Scripture reading: Proverbs 6:30-31(KJV)
Men do not despise a thief, if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is hungry; But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold, he shall give all the substance of his house.
Restitution and compensation are not a foreign practice in the court of justice. Any wrong doer when proven guilty by the Judge, must make reparation or restitution for the damage caused to the victim either in monetary term or in penitentiary.
The word “Restitution” means “giving back, making up or compensation.”
Proverb uses the analogy of a thief to bring forth a point on restitution. If the thief is caught, he has to make a restitution to the owner by paying back sevenfold of what he has stolen. This restitution may be expensive but it still can’t be compared to a restitution made for adultery. Why? Because no matter how much restitution you make to the husband of the wife you commit adultery with, he will never be appeased.
But this morning, my highlight is not about the unappeasable husband of the adulteress but rather on the requirement of the sevenfold payback set by the law of God for the thief.
My sermon therefore this morning, would be entitled “THE SEVENFOLD PAYBACK”.
1 Definition of “Sevenfold”
The word “sevenfold” carries the number 7. The number 7 appears very frequently in the Bible and the word “sevenfold” appears 6 times in the Bible, of which one time appears in our key text.
The word “sevenfold” like the number 7 represents FULL, COMPLETE, PERFECT.
So when the Bible talks about “sevenfold payback”, it is referring to a FULL, COMPLETE AND PERFECT PAYBACK/COMPENSATION.
2 Satan is a thief in our life
If there is one thief that keeps stealing from us and robbing us, it is Satan. John 10:10 says that Satan comes “to steal, and kill and destroy.”
- Literally, this happens in Manila, where a thief broke into the house of an American missionary a few years back. The thief was discovered by the missionary and there was a fight and the thief stabbed the American to death.
Here you can see that this thief in Manila was not content in just stealing. He even went to the extent of killing and destroying an innocent life and family. That’s how Satan is to us- he is not just a thief in our life, but a killer and destroyer.
Look at the extent of the damage Satan has caused to your personal life. By stealing from you, killing and destroying everything precious to you, not only are you affected but those close by are too. In a split of a moment, the wife of the American missionary became a widow. As a pastor, when I look into many of your lives, I see the ravaging thief at work in your lives and family (including your children). Before I prepared this sermon, I had a very weird dream. I dreamed about a sister-in-Christ whose father passed away and she put the corpse of her father in a big black casing that looks like a big guitar bag. One thing that caught my attention when she brought the corpse to us was that the bag wasn’t closed and scattered round the corpse were stacks of money but she was not allowed to remove any.
This sister wanted to bury her father in Jaro and while she carried this unzipped black casing out, Pas Toh Nee and me were nearby and Pas Toh Nee saw her struggling with the weight of the corpse and therefore took over the bag for her. I was there and thought that the funeral parlor man would now come and pick up the corpse to Jaro for embalming but the sister said we had to personally bring the corpse there by public transport. In my dream, Pas Toh Nee hauled the unzipped bag of corpse to the bus, where many passengers stared at us with shock and not only that, they put their hands across their nose because the corpse stank. I was very angry with the sister for putting my husband up to such public embarrassment and I remember reprimanding her for her stubbornness.
Then I woke up and I felt strange. I began to discuss this dream with Pas Toh Nee and there are spiritual truths and warnings from the dream. The meaning is the head of the family of this sister has died taking away all the riches with him and not leaving a single cent for her. He died leaving her with public shame, symbolized by her carrying the unzipped corpse bag around in public. She has to carry the death or the curse around in public.
Out of the kindness of heart as a pastor, Pas Toh Nee offered to bear the burden with her but in the end Pas Toh Nee became the subject of public scrutiny and ridicule. The generational curse of this family is dragging the church down. In real life, this sister is really living in public shame. In real life, I can see how Satan uses the generational curse left behind by her dead father to rob her of her dignity, her worth and her future and worse to encumber the church with the same indignity.
Brothers and sister, the robbing and the stealing of Satan of our lives does not just affect one person. It affects all people close by to you. One of the ways Satan robs you is through generational curse.
Unlike the thief in our key text who has a legitimate excuse for his theft, namely his hunger, this Satan has no legitimate excuse. He is a thief simply because it is his nature and job description to rip the children of God off.
Our key text specifically states that even if the thief has a legitimate excuse to steal because of his hunger, YET he still has to payback sevenfold to the victim if he is caught. How much more payback Satan owes to us who steals from us illegitimately and unreasonably.
3 Satan’s Storehouse
Satan after stealing and robbing from us, stores all his booties in his storehouse (Matthew 12:29). The booties are known as “treasures of darkness” and “hoards in secret places” (Isaiah 45:3 -RSV). KJV and NIV call them “hidden riches in secret places.”
What are they? The treasures are SOULS. The hoards in secret places or the hidden riches in secret places are:
- The spiritual inheritances of the saints like authority, faith and things that are God’s gifts and blessings to you- a beautiful family; good kids; good health; spouse; dreams and vision, success; financial blessings.
- Things pertaining to the kingdom of God as is mentioned in Romans 14:16 Righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.
- Promises of God for you. David says in Psalm 119:162 I rejoice at thy word like one who finds great spoil.
So, today, if you feel you are living as a substandard believer- you have been robbed; you have been ripped off by the devil that blessings, riches and treasures are now in the store house of Satan.
All the things that are stolen from you are actually blessings pertaining to your lot in life which God has given to you. They are your rightful lot; your rightful belonging; your rightful blessings; your rightful inheritance but Satan comes and steals all of that away from you and today you are chased out from the “good and broad land” which God has promised you and you are now squatting in a dark squalid narrow place like a squatter.
4 Satan’s Strong Guard
All these treasures and riches in dark places are heavily guarded by Satan. Satan is not a wimpy security guard like we see many here. He guards his goods with care. He is a strong guard. Matthew 12:29 describes him as a STRONGMAN.
So here, we can see that once our rights and inheritances get stolen by Satan, it is not easy to mess with him because he is a strongman. We have to employ the strategy laid down by God in our recovery of our losses from Satan.
5 How to recover our stolen treasures and riches?
(A) DESPISE HIM
Prov 6:30 (RSV) — Do not men despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his appetite when he is hungry?
NIV — Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his soul when he is hungry.
If a man steals because he is hungry, our sympathy goes out to him.
- A man was arrested for stealing in a certain community and it was found that he had some little children at home who were hungry. In a case like that, you don’t judge him, you want to help him.But again from that same community, a man walked into another man’s room, drew a gun and shot the man dead. Why? Well, when the story came out, the man was exonerated (freed). His home had been absolutely destroyed by the lust of the man he killed.
Satan is like the second example. The man in the second example has every right to despise the offender to the point of killing him because his right (which is his wife) has been stolen by the dead man.
We must not sympathize the theft and robbery of Satan on our lives because he has no legitimate cause to touch us. He violates our right because of his lust for soul and everything that God has blessed us with.
Many of us have accepted the tragic plight of our life passively. When our business is not doing well, we leave things as they are; when our grades in school are falling, we just become immune to it; when our G12 is not doing well, we just accept it. We’ve lost our ability to “despise” the thief. The word “despise” means “to look down; to scorn; to look with contempt. The action “despise” carries along with it the emotion of “hate”. We’ve lost our ability to hate what Satan has done to us. There is no more anger in us against him.
Ask yourself how do you react to the following?
- When your husband runs off with another woman? (You say “Bahala na!”)
- When your son encourages his girlfriend to go for abortion? (You say, “The rice is cooked. Nothing can be done.”)
- When your marriage is rocky?(You say “That’s life!”)
- When you are insulted and abused by men for many years? (You say, “That’s my calling to be a martyr!”)
- When you have to live in abject poverty? (You say, “What to do? Who asks me to be born in a 3rd world country?”)
- When you are having chronic sickness? (You say, “Die Die Die lah! Death is part of life.”)
- When you have to stop schooling? (You say, “Never mind! This is the culture of Filipino’s big family.)
- When evil men keep assailing you? (You say, “Oh, poor me! That’s my lot in life. I’m born with this kind of life. This is my fate. What can I do? That’s what my mum always said to me when she was beaten by my dad.)
Many of us have spiritualized our suffering and have come to make peace with our suffering. We fail to recognize that behind every prolonged suffering and injustice is Satan. He has been ripping us all these while and we accept his plunder. Now, suffering has its place in the will and purpose of God but if the suffering goes on for years and years, that is not from God.
Short term suffering has its place but chronic suffering definitely is not God’s plan for you. The woman who had a spirit of infirmity for eighteen years, who was so bent over that she could fully straighten herself, was set free by Jesus and what did Jesus say to her – “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for 18 years, be loosed from this bond on Sabbath day?” (Luke 13:16)
Stir up that hatred within you and despise what the devil has done to you. Hate to be ripped off; to be cheated; to be robbed;If you want to regain your rightful blessings, you have to DESPISE the thief of your soul.
(B) FIND HIM
V31(KJV) – But if he be FOUND
After the Amalekites plundered Ziklag, they ran off. David had to ask for the ephod and inquired of the Lord (1 Sam 30:7). We need to ask the Holy Spirit to help us search through all the areas of our lives that have been ripped off by the devil. Proverbs 20:27- The spirit of man is the lamp of the Lord, searching all his innermost parts. And if you humble yourself and be honest with God and yourself, you will find the stronghold of Satan in your life. God will show you which area of your life has been occupied by Satan.
Next, learn to reach out to the needy for they will become your guide to the world of Satan. How did David find the Amalekites? They had been searching for many days for the robbers until many of David’s men became so tired that they had to rest at Brook Besor. But one day they stumbled upon an Egyptian slave left behind by the Amalekites. They fed him and after he had eaten and refreshed, he led David to the hideout of the enemy.
- Men abused and those rejects of Satan can become our guide to Satan’s storehouse and there we can recover our losses.
- For 14 years our church was ripped off in attendance. There was no growth until we changed the venue of our evangelism from Plaza Libertad to all the barangays of the city, where the poor, the downtrodden, the rejects and the oppressed are and there we found the hoards of darkness, which later became the treasures of our church.
(C) CATCH HIM
v31 NIV- Yet if he is CAUGHT
In other words, “apprehend him, seize him and bind him.”
Just as a policeman catches a thief by handcuffing him, so we are to catch Satan by binding him.
Matthew 12:29 – Or how can one enter a strongman’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first BINDS the strongman? Then indeed he may plunder his house.
What are the things you want to bind Satan for?
(D) SUMMON HIM
v31 (NIV) –yet if he is caught, he MUST pay sevenfold.
In Singapore, it is a bad thing to receive a pink notice from the government, whether it is from the PECO and the DENR. Every month, we are billed for our PECO in a white bill but when we fail to pay up, they will give us a grace period of 3 months or so and then the pink notice will come. When the pink notice, there is penalty involved and if we still refuse to pay up, we are being summoned to court. When I was young, I always heard my parents or my brothers exclaimed, “Oh no! Summon already, summon already.” One of the summon notices was from the DENR where my mum was penalized by the DENR for keeping ducks and chicken in the subdivision and we had to pay fine to the government.
That’s the purpose of a SUMMON- there is penalty involved. When you summon the devil, you penalize him for the violation of your rights and the theft of your property and you can DEMAND him for a payback. Just like the summon notice from our Spore government that has the authority to demand a payup from its offending citizen.
The word “SUMMON” means “demand attendance of.” It is a word of AUTHORITY. Once a summon is served to the thief, the Bible says in our key text, he MUST pay sevenfold. It is not the option of the thief to pay when he is summoned. He MUST pay back. It is something he has to concede, non-negotiable.
This principle of non-negotiable payback is found in the Exodus 22:2 and Leviticus 5:16 which say that if a man is caught stealing a sheep from the field, he should restore fourfold and if it is an ox, five fold but here in Proverbs, if a thief steals goods from another’s house, Solomon feels it is fair that he should pay back sevenfold. That is seven times the things he has stolen. Solomon says that if he can’t pay back this sevenfold restitution, then he has to “give all the substance of his house” (KJV) in order to satisfy the law of justice. In the OT, if he has no house even to pay back, then he has to be a slave to the person he has stolen from.
Look here at the principle of sevenfold payback. You steal one gold chain from the owner, you have to pay him back 7 gold chains. That is the literal meaning of the sevenfold payback.
Sevenfold payback is our right of summon to the devil. This sevenfold payback is our FULL COMPENSATION; FULL RESTORATION from the devil. It is not enough the devil restores what he has stolen from us. The devil has to give us “all the substance of his house”; he has to give us “all the goods of his house.” The substance and the goods of his house are all the stolen souls and inheritance of the saints, as I have shared with you just now. This payback isn’t sufficient to constitute the sevenfold payback, the DEVIL HAS TO BECOME OUR SLAVE.
- Many of us have stopped short at the one-fold blessing. As long as we get back what is ours, we become so contented and appeased. We forget that Satan rightfully owes us six-fold more.
- I admire the way David warred against his enemies. Psalms tell us that when David gain mastery over his enemies, he did not stop short at just apprehending them; he thrust his sword right through them, making sure they will never rise again. He spared no mercy to the enemy.
Brothers and sisters, we must not spare mercy to the plunderer of our souls. Don’t be content with one victory over Satan. Vanquish him totally till he can’t rise again and instead he has to be your slave to do your bidding.
Look at the example of Moses and Pharaoh. For 400 years, the devil ripped off the LIBERTY and IDENTITY of the children of Israel. From being in the land of Canaan, they are now in a land of slavery. From being a child of God, they are now slaves of Egypt. The Egyptians oppressed them for 400 years.
But when God stepped in through Moses to deliver them, God promised, “And I will give this people favor in the sight of Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and of her who sojourns in her house, jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing, and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters; THUS YOU SHALL DESPOIL THE EGYPTIANS.” (Exodus 3:22) Moses had to summon Pharaoh “to let my people go”, which after many plagues, he finally let the people go. Keep summoning the devil. Moses summoned ten times before Pharaoh released his people. Be prepared that the devil will come and negotiate with you partial release. Look at Pharaoh on how he proposed partial release of God’s people to Moses. Before God sent the locust plague, he asked Moses who would go to the wilderness. Moses told him that “old and young, men and women and all the flocks.”
But the Pharaoh was only willing to let the men go only and Moses rejected this deal and so the locust plague came. After that Pharaoh made another deal to let everyone go except the flocks. Again Moses refused and the plague of darkness came. When the devil comes to offer you partial payback, refuse it and be firm on your seven-fold payback. Finally, we see Pharaoh paying back the LIBERTY and the IDENTITY (he let them go so they can go and worship their God in the wilderness) but that is not sevenfold payback. That is what he has stolen from them originally.
He is paying them back for what he has stolen. But the compensation in the form of jewelry and clothing are the payback above and beyond what they have stolen—THAT IS WHAT I CALL THE SEVENFOLD PAYBACK. Maybe these jewelries and clothings were compensation for the emotional and physical abuse they had been receiving all these while. The compensation was so substantial that the Bible says they SHALL DESPOIL (bankrupt/wreck) the Egyptians. Historians say that after the exodus of the children of Israel, the Egyptian kingdom was never the same. It was weakened by that despoiling.
The same principle applies to our lives. For so many years, we have been oppressed by the devil in many areas of our lives. We groan and cry under our heavy burdens. Now is the time to arise and summon the devil to let you go and to pay you back sevenfold what he has been stealing from you.
God also shows me that not only we have the right as the child of the living God to summon this sevenfold payback from the devil but we also have the right to summon SEVENFOLD payback to our human enemies:
Moreover the light of the moon will be as the light of the sun and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, as the light of the seven days, in the day when the Lord binds up the hurt of his people and heals the wounds in inflicted by his blow.
Here it is talking about the time when the church is restored, the glory of it will pass seven times the brightness of the sun. In other words, there will be restoration of the church to her COMPLETE/FULL GLORY, epitomized by the temple at the New Heaven and New Earth.
- This is another agenda in my prayer for this church – that whatever reproach we have undergone for these last 6 years, may God restore Evangel Iloilo to its glory sevenfold. You can also pray the same for the restoration of this sevenfold glory for your region and for your ministries. Some of you G12 workers used to be so fruitful. Today, you are among those who are having 2 contacts and below. You must pray that God will restore the glory of your ministry sevenfold.
We Christians are such strange creatures. Before we were saved, we were very superstitious. We really believed in the existence of the spirit world. We believed in dwende, white lady and tik tik. But once we are born again, we become more “logical and rational” and we conveniently delete Satan from our lives, thinking he is just a figment of biblical imagination, outdated and irrelevant for our 21st high technological world. It is this ignorance that causes our lives to be continually ripped off by the devil to the point we are living in spiritual shambles. Christians, please wake up to this truth that we are not just human being, we are also spiritual being and as such we are not contending against flesh and blood but against principalities and dark forces in the air.
“For though we live in the world, we are not worldly but have divine power to destroy strongholds.”(2 Cor 10:3-4).
- God declares in Isaiah 61:8: “I hate robbery and wrong. I will faithfully give them their recompense (NIV: reward).” God hates to see you robbed by Satan and the wrong he has done to you. He wants to see you compensated. Living Bible says that “God will faithfully reward my people for their suffering.” Today, if you are sick and tired of being ripped off by the devil all these long years, it is time, you stand up to him – DESPISE HIM; FIND HIM; CATCH HIM AND SUMMON HIM for this sevenfold payback to you now.
End of sermon