Malachi 3:7-12, The Lord of Hosts...Release to Me.

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Return to me, and I will return to you!  Return to me and I will run to you!  Return to me and I will receive you to myself and rejoice over you.  This leads to the obvious question:  “But you say, How shall we return?”  God, in essence says, I am glad you asked.  He answers in verses 8-10.



II.  Release to Me    v8-10a

We read in verse 8-9, “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘How have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. 9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you!”  God answers their question, “How shall we return?” With a question of His own.  “Will a man rob God?”  The obvious answer is No!  That would be absolutely ridiculous.  Yet, God says, you are doing it.  You are robbing me.  How?  Again, God says, I am glad you asked!

He answers, “In tithes and offerings.”  The word tithe is a translation of the Hebrew “tenth part” and obviously means “ten percent.”  So, they were withholding the 10 percent that God required from them.  But He not only points out the ten percent issue.  He points out the offerings as well.  The word offering is a more general term, specifying contributions for a sacred purpose.  There were various types of Old Testament offerings.  Five are listed in Leviticus 1-7:  the burnt offering, the grain offering, the fellowship or peace offering, the sin offering, and the guilt or trespass offering.  By totaling every offering, the people gave roughly 23 percent.  

These people were robbing God of the tithes and offerings that He expected of them.  Because they are robbing God, they are cursed with a curse.  Not just the individuals, but the nation as a whole!

We read on in the first part of verse 10, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house…”.  Remember, God began this message with “return to me and I will return to you.”  How?  God answers with the question:  will a man rob God?  You are.  But the goal is not to just rebuke the people….you are robbing me!  It is to bring them to repentance.  How can they repent?  In this specific case God says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house.”  Bring the whole tithe.  Release back to me what I have given to You.  Don’t clench your hand.  Open it!

I used to hunt raccoons when I was younger.  There was a type of trap that I learned about where you would take a board, cut a small hole in it, and place it over hollow stump. In the stump you would drop some corn, or something shiny.  The coon comes along sees the corn or the bait, reaches through the hole grabs it, and then because he has made a fist, can’t pull his little hand out of the trap.  All he would have to do is release the bait!  Release the blessing and he can be free.  But, he won’t.  In fact, some coons have chewed their hand off to get free, instead of just open their hand.  We are a lot like that aren’t we.  We would rather die, suffer, and even be cursed with a curse instead of opening our hand to a good and gracious God.  God is saying, open your hand!  Release it all…not 10%, but the tithe and the offering…all 23%!  Release it!  Well, you might be thinking, that’s Old Testament.  Ok.  Let’s go NT then.

The Jews that made up the first church knew about the tithe and the offerings.  In the parable of the pharisee and the publican, the Pharisee prays, “I give tithes of all I get!”  Jesus points out the meticulousness of the Pharisees’ giving in Matthew 23:23:  “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others.”  Then we read in Matthew 5:20, “For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.”  Out of those first century, tithing, offering giving Jews came the first church.  In that early New Testament church, did they stand up and say, give us 10%?  23%?  Well, let’s see how they responded.  

And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; 45 and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need.  (Acts 2:44-45)

For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. 36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.  (Acts 4:34-37)

This sounds a lot like what Jesus said to the rich young ruler doesn’t it.  “One thing you still lack; sell all that you possess and distribute it to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me”  (Luke 18:18-23).   Don’t give me 10% or 23%…Give me it all.  As you consider these realities, please do not hear me criticizing the 10 percenters!  At the same time, please do not hear me saying that 10% is the ultimate goal.  In the words of Robby Gallaty, “Ten percent can be used as as guide for giving much like training wheels on a bicycle guide those learning to ride.”  Grace never expects less; it always demands more.  Release to God your clutch on all that He has given you and watch Him use it for His glory and your good.  Until tomorrow...


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