A common theme in the Old Testament is restitution which varies according to the offense and the attitude of the offender. In the situation described here, restitution is made in full plus a fifth when they ‘realize their guilt’ (v. 4). They have voluntarily realized the error of their ways and sort to make amends.
Elsewhere when someone is caught with stolen goods in their possession they are to pay back double (Exodus 22:4 & 9) and if they are unable to give back the stolen property because they’ve disposed of it, they are to pay back four or fivefold (Exodus 22:1). These directives were known and taken seriously as we can see in Zacchaeus’ response to Jesus (Luke 19:8).
It’s remarkable that after restitution has been made the victim is better off than if the item hadn’t been taken. The forgiven person is better off than before they sinned. This is a Biblical principle and even God restores people double for their misfortune. This restitution represents stolen property being found in another’s possession. Not that God steals from us but sometimes he removes his protection and the devil has an opportunity. This is seen most clearly in Job 1 & 2 and in his restoration in 42:12 (also Isaiah 61:7, Zechariah 9:12). God accepts responsible for evil being in the world, even though it was caused by Adam’s disobedience.
We always receive more than we lose.
Fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed the burnt offering and the fat portions on the altar. And when all the people saw it, they shouted for joy and fell facedown. Leviticus 9:24
Wenham in Constable’s Commentary writes: “This chapter brings out very clearly the purpose and character of Old Testament worship. All the pomp and ceremony served one end: the appearance of the glory of God.” It’s also interesting to note that this is the first time in the Bible a word for joy is used.
The purpose of worship is to draw near to God. Then he will draw near to us (James 4:8) and we will experience his presence. Sometimes this will be almost tangible but most times we will simply know we are in his presence because of his promise (Matthew 18:20).
We might view worship as a duty or a sacrifice and while there is sacrifice involved, God’s intention is to bless. David writes in Psalm 16:11 “you will fill me with joy in your presence”. God wants us to draw near to him so we can receive his joy.
The sacrificial system in Old Testament times was quite elaborate and costly as they sacrificed animals which could otherwise have been eaten. Yet they remind us of God’s costly sacrifice – his own Son. As we focus on God surrendering his Son for us, anything we forego is minor in comparison. Any sense of duty we feel dissolves, as our response becomes one of gratitude.
Perhaps we are reluctant to draw near to God? May be we are challenged by his holiness and our lack of it. God’s presence can be like a refining fire to us (Malachi 3:3). Yet his intention is to purify us so we can experience his joy.
Has God put a scripture passage on your heart you’d like to share with a larger audience? Consider trying devotional writing. See the guidelines in the right margin here, and also check out the page marked ‘submissions.’ If you don’t have your own website or blog, also tell us a bit about yourself. If you wish, first send us a one paragraph summary of what you’re proposing to write.