SpiceBox “Malachi: About so much more than money”
By Sharon Robertson, Lt. Colonel
Quick: How many sermons have you heard (or preached) on the Book of Malachi? Wow—that many? So, another question: What percentage of those messages had tithing as the main topic? My guess is that the majority, if not all, have focused on Malachi 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 there will not be room enough to store it” (NIV).
The Book of Malachi is best known for two facts. First, the book includes the passage quoted above, which is handy when the pastor needs to preach on the Christian’s duty to financially support the local congregation. Second, it is the last book in the Old Testament. If that’s all we can remember about it, we need to go back and read it again. It has a message that should not be ignored.
The name Malachi means “My Messenger.” This book is the last recorded message from God prior to the sending of his incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. Through Malachi, God sets the stage, alerting the world to the impending revelation that will change how God is viewed from that moment on. Through Malachi, God challenges coming generations to choose sides, and makes clear the consequences of choosing unwisely. In Malachi, God challenges you and me, as professing followers of God, to rethink our personal stand in relationship to him and our covenant with him. He confronts us on multiple fronts, all of which he reveals as having a single focus: unconditional fidelity in all of our dealings with him.
What are the areas where God sees his people falling short?
- Failure to take him at his word. In difficult circumstances we sometimes question his
enduring love in spite of the way he has demonstrated it throughout history. The history of Israel is the story of God’s enduring love. Even at their most disobedient, God watched over his people, as he continues to watch over us. God says, “I have loved you” (Mal. 1:2). When we question that love, we are saying that he is a liar.
- Infidelity to personal commitments. This includes infidelity in Christian witness. Malachi
addressed the failure of the priesthood to live up to their covenant responsibilities, saying, “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty” (Mal. 2:5-7). Every Christian leader, every soldier of Christ, has inherited this responsibility to walk in awe of God, to be true to him, and faithfully to share his message of salvation.
It also includes infidelity in the marriage relationship. Malachi makes clear that God views the marriage relationship as a reflection of his own relationship with his people; infidelity in the marriage relationship will affect one’s relationship with him.
- The “me first” perspective—complaining that we are not being treated fairly, while at the
same time we are not scrupulously fair in dealing with others.
- Withholding what belongs to God. Yes, Malachi does deal with the topic of tithes and
offerings, but he also addresses our gifts of thanksgiving and appreciation to God for all that he has done for us. What we have comes from God; it rightfully belongs to God. Tithing is not a matter of our generosity to God, it is a matter of acknowledging our debt to him, a debt we can never fully repay.
Malachi, God’s messenger. The message he brought is as much to you and me as it was to the people of his own day, and it is intended to be discussed and heeded by us all.
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. “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” (Mal 3:16-17).