SOME modern law-makers, educators, and others concerned with human behavior often make proposals based on the idea that people are basically good. In Leviticus, God held a more realistic view. For example, He knew that there would be cases of dishonesty among His people. So instead of excusing the offenses as the result of bad upbringing and proposing more education as a preventative, He instituted a system of sacrifices for the sin of the offender and restitution to the offended party (Leviticus 6:1–7). It’s easy to see why such laws were needed. Israel was a refugee nation traveling through a desert. Every day the people faced limited resources, so they may have found it easy to rationalize theft and deception. Temptations were many, and sooner or later people succumbed.
To address this problem, God called sin sin and devised a guide for forgiveness and restitution. If someone deceived another in a transaction, the perpetrator was required to sacrifice a ram and to repay the loss with 20 percent interest. The guiding law behind restitution was that of loving one’s neighbor as oneself (Leviticus 19:18). Centuries later, Christ reaffirmed this as the guiding principle for moral and social issues (Matthew 5:43-44; 19:19).