The Kingdom law of restitution and generosity

A heart of covetousness can lead to a theft of the generosity he desires us to extend to others on his behalf.

Today we will be looking at the topic of the Kingdom of God. Within God’s Kingdom, the law of God provides the guide for all behaviors that God expects of his people. One of the primary boundaries of God’s law concerns security of individual belongings where stealing is prohibited. Interestingly, God’s solution for discouraging theft is its exact opposite: a type of forced generosity. Those who violate the law must give abundantly or they must give themselves.

The commandment as it was stated by God from Sinai in Exodus 20:15 is simple and direct: “You shall not steal.” As we look at this topic today, I feel I need to restate the perspective I have of the Ten Commandments. Far from being done away, the Ten Commandments form what I consider to be the founding charter of the Kingdom of God. These are the basic yet comprehensive rules that God has established for those participating in his Kingdom for all time.

This Kingdom pattern was exemplified by the ancient Israelites being removed abruptly from the nation of their residence into the wilderness of a harsh desert environment. In this new environment, they required rules to function as a society. Certainly, since this was an act of God drawing a people to himself, these rules would need to set them apart from all other nations with higher standards than their counterparts. This new nation was designed to be a godly society founded on godly principles.

Within this new society, theft was expressly declared as forbidden. When theft is tolerated, then societal security begins to degrade and personal property can be violated at any time. Looked at from this perspective, the right to private and personal ownership is sort of “baked in” to the Kingdom of God. By definition, theft is the taking of something that belongs to someone else. Therefore, if stealing is wrong then there is an underlying premise that God respects his people owning things, whether animals for farming, houses for living in, or fields for growing food. Private ownership is necessary for the stability and growth of the community because people who own things produce a need for those things to be produced and maintained. This feedback loop then generates an economic engine of production and service capable of growing active, vital communities. Theft interrupts that cycle and creates a deficit of trust and security within a community requiring some sort of accountability for those who don’t respect the rights of others.

Within the entire Biblical narrative, theft is never looked upon as a positive characteristic. To be a thief is to knowingly take something from someone else, usually associated with violent acts or even murder.

Proverbs 1:10-11, 13-16 – My son, if sinners entice you, don’t be persuaded.  If they say ​– ​”Come with us! Let’s set an ambush and kill someone. Let’s attack some innocent person just for fun!  … “We’ll find all kinds of valuable property and fill our houses with plunder.  “Throw in your lot with us, and we’ll all share the loot” —  my son, don’t travel that road with them or set foot on their path,  because their feet run toward evil and they hurry to shed blood.

Proverbs 28:24 – Anyone who steals from his father and mother and says, “What’s wrong with that?” is no better than a murderer.

The thief upsets the system of civilized conduct because they feel that the same rules that govern others do not apply to them. Whatever their justification is for taking something that belongs to someone else is to consider their reason more important than obeying the command to not steal and the rights of others to enjoy their own possessions. Theft is dangerous because it mocks the integrity of civil order in any society, and must be punished in order to maintain the economic integrity and security of the community.

However, interestingly, the torah or instruction of God reveals that theft is not punishable by death. Instead, a thief must face a fate that very well could be worse than death for them: they must pay restitution.

  • Exodus 22:1 – “When a man steals an ox or a sheep and butchers it or sells it, he must repay five cattle for the ox or four sheep for the sheep.
  • Exodus 22:7 – “When a man gives his neighbor valuables or goods to keep, but they are stolen from that person’s house, the thief, if caught, must repay double.
  • Exodus 22:3 – “… A thief must make full restitution. If he is unable, he is to be sold because of his theft.

At a minimum, they were to pay double what they stole (if the goods are recovered). But if what had been stolen had been sold or, in the case of a stolen animal, killed, then they were to pay up to four or five times the amount. If they were unable to pay, then they were to be sold into forced servitude to pay off the debt.

So it turns out that God’s solution for discouraging theft is its exact opposite: a type of forced generosity. They were to give abundantly out of their own possessions, or they were to be forced to give of themselves through servitude.

With the principles regarding theft clearly outlined in God’s law, it makes sense that those principles would also carry over into God’s spiritual Kingdom. However, not stealing and respecting the rights of others is only half of the equation that God wants us to practice. While the letter of the law required forced giving for those making restitution, the spirit of the law encourages us to be voluntarily giving from the heart at all times.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart ​– ​not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver.

So, with this foundational understanding of property rights and appropriate behavior of his people, God, through Yeshua, has the ability to take this principle to the next level, and he does so through teachings regarding giving.

Yeshua taught that he did not come to abolish the law; in fact he upheld it at all times and fulfilled it in all he said and did. He was known for repeating the commands, including the law against stealing.

  • Matthew 19: 18 – Yeshua said, “Never murder. Never commit adultery. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 
  • Mark 10:19 “You know the commandments: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; do not defraud; honor your father and mother.”
  • Luke 18:20 “You know the commandments: Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and mother.”

Yeshua also taught that not only should believers not steal, they should be generous.

  • Matthew 5:42 – “Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
  • Matthew 10:8 – Freely you received, freely give.
  • Luke 6:38 – Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.”

On the one hand, Yeshua upholds the law, yet on the other, he elevates it. For example, he takes the command against adultery and elevates it to the avoidance of even thinking promiscuously. He takes the command against murder and elevates it to the avoidance of even being angry. In a similar sense, to address the issue of covetousness in the life of a wealthy young inquirer, Yeshua also mentions a similar “restitution of generosity” for covetousness, which makes sense, since extreme coveting can also lead to theft.

Matthew 19: 18-22 – Yeshua said, “Never murder. Never commit adultery. Never steal. Never give false testimony. Honor your father and mother. Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” The young man replied, “I have obeyed all these commandments. What else do I need to do?” Yeshua said to him, “If you want to be perfect, sell what you own. Give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then follow me!” When the young man heard this, he went away sad because he owned a lot of property.

In this sad instance of the man who was not willing to pay the price of following Yeshua, we see a bit of ourselves. How have we coveted the things of this world and the luxuries we have attained to where they keep us from exhibiting the generosity we should be providing to others? A heart of covetousness actually leads to a kind of stealing from God, a theft of the generosity he desires us to extend to others on his behalf.  According to Yeshua, this is the perfection that God seeks: not just not stealing, but giving and following his Messiah.

The spiritual Kingdom of God cannot be guided merely by restrictions against natural bad behaviors through the letter of the law only. If that were the case, the Kingdom would be made up of those who are really good at not doing anything wrong, but who also never do anything good for others. No, for the Kingdom to be eternal and growing to fill the earth as prophesied, it has to also produce the positive influence of God’s spirit and desire in the hearts of those who belong to him. This is how it can be a lasting influence in the world for all time.

In a similar way to the teaching of Yeshua, the apostle Paul taught that the solution for breaking any of the commandments, including stealing, was to demonstrate love to others.

Romans 13:9 – The commandments, Do not commit adultery; do not murder; do not steal; do not covet; and any other commandment, are summed up by this commandment: Love your neighbor as yourself.

Paul also taught that those who practiced stealing should earn an honest living, not just for their own benefit, but so that they would have an opportunity to bless others with what they earn.

Ephesians 4:28 – Let the thief no longer steal. Instead, he is to do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.

Finally, let’s review one of the most dramatic examples of these principles in the life of Zacchaeus. He had become enthralled with the notoriety of the Messiah, and when Yeshua singled him out to be a host for him and his group, Zacchaeus was ecstatic with the recognition. While we don’t have the details of the entire process of his acceptance of Messiah, Yeshua made it clear that his renewed heart was genuine and he was no longer lost.

Luke 19:8-10 – But Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, I’ll give half of my possessions to the poor, Lord. And if I have extorted anything from anyone, I’ll pay back four times as much.” “Today salvation has come to this house,” Jesus told him, “because he too is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save the lost.”

In recognizing the immeasurable grace and mercy of God’s salvation, Zacchaeus, in both the letter and spirit of the law, offers not only to pay back those whom he had extorted four times over as required in the law, but also to go above and beyond by giving away half of everything he had on behalf of the poor. By his actions, he demonstrated his heart of covetousness had been fully changed, and he was a new creation through faith in the Messiah.

Therefore, in keeping with the torah or instruction of God within his Kingdom, and as a follower of Yeshua, we should never secretly take anything that does not belong to us. Instead, we should always be willing to give generously of all resources that have been entrusted to us. And because the life he has given us is a debt we can never repay, the remainder of our existence should become an offering of voluntary servitude to the one who has provided us this immeasurable gift of life.


If you enjoy these articles, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Vigilant obedience to Torah

Demonstrating obedience to God’s Word takes resolve and commitment.

Demonstrating obedience to God’s Word takes resolve and commitment.

Nehemiah 13:1-3 – At that time the book of Moses was read publicly to the people. The command was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God, because they did not meet the Israelites with food and water. Instead, they hired Balaam against them to curse them, but our God turned the curse into a blessing. When they heard the law, they separated all those of mixed descent from Israel.

At first reading, this type of action by Nehemiah and his reformers can seem harsh and unjustified. Separating people from the assembly of Israel due only to their racial descent grates against our modern perspective on race and inclusion. Was it true that someone could be excluded from the civil life of Israel simply because of their ethnicity?

First, we have to realize that Israel was to be a pure, holy, and set apart people. They were to be distinct from all others and could only maintain that distinction if they did not intermarry with other nations. This was a direct command of God through Moses that had been forsaken in the days of Nehemiah:

Deuteronomy 7:1, 3-4, 6 – “When Yahweh your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess, and he drives out many nations before you​ … You must not intermarry with them, and you must not give your daughters to their sons or take their daughters for your sons, because they will turn your sons away from me to worship other gods. Then Yahweh’s anger will burn against you, and he will swiftly destroy you. … “For you are a holy people belonging to Yahweh your God. Yahweh your God has chosen you to be his own possession out of all the peoples on the face of the earth.”

While avoiding contamination from idolatrous worship was the primary reason for their separation, in the present case, Nehemiah was quoting another portion of the law of Moses where they were directed to exclude the Moabites and Ammonites specifically from ever joining in the civil life of the community, due to those tribes’ resistance to assist Israel in their wilderness journeys.

Deuteronomy 23:3-4, 6 – “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter Yahweh’s assembly; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, may ever enter Yahweh’s assembly. “This is because they did not meet you with food and water on the journey after you came out of Egypt, and because Balaam son of Beor from Pethor in Aram-naharaim was hired to curse you. … “Never pursue their welfare or prosperity as long as you live.

So it appears that ethnic descent could bar someone from participating in the civil life of an Israelite. But so could having a physical deformation or being born outside of marriage.

Deuteronomy 23:1-2 – “No man whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may enter Yahweh’s assembly. “No one of illegitimate birth may enter Yahweh’s assembly; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, may enter Yahweh’s assembly.”

The command to be excluded from the assembly has been variously interpreted to mean marriage, to participating in the leadership of the Israelite community, or to mean total and complete excommunication. But the word used here means to separate, or to set apart as distinct. It is also used of God separating light from darkness, the Levites being set apart from the rest of the Israelites, the veil separating the ark in the holy of holies from the rest of the temple, the cities of refuge being set apart from the rest of the towns of Israel, and Israel themselves being set apart from all other nations.

I find it interesting that all of the conditions of separation have nothing to do with the free will choice of the individual in question; therefore they could not be held spiritually accountable for a condition which they had no control of, such as the conditions surrounding the marital status of their parents at birth, their physical deformities, or their racial heritage. Being identified as distinct from the assembly of Yahweh was a condition of separation only for temporary time within the nation of Israel’s history for the sake of teaching an eternal lesson about purity, holiness, and vigilance.

As we have seen, the Bible is filled with distinctions being made between all types of places and individuals, and this appears to me to be another one of those instances. To me, the command does not appear so much a punishment on those who were to be excluded, but a test for the faithful to see if they would abide by God’s command.

Consider the vigilance needed to physically remove individuals from the core life of the community who had families, jobs, and responsibilities within the congregation of Israel. This would require a deep commitment to honoring the Torah of God above those relationships. This is akin to the level of commitment that Yeshua spoke of when it comes to removing the mechanisms of sin from within one’s own life.

Matthew 5:29-30 – “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into Gehenna. “And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into Gehenna.

Ultimately, all who would demonstrate sincere worship of Yahweh would be honored by him. Isaiah spoke of the time of the Messianic kingdom when anyone truly seeking Yahweh would have the ability and freedom to do so, specifically mentioning foreigners and eunuchs who were formerly to be separated.

Isaiah 56:3-8 – No foreigner who has joined himself to Yahweh should say, “Yahweh will exclude me from his people,” and the eunuch should not say, “Look, I am a dried-up tree.” For Yahweh says this: “For the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose what pleases me, and hold firmly to my covenant, “I will give them, in my house and within my walls, a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters. I will give each of them an everlasting name that will never be cut off. “As for the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh to minister to him, to love the name of Yahweh, and to become his servants — all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold firmly to my covenant — “I will bring them to my holy mountain and let them rejoice in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be acceptable on my altar, for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” This is the declaration of Yahweh GOD, who gathers the dispersed of Israel: “I will gather to them still others besides those already gathered.”

The Israelites had to practice “tough love” and vigilance of separation in order to abide by the Torah that applied to them in their day. God was preserving the purity of the congregation until the kingdom of Messiah would arrive, and once that occurred, the physical lineages and distinctions would no longer retain the same significance.

Galatians 3:28 – There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male and female; since you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.

For anyone in Messiah, the barriers would be broken down and all would be honored in him. But those spiritual lessons regarding vigilance and purity would remain for eternity.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Where the authority of the throne resides

Overcoming sin requires sacrifice.

Revelation 3:21 – “To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”

The Kingdom of God is all about authority, and this authority is captured in the imagery of a throne. A throne is the source of power and the residing place of one who wields that power.

When we read of kingdoms and thrones in the Bible, we tend to immediately think of them as literal thrones and literal, physical kingdoms that exist someplace and sometime. From a historical, earthly perspective, there are many kingdoms and thrones listed in the Bible that have to do with the physical nation of Israel and those surrounding nations and empires within which the Bible story is told. However, when it comes to the Kingdom of God, we move away from physical locations and enter in to a representation of authority; specifically, the authority of God within his Creation.

Since the beginning of the physical Creation, God has desired that mankind “rule” over his Creation.

Genesis 1:27-28 – “So God created man in his own image; he created him in the image of God; he created them male and female. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Being created in the image of God, it is man’s role to represent Him in all things in this world, and to overcome and conquer all rebellious activity known as sin.

Genesis 4:6-7 – Then Yahweh said to Cain, “Why are you furious? And why do you look despondent? “If you do what is right, won’t you be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.”

This idea of ruling over sin only comes from having a sense of authority over it. The Bible makes it clear that no matter how much we understand “about” sin and doing what’s right (illustrated by the law provided through Moses) unless we demonstrate authority over it, we cannot conquer it; instead, it tends to conquer us. That is a picture of the human condition outside of the spiritual Kingdom of God.

However, when Yeshua arrived at the culmination of Israel’s history, he taught that the Kingdom of God was the very thing that believers should pursue at all costs, and in doing so, they would be fulfilling the very will of God.

Matthew 6:33 – “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
Matthew 7:21 – “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.”

Since the time of Yeshua, those who are believers in Messiah (as the fulfillment of all that God had promised to Israel) have been tasked with carrying the light of God’s word and authority to the world. We are not born into a physical kingdom, but must be born again or born from above to recognize and experience the authority of this Kingdom. Yeshua taught that the key to overcoming this tendency to sin is to die to oneself and one’s own selfish desires and live instead for God, serving others in his authority, not in our own.

Those who conquer sin can only do so through the authority, the throne, of the Kingdom. The caveat is that the throne of that Kingdom is not in a stately palace with precious metals and gems, it is instead an altar of sacrifice, where we lay down our lives for the will of God.

Romans 12:1 – “Therefore, brothers and sisters, in view of the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your true worship.”

Yeshua set the example for us and will be recognized for all eternity for this demonstration of abiding within the will of God through sacrifice.

Revelation 5:5-6 – Then one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Look, the Lion from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered so that he is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.” Then I saw one like a slaughtered lamb standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders….”

This is why he has the authority of the throne and the ability to overcome; and he urges believers to do the same, to rule and reign with him through sacrificially living for the will of God for all time.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.