[Exodus 22] To Catch a Thief. In chapter 22 of Exodus, God hands down to Moses laws of restitution and punishment for the thief. Inherent in those laws was a command that restitution be made. For this to happen, the thief has to be identified and brought to the judge. Has the enemy stolen from you? God will restore to you double if you will act accordingly to bring the thief before His throne and believe for divine justice to work in your life.
[Exo 22:1-31 KJV] 1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. 2 If a thief be found breaking up, and be smitten that he die, [there shall] no blood [be shed] for him. 3 If the sun be risen upon him, [there shall be] blood [shed] for him; [for] he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft. 4 If the theft be certainly found in his hand alive, whether it be ox, or ass, or sheep; he shall restore double. 5 If a man shall cause a field or vineyard to be eaten, and shall put in his beast, and shall feed in another man’s field; of the best of his own field, and of the best of his own vineyard, shall he make restitution. 6 If fire break out, and catch in thorns, so that the stacks of corn, or the standing corn, or the field, be consumed [therewith]; he that kindled the fire shall surely make restitution. 7 If a man shall deliver unto his neighbour money or stuff to keep, and it be stolen out of the man’s house; if the thief be found, let him pay double. 8 If the thief be not found, then the master of the house shall be brought unto the judges, [to see] whether he have put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods. 9 For all manner of trespass, [whether it be] for ox, for ass, for sheep, for raiment, [or] for any manner of lost thing, which [another] challengeth to be his, the cause of both parties shall come before the judges; [and] whom the judges shall condemn, he shall pay double unto his neighbour. 10 If a man deliver unto his neighbour an ass, or an ox, or a sheep, or any beast, to keep; and it die, or be hurt, or driven away, no man seeing [it]: 11 [Then] shall an oath of the LORD be between them both, that he hath not put his hand unto his neighbour’s goods; and the owner of it shall accept [thereof], and he shall not make [it] good. 12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof. 13 If it be torn in pieces, [then] let him bring it [for] witness, [and] he shall not make good that which was torn. 14 And if a man borrow [ought] of his neighbour, and it be hurt, or die, the owner thereof [being] not with it, he shall surely make [it] good. 15 [But] if the owner thereof [be] with it, he shall not make [it] good: if it [be] an hired [thing], it came for his hire. 16 And if a man entice a maid that is not betrothed, and lie with her, he shall surely endow her to be his wife. 17 If her father utterly refuse to give her unto him, he shall pay money according to the dowry of virgins. 18 Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. 19 Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death. 20 He that sacrificeth unto [any] god, save unto the LORD only, he shall be utterly destroyed. 21 Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 Ye shall not afflict any widow, or fatherless child. 23 If thou afflict them in any wise, and they cry at all unto me, I will surely hear their cry; 24 And my wrath shall wax hot, and I will kill you with the sword; and your wives shall be widows, and your children fatherless. 25 If thou lend money to [any of] my people [that is] poor by thee, thou shalt not be to him as an usurer, neither shalt thou lay upon him usury. 26 If thou at all take thy neighbour’s raiment to pledge, thou shalt deliver it unto him by that the sun goeth down: 27 For that [is] his covering only, it [is] his raiment for his skin: wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto me, that I will hear; for I [am] gracious. 28 Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people. 29 Thou shalt not delay [to offer] the first of thy ripe fruits, and of thy liquors: the firstborn of thy sons shalt thou give unto me. 30 Likewise shalt thou do with thine oxen, [and] with thy sheep: seven days it shall be with his dam; on the eighth day thou shalt give it me. 31 And ye shall be holy men unto me: neither shall ye eat [any] flesh [that is] torn of beasts in the field; ye shall cast it to the dogs.
Exodus 22 hands down diverse laws concerning theft and negligence in social duties. This is relevant to us because Jesus in His teachings identifies the thief as the devil (John. 10:10), and regarding negligence in social responsibility, He reminds us we are our brother’s keeper (Luke 10:36,37).
Understanding that Satan is the thief of life and author of all destruction is important because popular Christian teaching often attributes such things to God. Jesus could not be more explicit on this issue:
[Jhn 10:10 KJV] 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have [it] more abundantly.
Who is the one who steals, kills, and destroys? It isn’t God. There are no caveats or exceptions in the statement that Jesus makes in John 10:10. He doesn’t say, “the devil is the one that steals unless My father wants to teach you something in life but taking away or destroying you, etc. Preachers will tell people they are suffering because God is teaching them something, but Jesus contradicts this thinking in John 14:26:
[Jhn 14:26 KJV] 26 But the Comforter, [which is] the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
The Holy Ghost is the teacher and not human suffering, etc. The Holy Ghost teaches us, and His name is Comforter, not thief or destroyer – that is the Devil’s work.
Jesus came that we might have life and life more abundantly, and part of that abundant life as v. 1 foreshadows is the restoration of all that was lost due to the enemy’s encroachment in your life. If the enemy accesses your life he hasn’t won, he has only put himself in a position to be forced to restore.
Notice that the key to holding a thief (the devil) responsible is predicated on being found out. The enemy has worked overtime to attribute to God the works of the devil in order to get away with his theft of your joy, your blessing, and your entitlements in Christ.
1. We call disasters “acts of God” [James 1:17].
2. We are taught, “God always answers prayer, but sometimes He says no. [2 Cor. 1:20].
3. We are taught that sometimes God makes God on his promise, sometimes he doesn’t, and “we will understand it better by and by. [Heb. 13:8].
4. We are taught that God will send sickness into your life as a punishment at times [Heb. 1:1-2].
5. We are taught that poverty is a virtue. [2 Co. 8:9; Gen. 13:2; 1 Pet. 1:3; Ga. 3:14].
6. We are taught that God supplies needs, but not desires (making ambition an unholy thing); [Psa. 37:4].
If you have wrong ideas about who is working against you in life, you will never see restoration. Verse 2 tells us that you have to CATCH the thief in order to be eligible for restoration. The verse describes the thief as breaking something up. Are you breaking up or breaking through? If your life is falling apart, then you are under assault by the enemy trying to break into your life and take what God has given you. What are you going to do? You have to catch him by exposing him in prayer and claiming your restoration.
In verse 6, we see a law relating to your harvest. When you give, you are planting a harvest. Sometimes the enemy comes and causes a fire to break out among your thorns. What are the thorns in your life? The Parable of the Sower identifies the thorns as the cares of life and the deceitfulness of riches. When you worry and fret in life, you are making your harvest combustible. You are giving the devil something he can work with. Do you ever waste time “putting out fires”? Pastors know a lot about that. Fires don’t just happen. The enemy sets fires. When there is loss because of fires of adversity, or strife, or contention in your life – you have the promise of God’s word to stand and demand restitution.
In verse 7, we see laws relating to those times that you put your confidence in others, and they fail you. Sometimes loss in your life is caused by betrayed trust where people are involved. The enemy will lie to you and say, “well, the devil didn’t do that – people did it, you can’t expect to recover what is lost…” Oh contraire! Notice the verse says “the thief” is responsible! [Eph. 6:12];
You have to know who your enemy is. Your enemy isn’t people. Satan uses people the way a soldier uses a weapon. If you are on the battlefield, you don’t think the enemy’s rifle is your adversary – no, the one WIELDING the weapon is your adversary.
Verse 9 sums up with a statement concerning all manner of trespass. When you suffer loss, let the Scripture interpret for you what is happening. You have been trespassed against. Who is the trespasser? The enemy might use people against you, but the trespasser is Satan himself. In v. 9, the trespasser is brought before the judge, yet in the New Testament (Matt. 7:1), we are told not to judge others. Who is judged then? John 16:11 tells us that in Christ, the only one we can bring before the Magistrate of heaven is the prince of this word, and that is Satan. What happens when you bring the trespasser to the judge? Verse 9 tells us that the thief has to pay back double all that he sole. How do we bring Satan to the Judge? We do this in prayer.
Again in v. 12, we see it is of great importance to bring the thief to the judge in order to see restitution. It isn’t Jesus stealing from you, destroying you, or killing you. You have to settle this because preachers have taught for centuries that when people suffer, it is because God loves them so much or wants to teach them something in life. If you think this way, you will never see restoration. But if you bring the real thief Satan before the judge and bring what has been torn in pieces (v. 13) in your life before the Judge, then an order of restitution is made in heaven, and you will then recover by God’s hand.
In verse 18, we find a law of punishment for those operating in witchcraft. According to the Law, a witch or those operating in occult practices were to be burned at the stake. How does this apply to us today?
Witchcraft, according to Galatians 5:20, is a work of the flesh. People want to make witchcraft a demon, but it isn’t primarily a demon; it is an unsanctified mind and spirit operating in control and manipulation of circumstances in others’ lives. Are you a manipulator? Are you a control freak? Then you are operating in witchcraft, and you will burn. Will you burn literally? Remember that worry and fear make your life combustible to the fires of life. Someone operating in spiritual manipulation and control will be consumed by anxiety, fear, and doubt without fail.
Does any of this apply to your life? Samuel enlarges for us regarding our understanding of witchcraft:
[1Sa 15:23 KJV] 23 For rebellion [is as] the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness [is as] iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from [being] king.
Are you a rebel? This nation was founded in rebellion. That is why when there is insurrection in the streets; it is very difficult for our leaders to deal with it because you can’t solve the problem on the level of the problem. Each election cycle, the competing candidates call for political revolt against those in power. This is rebellion, and rebellion is witchcraft (manipulation and control). Do you realize how deeply immersed the political arena is in witchcraft today? Yet the church has staked its future on the political realm.
Verse 19 tells us if we lie with a beast that is punishable by death. Now surely a Christian would not do this, but how is this verse spiritually discerned? The beast speaks of the FLESH nature – do not become intimate or commiserate with the power of the Flesh but commit yourself to the power of God. Taking matters into your own hands brings a covenant with death and loss.
In verse 20, we are warned about sacrificing to any god but the Lord. Again no Christian could see himself bowing down to an idol, but what is an idol? Idolatry exists in our hearts when we look to man for what we should be looking to God for. Zech. 4:6 says it’s not by might, nor by power but by My Spirit says the Lord. What are you giving yourself over to in order to bring change in your life and circumstances? Are you giving yourself over to politics? To the banker? To your own ability to manipulate people around you?
Idolatry proposes the dwelling place of God to be somewhere other than the human heart. Idolatry proposes any dependency other than inward dependency upon who God is in your heart and life. [Luke 17:20-21; Phil. 4:19; Col. 1:26-27].
Verse 21 tells us not to vex the strangers (or foreigners) in our midst. Why? Because as Israel sojourned in Egypt, so we are sojourners in this life. This speaks directly to racism and the immigration issue as well. Israel was a nation of immigrants. The USA is a nation of immigrants. Standing at our borders and shaking our fist in the face of the oppressed will not bode well for our nation. Dealing harshly with those not of the same race as you are constitutes vexing the stranger in your midst. There is no place for racism or xenophobia in Christian thought.
When our thoughts or actions create oppression among the marginalized of society, v. 23 tells us that God will hear their cry, and His wrath will wax hot against us. America has been ashamed before her enemies for decades because she has turned her back on the poor, the orphan, the prisoner, and the hireling. As long as the disenfranchised people groups of this nation suffer unnecessarily from policies and public postures that make their burden heavier, we will not be blessed before God.
In v. 28, we are commanded not to revile the ruler of our people. Regardless of who is in the White House – man pulls the voting lever, but GOD decides the outcome. To revile those in authority is to revile the sovereignty of God in the earth. You are to be a responsible citizen yes but to yield to the ultimate control of the Kingdom in the affairs of nations. The early church was not a militant church or an activist church. We cannot prostitute ourselves to the political process – we must return to our knees for from thence only can we RULE and REING in the earth and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God over the affairs of men.