Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Tithing (7) Robbing God

Malachi is the favourite prophet of preachers advocating tithing. They claim that those who fail to tithe are robbing God and have placed themselves under a curse.

“In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me. 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 there will not be room enough to store it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not drop their fruit before it is ripe,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty (Malachi 3:8-10).
This is a strong word, but it must not be taken out of context. Malachi begins his message by challenging the economic injustice that is prevalent in Israel.
I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud labourers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me,” says the LORD Almighty (Malachi 3:5).
The people were practising sorcery and adultery. They were committing perjury and oppressing widows, orphans and aliens. They were not paying employees fair wages for their work. They seemed to be ignoring most of God’s Instructions for Economic Life. God did not seem to be worried about lack of resources at the temple. He was worried about tithing, because his people were not caring for the poor and needy, as required by the Instructions for Economic Life.

The prophet declared the people of Israel were ignoring all God’s commands, not just those about tithing. This is why they had lost his blessing.

Ever since the time of your ancestors 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 (Malachi 3:6-7).
Malachi was challenging general disobedience of God’s commands. Failure to tithe in support of the poor was just one sin amongst many, but God wanted that sorted out first, because he cares for the poor.

When Malachi said that they were robbing God (Mal 3:8), he was referring back to the Law of Moses.

Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23 If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. My anger will be aroused, and... your wives will become widows and your children fatherless. (Exodus 22:22-23).
When people take advantage of widows and orphans, God is offended. He will come to their aid (Ex 22:24).
Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits. Have nothing to do with a false charge… for I will not acquit the guilty (Exodus 23:6-7).
People who treat the poor badly are offending God. He will remove their blessing. Malachi challenged the people for withholding tithes because the poor were suffering and God was upset.

No comments: