A thief must certainly make restitution, but if he has nothing,
he must be sold to pay for his theft.
No ‘eye for eye’ here … no ‘tooth for tooth.’ No chopping off hands, like has been done in the middle east for millennia. A thief must make restitution, a return, over and beyond, that which he stole.
At first, I wondered, “Why the need to repay over and above?” Then I got to thinking. Isn’t that what the Lord does? He supplies ‘exceedingly abundant’ above all we ask or think.
Man, made in the image of God, should reflect that same holiness … that same sense of esteeming another. We are to be people who give, not people who take. God is not a thief, but instead, gives freely, bestowing abundance.
To steal is to reflect another … one who has attempted to usurp the Ancient of Days from the beginning. His first action was to induce in clay clay’s own act of thievery … and the first theft occurred. Far more than forbidden fruit was stolen in that garden. A soul was taken. Redeeming it back couldn’t happen by replacing what was stolen. For the injury was a heart injury, a trust issue … and it cost far, far more than the temporary pleasure gained in taking what wasn’t clay’s to begin with.
Where God redeemed fallen man, covering Satan's and clay’s own thievery with a costly bloodied covering, He painted a picture, not of replacement but of restoration. Likewise, on a much smaller scale, when man breaks a trust covenant with man (social proprieties), an act of restoration, not replacement is called for. At issue is a spiritual plain, a plain of the soul, of the heart. For though the act may be visible in the physical realm, theft, its damage, lies in the invisible, where we each live our lives. Where wounds fester, and bleed, and poison a life. It is that needing restoration, not replacement.
It is far from a spirit of vindictiveness at work in the mandates being established in these chapters. It’s an endeavoring to give us a glimpse of our Benevolent Creator, our Loving Father, our Holy and Righteous God … whose singular desire is to restore the beloved to Himself … though He takes upon Himself the means, the price, of restoration. To train-up a people who reflect not only His compassion, but His holiness.