Words from the Weary Wilderness - Lenten Journey Day 18
Day Eighteen Tuesday, March 22
Biblical Teachings on Confession and Restitution
Read: Numbers 5:5-10
Confession and Restitution
5 The Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 6 Speak to the Israelites: When a man or a woman wrongs another, breaking faith with the Lord, that person incurs guilt 7 and shall confess the sin that has been committed. The person shall make full restitution for the wrong, adding one-fifth to it, and giving it to the one who was wronged. 8 If the injured party has no next of kin to whom restitution may be made for the wrong, the restitution for wrong shall go to the Lord for the priest, in addition to the ram of atonement with which atonement is made for the guilty party. 9 Among all the sacred donations of the Israelites, every gift that they bring to the priest shall be his. 10 The sacred donations of all are their own; whatever anyone gives to the priest shall be his.
Today’s Word from the Weary Wilderness: “When a man or woman wrongs another, breaking faith with the Lord, that person incurs guilt and shall confess the sin that has been committed.” (Numbers 5:6b-7a)
Reflection: Well, now we know that men and women wronged each other in the wilderness. I am mindful that these acts are seen to be “breaking faith with the Lord,” harkening us back to the Ten Commandments. The Lord indicates to Moses that this guilt is a burden, and we can only imagine that no one needs extra burdens to carry through the wilderness! Confession helps eliminate the burden. Restitution, providing something to the one who has been hurt, helps to balance resources so that everyone may journey safely together towards the land of promise. This passage also indicates that the priests may have benefitted from this process of restitution. (That feels kind of weird to me.) In what ways do you see confession and restitution happening in our current society? In the church? This passage calls us to examine our own personal apologies and confessions, and our own attempts to make things right.
Prayer: God of the Wilderness, we wrong one another all the time. Sometimes we are aware; sometimes we are not. When we wrong others, we do break faith with you. We also harm ourselves, because the burden of brokenness is cumulative. Forgive us of our wrongs, help us to confess them and not to hold them in our bodies and minds, where they can do damage to our spirits. We know you call us to something better. Amen.
Blessings of Peace and Health,
Rev. Beverly B. Coppley
& Chief Missional Strategist