Leviticus 6:1-7 - Homilies By W. Clarkson
Human ownership and dishonesty.
From the Divine directions here given as to the trespass offering, in the case of wrong between man and man, we gather—
I. THAT GOD ALLOWS US TO CONSIDER HIS GIFTS AS BELONGING TO OURSELVES . By inheritance or by labour we acquire property; a man has a right to say, concerning an object thus legally acquired, "This is mine." The possession of property is carefully guarded by the declarations of God's Word; "the commandments of the Lord" make the violation of this right a very serious sin (see text). It is well, however, to remember that human ownership is never absolute; it is subject to:
2 . Our duty, in holding it, to keep in view the general good; e.g; large landowner has no right to let ground lie waste, and be covered with seed-sowing weeds.
3 . Our liability, at any hour, to lay it down at God's will.
II. THAT MEN FIND VARIOUS WAYS OF DISREGARDING THIS RIGHT . Many forms of dishonesty prevail in every land; it is an inevitable excrescence of sin. Five special cases are here provided against:
1 . Breach of trust, or failure to return anything borrowed; lying in "that which was delivered him to keep" ( Leviticus 6:2 ).
2 . Unfairness in partnership or cooperation; "in fellowship."
3 . Violent appropriation or hardship (oppression),—"a thing taken away by violence" ( Leviticus 6:2 ).
4 . Fraud in trading,—"hath deceived his neighbour" ( Leviticus 6:2 ).
5 . Illegal retention of something accidentally acquired,—"have found that which was lost," etc. ( Leviticus 6:3 ).
III. THAT DISHONESTY IN ANY FORM IS A SERIOUS SIN AGAINST GOD , as well as a wrong done to our neighbour. By committing any one of these offenses a soul is said to "sin, and commit a trespass against the Lord" ( Leviticus 6:2 ); "he sins therein" ( Leviticus 6:3 ); "he hath sinned, and is guilty." Evidently the taking from our neighbour "that which is his' is a high misdemeanour in the sight of God. Two of the "ten commandments" ( Exodus 20:1-26 ) are directed against it: "Thou shalt not steal;" "Thou shalt not covet," etc. Theft, dishonesty, is a treble sin: it is a wrong to our fellow; it is an injury to ourselves (spiritual demoralization); it is an offense against God.
IV. THAT IT CALLS FOR RESTITUTION AS WELL AS SACRIFICE .
1 . We must, indeed, bring our sacrifice to God. The Jew was to bring his "ram without blemish" ( Leviticus 6:6 ), and an atonement was to be made before the Lord, and his trespass was forgiven him ( Leviticus 6:7 ). We must bring the sacrifice of a contrite spirit, and plead the One Sacrifice for all sin, and we shall be forgiven.
2 . But we are also bound to make restitution where that is possible. The Jew was to "restore it in the principal, and … add the fifth part more thereto" ( Leviticus 6:5 ); he was to more than make up for the injury he had done. And
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