Summary: Study of giving from the series on the book of Malachi
A man died and went to heaven. He was met at the Pearly Gates by St. Peter who led him down the golden streets. They passed mansion after beautiful mansion until they came to the end of the street where they stopped in front of a shack. The man asked St. Peter why he got a shack when there were so many mansions he could live in. St. Peter replied, "I did the best with the money you sent us."...Today we come to one of those subjects that have the tendency to make us squirm. We never like to talk about it because we are afraid to upset people. However, this was a subject Jesus did not avoid in fact He dealt with it more than any other subject. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables are concerned with how to handle money or possessions. One out of ten verses in the Gospels (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. I ran across this story that reveals the prevailing attitude in regard to giving in our churches today. A mother wanted to teach her daughter a moral lesson. She gave the little girl a quarter and a dollar for church, “Put whichever one you want in the collection plate and keep the other for yourself,” she told the girl. When they were coming out of church, the mother asked her daughter which amount she had given. “Well,” said the little girl, “I was going to give the dollar, but just before the collection the man in the pulpit said that we should all be cheerful givers. I knew I’d be a lot more cheerful if I gave the quarter, so I did.” As we have seen so far in our study of the book of Malachi the people are living with the consequences of turning their back on God. As we examine our text today we see another proof of their blatant disregard for God. Malachi states that the people are robbing God by showing no fiscal responsibility toward Him. The bottom line is that God is not hearing their prayers or blessing them because they have turned their hearts away from Him. Once again Malachi calls for the people to repent and turn back to God. As we examine our text it is my hope that we discover how to give to truly please God and the subsequent blessings that will follow.
I. Dishonesty: more evidence testifying to Israel’s continued disobedience.
A. Divine blessing under the Old Covenant economy was dependent upon the people’s obedience to God’s law.
1. To turn aside from God’s statutes in attitude leads to a disregard of the law in practice.
2. Malachi charges the people with turning their backs on God’s statutes.
3. In spite of the fact that they deserved to be rejected as covenant breakers, God graciously pleads with His people to return to Him.
4. The Jewish people at this point have become so depraved and so self-righteous that they are totally blind to their need to repent.
B. Malachi presents the people with the evidence of their dishonesty.
1. Malachi charges the people with robbing God, and they demand proof to back up this charge.
2. Stealing means not only taking what is not yours but keeping back for yourself what belongs to someone else.
3. In this case one-tenth of a man’s income was due God; failure to pay that debt amounted to robbery.
4. The offering (terumah) may be offerings in general or the heave offering which was given to the priests.
5. They had robbed God by withholding from his ministers those gifts which were rightfully theirs.
6. The unfaithfulness of the priestly family was no excuse for failing to comply with the law of tithing.
C. The result of the people’s continued disobedience and the priest’s unfaithfulness have put the nation in a unique situation.
1. The disobedience of the people in respect to their tithes and offerings had brought a curse upon their land just as the unfaithfulness of the priests had brought a curse upon their ministry.
2. The curse probably took the form of drought, poor crops and economic depression.
3. Even while the curse was in progress and in evidence the people were continuing to rob God.
4. The Hebrew word order here stresses two things.
a. The audacity of this theft: “and me you are robbing.”
b. The universality of this despicable sin: “this whole nation.”
II. Understanding the requirements of stewardship God has set down for His people.
A. God originally set up His standard of giving for His people under the Old Covenant.
1. Under the Mosaic Law, the Israelites were required to give a tenth of all produce and livestock to the Lord (or they could redeem it with money and add a fifth part).