About Jesus     Steve Sweetman

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Part 4

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God Was Robbed - Malachi 3:8


We’ve finally come to Malachi 3:8, the verse where God says He’s being robbed.  It’s the key verse that tithers hang on to in their defense.  There’s no way around it.  No one can talk about tithing without giving an explanation to this verse. 


Those who heard that God was being robbed couldn’t figure out how anyone could possibly rob God?  He’s God.  No one can sneak up on Him and steal something from Him. 


God answered their query by saying, “will a man rob God?  But you ask, ‘how do we rob you’?  In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you -  because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse … test me in this ... to see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room for it ." (Mal. 3:8)


God’s people weren’t giving their tithes and offerings to God as the Law of Moses required.  This was robbery, but it wasn’t the most important thing God was being robbed of. 


Notice that “tithes and offerings” are in the plural form.  I’ve already said there was more than one tithe.  I believe the word “offerings” refer to animal sacrifices made for sin.  Tithers view “offerings” as money given to the church over and above their tithe, but that’s not the case here. 


Who Was Robbing God? 

We need to ask, “who was robbing God, and to whom was God speaking in Malachi concerning this robbery”?     


Mal.1:1 says, “the Word of the Lord to Israel through Malachi”.  There’s no doubt about it.  All that God says in this prophetic book was written to Israel .  They were the culprits.   


Tithers agree that God was talking to Israel but they also say He was talking to us as well.  This is poor Biblical interpretation.  We have to be careful taking what God says to one group of people and applying it to others.  Unless the context says otherwise, what is written to Israel was meant for them and not to us, and there’s no hint that these words should be applied to anyone but Israel .    


Some Christians believe that all Scripture directed towards Israel is also directed towards Christians.  That would mean Mal. 3:8 applies to us.  I won’t explain it now, but I see sufficient New Testament passages that say differently. 


We can certainly learn lots from what God told Israel , but what He told them must be understood in New Testament terms.  Paul says that God’s dealings with Israel were written for our example to learn from. (1 Cor. 10:11)  An example to learn from is not a mandate to obey.  We learn many things about God’s interaction with Israel , but God demands something different from us than He did from them.    


How Was God Being Robbed?  


How could Israel or anyone else rob God?  Heb. 6:6 says that He doesn’t want our offerings and sacrifices anyway.  He’d prefer mercy and acknowledgment of Him instead.  This robbery was more than a robbery of  money or sacrificial lambs. 


In Mal. 1: 2 God says that He loved Israel , but they didn’t love Him back.  In Mal. 1:6 and 7 we see that Israel had “no respect or honor” for God.  They “despised and defiled” Him by offering Him second best sacrifices.  In Mal. 2:1 God told Israel ’s leaders that in their “hearts they failed to honor Him”. So Israel was also robbing God of honour and respect, not just tithes and offerings.    


The crux of this robbery is seen in Mal. 2:10 and following.   Israel had “broken faith” with each other and with God. This means they no longer trusted God. Israel had lost their first love.  This is why God says He “hates divorce” in verse 16.   Marriage divorces were bad enough, but worst of all Israel had divorced God. This is really how Israel robbed God.  Everything else was secondary.  They robbed Him of His prized earthly possession, which was themselves.    


In all the words that God spoke through Malachi I’ve heard countless sermons on only two verses.  They are Mal. 2:16 – God hates divorce, and Mal. 3:8 – you rob God by not giving your tithes and offerings.  These two issues are secondary to Israel divorcing God, and robbing Him of themselves. God was more interested in the people of Israel than in what they could give Him.  He got neither.  This is the real robbery of the book of Malachi.  The lesson we learn here as Christians is that God wants us more than our money.    


Final Thoughts On Malachi 3:8              


In Mal. 2:1 God told Israel that they were cursed because they did not obey the Law of Moses which included tithing.  The Law stipulated that if Israel failed to obey, they’d be under a curse.  God now confirmed this to Israel , but their failure to tithe was not the real reason for this curse. They were cursed because they divorced God.  They failed to trust Him. 


If you’re concerned about being cursed because you fall short in your giving at times, don’t be.  Christians are not and cannot be under any curse associated with the Law of Moses.  “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the Law, being made a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13)   While on the cross Jesus became a curse in our place, taking it away from human history.  The curse aspect to Mal. 2:1 doesn’t apply to us.  Besides, as we will see later, Jesus was the end of the Law, (Rom.10:4) something which Gentiles and Christians were never under in the first place.  I’ll talk about that later.


One last point on Mal. 3:8 and that is the storehouse that Israel didn’t bring their tithes into.  The storehouse  isn’t the church as some tend to think.  The church didn’t  exist back then. 


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