“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings” (Malachi 3:8).
The children of Israel had returned from captivity about a century earlier. Many things had been accomplished. The temple had been rebuilt, about 80 years earlier. The walls and gates of Jerusalem had been restored a decade earlier.
However, spiritual complacency and lethargy had developed in them, as time passed. They were giving God their “leftovers” and unwanted things. They offered in sacrifice to God blind, lame, and sick animals (Malachi 1:6-8; 1:11-14). The law required that only the best was to be offered in sacrifice to God (e.g. Leviticus 22:17-24, esp. v. 22; Deuteronomy 15:21; 17:1. Note: The words “without blemish” and “without spot” occur 37 times in the Pentateuch). Furthermore, they were not tithing and giving as they should (Malachi 3:8-10). “Will a man rob God?” Who would be so bold as to do this? Yet, this they did by not giving their full tithes.
There were consequences. First, their worship was vain (Malachi 1:10). Homer Hailey comments, “It is better to lock up and stay at home than to be guilty of their practices. No worship at all is better than one that rejects the divine honor and insults God with contempt.” (Hailey, A Commentary on The Minor Prophets, p. 409). Second, they had profaned the name of the LORD, instead of honoring and magnifying Him (Malachi 1:11-14). Homer Hailey comments, “The Jews, the people of God in the midst of heathen nations, who should have been a living example of faith in Jehovah and of devotion to Him in worship, were actually making a mockery and scandal of their exalted responsibility. This was their reaction to Jehovah’s love; they held both the altar and the offering in contempt” (Hailey, p. 410). Third, they were cursed (Malachi 3:8-9 cf. 2:1-2; Haggai 1:6, 9-11).
Change was needed. God wanted to physically bless them. He challenged them to try to out give Him. He instructed them, “ ‘Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that they 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 blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, so that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,’ Says the LORD of hosts; ‘And all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,’ says the LORD of hosts” (Malachi 3:10-12).
Will a man rob God today? Many, I am afraid, still do. This hinders the work of the church. Wayne Jackson asks, “A sober question that all of us must consider is this: Is it possible that some Christians rob God today by not giving generously into the treasury of the local church upon the first day of each week (1 Corinthians 16:2)? And if 10% was the minimum under the law of Moses, what should be the response of those who live under the better new covenant (cf. Hebrews 7:22)… Failure to support God’s work is robbery” (Jackson, Notes From The Margin of My Bible, Vol. 1, p. 181).
Questions to ponder: (1) The Jews were required to give a minimum of 10% of their increase. Am I giving at least this much? Is there Biblical evidence that God will accept less? (2) If every member gave the same percentage of their income as I do (note: I am talking percentage, not dollar amount) how would the local church be doing? Would it be better off or worse off? (3) When I miss a Sunday morning due to illness, travel, or some other reason, do I make up my contribution? Whether one is present or not the work continues.
Money is not the only way that one can rob God. Roy Deaver suggested, “Men rob God: (1) by failing to use their time properly and wisely, to the glory of God (cf. Ephesians 5:15); (2) by failing to present their members as instruments of righteousness unto God (Romans 6:13); (3) by failing to present their very bodies as living sacrifices unto God (Roman 12:1-2); (4) by failing to bring up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4); (5) by failing to give as they ought to give, keeping for themselves that which actually ought to be ‘given’ to the Lord’s work; (6) by failing to labor constantly in the Lord’s work (cf. Mark 13:34)” (Editors Thomas B. Warren and Garland Elkins, The Minor Prophets, Power Lectureship, p. 326).
May we not be guilty of robbing God. Let us strive to give God our best.