Confession and Restitution
Numbers 5:5-8
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,…

These trespasses are explained and illustrated in Leviticus 6:1-7. In both passages provision is made for confession, restitution, interest, and atonement - in Leviticus the atonement being spoken of more fully than here. Notice that three parties are provided for in the directions given.

I. THE WRONG-DOER. The wrong-doer has done injury to himself as well as another. In one sense the injury is even greater. What we suffer from others, grievous and irritating as it may be at the time, need not be an abiding ill; but the injury we inflict on others is great spiritual danger to ourselves. Hence the man truly confessing the wrong he had done was proving himself in a better state of mind, no longer the victim of selfishness, and glorying in his shame, but showing an awakened conscience, and a repentance needing not to be repented of. Consider the benefit David got (Psalm 51). Confession, restitution, and atonement cleanse the bosom of a great deal of "perilous stuff." Restitution, though a loss in possessions, is a gain in peace. Reparation of a wrong done to a fellow-man is to be valued for the injured person's sake; but it is a great deal more that the wrong-doer for his own sake has been brought right with God.

II. THE PERSON WRONGED. He is provided for as far as he can be provided for. To make reparation in all respects is indeed impossible. A wrong-doer, with all his efforts, cannot put things exactly as they were before. Still he must do what he can. Hence the provision to add a fifth over the principal. Doubtless a truly repentant trespasser would not stop even at that to show his sincerity in reparation. Zaccheus restored fourfold. Surely there are some injured persons to whom it would be a greater joy and a greater benefit to see their enemies altogether altered than if they had never been hurt by them at all. One great good, as concerned the person wronged, was that confession and restitution would do much to allay, and perhaps obliterate, the sense of injustice. "It is not what a man outwardly has or wants that constitutes the happiness or misery of him. It is the feeling of injustice that is insupportable to all men. The brutalest black African cannot bear that he should be used unjustly" (Carlyle). Again, injured persons themselves may be injurers. A sense of wrong suffered is not always effectual in hindering the sufferer from wronging others. So the confession and repentance of one might lead to the confession and repentance of another. Who knows the total effect produced on the persons to whom Zaccheus made his fourfold restitution?

III. JEHOVAH HIMSELF. Acknowledgment and restitution were not enough without atonement. To injure a fellow-man is to rebel against the government of God, robbing him of some possible service from the person injured. The wrong-doer, from prickings of conscience, or mere uneasiness of mind, may make some reparation to his fellow-man, whom he can see; but if he thinks he has then done all, he may find, from continued uneasiness, that something is yet unaccomplished. It is the greatest blot on sinful men, not that they are unjust to one another, but that they have come short of the glory of God. That glory must be restored, and God take the place of self, if human relations are to come right. There is no scheme of teaching or example that, acting on natural lines, will ever make men perfectly just to one another. Things must be put right with God, for of him, and through him, and to him are all things. Let no one, therefore, make confession and restitution here look large, and atonement be pushed into the corner as an unimportant detail. Just as the confession and restitution point forward to the pure and vigorous ethics of Jesus, so the slain animals point forward to him who takes away the sin of the world. - Y.

Parallel Verses
KJV: And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

WEB: Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,

Where God Dwells There Must be Purity
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