Restoration Is A Part Of Repentance

To some in the religious world, repentance is a matter of great controversy. Some believe that repentance is simply a mental disposition of sorrow, not conveying any idea of restitution (cf. Matthew 27:1-5). However, in Nehemiah 5:9-11, we have a biblical example of the true nature of repentance.

In the days following the Babylonian captivity, some of the Jews had fallen on difficult times because of a famine in the land. As a result, some had been forced to mortgage their lands, vineyards and houses (Nehemiah 5:3). As it is in our time, there were unscrupulous men who took advantage of these poor folks by charging them interest (Nehemiah 5:7 ESV) or “usury.”

Nehemiah rightly rebuked the nobles and rulers, because charging interest to a fellow Jew was contrary to the law of Moses (Nehemiah 5:7-10; cf. Exodus 22:25; Leviticus 25:35-37 ESV). He then called for repentance on the part of those Jews who had transgressed the law by admonishing them to: “Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses….” (Nehemiah 5:11).

From the above passage, we see that restoration is an integral part of true repentance. Of course, we understand that restoration is not always possible. For example, when an individual takes another person’s life, that life cannot be restored. However, an individual who steals from another person can restore that person’s possessions.

It is also interesting to note that these leaders did not insist that their sole obligation consisted only in being sincerely sorry but declared, “We will restore these and require nothing from them” (Nehemiah 5:12 ESV). Let us underline the word “restore” in Nehemiah 5:11-12) and observe that restoration is a part of repentance (also see Luke 19:8; 1 Samuel 12:3; 2 Samuel 12:1-6).

Mike Riley, Gospel Snippets