Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet;
but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God
(Philippians 3:13-14 NASB)
The Kingdom of Our Lord #13.
Restitution ― Loss of Property
March 25, 2009
This issue is a continuation of the law of restitution and covers certain types of property loss. This needs
to be read in conjunction with #03-0934, March 16, 2009, Justice and Fairness ― Making All Right ,
#03-0971, March 17, 2009, #11. The Law of Restitution , and #03-0972, March 18, 2009, #12.
Restitution ― Theft of Property .
As a reminder, restitution is required when someone causes a loss to another person. The loss could
result from an act that is intentional (willful), unintentional (accidental), or negligent. It could involve a
person’s well-being (body), property, or livelihood. Restitution covers both criminal and civil matters,
and applies to all inhabitants in a kingdom nation, all living in the land (citizens and aliens).
Under the law of restitution, especially as it relates to property loss, the underlying principle is that the
property that was damaged or lost must be replaced with a like kind. However, this does not prevent the
two parties from negotiating a monetary settlement; otherwise, a like-kind payment is required. For
example, if a man’s brand new car is destroyed, it would be replaced with another brand new car of the
same make and model. If the replacement cost were $40,000, then an equitable payment would be
The following are some examples of restitution involving property as presented by the Lord through
Moses. Obviously, every situation is not addressed, which means that in the coming eon (age), the
judges must have the wisdom of God and spiritual discernment to execute righteous judgment. Further,
in a primarily agricultural society, property is mostly made up of animals, crops, and land.
Consequently, the principles must be extrapolated to modern-day goods.
“If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes
in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the
best of his own vineyard.” (Exodus 22:5 NASB)
In this case, if a man’s animal grazes in another man’s field and wipes out his crop, then he is required
to make full and equal restitution from the best of his field and vineyard.
“If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing
grain or the field itself is consumed, he who started the fire shall surely make
restitution.” (Exodus 22:6 NASB)
Another way of stating this is that if you started the fire, you own the fire and are responsible for its
destructive result. This should remind us of the devastating fires that annually occur in the western part
of the US and the most recent fires in Australia. Under the law of restitution, if a person starts a fire that
leads to destruction of the property of others, then the arsonist must make full restitution to all parties.
The same applies to an accidental fire.
When I was the president of a condo homeowner’s association, I noticed that many residents did not
want to take responsibility if a neighbor’s unit was damaged due to something that came from their
unit, whether due to negligence or by accident. For example, if an owner left water running in the bath
tub and the water overflowed and flooded another unit, then it was not uncommon for the owner who
caused the damage to state: “It was by accident. I did not mean it to happen. Why should I pay to repair
my neighbor’s unit? Besides, insurance will cover it.” By the way, this is also an example of moral
hazard : “Let someone else make restitution, but leave me out of it.” However, under kingdom law,
everyone has responsibility for what is under their control.
(7) “If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him and it is stolen from the
man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double. (8) If the thief is not caught, then
the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his
hands on his neighbor’s property. (9) For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for
donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, ‘This is it,’ the
case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay
double to his neighbor.” (Exodus 22:7-9 NASB)
These verses deal with property that is entrusted to another for safe keeping while the owner is away. If
the money or goods are stolen and the thief is caught, then double payment is required from the thief,
unless the goods were damaged or lost, in which case, the payment would be four or five times the value
of the goods (Exodus 22:1). However, if the thief is not caught, then a determination must be made
whether the trust had been broken, that is, whether the one entrusted with the goods stole the goods for
his own benefit. If the one that had been entrusted with the goods did not steal the goods, then he must
make an oath in court to that effect. However, if a breach of trust occurred, then the restitution payment
would be double the value of the goods.
As a side note, the word judge in the above verses comes from the word elohim , which is most often
translated God or gods. Elohim means subjector , which refers to one who has authority over others. In
the kingdom of our Lord, His conquerors (saints) will be elohims , for they will have authority to judge
the world (1 Corinthians 6:2).
(10) If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him,
and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, (11) an oath before the
LORD shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor’s
property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. (12) But if it is
actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. (13) If it is all torn to
pieces, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn
to pieces. (Exodus 22:10-13 NASB)
These verses can be summed up in this way: No restitution is required if animals entrusted to a
neighbor are hurt or lost, as long as the neighbor takes an oath that he was not responsible. The owner
must accept such an oath and leave it in the hands of God. If the neighbor states the animal was torn to
pieces, then he obviously knows its whereabouts. If he produces the evidence, then restitution is not
required. However, if the neighbor stole the animal, then he must make restitution.
(14) “If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its
owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution. (15) If its owner is with it, he shall not
make restitution; if it is hired, it came for its hire.” (Exodus 22:14-15 NASB)
Borrowing a neighbor’s goods is treated differently from being entrusted with a neighbor’s goods. The
reason is that when an owner entrusts something to someone else, the owner retains some
accountability in the matter. Another way of stating this is that the owner assumes some measure of risk
that something could happen to his goods for which he cannot hold his neighbor liable. However, in the
case of borrowing a neighbor’s goods, the principle is different, for the borrower assumes full liability
for loss of the goods and must make pay full restitution for any loss of the goods. The exception to the
rule is if the owner accompanies his goods to supervise its use. If something happens to the goods, then
the owner is fully responsible, not the one who hired the use of the goods.
A present-day example would be a mechanic who borrows a jack from his neighbor in order to raise his
car, and the jack breaks because the car was too heavy for the jack. The mechanic would have to replace
the jack with like kind or make a restitution payment equal to its replacement value. However, if the
neighbor accompanied the jack and supervised its use, then the borrower would not be held liable.
The Upward Call: #03-0973
by: Stuart H. Pouliot