Two Thieves: Exodus 20
Posted by adventbiblestudy on June 10, 2011
STEAL: H1589 ga^nab
A primitive root; to thieve (literally or figuratively); by implication to deceive: – carry away, X indeed, secretly bring, steal (away), get by stealth.
The eighth commandment is a simple four word sentence. The definition of steal is longer than the commandment. It carries both a literal, and figurative meaning. To thieve, which is the meaning most people understand, and to deceive, a meaning most often associated with the ninth commandment. Since thieve is the literal meaning, deceive must explain the figurative, or spiritual meaning, which can only be explained by comparing scripture.
An example of literal, and figurative stealing is found in 1Kings chapter 21. Ahab offered to buy Naboth’s garden, because it was next to his house. Ahab wanted to turn it into a herb garden. It takes years to establish a vineyard. Vines and branches have to be properly cut, pruned, and shaped. Tearing it up to plant a garden of herbs could easily be considered an insult. Naboth reflected that in his answer. Naboth said to Ahab, The LORD forbid it me, that I should give the inheritance of my fathers unto thee. 1 Kings 21:3.
Instead of taking it like a man, Ahab laid in his bed and cried about it. His loving wife, Jezebel comforted him by saying she would take care of the matter. Using the king’s name, she sent letters to the town officials, who were easily persuaded in her days. She told them to bring 2 false witnesses against Naboth, openly accuse him of blasphemy against God, and the king, take him out back, and stone him. The orders are carried out. News of the task was soon carried to Jezebel, and she delivered it to Ahab. Forgetting the laws of inheritance, Ahab took possession of the vineyard.
In this example it is easy to see how the theft was carried out through the use of deception. In a spiritual sense, Jezebel stole the souls of the town officials, and false witnesses by persuading them to be part of the deception. They are of those that rebel against the light; they know not the ways thereof, nor abide in the paths thereof. The murderer rising with the light killeth the poor and needy, and in the night is as a thief. Job 24:13-14.
One of Jesus’ parables tells about a thief who uses deception to take what he wants.
John 10:1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
John 10:10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
In this parable, Jesus was referring to the rules, priests, and false prophets teaching their own form of religion, and misleading people. As the thief is ashamed when he is found, so is the house of Israel ashamed; they, their kings, their princes, and their priests, and their prophets, Jeremiah 2:26.
These are the thieves who cared nothing about people, they are looking out for their own well being. The lust for control, popularity, power, and of course profit that comes to religious, and political leaders, outweighed their interests for those they were trusted to lead.
The Bible provides texts on both forms of stealing, physical, and spiritual. They are not treated equally. Each carried it’s own warning and punishment. Stealing physical material is looked upon in a much more compassionate manner.
Exodus 22:1 If a man shall steal an ox, or a sheep, and kill it, or sell it; he shall restore five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep.
Proverbs 6:30-31 Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; (31) But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.
Exodus 22:12 And if it be stolen from him, he shall make restitution unto the owner thereof.
If a thief steals physical materials, he is given a chance to perform restitution. But when a thief is dealing with people’s lives, the matter is quite different.
Exodus 21:16 And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall surely be put to death.
Jeremiah 7:8-11 Behold, ye trust in lying words, that cannot profit. (9) Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and burn incense unto Baal, and walk after other gods whom ye know not; (10) And come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered to do all these abominations? (11) Is this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, even I have seen it, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah chapter 34 explains how God gave Jerusalem one final chance. He gave them an ultimatum, free the slaves, of face destruction. They freed the slaves, and once the danger had passed, enslaved them again. This was not only a test for Jerusalem, it was a lesson showing the serious implications of slavery. To God it is not only stealing a person’s freedom of choice, one of the greatest gifts from God, it is stealing their life, dignity, their soul.
Jesus knew He would face opposition. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Ephesians 6:12. Jesus knew it would be a battle of principles, and often referred to Himself as a thief to illustrate the point, the priests would accuse Him of deceiving the people.
Mark 14:48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with staves to take me?
Jesus knew all about the battle for souls being fought behind the scene. I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. Luke 10:18.
Revelation 12:7-9 And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, (8) And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. (9) And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Once Satan’s rebellion in Heaven failed, he fought to make the earth his kingdom. He claimed dominion, and ownership over every sinner. Satan claimed the sinful natures people followed as proof they chose him as their leader. He was not willing to give up a single soul without a fight. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. Jude 1:9.
The figurative, or spiritual meaning of stealing is explained in a simple parable found in the book of Proverbs.
Proverbs 9:16-18 Whoso is simple, let him turn in hither: and as for him that wanteth understanding, she saith to him, (17) Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant. (18) But he knoweth not that the dead are there; and that her guests are in the depths of hell.
The spiritual meaning of water and bread are easily explained.
John 4:14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
John 6:33-35 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (34) Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. (35) And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
Spiritual theft involves withholding, or stealing away Jesus’ words, and His salvation. When we know this, it is easy to understand what the thief in the sheepfold represents. It all points back to the spiritual war being fought. God represents truth. His words, actions, and results are clear. They are never hidden, changed, or compromised. On the other hand, Satan’s words are misleading, deceptive, and often changed, to gain any advantage to fill his immediate need. Satan has one objective, to steal, and enslave souls, as long as they serve a purpose in achieving his goals. After they have served their usefulness, they are discarded. So I returned, and considered all the oppressions that are done under the sun: and behold the tears of such as were oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of their oppressors there was power; but they had no comforter. Ecclesiastes 4:1.
The battle over literal stealing can be overcome through restitution. The loss of a soul through deception can be eternal. Paul tells us how to avoid such deceptions.
Ephesians 4:27-32 Neither give place to the devil. (28) Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth. (29) Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. (30) And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. (31) Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: (32) And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.