Thou shalt not steal

I. The theft of personal property is forbidden.

A. The word chosen by the Holy Spirit is instructive.

1. GANAB is restricted to acts done secretly.

a. It would fit the term “burglary.”
b. It is used figuratively to describe wind sweeping something away unexpectedly. (Job 21:18 Job 27:20)
c. It is used to depict the thief-like movements of military deserters. (2 Samuel 19:4)
d. It is the term used in Exodus 20:15
1) Exodus 22:1, 4, 9 provides additional insight.
2) Proverbs 30:7-9 insists that are to be satisfied with moderate means.

2. GAZAL is used to emphasize the violent seizing of property.

a. It would fit the term “robbery.”
b. It is used of people who lie in wait and rob those who come along the road (Judges 9:25)
c. One of the most violent horrors of the ancient world was the practice of flaying people, that is, literally skinning them alive.  Micah has such flaying in mind when he uses this verb in Micah 3:2, ‘You who hate good and love evil, who tear the skin from off them...and who flay their skin.

B. The “burglary” was to be punished by a graded scale.

1. A 200% penalty was levied if the property was returned unharmed (Exodus 22:4, 7, 9).

2. A 400% or 500% penalty was levied if the property was damaged or destroyed (Exodus 22:1).

3. A 700% penalty was levied if the property stolen was food (Proverbs 6:30-31).

4. Personal indenture was enforced if the thief could not pay the monetary levy (Exodus 22:3).

5. Death was required for theft of men (Deuteronomy 24:7).

C. The New Testament emphasizes the prohibition often (1 Peter 4:15).

1. We are not to steal, but to work (Ephesians 4:28).

2. We are to walk honestly (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).

3. We are to set an example of industry (2 Thessalonians 3:6-14).

II. The theft concept is extended to unfulfilled obligations.

A. The concept also extends itself to our care of property.

1. We may "steal" by improper protection of goods (Exodus 22:7, 10-13).

2. We may "steal" by doing accidental damage (Exodus 22:6).

B. This would apply to unfair business practices.

1. We are to pay honest wages (Leviticus 19:13).

2. We are to require only proper labor (Psalm 109:11; 62:10).

3. We are to execute faithful contracts (Proverbs 21:5-7; Isaiah 10:1-2).

4. We are not to extort from the poor (Ezekiel 22:29; Leviticus 19:15).

5. We are to charge honest prices (Leviticus 25:14-17).

6. We are to maintain honest practices (Leviticus 19:35-36).

C. This would apply to societal obligations.

1. We must provide for the poor (Deuteronomy 24:19Jeremiah 49:9).

2. We must not conceal a thief (Psalm 50:18; Proverbs 29:24).

3. We must never take bribes, or fail to execute proper justice (Isaiah 1:23; 61:8).

D. This would apply to personal obligations.

1. We must repay our debts (Ezekiel 33:15; 18:7, 12, 16).

2. We must pay our taxes (Romans 13:5-8; Matthew 22:17-21).

3. We must not take advantage of our parents, (Proverbs 28:24).

4. We must not charge interest to our brethren for personal needs (Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:36-37; Deuteronomy 23:19-20).

5. We must not seek financial satisfaction upon our brethren through law courts (1 Corinthians 6:1-8; 1 Thessalonians 4:6).

E. This would apply to righteous obligations.

1. We must not claim identity with God if our lifestyle is wicked (Jeremiah 7:8-11; Hosea 6:6-10).

2. We must not claim identity with God if our doctrine is incorrect (John 10:1; Colossians 2:8).

F. This would apply to our financial obligations to God.

1. The practice of tithing is established in the Old Testament.

a. The tithe belongs to God, not you (Malachi 3:8-10).
b. The tithe is based on increase of all possessions (Leviticus 27:30-32).
c. The tithe is to be deposited where God dwells (Deuteronomy 12:5-7).

2. The practice is verified by the Lord (Matthew 23:23).

3. The practice is assumed by the Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

4. The offering is different than the tithe (Exodus 35:1-36; 4).

a. It corresponds to the "alms" of the New Testament (Luke 11:41).
b. It is to be given without fanfare (Matthew 6:1-4).
c. It is commanded by Scripture (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

III. The Righteous are motivated differently.

A. The Righteous man seeks spiritual contentment (Philippians 4:11)

1. He knows that godliness with contentment is a “huge profit” (1 Timothy 6:6).

2. He knows that God will supply “all your need” (Philippians 4:19).

3. He trusts God to give the “daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).

B. The Righteous man seeks to satisfy his soul (Proverbs 13:25)

1. He knows that “little” with righteousness is better than the “riches of many wicked” (Psalm 37:16; Proverbs 16:8).

2. He accepts the sovereignty of God in his life (Psalm 37:3-6, 23)

C. The Righteous man expects the Lord’s blessing when obedient.

1. He expects proportional blessing (Luke 6:38).

2. He expects sufficient blessing (Matthew 6:33)

3. He expects abundant blessing (Proverbs 3:9-10)

4. He expects extra blessing (Malachi 3:10)

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