Welcome to part two on our series “Road Map,” looking at scriptures that affirm the efficacy of God’s word and the importance of living by faith. (You can check out part one here.) In God’s economy, He blesses you so that you will be a blessing, 2 Corinthians 9:11.
Jesus talked a lot about money, possessions, and wealth because we talk and think about money a lot.
- We worry if we will have enough.
- We think about how to get more.
- We dream of winning the lottery or publishers’ clearinghouses and retiring.
In Malachi 3, the people have returned from exile in Babylon, and those who settled in Jerusalem were motivated to restore the temple, the walls, and their lives. This book contains a series of compassionate corrections God issues to those living in Jerusalem. Over time they have become complacent in their obedience to God, as life begins to deteriorate.
Obedience isn’t God’s method of controlling us but blessing us. This fundamental truth needs to adjust our thinking when it comes to living by faith.
What is most devastating about their disobedience is that they no longer recognize it. Conviction is a good thing; it means you haven’t gone so far that wrong feels right.
Throughout the book of Malachi, God makes a statement pointing out the error of their ways, and the people raise a question to challenge Him.
- God says: “I have loved you.”
- The people respond, “How have you loved us?”
- God says, “o priest, who have despised my name,”
- The priest responds, “How have we despised your name?”
- God says, “You are robbing me,”
- The people respond, “How are we robbing you.”
- God says, “Your words have been against me,”
- Again the people respond, “How have we spoken against you?”
God’s message to Israel in Malachi 3 begins by reminding them that “I the LORD do not change.” How reassuring to know that even when we rebel against God, our actions do not change Him or His responses.
There’s nothing you can do that would cause God to revoke His commitment to you. God always sees us through His grace and mercy, not our failures and is your greatest supporter, relentlessly cheering you on.
With this in mind, why would the people choose to break from obedience to God?
At the end of Malachi 2, we learn that the people suggest God is prospering those who do wrong, while those who do right go unnoticed by God?
Have you felt this way? Have the actions of others ever led you to question the fairness of God? This is the reason why the people have abandoned their obedience to God.
On of the areas of disobedience that is addressed is the giving of tithes and offerings. One area of disobedience will always lead to another area of disobedience.
God instructs the people to “Bring the FULL tithe into the storehouse.”
Tithing is a spiritual discipline with a practical application as it provided for the Priests and temple workers. Upon entering the promised land, when God divided the land among the 12 tribes of Israel, the Levites received none because they were to be dedicated to the temple work, not distracted with working the land.
Giving tithes and offerings became law, but it pre-dates the law, Genesis 14. There is nothing to indicate that tithing ended at the establishment of the New Testament. Most of God’s commands did not end with the New Testament covenant.
For example, do not murder, do not covet, and have no other gods before me were also established in the Old Testament and continue today. Furthermore, Jesus affirmed tithing in the New Testament.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.” Matthew 23:23
We give tithes and offerings in response to the goodness of God! It is a symbol of righteous living. Malachi relays three blessings that belong to those who give a “full tithe.”
#1 I will open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
The phrase “pour down” means to empty out. Paired with this is the phrase “no more need,” which means abundance, more than enough, and explains how God will not hold back His faithfulness to us.
#2 I will rebuke the devourer.
The fruit of the vine and the seed of the land were currency, but it was also life-giving sustenance. A poor harvest could have a life-or-death implication.
There were a variety of devourers that could damage a harvest, but God said He would rebuke them all.
#3 The nations will call you blessed.
Others will see the benefits of living obediently. This requires us to take our focus off of others and to put our energy into obedience.
God does not change. He is prepared to honor His promises as we keep His Word! He wants you to test Him and to see that He will do what He promises.