“Adonai said to Moshe, “If someone sins and acts perversely against Adonai by dealing falsely with his neighbor in regard to a deposit or security entrusted to him, by stealing from him, by extorting him, or by dealing falsely in regard to a lost object he has found, or by swearing to a lie — if a person commits any of these sins, then, if he sinned and is guilty, he is to restore whatever it was he stole or obtained by extortion, or whatever was deposited with him, or the lost object which he found, or anything about which he has sworn falsely. He is to restore it in full plus an additional one-fifth; he must return it to the person who owns it, on the day when he presents his guilt offering.“-Leviticus 5:20-24
In verses 20-24 of Leviticus Chapter 5, we are presented with another example of what exactly constitutes a sin against the Lord that the ASHAM or “Reparation Offering” atoned for.
Upon first glance however, one may think that these verses have nothing to do with “sins against the Lord”?
They only talk about stealing from your neighbor, extorting somebody, or being deceptive and false in one’s dealings with others.
I mean these are sins against other people, not sins against the Lord, right?
The key is the following words from verse 24:
“…or anything about which he has sworn falsely”
Recall that in the Bible when you swore to something, you did it in the Lord’s Name.
And when I say the Lord’s Name, I’m NOT referring to phrases such as “so help me God”.
I’m talking about the Lord’s personal name YHVH.
So we’re actually taken back to the beginning of Leviticus 5:
“If a person who is a witness, sworn to testify, sins by refusing to tell what he has seen or heard about the matter, he must bear the consequences.”-Leviticus 5:1
“If someone allows to slip from his mouth an oath to do evil or to do good, and he doesn’t remember that he clearly spoke this oath, then, no matter what it was about, when he learns of it, he is guilty.”-Leviticus 5:4
The issue at stake here is when a person speaks a vow or oath in the Lord’s Name and then breaks it.
In this case (verses 20-24), the transgressor has done something against his neighbor but when the matter is brought before a court, he swears falsely or denies the accusation.
In other words, he is LYING through his teeth and what makes matters worse is that he is using the Lord’s Name to support the falsehood he is speaking of.
So the crime we’re dealing with here is the LYING about what was done.
This is serious business.
And the reason it’s so serious is because to use the Lord’s Name to present a falsehood is a DIRECT TRANSGRESSION against the Lord.
Stealing your neighbor’s wallet is bad, but it’s not as bad as putting your hand on a Bible and with a straight face swearing in the Lord’s Name that you didn’t do it.
Now let’s take a look at the reparations that had to be paid if one swore falsely in regards to a sin he committed against his neighbor.
First, the person who swore falsely had to pay reparations to the victim he had harmed.
He had to return or compensate in money whatever he stole or damaged.
Second, the transgressor had to pay the victim an extra 20% of the value of whatever it was he stole or damaged.
Finally, a perfect Ram or its value in shekel coins had to be offered up as an ASHAM sacrifice.
This was a double whammy.
You paid for sinning against your neighbor AND lying about it using the Lord’s Name.
The takeaway here is when you break God’s commands, even if it isn’t a direct offense against him per say, your relationship with God is still affected.
I hope you’re catching this.
When you do something that directly trespasses on the “things of the Lord” like treating His holy property in an unworthy manner or making a vow to Him and not following through, reparations are ONLY owed to the Lord.
However, when you harm another person, reparations are owed to the person you harmed AND the Lord.
In other words, ultimately, every sin we commit is against the Lord.
Finally, let’s not overlook those most important last words of Leviticus chapter 5:
“Thus the cohen will make atonement for him before Adonai, and he will be forgiven in regard to whatever it was he did that made him guilty.”-Leviticus 5:26
Again, I maintain that the Lord is NOT lying here.
He didn’t tell the people of the Old Testament that He would forgive them if they made the proper sacrificial offering and then NOT forgive them
Real actual forgiveness occurred.
The transgressors conscience was cleared and his relationship with the Lord was restored.