Numbers 5:1-10 (Part 3) – If You Can’t Do The Time, Don’t Do the Crime!

Posted: July 10, 2016 in Book of Numbers

Numbers 5:1-10 (Part 3)

Purity in Israel’s Camp

There is an old saying that goes, “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime!” It means, of course, that if you are not willing to suffer the consequences of doing something that is wrong, then you shouldn’t to the thing that which is wrong. What if we lived in a society that lived by that motto? I assume that there would be a lot less crime. However, in our society today, we have become a nation in which there should be no consequences for our bad behavior. We see repeated often. Why is that criminals get shot by the police? Is it because policemen are itching to discharge their weapons? Why are those situations occurring? Is it because a crime was committed, and the cops responded to call? Is it because when the suspect was being taken into custody that there were aggressive moves made by the criminal that made the cops fear for their own safety? Or is it because the cops are sadistic, arrogant asses who on a seek-and-destroy mission against certain ethnicities? Which is it? With a son-in-law who is a law enforcement officer and one who understands police restrictions and procedures on engaging the public in such situations, my opinion is that all of this stuff is less about race than it is about people breaking the law and resisting the cops. Most cops are not out to get a certain ethnicity of people. They wish to resolve situations in a peaceful manner so that they do not have to discharge their weapons. The real issue goes far deeper in our nation than these confrontations. There are far greater issues of institutionalized poverty and generations of entitlement mentality that have led us to where we are. These social issues must be solved before we can see real change. However, we must consider too that there is a social change happening in our country where the crime is not the thing that is brought out in these situations but rather the color of skin. Why were these players in the situation? Why are these cops and the person who gets shot in this situations? A crime has been committed. The police would not be at that place at that moment in time with this suspect if some crime had not been committed. We rarely look at why the person was shot. Was it because they were being questioned about a crime that they had committed? Or is it really that cops are seeking out opportunities to kill people of a certain ethnicity? Which sounds more reasonable?

 

I am all for there being great restrictions on the police in our society to prevent them from arresting and imprisoning and even killing people without regard for the law. These restrictions of keep the cops from arresting people that they know have committed a crime. But it is incumbent upon the state to prove a person’s guilt beyond any shadow of doubt. I get that. I want that. I do not want to live in a police state where the cops do whatever they want. Ben Franklin or some other great man once said that “it is better than ten guilty men go free than it is for one innocent man to go to prison.” I get that. I want that. It may piss me off on an individual basis where a known guilty man escapes a conviction on a technicality, but it is a far cry better than a man railroaded into prison by a government that is not held back by restrictions of due process. Don’t you think that cops in the 21st century know this fact heavily as they encounter the public in dangerous situations?

 

So, we come into these situations where cops know that discharging their firearms will lead to a firestorm of public debate, having their records examined, being put on administrative leave for extended periods, and losing their job even if they do just the slightest thing wrong in such situations. Do you think that they want to expose themselves to such scrutiny? So, how do we get into these police shooting situations if each and every cop knows what’s going to happen when they shoot and kill someone, regardless of ethnicity, but particularly if the person who gets shot is of a different ethnicity from the cop. Do you think they seek out these situations? I know I would think long and hard these days before discharging. So, how do we get in these situations? It is because a crime has been committed either presently or because one has been committed in the past for which a person has not been arrested. These situations are then inflamed by the unwillingness to pay the cost for a crime committed. We live now in a society that glorifies criminals and getting away with crimes. We vilify our police officers but yet we buy billions of dollars of music that glorify drug use, objectification of women, and getting away with crime.

 

Not only do we do that but just look at our schools where parents of all ethnicities go ballistic over teachers enforcing consequences for bad behavior or for lack of study. We don’t want consequences for anything. Generations of kids are growing up now where consequences are not real. We just want to hit the reset button and start over. No consequences. Just get me out this jam. Paying for a crime seems like it gets lost in the need to preserve the psyche of our children. Reset the game. Start over. No consequences. It’s the teacher’s fault not the student’s.

 

Having there be no consequences for crimes or for simply hurting others is clearly not biblical. There will be consequences for bad actions and bad behaviors. There should not just be consequences. There should be repentance and restitution. So, in our third and final day in the passage, Numbers 5:1-10, let us consider vv. 5-10 specifically, when we read:

 

5 The Lord said to Moses, 2 “Command the Israelites to send away from the camp anyone who has a defiling skin disease[a] or a discharge of any kind, or who is ceremonially unclean because of a dead body. 3 Send away male and female alike; send them outside the camp so they will not defile their camp, where I dwell among them.” 4 The Israelites did so; they sent them outside the camp. They did just as the Lord had instructed Moses.

 

5 The Lord said to Moses, 6 “Say to the Israelites: ‘Any man or woman who wrongs another in any way[b] and so is unfaithful to the Lord is guilty 7 and must confess the sin they have committed. They must make full restitution for the wrong they have done, add a fifth of the value to it and give it all to the person they have wronged. 8 But if that person has no close relative to whom restitution can be made for the wrong, the restitution belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest, along with the ram with which atonement is made for the wrongdoer. 9 All the sacred contributions the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him. 10 Sacred things belong to their owners, but what they give to the priest will belong to the priest.’”

 

God included restitution, a unique concept for that day (and even for our day today as we have discussed above), as part of His law for His people. When someone was robbed, the guilty person was required to restore the loss the victim and pay an additional interest penalty. When we have wronged others, we ought to do more than apologize. We should look for ways to set things right, and if possible, leave the victim better off than they were before. When we have been wronged, we should seek restitution and restoration rather than seeking revenge.

 

What an interesting concept that we have here. God ordains that if you commit a crime, there should be punishment and that you should be required to not only repay the victim beyond what you did to wrong them. What if when we committed crimes against others, we had to work directly for that person that we have hurt. What if we had to be in service to our victims for wrongs we have done them. What if we thought about consequences? What if had to take care of a family for the rest of our lives if we murdered the family’s father or mother. What if we had to repay a fellow guy for stealing his girlfriend? What if we had work for free at the grocery store that we stole from? What if we had to repay our neighbor in some way for creating gossip about them that cost them their marriage? What if we had to repay our victims directly for the bad things that we had done to them? Would the world be a better place?

 

It is clear from the biblical record that God intends for there to be punishment and restitution for crime. It is clear that the point is repentance and restitution. It is the nature of God for there to be punishment for evil. It is that there is to be punishment for sin. It is clear that each of us will be judged for our sins. There will be no reset button. No do overs. There will be consequences for sin in eternity. It is only through repentance for our sins and accepting Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord that we avoid the penalty of sin. Even then, there was a price paid. There was a substitution. Jesus paid the price for the crimes that we committed. There is always punishment for crime. That is the wonderful thing about salvation is that we avoid the death sentence that we deserve, rightfully, from God. Jesus paid for our crimes.

 

Let our world become one that realizes that there is punishment for crime. That if you cannot do the time, that you do not do the crime. Let us not put ourselves into situations where we have committed crimes and not be willing to pay for it. Let us be a nation that considers and cares for one another. Let us be a nation where we care enough for one another that if I commit a crime against you that I repay you personally for the crime I committed against you. Let us make it right with those who we wrong. Let us bear the burden of responsibility for making our victims whole again. Let us care enough to pay for the crimes that we commit against others.

 

Amen and Amen.

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