In this next passage, we see the people rebuked for turning for God and His statutes. They are also robbing Him.
Heart issue #5 – the people asked: “How have we robbed you?”
They thought they were being obedient because they took their sacrifices into the Temple, but, at the same time, we’ve seen them practising:
- social injustice (ch3) and
- offering wrong sacrifices (ch1&2) and
- not keeping marriage sacred (ch2).
Their heart attitude towards God was wrong! They did not care enough about Him and His ways.
Have you heard Malachi 3:9-10 before? Have you heard this passage just before the offering plate is passed around the church? I have had this especially where the “prosperity gospel” reigns. Regardless of what you’ve heard, let’s remember to be inductive as we look at this passage!
We see that they were called to bring the tithe into the storehouse. Nehemiah (10&13) also called them back to the giving of the tithe.
Let’s look at some background:
Purpose of the tithe:
Deuteronomy 14:23 . . . that you may learn to fear the LORD your God always.
Procedure of the tithe:
A portion of all produce from the land went to the Lord as tithe; the tithe was separate to their contributions, offerings, and sacrifices. Two out of three years, the people took their tithe to the Temple and shared it with their household and the ministers of the Temple (Levites). Every third year the tithe was collected and distributed amongst the Levite, sojourner, fatherless, and widow (the poor and needy in society who did not have their own means of provision).
Our original readers?
In light of this, we see the original readers of Malachi were being called out for: “not bringing in food to storehouse”. They were complaining that God was not living up to His proclamations of being a God of Justice and yet they were robbing the poor of God’s provision! This was not a metaphor; they were meant bring in food! Does God need food? Does He get hungry? The tithe was a provision for the poor and Levites – they were hungry! The heart of the tithe was provision. They were using tough times as an excuse not to give; they weren’t trusting God to provide for them as they provided for others.
What of the tithe in the New Testament?
Nowhere is it specifically commanded to bring in a tithe. The New Testament focuses on meeting the needs of the poor, but no amount is set – rather: “everyone must give as they have decided in their hearts” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
The tithe was part of the Law, the same Law that was nailed to the cross to usher in the covenant of grace. Paul, a devote Jew, never once mentioned tithing in his letters. The tithe was brought to the Temple and the physical Temple meant nothing to Paul after he gave his life to Christ. He began to see the reason behind the Law; that God’s heart was to provide for the poor. We see in Paul’s life that caring for the poor did matter to him! It was the “very thing he was eager to do” (Galatians 2:10). Paul’s heart for giving was massive and we are called to have this same heart to care for the least.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. (James 1:27).
Healthy Heart Habit #5 = Generosity
We are to follow Christ’s example, who gave His life; we are to give as much as we are called to give. We are called to give to the ministers of the Gospel and to the poor. God’s grace compels us to give without thought of the amount, or the cost to ourselves! We are to give 100% of our lives to God, gladly and in obedience to His call. God demands all we are and all we have.