TEXT: Exodus 22:1-15(NKJV)
1. “If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.
2. “If the thief is found breaking in, and he is struck so that he dies, [there shall be] no guilt for his bloodshed.
3. “If the sun has risen on him, [there shall be] guilt for his bloodshed. He should make full restitution; if he has nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
4. “If the theft is certainly found alive in his hand, whether it is an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double.
5. ” If a man causes a field or vineyard to be grazed, and lets loose his animal, and it feeds in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.
6. ” If fire breaks out and catches in thorns, so that stacked grain, standing grain, or the field is consumed, he who kindled the fire shall surely make restitution.
7. ” If a man delivers to his neighbor money or articles to keep, and it is stolen out of the man’s house, if the thief is found, he shall pay double.
8. “If the thief is not found, then the master of the house shall be brought to the judges [to see] whether he has put his hand into his neighbor’s goods.
9. ” For any kind of trespass, [whether it concerns] an ox, a donkey, a sheep, or clothing, [or] for any kind of lost thing which [another] claims to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; [and] whomever the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.
10. “If a man delivers to his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep, and it dies, is hurt, or driven away, no one seeing [it,]
11. “[then] an oath of the LORD shall be between them both, that he has not put his hand into his neighbor’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept [that,] and he shall not make [it] good.
12. “But if, in fact, it is stolen from him, he shall make restitution to the owner of it.
13. “If it is torn to pieces [by a beast, then] he shall bring it as evidence, [and] he shall not make good what was torn.
14. ” And if a man borrows [anything] from his neighbor, and it becomes injured or dies, the owner of it not [being] with it, he shall surely make [it] good.
15. “If its owner [was] with it, he shall not make [it] good; if it [was] hired, it came for its hire.
Restitution is the act of returning what has wrongfully been taken or replacing what has been lost or damaged. From our reading today, Moses dealt with several kinds of thievery, and stated that the thief must make compensation to those who are wronged (v.3). Atonement and forgiveness of the sin is received after restitution had been made to the victim (compare with Neh. 5:10-1.
Moses also dealt with property damage caused by animals who eat in a field other than their master’s (v.5) or by uncontrolled fire (v.6), and with loss of property entrusted to others (vv. 7-15). From these specific instances, the judges could derive principles that would help them decide cases (Read Luke 19:8). The above teach us that we ought to be careful in all our dealings.
We must be aware that what we deliberately or wrongfully damage may require restitution. We must also be aware that there are things that are irreplaceable when damaged such as virginity, loss of lives, etc. Knowing this, we must learn how to live peacefully with one another and ask the Holy Spirit for self-control so as to avoid causing harm and losses to our neighbours.
PRAYER: O Lord, help me to return all things that do not belong to me and to live in self-control in Jesus’ name, Amen.