Galatians 4:6-7. Beautiful indeed is your inheritance.
I love you. Start ruling over the works of My hands. I have given you that authority, will you not use it?