Summary: This sermon is about tithing.
Preachers who talk about money are often accused of talking only about money. The fact is that money is mentioned in the Bible, and as a preacher of the Word, we are charged to preach the Word of God. Now, money is not preached on real often, because some preachers have developed sensitivity about it. Prayer is also a topic that it doesn’t seem like is preached on a whole lot. I think that a preacher should preach on subjects in proportion to what they are covered in the Bible. Doesn’t that sound good? So, money and possessions should be preached on in proportion to prayer in the same amount that both are mentioned in the Bible. There are some 500 references to prayer in the Bible, and there are 2,300 references to money and possessions in the Bible. So, for every sermon preached on the subject of prayer, 4.6 sermons would be preached on the subject of money and possessions. For one Sunday sermon on prayer, there would be a month’s worth of sermons on money and possessions.
I happen to think that prayer is a pretty important subject, and not many people would object to a sermon or even a series of sermons on the subject of prayer. With over four times as many references to money and possessions in the scripture, I think that is a subject that merits our consideration, perhaps even more than actually do. Why are we so afraid to talk about money? Perhaps it’s because there are some TV preachers who have tainted our thinking about money. They beg and plead with people to send in their money, and people who can’t afford it do it. Perhaps it’s because the world sees the church as greedy. They see some churches building huge cathedral type buildings while people live in poverty down the block.
The truth is, however, that what the Bible says about money and possessions is related to who is number one in our life. Is God number one, or is the self number one? Consider that question as we look at our scripture passage today. Turn with me to Malachi chapter 3. Malachi is the last book of the Old Testament.
Read Malachi 3:6-10.
Do words ever jump out at you when you read something? You can be sitting there reading along, and all of a sudden, this word just kind of jumps right off the page and smacks you. Well, the word that jumps out at me here is the word “rob.” Four times in verses 8 and 9, the word “rob” appears, or some variation of the word. Robbery is a pretty serious charge. Only murder and rape would be considered worse crimes in our culture. It’s one of the Ten Commandments. There are several types of robbery. There is forceful robbery where someone uses a weapon and threatens the victim. There are also more passive methods. Embezzlement is robbery. Over the last few years the crime of identity theft has cropped up. Robbery can also come in the form of cheating. Robbery is a very serious charge.
Robbery also affects many people as well. As we examine this passage today, let’s consider three entities that are affected by the type of robbery that the prophet Malachi talks about. The first is…
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.