“Then he shall confess his sins which he has committed and he shall make restitution in full for his wrong, and add to it one-fifth, and give it to him whom he has wronged.” Numbers 5:7 (NASB)
Confess – the Hebrew word is yadah. Literally, yadah means to use the hand, especially in worship (with extended hands). In the intensive form, as it is here, it means to bemoan (by wringing the hands). The essential meaning is an act of acknowledging what is right about God in praise and thanksgiving. It can also mean right acknowledgment of self before God in confessing sin. God wants us to be more expressive in our relationship with Him. More expressive and more demonstrative. If we pray using ACTS (Adoration Confession Thanksgiving Supplication) then adoration would be hands up and outstretched wide with joy and gladness, even ecstasy. Confession would be wringing the hands. I see thanksgiving hands in many expressions – sometimes uplifted, sometime clasped close to the heart. Supplication would be hands folded and moving around as the depth of our plea changes. If human parents are touched and encouraged by their children’s expressions and demonstrations of love, how much more so must God be! Just as we and our children need to experience expressions and demonstrations of love, so does our God.
Committed – the Hebrew word is asah, meaning to do or make, ion the broadest sense and widest application; to do, make, accomplish, complete. It conveys the central notion of performing an activity with a distinct purpose, a moral obligation, or a goal in view. Sins are committed with a distinct purpose and a goal in view – pleasing ourselves, getting what we want. Sin doesn’t usually “just happen”. We frequently have that deer in the headlight look on our faces when we’re confronted with our sin, but if the truth be told, subconsciously, we’ve thought about what we wanted for quite a while and may have even planned and plotted different ways to get it.
Make restitution – the Hebrew word is shuwb, to turn back (hence away). To turn, return, go back, do again, change, withdraw, bring back, reestablish, be returned, bring back, restore, recompense, answer, hinder. In its simplest sense, the word means to return, restore, go back. There are three parts to making restitution. The first part is to turn away from the sins(s). The second part is to return to God. Just as a contrite child accepts their parents’ discipline, we must accept God’s for He disciplines the children He loves so much. The third part is to make amends to the people we’ve hurt, restore to them what they lost because of our sin(s) if that’s possible. Stolen property can easily be replaced, but hurt feelings and damaged faith and trust require God’s healing and our obediently following God’s leading in how to help in that healing process.
In full – ro’sh – from an unused root apparently meaning to shake. It’s a masculine noun meaning a head, hair, person, point, the top, the beginning the best, a chief, a leader. It has many metaphorical meanings. The Interlinear Bible translation is “in its principal”. I think it means God is going to shake us up when we confess. Our pride gets shook the most. In fact, true confession shatters our pride like a glass dropped on concrete. In its principal – we recompense what we can and leave the interest to God. Several Hebrew idioms use the word. To bring something down on one’s head means to get vengeance, therefore making restitution in full showers one with grace. The word also means beginning and the process of making amends needs to start at the beginning.
Wrong/wronged – ‘asham – meaning to be guilty or to do wrong. It’s most often used to describe the product of sin – that is, guilt before God. We have guilt before God and we have guilt before the person we’ve wronged. We must ask forgiveness of both. If we’re sincere in seeking forgiveness, God always forgives immediately. People however, sometimes hold a grudge for a while. Some never forgive and that is not our fault, but theirs. The unforgiving person will have to answer to God for their unforgiveness – they do not have to answer to us. We can’t allow their unforgiveness to keep us mired in guilt. God frees us as soon as we confess and repent.
So let us be more expressive in our relationships, quick to confess, and truly repentant when we sin.