“If anyone sins and commits a breach of faith against the LORD by deceiving his neighbor in a matter of deposit or security, or through robbery … if he has sinned and has realized his guilt and will restore what he took by robbery or what he got by oppression … he shall restore it in full and shall add a fifth to it, and give it to him to whom it belongs on the day he realizes his guilt.”
Immediately upon reading Leviticus 6:2-5 my mind jumped forward to that wonderful event in Luke 24 where the tax-collector, Zacchaeus, repents of his usury and says to Christ, “I’ll give half my money to the poor, and if I’ve defrauded anyone, I’ll restore it fourfold!” My mind also goes to Saul of Tarsus, that Pharisee of Pharisees, the choice pupil of Gamaliel, who defrauded followers of Christ out of mistaken zeal until Christ transformed him on the road to Damascus. What a difference a moment with God makes! Because after that, Paul spent the rest of his life starting churches and writing letters of encouragement and suffering beatings, chains, and shipwrecks to spread the gospel of Christ abroad. It’s impossible to quantify what men like Zacchaeus and Paul gave back to God as a result of their repentance, but I know this for certain: their offerings were above and beyond the additional fifth prescribed here in Leviticus 6.
Penitence of heart is the undertone of God’s message here, isn’t it? The principle of Leviticus 6:2-5 is the transformation in the values of the confessor, not the cost of the payback. The person who is only sorry for getting caught will begrudgingly come forward with his chunk of change, huffing and puffing as he counts out the shekels. But the true confessor, the Zacchaeus and Paul sort, runs to Christ with the contraband before being asked, not casting it out in Judas-like fashion, but giving it back with the joy of a burden lifted. True confession doesn’t pay back its debt and leave a little tip either. It brings everything to the table, giving what it could never keep to gain what it could never lose.
It’s the picture of Judah throwing himself at Joseph’s feet and Zacchaeus enriching the poor and Paul writing letters of encouragement from a prison cell. I wonder: what will you add to the picture today?