Exodus 20:15

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 8, 2007


We’re working our way through the Ten Commandments.

Today we’re going to be talking about the eighth commandment …

:15 You shall not steal.

stealganab – to steal, steal away, carry away

stealklepto (“kleptomaniac”) – to steal; to commit a theft

You might think that this is a pretty obvious commandment.  Not so.

John J. Davis writes, “A careful study of Ugaritic epics relating to Baal and Anath reveals the fact that these deities reflected all the weaknesses and sins of man himself.  Of course, gods are always reflections of their creators.  Murder, adultery and stealing were as common among the gods of Canaan as they were among the men who worshipped them.  It should be remembered that prohibitions against murder, adultery and stealing are not necessarily universal.  In ancient Sparta, it was getting caught, not stealing, that was reprehensible.”

Yahweh is charting a new course for Israel.  He does not want them to steal.

What is stealing?

1.    Theft

The English dictionary defines “theft” as: “The act of stealing; the wrongful taking and carrying away of the personal goods or property of another; larceny.”

There are all kinds of things that get stolen...


The Baltimore Sun reports on a husband who drove home in his brand new car and ran into the house, inviting his wife to see his brand new car. She, anticipating his delight said she had a gift for him, something to do with his brand new car, and she presented him with The Club, the device that attaches to the car steering wheel to protect it from thieves. And the grateful husband said, “that’s great honey, thank you so much for your thoughtfulness.” And then with The Club in hand, they went outside together to where his brand new car had been stolen.

Associated Press, 3-31-94.


Mark Twain writes, “When I was a boy, I was walking along a street and happened to spy a cart full of watermelons. I was fond of watermelon, so I sneaked quietly up to the cart and snitched one. Then I ran into a nearby alley and sank my teeth into the melon. No sooner had I done so, however, than a strange feeling came over me. Without a moment’s hesitation, I made my decision. I walked back to the cart, replaced the melon—and took a ripe one.”


These days, the big theft item is gas.  One of the old ways it used to be done was to stick a rubber hose in the gas tank, suck on the other end of the rubber hose until you get a mouth full of the gas, then spit it out.  From then on the gasoline will flow into your tank.  A thief decided to siphon gas from Dennis Quiggley’s motor home in Seattle.  When Dennis, inside the motor home, heard the noises outside he investigated and discovered the thief curled upon the ground violently vomiting.  Intending to suck up the contents of the gas tank the thief had put his hose into the wrong hole—and had sucked up the contents of the sewage tank instead. The thief, a boy 14 will not be prosecuted, Dennis and the police agree that he has suffered enough.

Associated Press, 8/7/91


After some last-minute Christmas shopping with her grandchildren, my friend was rushing them into the car when four-year-old Jason said, “Grandma, Susie has something in her pocket.” He reached in and pulled out a new red barrette. Though she was tired, my friend knew it was important for Susie to put the item back where she had found it. They did just that. Later at the grocery store checkout, the clerk asked, “Have you kids been good so Santa will come?” “I’ve been very good,” replied Jason, “but my sister just robbed a store.”

Clara Null, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Christian Reader, “Kids of the Kingdom.”

2.    Theft at work

Sometimes the thefts occur at work.


Have you ever gotten yourself in big trouble—really, really big trouble? So big you can’t even conceive of how much trouble you’re in? That’s what 31-year-old Jerome Kerviel is accused of. Jerome worked for a prestigious bank in France. He had worked his way up from the back room to being one of the men who did the bank’s investing. In January 2008 he was caught allegedly committing investment fraud. In other words, he carried on bogus trades designed to make him money. Here is the amazing thing: he was dealing not just in millions, but in some $7 billion! According to an article in the The Times, at one point in the alleged scam, Kerviel had put his bank in a position where they would lose “the equivalent of about half of all the gold and currency reserves held by France. The sum also exceeded the entire value of the bank at which he worked.”

Craig Brian Larson, editor of PreachingToday.com; source: "Bank's billions burnt in 10 days," www.business.timesonline.co.uk (1-27-08)

Most of the thefts at work though aren’t quite so blatant.


In 2007, Spherion, a career recruiting and staffing agency, asked 2,000 employees if they had ever taken office supplies for personal use. Nearly 20 percent of employees admitted they had. Surprisingly, the likelihood that someone would use company materials for personal use increased with education and salary level.

… In fact, employees in the highest salary ranges have been known to help themselves to company cell phones and computers.

According to Joshua Newberg, associate professor of business law at the University of Maryland, a sense of entitlement is the leading reason for employee pilfering.

Brandon O'Brien, assistant editor, PreachingToday.com; sources: Jae Vang and Alejandro Gonzalez, "Education and workplace ethics," USA Today (8-22-07); Hanah Cho, "Are pens, paper free for taking?" The Baltimore Sun(10-19-07); Anya Sostek, "Office pilfering starts at the top," Jackson Hole Star Tribune (6-24-07)

This sense of “entitlement” can lead us to do stuff like taking the two hour lunch break or cheating on the time sheet.

There’s really no other way to look at it than theft.  You are stealing from your employer.

What’s the big deal?  Isn’t this petty to be talking about paperclips and mechanical pencils? Jesus said,

(Luke 16:10 NKJV)  "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much.

Little things can be important.  If you can be trusted with little things, you can be trusted with bigger things.

3.    Not paying taxes

The Bible says,

(Rom 13:7 NKJV)  Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.

There are some goofy people calling themselves Christians who will tell you that you don’t have to pay taxes.  The Bible says just the opposite.
Some people will say that the government supports immoral things, so we don’t have to support it.  But want to guess who was the ruling the world when Paul wrote the book of Romans?  Caesar Nero.  A wicked, crazy man.
God says that you owe it to the government to pay your taxes.  If you don’t pay your taxes then you are stealing from the government.
Gentlemen: Enclosed you will find a check for $150.  I cheated on my income tax return last year and have not been able to sleep ever since.  If I still have trouble sleeping I will send you the rest. Sincerely, A Tax Payer

I wonder what would happen to our taxes or our national debt if everyone paid their taxes.

When you are paid with cash for a job and you choose not to report it or pay taxes on it, you are robbing the government.  And since our government is made up of us, people elected by us, then you are robbing each of us.

4.    Robbing God

(Mal 3:8-12 NKJV)  "Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, 'In what way have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. {9} You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. {10} Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this," Says the LORD of hosts, "If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. {11} "And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, Nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field," Says the LORD of hosts; {12} "And all nations will call you blessed, For you will be a delightful land," Says the LORD of hosts.

The word “tithe” means “tenth”, the portion of their income that God’s people would give to Him out of respect, out of recognizing that He was the one who was providing for their lives.

We sometimes can think that our “tithe” or “offering” is something that we give to God if we have any left over.

In God’s mind, He thinks that He’s giving you enough to be able to give Him the tithe.  He is testing you to see if you will recognize Him and give Him that part that already belongs to Him.

God is speaking through Malachi to remind the people that when they don’t tithe, they are “robbing” God.

5.    Theft of hearts

Absalom was the oldest son of King David and he got to a point in his life where he felt that it was time for him to become king.  He felt it was time for his father David to step aside.  He made his move by sitting at the city gates and talking to all the people who were coming to talk to David.  He told them how much he loved them and he told them how bad of a king David was.

(2 Sam 15:6 NKJV)  In this manner Absalom acted toward all Israel who came to the king for judgment. So Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.

There are going to be people around us who are supposed to have a relationship with each other.  It might be your boss with his other employees.  It might a man and woman who are married.  It might be two friends.
We make a huge mistake when we step in the middle of these relationships and try to get one of the individuals to like us better than the other person.
If you have a friend who has a difficult marriage, be careful that you don’t end up coming between them and their spouse.

6.    Examples of thieves


(John 10:10 NKJV)  "The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

Jesus is talking about Satan as the thief and Himself as the Good Shepherd.
What a contrast.  Satan wants to rip you off.  He wants to kill you and send you to hell with him.
Jesus wants you to have life.  He wants you to have an “abundant” life.
abundantlyperissos – over and above, more than is necessary, superadded; superior, extraordinary, surpassing, uncommon

Judas Iscariot

(John 12:6 NKJV)  This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.

There was a thief in Jesus’ little band of brothers.  Judas was a selfish man out to get as much for himself as he could.

Do you want to be like Satan or Judas?

Answers to stealing

What do you do if you are guilty of stealing?

1.    Restitution

Unlike the sins of murder or adultery, the penalty for theft in the Bible was not death – except for the “stealing” of men, kidnapping.  Kidnapping was punished by death.

The penalty was “restitution” – to pay back what you stole, with interest.

(Exo 22:1 NKJV)  "If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep.

You could actually make some money by having people steal from you!

Some people don’t quite get this concept of restitution:


A new convert went to his pastor and said, “Before I was saved, I stole a rope from my neighbor’s barn.  After reading the story of Zacchaeus, I decided to return it.  Yet my neighbor still isn’t reconciled to me.”  The preacher, noticing his downcast eyes, questioned him a bit further.  “Are you sure that’s all you took from him, or is something else wrong?” Embarrassed, the man replied, “I guess that’s the problem.  You see I didn’t bring back what was attached to the rope—the man’s prize calf!”

Some people understand restitution:

Zacchaeus –

(Luke 19:1-10 NKJV)  Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. {2} Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. {3} And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. {4} So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. {5} And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I must stay at your house." {6} So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully. {7} But when they saw it, they all complained, saying, "He has gone to be a guest with a man who is a sinner." {8} Then Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Look, Lord, I give half of my goods to the poor; and if I have taken anything from anyone by false accusation, I restore fourfold." {9} And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; {10} "for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost."
Zacchaeus got it.  He understood that he needed to make things right.  He promised to pay back fourfold everything he had stolen.
Jesus said that Zacchaeus’ repentance showed that he had been saved.


In the course of his preaching, W. P. Nicholson insisted on the need for restitution where something had to be put right with another person.  After one mission held in East Belfast early in 1923, many tools and pieces of equipment which had been stolen earlier were returned to the shipyard, and in such quantities that an additional store had to be provided to hold them.  A letter to the evangelist from the management of another firm acknowledged receipt of tools received from one of their own men who signed himself “Ex-worker,” and thanked him for his influence in the case, adding that they had heard of similar cases directly attributable to his ministry.
S. W. Murray

2. Work

Eph 4:28a Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with [his] hands what is good…

Something gets into our mindset when we slide into stealing. 

We get to think that we don’t have to work for the things we want or need. 

We think we can somehow get stuff another way.

One of the Bible’s answers to stealing is good old fashioned work.


2007 was a bumper year for the Southeast Correctional Center “restorative justice garden” in Charleston, Missouri. Inmates yielded extraordinary crops of a variety of produce on the facility’s six-acre vegetable garden, and all of it will be donated to public nonprofit organizations.

Inmates are eager to participate in the program, as the 200-person waiting list suggests. In the words of one inmate, “This is almost like being free here. I like knowing I’m giving to the elderly.”

Brandon O'Brien, assistant editor, PreachingToday.com; source: THE WEEK (11-2-07), p. 4

Paul lived a great example for the folks in Thessalonica.  When he heard that there were some people in the church who were trying to live off of the graciousness of the other people in church he wrote,

(2 Th 3:7-10 NKJV)  For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; {8} nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, {9} not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. {10} For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.

Work is good.

3.    Be a giver

Eph 4:28b … that he may have something to give him who has need.

The whole goal in getting a job and earning a paycheck is so you can be in the position to give rather than take.

This requires a rewiring of your brain.

The world doesn’t owe you.

You need to be a person who is giving to others.


Basil the Great (c.329–379) wrote, “He who labors ought to perform his task not for the purpose of ministering to his own needs but that he may accomplish the Lord’s command, ‘I was hungry and you gave me [something] to eat,’ and so on…Everyone, therefore, in doing his work, should place before himself the aim of service to the needy and not his own satisfaction.”

God is a giver.

(Rom 8:32 NKJV)  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

I believe that if your heart has been touched by the Great Giver, then you will also become a giver.
You see a picture of this in 2Kings 5 – the story of a pagan man named Naaman who has gotten sick with an incurable disease.  He is sent by his boss the king of Syria to see the Israeli prophet Elisha.  Elisha tells Naaman that he needs to dip in the Jordan River to be healed.  At first Naaman thinks this is stupid.  But when he comes around and decides to do it, he is healed.  What’s his first response?  He wants to give Elisha a gift (2Ki. 5:15), which Elisha refuses.  But when Elisha’s sidekick Gehazi finds out that the boss turned down a generous gift, he sneaks off to meet with Naaman and swindles him out of some money and clothing.  When Elisha confronts Gehazi with his thievery, Gehazi ends up getting Naaman’s disease.
Are you Naaman or Gehazi?
One man was touched by God and became a giver.
Another man, touched by greed, was a thief.

The key is whether or not you’ve been touched by God, whether you’ve receive God’s gifts, especially the gift of life in Jesus Christ.