The command given in the first sentence of Leviticus 19:11 is a restatement of the Eighth Commandment Exodus found in Exodus 20:15
This command is given in four words. The effect of these four words on our lives is tremendous. Every area of life is affected.
I trust that this morning we will receive the Word of God in all of His power and that we will yield to its changing of our thoughts, values, and most importantly – our character.
I. God teaches us the importance that He places on private and personal property.
The Word of God does not teach the practice of communalism or communism. As we saw last week, God teaches compassionate giving, not compelled giving! Some may say that for Christians, we must give the tithe, which seems to be compelled giving. In truth, we are returning it, not giving it. The tithe belongs to God in the first place.
Now, if a believer gives of what he has to another – that is a blessing. It is no blessing when demands are made on the property of believers simply because of the personal desire to take ownership of what another has. God has given very clear instructions about personal property!
A. This is one of the primary lessons that children are taught, or at least should be taught. When they are left to themselves –
1. They will believe that they are the center of the universe.
2. They will believe that all things are for their use and for their enjoyment.
3. They must be told “No! That is not yours!”
B. This is one of the primary lessons that men should remember.
1. Man, as a part of creation, does not own God’s creation.
Job 1:21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.
1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
2. Man has been given responsibility to manage God’s creation.
3. We had better take care of it – it belongs to God! We will give an account to Him.
Refer to the accounting of the unjust steward in Matthew 25:14-19; 25-30.
C. The lessons would fill volumes, but simply stated we see two things –
1. Do not take that which is not yours.
2. Do not misuse that which you have.
We also see that with this statement –
II. God teaches us the importance of personal integrity.
A. To be responsible for what you have.
B. To be responsible for what your neighbor has, which we will learn in a couple of weeks as we learn about Leviticus 19:13 “Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor…”
C. To be responsible to God’s laws of restitution. Exodus 22:1-17.
In many modern legal systems, a criminal may be found guilty of a crime and will be punished, but while the law provides for punishment, it does not provide for restitution. The victim must bring a civil suit in order to try and have property and damages restored. God’s law included both punishment and restitution.
Zacchaeus practiced restitution after he got saved.
1. The whole value was to be considered. Exodus 22:1
Loss of productivity
2. Both life and property value were considered. Exodus 22:2,3
a. At night, personal protection was condoned.
b. At daylight, confusion in the dark was no longer a problem, the thief could be identified and apprehended.
c. Being caught, he would make resitution immediately or he would work it out according to the law.
3. The law required double restitution for simply robbery. Exodus 22:4
4. The law required restitution of that which was taken or destroyed by accident or deliberately. Exodus 22:5,6
This is includes the whole value – as in point one
5. The law dealing with restitution for goods kept by others. Exodus 22:7-13
a. By neglect or by embezzlement. 22:7-10
b. No restitution was required if no neglect is proved. This was according to one’s word. 22:11
6. Restitution is demanded to pay for items damaged or destroyed that you have borrowed. (as with borrowed books) 22:12,13
Note: Do we see how God is protecting His people from having quarrels in the community? They knew what God’s standard was and could live together in harmony because there was only one standard to be applied to all men. God is no respecter of persons!
Through His principles stated in the Law –
III. God teaches us the importance of reliance on Him.
A. God will supply all of our needs. The Israelites were to trust God that He would give them a place, prosperity, and peace to live. Today we trust the Lord for the same as we are instructed in the New Testament –
Philippians 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
B. God will use the work of a man’s hands to supply his and others needs.
Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
C. God will use the testimony of a changed people for His glory.
1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.
Israel had this testimony among the people of the world. God instructed them that they may be different, a testimony for Him. We also must have this testimony in this world. God is working a work in our lives to prove that He is Holy and Pure. He is also greater than the world and will change our lives as a testimony to Him. Israel, a nation of people, struggled with holiness of God and had very little peace and joy in their lives. Today – are we ready to learn from them that, if we want peace and joy in this life, we need to follow the principles of God.
You may say this morning, Pastor, what is this message all about? I am okay! That is wonderful! But the world is not okay – just look around. We need to know the principles of God, where they are to be found, and how they are to be applied. The Lord told us to be Salt in this world. Salt is a healing and preserving agent. We have to know something to be able to help. We need to be able to help Babes in Christ to learn what He wants of us. Now we can not only tell them that it is wrong to steal, but we can tell them why it is wrong according to the Word of God. It is not an opinion, it is the Truth of God.
There are many things that can be stolen –
A person’s –
Property, That which they have
Integrity, That which they are
Dignity, that which they do
We must have the testimony of the Lord showing that we respect all of these things and are submitted to the authority of God.