Monday, February 19, 2018

Who Defines Restoration In The Case of A Wrong?

Leviticus 6:1-7:

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 
“When a person sins and acts unfaithfully against the Lord, and deceives his companion in regard to a deposit or a security entrusted to him, or through robbery, or if he has extorted from his companion, 
or has found what was lost and lied about it and sworn falsely, so that he sins in regard to any one of the things a man may do; 
then it shall be, when he sins and becomes guilty, that he shall restore what he took by robbery or what he got by extortion, or the deposit which was entrusted to him or the lost thing which he found, or anything about which he swore falsely; he shall make restitution for it in full and add to it one-fifth more. He shall give it to the one to whom it belongs on the day he presents his guilt offering. 
Then he shall bring to the priest his guilt offering to the Lord, a ram without defect from the flock, according to your valuation, for a guilt offering, 
and the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord, and he will be forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt.”

Thoughts on the Passage
The beginning of chapter six (first seven verses) offers us more instances where the guilt offering is required. (It could easily have been included in chapter five.) And then the rest of chapter six and all of chapter seven deal with instructions on administering the various offerings (The Burnt Offering – 6:8-13; the Meal Offering – 6:14-23; The Sin Offering – 6:24-30; The Guilt Offering – 7:1-10; and The Peace Offering – 7:11-36). The last few verses of chapter 7 (verses 37 and 38) give us a neat Summary of the Offerings.

But our current passage is still talking about other occasions when the Guilt Offering is to be made.
God, through Moses, turns His attention, to business inter-relationships between people.  There is to be no lying between seller and buyer; loaner and borrower; between the person effecting fraud and the victim; etc. The deception can be as a result of one self-admitting it or when on is caught-lying. Confession, restoration (full amount plus 20%), and then the guilt offering is required. Then the forgiveness is guaranteed.

However, I note in verse 7 that the phrase is “forgiven for any one of the things which he may have done to incur guilt”.  It is possible that if I have cheated someone, or stole several things from someone, etc. – that is, I committed several acts of this kind of sin referred to here – then I have to confess each one, make restoration plus 20% for each one, and offer a guilt offering for each one.  This seems to go along with earlier thoughts that God does not just want us to say “forgive me, I have sinned” but He wants us to be fully aware of our specific sins and to repent in each case.  People come to us, especially children, and say, “I’m sorry.”  What is our natural response?  “What exactly are you sorry for?”  And God, in whose image we are made, is like that too.

Matthew Henry points out that we need to observe that while these types of sins relate to our neighbor, they are rightly called sins “against the Lord”. The neighbor suffers the immediate consequence, but the offence is against your neighbor’s Maker – regardless of who your neighbor is what he thinks or does not think of God.

Henry also suggests the concept of the extra 20% to be paid back is to get across the idea that restoration is not restoration until the person receiving it feels his/her loss has been restored.
What is the lesson for us? Well, we know what restoration looks like when we have been wronged, but do we think about what restoration looks like when we wrong others?

Similarly, we as human beings cannot dictate to God what He accepts as ‘restoration’ for our sins agains Him. Only He can set the terms.  And in this case, we can’t meet them.  So, He provided another Way through His own Son.

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