In too many cases we think about sin and forgiveness as being a thing only between ourselves and God. We may lie on someone and think that our asking forgiveness from God is our only responsibility. We praise God for the blood and the damage that we have done stay unaddressed. We may steal from someone and we feel happy about the forgiveness that God has given to us without ever going to the one we have wronged asking for forgiveness and providing recompense for the wrong. In some cases I have known one to steal from someone and then condemn the one they have stolen from when they desired the stolen money back. They argue that “If God has accepted my apology why can’t you?”
Restitution in the Tabernacle
The ancient Tabernacle Service had in them what are called “Trespass Offerings.” These include making restitution for that which we have taken. (Numbers 5:6). Numbers 5:6-7 gives us the steps to be forgiven of sins. First was confession where the sinner acknowledges the sin. Second, there is restitution including an additional part (Numbers 5:7). Third, there is a sacrifice (Leviticus 6:6). Then there is forgiveness (Leviticus 6:7).
Zacchaeous and Forgiveness
When Zacchaeous was converted he caught a glimpse of this and was willing to do even more than the law required. He wanted to restore four times that which he had stolen in fraudulent dealings. (Luke 19:8-10). In today’s era where we want a Christianity that makes no demands on us, Trespass Offerings remind us that we must make right the wrongs that we have done. It reminds us that the relationship that we have broken with others should be resolved to the best of our abilities. It reminds us that Zacchaeous demonstrates the mindset of those who are truly forgiven.