About Jesus Steve Sweetman
This Chapter - Chapter 3
God (ch. 3:6 - 18)
through Malachi in verse 6 says, “I the Lord do not change”.
This one very important thing we need to know about God.
This is a fundamental theological truth.
God does not change. Who
He is does not change. What
He does may change from time to time or age to age, but He Himself does
not change. This means that
what He thought back in Malachi’s day He thinks today.
How He felt about certain things back then, He feels the same way
today. This is why I say, if
God felt and thought certain things about
the last half of verse 6 God says, “so you, O descendants of Jacob,
are not destroyed”. Why
did God say this? He said it
because He does not change, as He just said.
Since He does not change, He will fulfill all the promises that
He made to the forefathers of Israel. This is especially
important in prophetic history. Some
people believe that Israel
has no place in prophetic history any more.
They believe Israel
has no significance anymore. The
church has replaced
verse 7 God says that
is interesting to note from a Futurist standpoint of prophecy that
last phrase in verse 7 is
verse 8 God answers by saying, “will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed me.” This
is an interesting response. Israel
asks how they are to return to God and God answers by first asking them
the question “will a man rob God”?
Then He tells Israel
that they have robbed Him. On
the surface, this does not seem to be an appropriate answer to the
asked, but in God’s mind it obviously was.
did not wander away from God
in a geographic sense of the word, so God couldn’t give them
directions to move to a new location.
on in verse 8 Israel
ask how they robbed God. This
is a logical question. How
can a mere human being rob God of anything.
It doesn’t seem to make sense.
last phrase in verse 8 says, “in tithes and offerings”.
This is how
question should be asked here. God mentions both tithes and offerings.
Does the word “offerings” refer to financial contributions or
animal or grain sacrifices. The
answer to this question should affect your view on tithing.
If it refers to animal sacrifices, and you believe in Old
Testament style tithing because of this verse, then you’re obligated
to give animal and grain
sacrifices as well.
need to ask here an important question.
Does the tithes that God is speaking about apply to the church?
I ask this, because for those Christians who believe that tithing
is a New Testament practice, this is the foundational verse.
This is a large subject and I’ve dealt with it elsewhere in
detail, so I won’t get involved in it here.
You can read about this at http://stevesweetman.com/articles/tithing.htm
very first verse of Malachi tells us that these words are written to Israel. From that I take it that
they weren’t written to New Testament Christians.
But if that point is not convincing enough for you, the whole
discussion comes down to an hermeneutical issue of how New Testament
Christians relate to Old Testament passages.
I believe that we can learn a lot from the Old Testament, but
what was written to Israel
was written to them and not directly to us.
Besides, Paul in Romans 10:4 and elsewhere says that Christ is
the end of the Law. The Law
of Moses, along with the tithing rules is no longer in force for anyone
will suggest that tithing can be seen before the Law and therefore
exists after the Law. There’s
no logic in that either, because other practices existed before the Law
as well. Animal sacrifices
is one such example. We
don’t sacrifice animals these days.
you claim that Melchizedek’s receiving of a tithe from Abraham is the
plan to follow, you need to note that Abraham only tithed to Melchizedek
once and the tithe was not from his income, but from the spoils of war.
more can be said about tithing and New Testament Christians, but I will
leave it at that. I believe the New Testament concept of the giving of
money is “to give generously, according to your ability to give”.
Another thought one needs to think of concerns the word "offerings" in verse 8. What is this offering referring to? Most Evangelicals would claim that this is money over and above the tithe. But as stated earlier, this might well have been an animal or grain offering, and it might well have been the "free will offering". These same people gave a free will offering in Ezra 3:6-7. If this is so, Christians who believe in tithing as prescribed in the Old Testament should also believe in giving the free will offerings as prescribed, which means animal sacrifices.
verse 9 God says, “you are under a curse, the whole nation of you,
because you are robbing me”. Note
that God is dealing with
10 gives the roadmap back to the place
continues in verse 10 by telling
is what could happen to
11 tells us how God will bless Israel. He will prevent pests from
destroying their crops and their vines.
The fruit of their labour will bring great success.
12 says that when this happens “all nations will call Israel
blessed, for their nation will be a delight”.
In keeping with the prophetic nature of
this book, that which we’ve spoken of earlier, this has not yet
happened. We have not seen Israel
in this enviable state, but we will after the return of Jesus.
We will see it in the thousand years, and I believe the New
Jerusalem that comes down from Heaven is the ultimate fulfillment of
verse 13 the conversational
prophecy shifts the subject away from tithing.
This is just another example of why God is so upset with Israel. God says that
does not know how they have
been harsh towards God because they ask God how they have been harsh.
Once again, Israel
has strayed so far away from God, even though they are very religious,
that they don’t know their sin.
are these harsh words that God is talking about?
Verse 14 gives us the answer.
has told God that is “futile to serve” Him because they haven’t
gained anything from their service.
They said that they haven’t gained anything by obeying God’s
requirements. This is
clearly a materialistic way of thinking.
They thought that if they obeyed God, they should expect lots in
return. But this is not the
reason why one obeys God. You
obey God for who He is, not for what
you can get from Him. We
have the same mentality in many parts of the church today.
The Prosperity Movement teaches that we can expect prosperity.
Yet men in the New Testament did not think this way.
Their thinking was based on the idea that they were servants of
the Lord and the reason for their existence was to serve Jesus.
They’d inherit treasures in the next life.
This life was a life of hard work in the service of the Lord.
We will have all of eternity to live in prosperity and enjoyment.
verse 15 we see that Israel
got to the place where they actually considered arrogance a state of
blessedness. Arrogance is
that place where man considers himself more highly than he should, and
more highly than he actually is. Arrogance
is not acceptable in the eyes of God.
Humility is the way in which we should live.
Jesus was humble. This
does not mean He was weak, because from His position of humility, he
spoke with great authority, the authority that came from God His Father.
other harsh things that
back then, and many people today think that it’s not worth being
righteous in light of them seeing so many wicked people prosper.
We can turn to the pages of the New Testament and see that the
men of God who gave their lives to preaching Jesus did not prosper.
Obviously they had a different mentality from the Jews of
16 presents us with another shift in the conversational prophecy.
It switches to a time where
verse 16 God notes that “those who feared the Lord” talked with each
other and God listened. To
me this suggests that the Jews came to the place where they got
together, maybe individually and also maybe collectively, and decided to
return to their God. When
this happened, or will happen at some future dates, God will listen.
This is always the case. When
people begin to fear God, God begins to listen to them.
It is thus clear that those people, even Christians today, who
live in arrogance and do not fear God will not be heard by God.
This obviously effects the lives of these people and the churches
they are a part of. No
wonder the supernatural aspect to the
the last half of verse 16 we note that “there is a scroll of
remembrance written in the presence of the Lord”.
The wording seems to suggest that someone other than God is
writing in this scroll. What
is written concerns the Jewish people who begin to fear the Lord.
A number of scrolls can be seen in the book of Revelation.
This is yet another scroll.
17 makes it clear concerning the timing of when this scroll is written.
God says that “in the day he makes up His treasured
possessions” these Jews will be mine.
The scroll is clearly a part of that time in the end when Israel
returns to their God in humility.
don’t believe we can say this scroll concerns New Testament
Christians. We can’t
include them in this particular scroll because we have noted that the
words of this prophecy have been specifically directed towards Israel. If we include Christians
in this scroll, then we need to include Christians in the things God has
said about tithing, about animal offerings, and about everything else
that can be found in the book of Malachi.
This then presents a multitude of problems.
Besides Christians should not worry about not having their place
in this scroll. They will be
found in another scroll, and that is the Lamb’s book of life.
last phrase in verse 17 says that God will spare
verse 18 God says, that at this point, that is, when