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

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Restitution

Lying is the main cover for violation of the rest of the moral laws of God.

We see this in Leviticus 6:1-7:

The LORD said to Moses: "If anyone sins and is unfaithful to the LORD by deceiving his neighbor about something entrusted to him or left in his care or stolen, or if he cheats him, or if he finds lost property and lies about it, or if he swears falsely, or if he commits any such sin that people may do- when he thus sins and becomes guilty, he must return what he has stolen or taken by extortion, or what was entrusted to him, or the lost property he found, or whatever it was he swore falsely about. He must make restitution in full, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the owner on the day he presents his guilt offering. And as a penalty he must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, his guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value. In this way the priest will make atonement for him before the LORD, and he will be forgiven for any of these things he did that made him guilty.”


Forgiveness was provided for both the lying and the stealing. In order to receive this forgiveness, the thief had two requirements laid upon him:

1. He had to return what he had stolen plus 20% of the value of what was stolen. This 20% had to do with money or things. If that which was stolen was a sheep, the sheep had to be returned plus three more sheep or 300%. If the stolen object was a cow, the cow had to be returned plus four more cows or 400% (Exodus 22:1).

2. He had to supply the sacrifice for his sin.

This was not just Old Testament judgment in contrast with New Testament mercy. The same requirements are in the New Testament. They are: 1) the sacrifice and 2) restitution.

There is forgiveness for lying and for stealing today. This forgiveness from God has been provided by God in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the sacrifice prefigured in Leviticus 6:6:

And as a penalty he must bring to the priest, that is, to the LORD, his guilt offering, a ram from the flock, one without defect and of the proper value.

And realized in Hebrews 10:10:

And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

We see the restitution in the story of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus in Luke 19:

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 his man, too, is a son of Abraham.”

Zacchaeus is obliquely admitting he cheated people out of sheep. Lack of restitution is one reason why there is no revival in the Christian community.


(Taken from Day & Night, 2003)

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