In our love for Christ and desire to see Him glorified, there is one aspect that we often overlook. We are called to walk in humble confession and instant obedience to the Lord.
But how does God feel about people we have wronged in the past? What does He want us to do, and what does He do if needed steps are not taken?
A Famine That Revealed God’s Passion
The Bible records a famine that God sent into the land of Israel for Saul’s past sins against the Gibeonites (2 Samuel 21). Saul had broken a covenant he had made, and he had never rectified his wrong.
Saul was now dead and gone; but the Lord, who loves unity and longs to show everyone His love and righteousness, wanted this resolved. He wanted to show the Gibeonites that God’s people keep their word.
David, the current king, inquired of God and discovered why the famine had come. It was to get their attention, to cause them to turn to the Lord and listen. (Spiritual and physical famines may often be about this. God often dries up His resources so we’ll look to Him). When they did, He told them the reason for the famine:
There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death (v. 1).
What was David’s response? I imagine I would have said, “That’s old news,” or, “What’s past is past,” or, “That wasn’t even something I did.”
Not David. The next phrase records,
So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (v. 2).
David immediately took steps to clear their national conscience and provide restitution for this wrong. Quite a lesson for us. The story ends with this beautiful resolution:
They did all that the king commanded. And after that God responded to the plea for the land (v. 14).
Mission accomplished. God was waiting on His people’s response to release His blessing. The famine had accomplished its purpose. The Gibeonites surely realized that God is a God of faithfulness and righteousness.
The Power of Restitution
Is a murderer forgiven instantly when he comes to Christ? Absolutely. But he still took someone’s life. There is a wave of broken people in his past. He should do everything God instructs to seek, as far as it lies within him, to be at peace with all men (Romans 12:8) and to make restitution for past wrongs.
What if the survivor’s family heard that the man who had murdered their relative had come to Christ? Wonderful; but they would be skeptical.
But what if the murderer came to them, in humility and brokenness, and sought their forgiveness and made any needed restitution? They would know that God had done something real and that Jesus changes people.
God would be glorified. This is the power of restitution.
God’s Regular Pattern
It’s interesting that seasons of biblical and historical revival are always marked by restitution. Apparently, one of the primary ways God’s name is honored and the gospel spread is by His people clearing their past.
This shows the world that God is honorable and concerned about them. It provides a powerful demonstration that people who are right with God do right because of His reviving and rectifying presence.
I have seen a man, in a moment of God’s reviving, give $20,000 to the church, because he said he had been more faithful to pay his taxes to the government than his tithe to the church. I’ve watched husbands go back to the wives and children they’d divorced and seek their forgiveness for the covenant they’d broken.
I was in a meeting once where a man returned tools worth $5,000 to his employer. He had justified his stealing for years with “everybody takes tools home.” His restitution stunned his boss and co-workers and opened gospel conversations.
These accounts go on and on. When Christ is on the throne, He makes us better men and women, and the world takes notice.
What do you think God’s ultimate agenda is as He leads His people to make needed restitution? The gospel spreads rapidly!
Does this bring to mind a face from your past? A broken covenant? A trail of people who were hurt by your actions?
If so, God may be calling you to do that which will bring revival and healing to others. Don’t delay. Your obedience may release the rain of heaven and reverse a spiritual famine.
- Download a free worksheet that can help you in the process of clearing your conscience.