The Coming Messenger…
The first part of Malachi (chpts 1-3:15) covers the Lord’s charges against Israel, their replies, and His threatened judgments
Israel had a history of waywardness—turning from God’s decrees (the law), but the LORD Almighty still loved His people and entreated them “to return to Me, and I will return to you” (Zech 1:3).
If they would repent of their sins, God’s special presence and blessing would come to rest on the nation as it had in times past.
Perhaps the people’s question, How are we to return? was sincere; but in light of the attitude expressed throughout the book, it was likely a cynical response.
Contrary to his usual pattern, Malachi did not follow the question with a specific explanation because in reality the whole book points the way for the people to get right with God.
Starting in Chapter 2:17–3:6, we read that the people argued that God had neglected them.
In fact, it was the other way around. The people were neglecting God and then had the audacity to say that He was approving of their sinful lifestyles, or at the least excusing them.
God was making it clear that He was tired of the way the people had cynically twisted His truths, and He would send His messenger to set things right.
God would also punish those who professed a counterfeit faith while acting sinfully.
“Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances And have not kept them.
‘Return to Me, and I will return to you, Says the LORD of hosts. But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’ ”
Verse 7 could stand alone, but most commentators connect it with verses 8-12, a transition from the general charge of disobedience to the specific charge of robbing God.
In verses 8-12 we have Malachi’s treatise on tithing, probably the most familiar passage in the book.
Malachi’s opening question is shocking—Will a man rob God?
Even most unbelievers would be too frightened (if merely out of superstition) to steal from God.
Yet, in addition to all their other offenses, the people were now charged with this heinous crime.
Understandably, they wanted God to explain, How do we rob you?
God replied, In tithes and offerings.
The word tithe (also v. 10) is a translation of the Hebrew word maʿaser, which literally means “tenth part,” defining the tithe as 10 percent of one’s material increase.
Offering is a more general term, specifying contributions for a sacred purpose.
Verse 3:10 says, “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house, and try Me now in this,
says the LORD of hosts, ‘If I will not open for you the windows of Heaven and pour out for you such a blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.’ “
Notice that He said to bring ALL the tithes into the STOREHOUSE.
The Old Testament tithing system required that there were a total of three tithes that were to be paid, in addition to offerings.
In Old Testament times there were actually three different kinds of tithes, each one with a definite purpose.
The three different types are as follows:
1. The Levitical, or sacred tithe (Num. 18: 21, 24).
Numbers 18:21, 24
New King James Version
Tithes for Support of the Levites
21 “Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting.
24 For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’
The first tithe, the one we trace back to Abraham (Gen. 14:18-20), is the sacred tithe on the first part of all their increase (on the gross), given to the Levites and priests for their service to the temple and the congregation in the Old Testament.
2. The tithe of the feasts (Deut. 14:22-27).
New King James Version
22 “You shall truly tithe all the increase of your grain that the field produces year by year.
23 And you shall eat before the Lord your God, in the place where He chooses to make His name abide, the tithe of your grain and your new wine and your oil, of the firstborn of your herds and your flocks, that you may learn to fear the Lord your God always.
24 But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the Lord your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the Lord your God has blessed you,
25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses.
26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household.
27 You shall not forsake the Levite who is within your gates, for he has no part nor inheritance with you.
The second tithe had an entirely different aspect, and we would do well to contemplate its meaning and purposes, and it was given on the net.
The Levitical law required that a Jew had to go up to Jerusalem three times a year:
1. Pesach (Passover),
2. Shavuot (Weeks or Pentecost), and
3. Sukkot (Tabernacles, Tents or Booths)
In reality this religious ordinance included a definite social provision—periods of vacation for the family.
And how should the head of the household provide for the vacation expense?
By setting aside a second tithe, the one described in Deuteronomy 14:22-27, the tithe for the feasts.
Thus the second tithe was dedicated to the good of man himself, for a vacation and specifically, a vacation with a religious purpose, such as going to camp meeting.
3. The tithe for the poor (Deut. 14:28, 29).
New King James Version
28 “At the end of every third year you shall bring out the tithe of your produce of that year and store it up within your gates.
29 And the Levite, because he has no portion nor inheritance with you, and the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hand which you do.
The third tithe was the tithe for the poor, and it was also given on the net.
According to our text in Deuteronomy 14:28, 29, this tithe was given only every third year.
As the text states, the produce had to be laid up in “your towns” for the Levite, sojourner, fatherless, and the widow.
It suggests that the distribution was not left to the individual but was a community project to which everybody had to contribute.
This tithe, therefore, was for the neighbor.
Summarizing the three types of tithe in the Old Testament period, we find a much broader concept of giving than we generally assume.
In their giving, God was first; the second tithe was for man’s own physical and spiritual welfare; and third tithe was for the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.
In other words, it was a community chest for the poor.
God, you, and your neighbor is a good trinity in planning one’s giving.
Tithing can be a frightening commitment for all of us, but in the New Testament God owns it ALL, including our very lives.
We may think,
“How will we ever survive financially if we give so much to God?
Our children will starve!”
To allay such fears, God challenged Judah (and us) to test Him in this matter.
In other words, God says,
“Give tithing a try and see what happens.”
If the people would trust Him in the matter of tithing, God promised to lift the curse and send so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.
Rain would fall (heaven’s floodgates opened), and they would have bountiful crops (not room enough to store it all).
God would prevent pests (literally, “will rebuke the devourer”; probably locusts, Deut. 28:38) from destroying the grain, and the vines would produce abundantly.
Even pagan nations would observe God’s blessing on Judah and label it a delightful land (cp. Isa. 62:4).
No doubt God blesses people spiritually when they obey him, but here we see that God often blesses us economically as well.
So how do we look at all this from the New Testament perspective?
God tells us in the Psalms,
“The earth is the LORD’S, and all it contains,
The world, and those who dwell in it”
So obviously in this verse God is saying that He owns it all, including our lives.
I have no need of a bull from your stall
or of goats from your pens,
for every animal of the forest is mine,
and the cattle on a thousand hills (see Psalm 50: 9-10).
The simple truth seems to say that it ALL belongs to God — and that He owns everything!
Designating a tenth of one’s harvest for the Lord was a reminder that, in fact, everything ultimately belongs to Him; and this remains true for those of us who aren’t farmers.
The produce of our lives—our income, our accomplishments, our artistic creations, our relationships, our children—ALL belong to God, even as WE ourselves belong completely to Him (see 1 Cor. 6:19-20).
We think differently about giving when we embrace this truth that God’s resources are in our care, and as such, we are to be stewards of His resources in the Earth.
We are stewards of all we have, and when the True Owner needs to use what has been put in our care, we must generously release it.
In Matthew 6:21 Jesus says,
“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Giving ten percent or more instead of keeping it all shows that our heart isn’t tied to our money and that we love God more than our money.
The Bible says that God loves a cheerful giver (1 Cor 9:7).
The Bible also says David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22).
So let’s take a look at David’s giving:
By the end of his life, King David had wealth beyond measure. He had brought unity to Jerusalem and established it as the mightiest city in the ancient world.
Through conquest, he had amassed great national treasure, and his dying wish was to use some of that wealth to build a house for God.
Though he would not be the one to build it (his son, Solomon, would), David modeled generosity for the nation by giving enormous gifts to the construction of God’s house.
But then David went beyond those national reserves and gave from his own stores of silver and gold, apparently just for the joy of giving it.
His example was so great that the leaders of Israel were all compelled to give, not only their possessions, but even their lives, to God’s holy purposes.
The Hebrew text from 1 Chronicles 29 says they gave willingly, “with perfect heart.”
This public outpouring of generosity set off a sort of chain-reaction effect, and when the people of Israel saw it, they broke out in spontaneous and worshipful celebration.
When we stop and consider what all God has given for us, what should be our response?
Even though salvation comes to us free of charge, by grace through faith, it most certainly did not come cheap.
It cost God the Father everything, even the life of His only begotten Son Jesus!
God is the Founder and Creator of the heavens and the earth and all that is in them, and so God holds the rights to all of it.
That includes even us – our bodies, our minds, and our lives.
Even when we had become slaves to sin, He redeemed us, paying with his Son’s life — and so we are doubly owned.
When you consider all that God has done for us, it is our absolute privilege to be able to give tithes and offerings unto the Lord.
1 Chronicles 29:14
14 But who am I and who are my people
that we can offer up anything to You so willingly?
All our offerings come from You,
so we can give You nothing that isn’t already Yours.
Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
Sunday, June 05
The Spirit Filled Believer
Written by Dick Mills
Windows of Heaven
“I will open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it”
— Malachi 3:10
Windows of heaven! What a beautiful, illustrious, picturesque word!
Other translators use the words, “sluices,” “floodgates,” or “apertures.”
In any case, this is a promise of a deluge of blessings coming upon those who lead lives marked by generosity.
The windows of heaven are mentioned in two other places in the Bible:
One is negative and the other positive.
In 2 Kings 7:2 and 7:19, Elisha predicts that the famine is over and that the price of food will soon be incredibly reduced.
The king’s squire responds in disbelief
“If the Lord opened windows in heaven, this thing might be.”
Elisha’s reply is:
“You will see it, but never partake of it.”
When the news of the miraculous turn-around hits the streets, the famished people rush out of the city to gather up the much-needed supplies.
In their haste, they run over and accidentally trample to death the skeptical squire – just as the prophet had foretold.
The windows of heaven are also mentioned in Noah’s day when the Lord opened the skies and deluged the earth with rain for forty days (Gen. 7:11, 8:2).
Thus the windows of heaven are mentioned three times in Scripture with three different applications:
1) A deluge of rain (we can compare this to revival or spiritual renewal);
2) A miraculous supply following a great famine, and;
3) An overflowing provision of blessings in the lives of believers. What a promise!
Source: The Spirit-Filled Believer’s Daily Devotional by Dick Mills
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