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. – Leviticus 6:1-5
In the midst of the obscurity of the Levitical laws that God gave to Moses, obscure mainly because we do not yet understand their fulfillment in the new covenant, we often find some very practical judicial consequences.
For example, the laws governing the act of defrauding another make good sense. In our day, a thief is often caught and jailed. While this certainly removes the offender from our streets, he too often learns nothing and the one offended still loses. God’s provision above taught the thief a valuable lesson and repaid/rewarded the one from whom the thief stole. Within a civilized society, there should be some method by which, under supervision, a thief would be forced to repay (with penalty), either through labor or seized assets, everything he/she took from another.
Why in the world would I write on this subject? God’s ways are wise and best even when the application is not overtly theological, and the Scriptures can guide us (and any nation) if we will only diligently search them for the answers we need. We need all of the Bible for all of life.
Christians who neglect the Bible simply do not mature. – John Stott