God Wants to Bless His People – Part 1
“‘Will a mere mortal rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, “How are we robbing you?” In tithes and offerings.’” (Malachi 3:8 NIV)
In the Old Testament, God’s people were taught to bring their tithes and offerings to the Temple to atone for the sins of the people; and to provide for the priests, for the poor, and for the upkeep of the Temple. The giving of the tithe—or a tenth—of the fruit of their labor would be a test for the people of God: Since God had blessed them with everything they had, the question was would they bring back and offer to God a part of what God had blessed them with. In that way, they would be honoring God. It would also break any greed on the part of the people, and it would prove their faith in God’s provision for them.
Human nature unfortunately came into play, and some of the people got clever. They thought if they had to give a tithe, they might as well make it the worst tenth of their increase. The people were thus offering diseased animals for sacrifice. God then raised up prophets to tell the people how grieved God was by their actions; for you see, God has emotions, just as we, who are made in his image, have emotions. Sadly, the people got even more selfish and stopped giving altogether.
Thus we see, in the Old Testament book of Malachi, God telling the people that they were robbing him by not giving their tithes and offerings. He told them that they would lose out on God’s blessings that way, but there was also the promise: “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” (Malachi 3:10).
That was then. Since then, Jesus has come to the world, died for our sins, risen again, and sent his Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of those who have accepted his sacrifice for our sins. So we have the Holy Spirit to guide us in our giving. Also, we are no longer required to bring in animals or grain or wine or oil as offerings. First of all, unlike the blood of bulls and goats, the blood of Jesus as atonement for sin was the perfect sacrifice once and for all time. Also, as far as the upkeep of God’s work is concerned, the use of money in exchange for goods and services has long replaced the barter system that was in place in ancient times.
However, there is still a lesson for us here. The teaching is that you don’t get ahead by not giving to God. On the contrary: you get behind by not giving to God…
To be continued…
Read Malachi 3:6-10.