Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Making Restitution (part 2)

When it comes to money or things, the cost to the thief is the value of the thing, plus 20%. That is a high rate of interest, but it is not the highest rate.

If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he must pay back five head of cattle for the ox and four sheep for the sheep. (Exodus 22:1 NIV)

There it is: 500% for oxen, 400% for sheep. Why the difference and why so much? The Scripture does not tell us “Why.” Here is a possibility. Oxen are alive; they reproduce oxen; they pull the plow; they provide meat, leather and milk. Sheep are alive; they reproduce sheep; they provide milk, meat and wool.

We see two examples of this in Scripture. First, there is David’s reply to Nathan’s story.

He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity. (2 Samuel 12:6 NIV)

The second is Zacchaeus’ statement to Jesus.

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” (Luke 19:8, 9 NIV)

(An excerpt from On Being a Christian by Jim Wilson)

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