In the sermon text this morning, Jesus will be questioned regarding the temple tax which has its origins in the “atonement tax” of Exodus 30. God discouraged the practice of counting fighting men by requiring that payment be made if such an action were to take place. At least part of this regulation would discourage kings and rulers from counting their fighting men, thinking that their strength resided in the armies at their disposal. If you’re going to count your armies, God requires a sacrifice, atonement, and offering of worship. Think of David who was not content with the peace that God had bestowed, and feeling the need to know his strength in numbers was a great sin. And people do this all the time. People count their money and check their balances, counting meticulously in order to know how secure they are, how strong they are. Maybe you think your strength is in your accomplishments, and so you regularly recount your degrees, your qualifications, your expertise, and you rest secure with your portfolio as your strength. Or maybe it’s your family, your children, your spouse, and you think that you are secure because you have them, and you consider how they will provide for you, how they are your qualifications. Or maybe you think you’re strong because you are a homeschooling family. Or maybe you think you’re family is secure because you send your kids to Christian school. You think you’re strong because you have health insurance; or you think you’re mighty because all your children were homebirths. Of course all of these decisions, all of these realities are part of life, and they are all part of the freedom bestowed upon us in Christ. But the question is: are they your strength? Are they your armies? Are they your security? Are they your might and glory? Not all. They are gifts of our King, they are opportunities, talents, decisions that must be made in wisdom. But we serve the Lord of Hosts. Yahweh is the Lord of Armies. He is the God of battles. He fights for us. He defends us. He is our glory and our strength and our might. We will not put our trust in horses or chariots. We will not put our trust in stocks and bonds. We will not put our trust in presidents or vice-presidents or supreme court justices. We do not put our trust in Reformed Theology or in our liturgy. We trust in the Lord our God, the Lord of Hosts, Yahweh of Armies is his name. And having found our strength in him, we find that he has bestowed great gifts, great opportunities upon us, and so we offer those up as offerings, we offer them up as sacrifices of praise. They are not our strength, but they are gifts from the One who is strong, and therefore we offer them up to the Lord.