Lord of light; give me Your light and truth from Your Word. May they lead me in the pathway of Your will.
Read Exodus 22:1-15
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Fear the Lord, and you will do everything well” (The Shepherd of Hermas, an early Christian writing).
There are many ways by which one could lose property or possessions. Theft and the irresponsibility or neglect of others are examples, and are covered in this passage. God’s laws offer fair treatment and compensation, because God is just and fair. The examples here are, understandably, agricultural—involving livestock (1,4,5,9-15), crops (5), and other forms of property (7-9).
Making restitution (3,5,6,12,14) is the key method of dealing with loss or damage to property. The Hebrew word shalam (translated as restitution) means to restore, compensate, repay. It also means to be at peace. The purpose of restitution is to make right the wrong that has been done and to restore broken relationships so that there is peace in hearts and society. It may be twice or five times the value of that which was lost or stolen (1,4). If unscrupulous people take advantage and misuse this law by suing the innocent, God’s Law is careful to protect the innocent. For instance, when there is loss of property not due to the negligence of one entrusted with the property of another, that person is exempted from making restitution—as long as he declares before God that he is innocent (10,11).
Not all situations could be resolved with evidence. There needs to be a fear of God and an honor system (hence the oaths in v. 11; cf v. 9). A society that enjoys shalom (peace) is one that fears God and displays personal honesty, though there may be a few thieves and arsonists around who have to be justly dealt with.
When godly fear and honesty fade, society will crumble. Think about your own society, and your own life. What are modern forms of theft and arson?
Ask the Lord to show you if there is any restitution you need to make. Pray to live honestly and in the fear of the Lord.
Father, often I am guilty of rationalizing my inappropriate behavior. Forgive me for living in denial and help me to live for Your Kingdom’s sake.
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