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Bring the Whole Tithe

  • by LA UBF
  • Nov 18, 2012
  • 1221 reads

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Malachi 3:6-18 Question.docx���

BRING THE WHOLE TITHE


Malachi 3:6-18

Key verse: 10


“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” 




Read verses 6 - 9.  Why are the descendants of Jacob not destroyed? (1:2, 6) What did the Lord tell them to do? (7a)  What would happen if they listen to God? (7a) What did they ask the Lord, and what was the Lord’s answer? (7b-8) What happens to those who steal from God? (9) 





Read verse 10 - 12.  What does God tell the Israelites to do? (10a) What does God tell us to test Him in? (10b) How much does God promise to bless the Israelites if they obey (10c-12)





Read verses 13 - 15. What did  the people say against God? (13) What did they say about serving God? (14)  What did they observe occurring in the world? (15)





Read verses 16 - 18. Who does God listen to and hear? (16a) Who is written a scroll of remembrance? (16b) Whose will they be? (17a) What else will God do to those who fear Him? (17b, Ex 19:5-6) What are the two groups and what will we see? (18)


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Message

Bring the whole tithe

Bring the whole tithe

Malachi 3:6-18

Key Verse 3:10

    “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” 


Happy thanksgiving! Today’s passage is thanksgiving day message. Whenever thanksgiving comes we think about God’s blessing for us and we are so thankful to the Lord. At least on the thanksgiving day we feel like we want to bring the best thanksgiving offering to the Lord. Now what can be the best thanksgiving offering to the Lord? It is for us to return to the Lord. Our returning to the Lord is so precious to the Lord, and it is the best thanks offering to the Lord.


There was one person I know. He went astray from the Lord by committing all kinds of sins. He went far away from the Lord so much that he did not know how he could return to the Lord. Most of all he felt that he was not worthy to return to the Lord. He was not sure whether the Lord would accept him or not. Then the Lord spoke to him, saying ‘Return to me, and I will return to you.” The promise of the Lord was like streams of living water in the hot desert. Suddenly he felt that his soul is refreshed and his heart was filled with hope. It was because the Lord would not care about how much he sinned in the past but would forgive all of his sins. It was because the Lord would be interested in giving him a completely new start, saying “I will return to you.” Then the man realized that the Lord’s invitation and promise came from his great mercy for him. The invitation which says, “Return to me” and the Lord’s promise “and I will return to you” was the voice of the merciful God for him because he could have completely new start with the Lord. 


So today we want to learn how we can return to the Lord because it is the best thanksgiving offering. How can we return to the Lord? This the question we want to think about it through today’s passage. There are two ways to return to the Lord in today’s passage. 1) by bringing the whole tithe. 2) by believing the Lord’s justice. 


Part I. Bring the whole tithe (v.6-12) 


Now let us see verse 6-7a. “6 "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 7 Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you," says the LORD Almighty.”


The Lord established the covenant with descendants of Jacob, the Israelites. The Lord does not change. He will not remove the covenant with them or break it. The covenant was ‘He will be their God and dwell among them if they keep all his decrees and laws’. But what the Israelites did was ‘ever since the time of their forefathers they have turned away from the Lord’s decrees and have not kept them.’ Despite their unfaithfulness the Lord appealed to them again, saying “Return to me, and I will return to you.” When we think about the Lord’s invitation and promise we can see it is the expression of the Lord’s ultimate mercy for his people.


Now when the Lord said, “Return to me and I will return to you” the Israelites responded, saying “What are we to return?” If the Lord comes to us today and says to us, “Return to me and I will return to you” we would probably say, “Lord, you are right. I know in what ways I have gone astray. I will repent and return to you.” But the Israelites said, “How are we to return?” Basically they said, “We don’t know our problem.” So the Lord had to point out their problem. 


Malachi 3:7b-10 

“How are we to return? [8] "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. [9] You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me. [10] Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” 

So the Lord asked them a general question first, “Will a man rob God?” This is a very interesting question. The definition of ‘rob’ is ‘to take something by force.’ Now think about it. God is almighty. Man is so weak compared to God. How can a man take something from God by force? Simply it is impossible. But why did the Lord Almighty ask “Will a man rob God”? He did it to show them that they were doing very strange thing. Then he said, “Yet, you rob me.” What a shocking word it must have been to them! They must have thought “We rob you?” So their immediate response was, “How do we rob you?” They never thought that they were taking something from the Lord by force. The Lord clearly said they were robbing him in tithes and offerings. And they were under a curse, not only they but the whole nation of them were under a curse because they were robbing God. 


What is ‘tithe’ and what is offering? First, tithe.

Leviticus 27:30  reads " 'A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” 

Leviticus 27:32 reads, “The entire tithe of the herd and flock--every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd's rod--will be holy to the Lord.”

Numbers 18:21 reads, "I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in return for the work they do while serving at the Tent of Meeting.”

The word ‘tithe’ means ten percent. The first tithe was practiced at the time of Abraham who gave one tenth to Melchizedek who was priest of the Lord. Jacob in Genesis promised to give one tenth to God when he made a vow. Later God made it law to the Israelites that everyone should bring their one tenth to the Lord.


The Lord used one tenth to support Levites who worked on the temple of the Lord on a full time basis. Tithe was also used as the expense of celebrating feasts. It was used to eat together with their family members and Levites at the time of annual feasts. The Jews were supposed to attend 3 times a year to attend annual feasts. Then the tithe was also used to help the poor, widows, orphans, and aliens. 

Second, offering. What is offering? Offering is to bring something for the Lord. It is a way to approach God. The first offering in the Bible was given by Abel and Cain. The bible says there are five offerings; burnt offering, sin offering, fellowship offering, grain offering, and trespass offering. These offerings are for special occasions whereas tithe, one tenth, is regular offerings. 

Here the Lord clearly said that the way to return to the Lord is to bring the whole tithe. Why is this so?


Firstly, to bring the whole tithe is the way to return to God because it stops robbing God. 


The word ‘rob’ reveals that the tithe belongs to the Lord even though it is under their  possession. The Lord gave his decree about tithing in the old testament. All of these verses clearly reveal that the tithe is holy. The word ‘holy’ means ‘to set apart exclusively for the Lord’s purpose’. So the tithe is the Lord’s portion even before it was given to the Lord.


Suppose there is a man who keeps robbing your money. When the man wants to restore his relationship with you and even want to receive your blessings what would you say? Probably you would say, “well, first of all, you should stop robbing me. Then we can talk about something else.” It is the same with the Lord. When we want to return to the Lord and even want to receive his blessings, first of all, we should stop robbing God. Indeed “To bring the whole tithe to the Lord” is the way to return to the Lord because it stops robbing God. 


Secondly, to bring the whole tithe is the way to return to God because it acknowledges that God is our life security. To bring the whole tithe is to acknowledge that God is one’s security rather than money. Why do people rob from others? What do they rob? They rob money. Why did the Israelites even rob money from the Lord? It is because money is so valuable. Why is money so valuable? It is because money represents security. “Security” means “the matter of life and death”. One mother seriously taught his son when he grew up about the money. She repeatedly told him, ‘Without money you die’. The son believed that money determines his life and death. Most people think this way. Since money is security for their life and death people make their best effort to make money. Some people even want to make money by robbing others or even by killing others. 


So when we bring the whole tithe to the Lord it is like our demonstration to say that “God is my security instead of money.” What does it mean that God is my security rather than money? It means God rather than money provides me. This demonstration pleases the Lord because money is visible and the Lord is not invisible. The provision of money is visible but the Lord’s provision is in his promise. So when we trust God and believe him as our security it pleases the Lord and our relationship with him is restored. Indeed to bring the whole tithe is like public proclamation that God is our security.


Jesus says the same truth in Matthew 6:24. Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” 


Jesus used the word ‘serve’ and capital letter “M” in ‘money’. Here Money appears as a person, master who competes with God. We think we use the money. But we do not use money but we serve the money if we do not serve God. If we do not serve God money becomes our master and we will end up serving the money. Money is the greatest idol for us. If you read the old testament all the repeated sin problem of the Israelites is idol worship. They worshiped sun, moon, stars, Baal, Asherah and etc. But in our days all the idols boils down to money. Again when we bring the whole tithe to the Lord it is the demonstration that God is our life security rather than money. 


The book of Malachi was written for the Israelites who returned from 70 years of Babylon captivity. When they returned their temple was gone and wall of Jerusalem was gone. They did not have houses. They did not have anything. They were poor and their economy was in depression. Yet, the Lord delivered his message through prophet Malachi and his message in today’s passage is to bring the whole tithe. Why did he ask his people to bring the whole tithe? Was it because he was hungry or poor like men that he needs to eat and drink? No, God does not need food and drink. He is the living Spirit. Why then does he emphasize so much about bringing the whole tithe even to the point of challenging his people to test him? 


It is because the Lord wants them to take him as their security. Indeed when we are poor and when our economy is down it is the best time for us to proclaim that the Lord is our security rather than money. We can do it by bringing the whole tithe. Surely to bring the whole tithe is the way to return to God because it says God is our life security. 


Jesus shared one story where a poor widow demonstrated that the Lord is her security.

Luke 21:1-4 

    “As he looked up, Jesus saw the rich putting their gifts into the temple treasury. [2] He also saw a poor widow put in two very small copper coins. [3] "I tell you the truth," he said, "this poor widow has put in more than all the others. [4] All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on." How could the poor widow put all she had to live on? It is none other than her faith. She demonstrated that God is her security. She believed that her life and death is in the hands of God rather than money. Jesus was so moved by her faith and trust in the Lord. Jesus praised her because she demonstrated that the Lord is her life security. 


Thirdly, to bring the whole tithe is the way to return to God because it acknowledges that everything comes from the Lord. We think we earn money. But when we think about it honestly we know we make money because we have life, health, job, proper knowledge, skill, ability, security, and all kinds of environment in this country. Many things are under our control and we use them. Does that mean that they are ours? Not necessarily. When we honestly think about all we have we know that nothing is ours. Everything comes from God. To bring the whole tithe is the expression of our acknowledgement that everything comes from God and to bring the whole tithe is the token expression of our thanks.


King David said in 1 Chronicles 29:14 when he and his people offered a great amount of sacrifice to the Lord, "But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”King David knew that everything came from the Lord and all of his offerings were nothing but returning a small portion of what the Lord gave him. That was why he could bring so much offerings to the Lord without any sense of loss.


One man I know promised to God that he would give a certain amount of money before he had a job interview if the Lord gave him the job. He did it before he opened the company’s door. The Lord gave him the job and the man kept his promise. Many years later he calculated and it turned out that the tithe he was offering was 38% of his gross income which is the amount before taxes. But he did not feel any sense of loss because he knew that his whole salary came from the Lord. He was rather thankful because the Lord gave him the job. Humanly speaking it was impossible for him to get that job. He kept his promise to the Lord as long as he was in the job, and the Lord blessed him. He was promoted twice in his wage within a year which is very rare. He had special favor from people in his office. Everybody liked his work so much. His work was honored by others as the best work even though he worked in the slowest way. Indeed it is a sweet memory of him about the Lord. Indeed he never felt any sense of loss but joy and thanks when he brought 38% of tithe from his gross income. It is because he knew his total salary comes from the Lord. Indeed to bring the whole tithe is the way to return to the Lord because it acknowledges that everything comes from the Lord.


Fourthly, to bring the whole tithe is the way to return to the Lord because it guarantees the Lord’s blessing. Now look at verse 10 again. “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” 


Now here the Lord asked his people even to test him about his promise of blessing. Why did he so? It is to convince his people about his blessing. He knew that it was not easy for them to bring the whole tithe when they were poor and their economy was down. But to bring the whole tithe was a must for them to return to the Lord. So he had to ask them to bring. But he also guarantees his blessings so that they could bring their whole tithe willingly and cheerfully and joyfully. 


I know what you want me to do for you today. You all want me to convince you fully so that you can bring your whole tithe to the Lord. How do I know it? Because I would want it if I were in your place. We are all here because we want to be convinced by the Lord fully. And amazingly the Lord knows our heart desire. The Lord knows how much we want to be convinced by him fully and bring he whole tithe. So today he even guarantees his blessings to order to convince us. Praise God who knows our heart desire and meet it in his great mercy and love. The Lord delivered the very convincing message to encourage his people to bring the whole tithe. 


Please note what kind of words and expressions the Lord is using here. First of all, he says, “throw open” instead of just ‘open’. Then he says ‘floodgates of heaven’ instead of  ‘gates of heaven.’ He also used the expression, ‘so much offering’ instead of just ‘blessing’. Most of all, the Lord even challenged his people to test him. He said, “Test me in this.” It is the only place in the entire bible where the Lord asked his people to test him. To test the Lord was not allowed to men. Indeed when the devil tempted Jesus, Jesus said in Mt 4:7 “Jesus answered him, "It is also written: 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 


But amazingly here in today’s passage the Lord challenged his people even to test him! Why did he so? It was to convince them fully. So he says, ““Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.” The Lord implied, “I guarantee my blessing. I promise the blessing with my honor.” The Lord would even use his supernatural power to keep his promise of blessing. Verse 11 says, “I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.”


In those times the Israelites did not have much other industry other than farming and raising animals. But they had no control of weather and pests on crops and diseases on vines. We experience how powerless we are before natural disaster when hurricane Sandy hit our land. But the Lord said, “I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit," says the LORD Almighty.” The Lord will use even his super natural power to keep his promise. He wants his people to be fully convinced of his promise of blessing because he will keep it by any means. Indeed to bring the whole tithe is the way to return to God because it guarantees God’s blessing. 


About two months ago I attended Gimnet conference with missionary Isaac Kim in Charlotte, North Carolina. There we visited Billy Graham’s library. There his house where he was born was restored. Inside of the library there are many pictures and words below pictures. I was moved by one sentence. It says “when you accept Jesus as your Lord and Savior you will experience supernatural power”. Somehow I was moved by the word ‘supernatural power’. I like the phrase ‘super natural power’ because that power does not belong to men but God, and indeed the Lord’s super natural power works for those who believe. Those who bring the whole tithe to God’s storehouse will experience God’s super natural power which will deliver the promised blessings. The Lord will protect their businesses, homes, health, and many other things according to his promises.


When the Lord keeps his promise of blessing even all the unbelieving nations would notice it. Verse 12 reads, "Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land," says the LORD Almighty.” All the nations do not believe the Lord. But they will be able to see the outpouring blessings of the Lord. They will notice the blessing of the supernatural power of the Lord, and they will call believers ‘blessed’. They could all see how much the land could produce that their land would be called as ‘delightful land.’ 

So far we have learned that to bring the whole tithe is the way to return to God because it stops robbing God, and it acknowledges that the Lord is our life security, and it acknowledges that everything comes from the Lord, and that it guarantees the Lord’s blessing. 

Part II. “You will again see the distinction” (v.13-18)

 

Part II teaches that we can return to the Lord by believing the Lord’s justice.


Look at verses 13-15. "You have said harsh things against me," says the LORD. "Yet you ask, 'What have we said against you?' 14 "You have said, 'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'" 

Why do they say all these things? It is because they compared themselves with others. When they looked at their neighbors there were tons of people who did not bring their tithe but they were still blessed by the Lord, and they were still prosperous, and they were still richer. But they were poor and their economy is down. Then they felt that that God was not fair and he treated people differently. They felt that it was futile to serve God. So they said, “'It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? 15 But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.'"


Is that true? No. It may be true only temporarily. When we compare ourselves with others we fall into the same problem. We may say “Oh, I know there are tons of Christians who do not bring their whole tithe. But I know that they are still blessed by the Lord and they are still prosperous, and they are still rich. It is so hard to bring my whole tithe. Why should I keep doing it when others who do not do are still blessed in the same way?” When we compare ourselves with our neighbors we feel a great sense of loss. We feel like we are stupid and the Lord takes advantage of us.  


But those who feared the Lord heard that they had said and they were grieved. Then they talked with each other. Verse 16 reads, “16 Then those who feared the LORD talked with each other, and the LORD listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the LORD and honored his name.”Those who feared the Lord talked with each other. What do you think they talked with each other? Probably they said exact the opposite of harsh words against the Lord described in verses 14-15. Probably they said, “It is a great blessing to serve the Lord. How much have we been blessed when we carry out the Lord’s requirements including the whole tithe and go around like mourners before the Lord almighty? So we call the humble blessed. Certainly good doers are blessed, and those who challenge God cannot escape the Lord’s judgment.”


When the Lord heard and listened to them he was so moved by their faith that he made sure that what they had talked with each other would be written in his presence. He wanted to record it in the scroll of remembrances in order to reward them properly.  


Then the Lord declared his blessing to those who feared the Lord and honored his name in verses 17-18. "They will be mine," says the LORD Almighty, "in the day when I make up my treasured possession. I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him. 18 And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

The Lord’s blessing for those who feared the Lord and honored his name is two things. First, they will become the Lord’s treasured possession. Second, they will be spared in the day of God’s judgment. 

There will be the time described here as ‘the day’. It is ‘the day’ where everyone will again see the clear distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” “The righteous” refers to those who live by faith in God. They refer to those who feared the Lord and honored his name. Here ‘fear’ means ‘awesome respect.’ Surely we can return to the Lord by believing the Lord’s justice. 

In conclusion, the best thanks offering we can bring on the Thanksgiving day is ‘our returning to the Lord.” We can return to the Lord by bringing whole tithe, and we can return to the Lord by believing his justice. To bring the whole tithe is the way to return to the Lord because it restores our relationship with the Lord. Firstly, it stops robbing God. Secondly, it acknowledges that the Lord is our security. Thirdly, it acknowledges that everything we have comes from the Lord. Fourthly, it guarantees God’s blessing. 


One word: Bring the whole tithe.


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