Malachi 3:6–12 (NKJV)
6 “For I am the Lord, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob.
7 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?’
This brief indictment and response of disputation leaves the former eschatological tone and moves more into a corrective tone. Whereas “the messenger of the Lord is coming” was the warning before, this passage addresses a practice of the people without sharing a future corrective. God declared that He has not changed, and that is why Israel is not consumed. His part of the covenant has been observed. However, the people had failed to obey God in return. The practice that had fallen out of observance here is tithing.
8 “Will a man rob God?
Yet you have robbed Me!
But you say,
‘In what way have we robbed You?’
In tithes and offerings.
9 You are cursed with a curse,
For you have robbed Me,
Even this whole nation.
Instead of a future reckoning, God decrees a current curse on the finances of the people for their failure to tithe. “How have we robbed you?’ was their response to his accusation. His response was severe in pronouncing a curse. While tithing seemed to follow different forms over the years in Israel, it was a consistent practice in much of its history. Here, God specifically identifies their failure to tithe as a transgression of His expectations. While many feel that the New Testament does not necessarily require tithing, Jesus did support the practice by saying that people should tithe, but for the right reasons and not for show. The interesting discussion here is the curse attached to the failure to tithe, and the characterization of this failure as robbery. When one obeys God and gives to Him, whether it be through tithing, giving, church attendance, service, or any other way, the blessings of the Lord naturally flow in one’s life and ministry. God rewards good behavior and responds to good worship. However, when one walks outside of God’s commandments and takes their future and their prosperity into their own hands, they become self-reliant and independent of God, and the blessings may not flow as readily. God does not necessarily curse you like the curses we see in the Old Testament, but we remove God’s hand from the direct position of being our source of good when we take that position ourselves. When that happens, we rob God of the opportunity to bless us, and we rob ourselves of His blessings.
10 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 blessing
That there will not be room enough to receive it.
11 “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;
12 And all nations will call you blessed,
For you will be a delightful land,”
Says the Lord of hosts.
In this further explanation, God speaks through Malachi explaining how tithing elicits the benevolent response of God. Two things happen when the people of God tithe. First, there is food in the Lord’s house. Tithing supplies the needs of God’s house and God’s ministers. That is His plan for provision for His house and worship. The second thing that happens is the provision and blessing of the people who tithe. God does not just require that the people subtract from their income to supply the needs of the church, but promises to pour out even more in response to their obedient worship and giving. He promises so much more that they can then give even more and help others. The response to God’s promise, though, requires faith. You cannot initially see this return until you first give. God not only promises financial return, but also blessings in vocation and provision in many areas, to the point that nations will call you blessed. The blessings of God will become a testimony and witness of the great God Whom you serve. Be full of faith and tithe and give. God’s blessings will follow. But whatever you do, don’t rob God.