God’s Word for You
Malachi 3:9-10 Robbing God of Tithes
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Friday, April 30, 2021
9 You are being cursed since all of you, the whole nation, are robbing me.
The curse here is a double curse. Of course it is a curse to damnation for unbelief, since God does not curse his believing church. But it is also a curse in the moment: a curse of poverty and lack of basic human needs. This is clear from God’s offer in the next verse, an offer that involves reversing the curse. Israel knew the potential power and devastation of God’s curse from the history of their exodus from Egypt. God’s plagues struck precisely who, what, where, when, and how much God wanted them to strike. If he wanted to strike the whole land, he did. Moses remembered: “Blood was everywhere in Egypt” (Exodus 7:21). But when God struck the cattle, “not even one of the animals of the Israelites died” (Exodus 9:7). And when he sent a ferocious storm, he let Moses end it in an instant: “He spread out his hands toward the Lord; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land” (Exodus 9:33). So if God chose to curse Israel, that’s exactly what would happen. It was time to repent.
10 Bring the complete tithe to the storehouse so that there may be food in my house. Just test me in this, says the LORD of Armies. See whether I do not open for you the windows of heaven and pour down blessing on you, until there is more than enough. (EHV)
Here is where the robbery God talked about is explained. The Israelites were not bringing in the tithe, the offering to feed and clothe the priests. The root of their stinginess is also exposed. When God says, “Just test me in this,” and “See whether I do not open for you the windows of heaven,” he is condemning their doubt. The sinful heart wants to hoard because it doesn’t trust God to give and give again. But God promises: Do what I have commanded you: Give your tithe, and I will give you even more. I will shower blessings down upon you when you shower my blessings on the world around you.
Today there is no longer any command from God to tithe, which means to give exactly ten percent. Jesus condemned the Scribes and Pharisees when they focused all their attention on how many things they should tithe (even the herbs in their gardens) but were never generous or just. “You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill, and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23).
When God calls us to repentance, he is like a surgeon. He cuts and then he heals. He tears away at our consciences, making us grieve and weep over our sin. But then he heals us, he restores us, and he dries our tears. “Against Satan,” Luther says, “he only wounds and does not heal” (LW 18:414). He shows his grace and compassion to us again and again by constantly holding out the hand of compassion, like Xerxes holding his scepter to Queen Esther to save her life as she approached his throne (Esther 4:11, 5:2, 8:4). The Lord calls us to himself, welcomes us like the loving father that he is (Luke 15:20), and showers us with his forgiveness and blessings of every kind. “Not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed” (Joshua 23:14). “He loves us, and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope” (2 Thessalonians 2:16).
When we think about our own stewardship of God’s gifts, our first thought should not be, “How much do I owe to God?” but “How much has God given to me!” When we remember the grace of God and his goodness, then we will truly be able to give thanks to him, with service to God, service to others, good advice, a willingness to listen, a smiling disposition to every child and stranger, and even the thought that giving a certain percentage of what I have back to God would please the Lord and show my faith at the same time.
Pastor Timothy Smith