MALACHI -Thirteenth in a series
Malachi 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
Our sins of omission and commission are in plain view to the Lord, yet we often don't know what they are until the Lord sends us a prophet. Today this normally means reading or hearing God's Word.
Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
We understand what a tithe is. As for offerings there were "several classes of dues to God" according to Albert Barnes, a 19th century minister and theologian. He notes five: (ref)
1. The first fruits
Commanded by Moses in Deuteronomy (Deut 26:2-11), the gathering of the first fruits at harvest to set before the altar was in remembrance of the mighty acts of God in 1) choosing Israel from among all the nations, 2) delivering her from slavery, 3) bringing her out of Egypt by miracles, and 4) giving her a land rich with produce.
2. The annual half-shekel
Described in Exodus (Ex 30:13-15), this amount was due from men rich or poor, but not from Levites, women, minors or old men. Its purpose was for atonement for all Israel and its use would be to maintain the temple or the services there. (See Mat 17:24-27)
3. The offerings made for the tabernacle
Freewill offerings were given by the people when items and materials were needed to build or to restore the place of worship (Ex 25:2-3; 35:5 et al; Ezra 8:25 ), as requested by the leaders of those whose hearts were willing.
4. Tithes of their own tithes
The priests would lift or "heave" a tithe of the tithes received from the people, a vertical motion acknowledging that the Lord of heaven had given them their sustenance, and rejoicing in it. This heave offering was not set aside for burning, but was enjoyed as food by the priests and their families. (ref; Num 19:26-32)
5. Of the portions of the sacrifice which accrued to the priests
A heave offering would be for the priest who sprinkled the blood of the sacrifice of the peace offering (Lev 7:14-21)
Very specific instructions were given to the Hebrews for worship practices. The tithes and offerings required study, understanding, actions, devotion, desire, faithfulness and time. These are required of each Christian who worships today as well.
Malachi 3:9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
In Malachi's time, Judah had been back in the land only about a century but the promised curses had been enforced already: …if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day… curses shall come... (Deut 28:15-19)
Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
From this verse, it seems there was not sufficient giving to sustain the priests and Levites, nor were services conducted based upon the full participation of the worshippers. This verse is frequently misapplied by TV evangelists or certain pastors, that their devotees will become rich in proportion to their giving. Properly understood, its application today is that those who wholeheartedly worship the Lord and help to sustain the church that is his Bride, do experience the abundant life in Christ (John 10:10) who also warned that the rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Mat 19:23)
Malachi 3:11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.
Ancient Israel was promised divine protection for obedience to the Law. Many who see the national disasters today in the USA believe that it is God's judgment for national sin, and this would include lack of respect and honor for the church. Yet, believers do find that they are under divine protection as they obey God's Word; if we will consider our blessings, we will find God has been faithful. The Lord is mindful of his own.
Malachi 3:12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the LORD of hosts.
While the Western world upheld biblical truth, great prosperity was enjoyed; yet today we see the governments throwing away the advantages with both hands. In the long run, God blesses the obedient and casts out those who hate his law.