Memorise: Ye shall not steal, neither deal falsely, neither lie one to another. – Leviticus 19:11
Read: Nehemiah 5:1-13 (KJV)
1 And there was a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brethren the Jews.
2 For there were that said, We, our sons, and our daughters, are many: therefore we take up corn for them, that we may eat, and live.
3 Some also there were that said, We have mortgaged our lands, vineyards, and houses, that we might buy corn, because of the dearth.
4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king’s tribute, and that upon our lands and vineyards.
5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children: and, lo, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought unto bondage already: neither is it in our power to redeem them; for other men have our lands and vineyards.
6 And I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
7 Then I consulted with myself, and I rebuked the nobles, and the rulers, and said unto them, Ye exact usury, every one of his brother. And I set a great assembly against them.
8 And I said unto them, We after our ability have redeemed our brethren the Jews, which were sold unto the heathen; and will ye even sell your brethren? or shall they be sold unto us? Then held they their peace, and found nothing to answer.
9 Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?
10 I likewise, and my brethren, and my servants, might exact of them money and corn: I pray you, let us leave off this usury.
11 Restore, I pray you, to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their oliveyards, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the corn, the wine, and the oil, that ye exact of them.
12 Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do as thou sayest. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they should do according to this promise.
13 Also I shook my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labour, that performeth not this promise, even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. And all the congregation said, Amen, and praised the LORD. And the people did according to this promise.
Bible in One Year: Psalm 21-26; Titus 2:1-3:15
God hates extortion; hence He prohibits it. In our Bible reading, after the children of Israel returned to rebuild the city of Jerusalem, the rich ones among them began to extort the poor until they cried out to Nehemiah. Nehemiah rebuked the rich who did this, and he asked them to make restitution. When this was done, there was great joy in the land. We see a similar situation in the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector who amassed wealth by defrauding the poor. The day he received Jesus Christ, he immediately decided to share his wealth into two and give one part of it to the poor. Thereafter, he offered to apply the Mosaic Law on restitution, by restoring fourfold of whatever he fraudulently received from people (Exodus 22:1). Jesus did not tell him that his step on restitution was unnecessary, rather He reinforced it. Luke 19:9 says:
“And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”
Moreover, restitution equally affects employer-employee relationships. In Leviticus 19:13, God warns against extorting your workers:
“Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.”
Do you know it is wrong to withhold your worker’s salary or wages a day beyond the agreed date of payment? There are employers who sit on their staff salaries for weeks and months and expose them to untold hardship, and yet they expect their staff to be faithful in their work. That is wickedness! Such employers must make restitution by releasing the salaries and paying an inconvenience allowance. However, if the employer genuinely does not have the funds to pay the staff and he explains the situation to them before hand, he is exonerated. Some people trade with the salaries and benefits of their staff for months before releasing their pay. They do this to derive gain for themselves. This also is wickedness. Why is it that retired people who contributed all their working years to a fund cannot access their money or receive their pension after retirement? God hates fraud, whether it is perpetrated by an individual, organisation or government.
Key Point: When you occupy a public office, you are accountable to God and to the people you are serving in that office.
Open Heavens Daily Devotional guide was written by Pastor E.A. Adeboye, the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, one of the largest evangelical church in the world and also the President of Christ the Redeemer’s Ministries.