The offering we are looking at today was also called the trespass or reparation offering. The meaning of the word reparation sums up what the offering is about; “the action of making amends for a wrong one has done.” This offering was the seed of the biblical doctrine of repentance.
It is set out in Leviticus 6:1-7
The offering was for when a person committed deception, robbery or swore falsely in a deliberate manner. It was not imposed by the high priest or the authorities but came from the guilty conscience of the perpetrator when they subsequently felt guilty for what they had done.
The guilty person had to refund everything they had stolen, plus a further 20%.
God has graciously given us the gift of a guilty conscience so that we can feel bad about our sin and come to Him for forgiveness, otherwise we would just descend further into the ravages of sin.
When we sin against others we still need to attempt to make restitution. Jesus taught this himself when He said…
So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)
Making restitution to each other is essential to good relationships and living together in a spirit of forgiveness and being at peace with one another whenever possible. We may never be able to make full restitution for the wrongs we have done but our attitude should be to do as much as we can.
However, our debt to God is something we could never even begin to pay back, let alone add 20% on top.
By His sacrificial death on the cross, Jesus took our guilt and paid for it completely. We no longer need to feel guilty for our sin. Sorry, repentant and remorseful yes, but not guilty, because the sacrifice has been made once and for all.
So in summary, we need to make restitution wherever possible for our sins against other people, but the debt we owed to God has been paid for, we can now live in right relationship with Him because of what Jesus has done.