Troublesome Topic: Love Your Neighbor

Lesson 2 of 7

We have seen how some of the conditions of the covenant taught the children of Israel how to draw close to God (faith and adoration) while other conditions taught them how to live without offending God’s holy nature (holiness). The third major category was related to the treatment of other people or other aspects of creation. We could call this the area of mercy, or compassion.

I will start this major section with one very basic lesson. It should be obvious, but it is so fundamental that I would be in error if I did not state it clearly.

To sin against another person is an offense against God Himself.

I Corinthians 8:12 makes this point clear: “Therefore, when you sin in that way against the brothers, even wounding their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.” Hurting others offends God’s loving nature. We cannot consider wrongs done to others as somehow less serious than wrongs done directly against God.

Now look at Numbers 5:6-7.

Numbers 5:6


Say to the sons of Israel, “When a man or woman does anything that misses the mark,

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[acting] the way  mankind acts unfaithfully by showing unfaithfulness

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against YHVH (read Adonai), and that person is guilty,


Say to the descendants of Israel, “Whenever a man or a woman does anything that misses the mark and acts the way people commonly act unfaithfully and demonstrate their unfaithfulness to THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD, and whenever that person is found to be guilty,

Numbers 5:7


then he shall confess the way in which he missed the mark by his actions and he shall make restitution in full for his wrongdoing

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and add a fifth to it and give it to him, to the one he has wronged.


he must stop holding on to the offense and freely tell others the way he has missed the mark by his actions and he must pay fully for the damage  his wrongdoing caused plus add one fifth on top of that, and give it to the person, to the one he has wronged.

What I want you to notice is that verse 6 says it is against God that this person has acted, then we find out in verse 7 that another person must be paid restitution because the wrong was done against that person. We would have said it the other way around – that wrong was done against another person, but God takes it as if it was done against Him. But no, our perspective is the one that is backwards. God takes these types of wrongs so personally that they are presented first and foremost as an offense against God and a break of faithfulness to Him, and oh, by the way, your punishment will include paying the person you hurt 120% of the damage you caused.

The next lesson in the Medium and Short series on Covenants is Don’t Touch Blood!

The next lesson in the full series on Covenants is Respect Goats and Birds



The word I have rendered as “misses the mark” is one of two words for “sin” used in this verses. This one comes from a root that means to “miss the mark, to go wrong, to be lead astray, to make a mistake, to miss the way.” Here one is wrong, not because he planned to be wrong, but because he was not careful and watchful.


This verse is tricky to translate because it has the double use of the word “unfaithfulness.” One is an infinitive “to act unfaithfully,” followed by the noun “unfaithfulness.” You have to add something between those two words. This is the second word for sin. It means to “break the trust and be unfaithful to someone,” in this case God and His commands.


The word I have rendered as “wrongdoing” is a third word for “sin” used in these two verses. It means “to commit an offense, to do wrong, to be guilty or to be at fault.”