Part 1 – the Challenge
God challenged the Israelites, recently returned from exile, who had taken to building their own wealth rather than rebuilding the Temple:
Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. (Malachi 3:8-10).
He tells them to put Him to the test, but notice the conditional “if” in the text: FIRST, the Israelites were commanded to bring in God’s due; THEN, God promises to open the windows of heaven.
The tithe (10% of their earnings, crops, etc) required of the Law went to Temple upkeep, and the priests who served within it.
The people were also required to offer sacrifices as worship and to atone for their sins. But, even in the Old Testament, God shows that He was looking at the heart’s motives, not the sacrifices:
Behold, you fast only to quarrel and to fight and to hit with a wicked fist. Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high. Is such the fast that I choose, a day for a person to humble himself? Is it to bow down his head like a reed, and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him? Will you call this a fast, and a day acceptable to the LORD?
Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of wickedness, to undo the straps of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:4-7).
Again, God is demanding of the people so you might be asking: “I thought we were looking at the testing of God?”
Read how God continues in Isaiah 58:8:
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
God has given another conditional promise. In both Isaiah 58 and Malachi 3, God requires the people to challenge Him, not by words, but by their deeds – by an act of FAITH.
You may doubt in your heart whether God will follow through with His promises, but don’t be afraid to challenge Him on them. Step out in faith, be obedient, and see if God will not fulfil His promises.
The One who calls us is faithful! Test Him and see . . .