I. Robbing GOD.
The first thing that Malachi tackles is the robbing of God. Robbing God is not something to be taken lightly. We rob God, when we deny him what is rightfully his. We deny him what is rightfully his when we withhold our tithe from him. The tithe is defined as 1/10, or 10%, of our income.
We say, “Hey, I worked hard for that money. I have bills to pay.” The truth is that all of it is God’s to begin with. He allows us to have the income, and it is our act of thankfulness that we give back to him a mere 10% of what he gave us.
Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.” God owns the entire world to begin with. We are merely tenants on his land. The very least we can do is offer a part of what we gain to God, since he gave it to us to begin with. In verse 8, we find…
A. The CLAIM of God.
God levels a very serious charge in verse 8. He asserts that the Israelites were robbing him by the withholding of tithes and offerings.
Now, to set the stage a little here, let’s get some background information about the times in which Malachi lived. The Jewish people had just returned from captivity in Babylon, which is modern day Iraq. They had been gone for 70 years. The land was in ruins. The Temple was destroyed. The city of Jerusalem lay in ruins. It was a desolate land. Work was scarce. Money was in short supply. Poverty ruled the day. Here was a group of destitute people, who were struggling to provide food, shelter and clothing for their families. They had almost nothing. To top it all off, there was drought in the land, so the crops weren’t growing. It was awful.
Into this type of problems God says, “You are robbing me.” Can’t God see that these people have nothing? They are scrounging for food wherever they can find it. They can’t pay the rent. They can’t buy new sandals for the kids. They can’t buy enough grain to make a decent loaf of bread. God says, “You are robbing me.” The argument comes back, “I can’t afford to give anything.” Have you ever heard that claim? Have you ever made that claim? The truth is that no matter what our level of income or wealth, God expects us to give back to him a portion of what he has given us. They didn’t have much, but they had something. Last week, we look at the account of the poor widow’s offering of two little copper coins. Jesus said that she gave more than the wealthy that piled in money. It’s not the amount of the gift, but it is the motive and sacrifice behind the gift.
In verse 9, we find…
B. The CRITICISM of God.
Verse 9 is an interesting verse. It says, “You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.”
Sometimes that word “curse” troubles us. We associate curses with witches and the like. We think of wizards and magic potion when we think of curses. There is a difference here. Those curses are intended to be harmful. They are malicious in nature.
What we have here is not God saying, “I don’t like those people over there, so I am going put a curse on them.” This is a matter of consequences. The consequence of their actions is what this is talking about. There are consequences when we do things. If I beat my head against the wall, the consequence will be a headache or a concussion. The consequence of their actions, or inaction, was that they received less and less.