Making ‘RESTITUTION’ through ‘RECONCILIATION’ is CRUCIAL
February 1 Bible Reading: Leviticus Chapters 4-6
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: "If a person commits a trespass, and sins unintentionally in regard to the holy things of the Lord, then he shall bring to the Lord as his trespass offering a ram without blemish from the flocks, with your valuation in shekels of silver according to the shekel of the sanctuary, as a trespass offering. And he shall make restitution for the harm that he has done in regard to the holy thing, and shall add one-fifth to it and give it to the priest. So the priest shall make atonement for him with the ram of the trespass offering, and it shall be forgiven him." (Lev 5:14-16)
As we read through the different offerings required by God from the children of Israel in the book of Leviticus, we can understand that God had specific solutions for specific problems. Each of the five offerings (burnt offering, grain offering, peace offering, sin offering and trespass offering) was meant for specific purposes. However, God added another element to the offerings that the children of Israel had to make in order to receive forgiveness from Him (Lev 5:14-6:7). This element was the requirement to make restitution for the harm that was committed by the person. Only after that would the priest make atonement with the trespass offering, and God would forgive the guilty person (5:16b).
If the harm was committed with regard to “the holy things of the Lord” (5:14), then the person had to make restitution by adding one-fifth of his offering to make up for the harm done by him/her (5:16). In the similar manner, if the harm was committed against another individual through swindling, stealing or robbery (forced extortion) then the guilty person had to restore the full value of what he/she had stolen (6:4) and add one-fifth more to it and give it to the offended person (6:5). Only after that, the person could bring the trespass offering to the priest, who would make atonement and God would forgive the guilty person (6:7).
There is an interesting example of this ‘principle of restitution’ in the New Testament, when Zacchaeus, who was a rich chief tax collector, realized how he had cheated and swindled people through extortion of taxes beyond what was due. He then made the following unusual declaration to Jesus: "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." (Luke 19:8) This was way beyond the requirements of the law. However, Jesus was pleased with the good intention of Zacchaeus and announced that salvation had come to his house (Luke 19:9), or in other words, that Zacchaeus had received a ‘real’ salvation experience.
Let us understand that making restitution is crucial for our spiritual growth and maintaining a clear relationship with God and people. God requires from us a higher standard when it comes to making restitution. When we come to God’s presence bringing our gift offering for Him, which is the fruit of our lips as our sacrifice of praise to God as per Hebrews 13:15, we should have a clear conscience before God and others. If we remember that any brother/sister has anything against us, we should first go and be reconciled with our brother/sister before even opening our mouths to praise and worship God. This was what Jesus had specifically mentioned in His Beatitudes for us to obey every day of our lives.
Do you have a clear conscience before God and people today? If not, please make restitution through reconciliation before you do anything else for God, for only that will truly please Him.