God's Disgust with Israel's Failure to Tithe
section deals with Israel's failure to pay her tithes to God and God's disappointment
with her. NOTE: The Church is
distinct from Israel and has a different method of giving. However, there are many principles that
are the same.
overemphasis upon money and the unscriptural methods for getting people to give
has brought a great disgrace to God's name in the average Christian church. Much of the problem is that people do
not know what the Bible teaches about giving, and are duped by
"high-pressure business tactics" rather than being led by the
II. THE EXHORTATION (3:7)
"Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances,
and have not kept them." In 3:6, we were told that the reason Israel was not destroyed
was because of God's immutability, for He does not change. God had made promises to Israel and He
would not fail her even if the vast majority of Jews turned from Him. God always had an elect and regenerate remnant
to which He fulfilled His promises.
But the entire history of Israel is the record of ever recurring
departing from, and rebellion against, God's unchanging laws and regulations
for His covenant people. They were experienced in evil but not in righteousness.
NOTE: Israel had a long line of failures and unfaithfulness, yet
God was and is always faithful (II Tim. 2:13).
"Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of
hosts." God should
have destroyed these rebellious Jews, but He had covenanted with Israel and
desires that they should repent. God
makes a gracious invitation for them to repent, for He does not
desire to cast off His people. No
matter how severe their sin or the duration of their rebellion, He is willing
to receive them if they repent. NOTE: They are invited to repent but only God can turn them
to Himself ; therefore they must cast themselves wholly on the
grace of God to turn them (Jer. 31:8; Lam. 5:215 Psa. 85:4).
"But ye said, Wherein shall we return?" These Jews were blinded by self-righteousness
and could not see their wicked spiritual condition. They saw no sin in themselves that needed to be
repented of, for they thought themselves pure in their own eyes.
III. THE SIN (3:8)
A. "Will a man rob God? yet ye have robbed me." This question is raised by God to
counter their question in 3:7, ”herein shall we return?” One way for them to return to God is to
stop robbing Him of the monies that rightfully belong to Him. This is irony, for will a puny, impudent
man try to rob an infinite God, and think he can get away
with it? Such is the arrogance of
man. NOTE: Robbing God is an
awful sin and He can be robbed in many ways. Men may rob Him of honor, devotion, service, time
and money, for men rightfully owe Him all these things.
B. “But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and
offerings." These "holier
than thou" Jews did not have the slightest idea how they had robbed or defrauded
God. But God takes them to the
issue of their tithes and offerings. A Jew tithed about 20% of his income every year, for he
actually gave two tithes (Lev. 27:30-33 cf. Deut. 12:18). Every third year he gave another 10% to the poor (Deut.
"offerings" were love gifts given over and above the required tithe
(Deut. 18:4). They had robbed God
by failing to give their tithe or by decreasing their tithe because
of "bad times” in the nation. NOTE: The tithe is never mentioned in the New
Testament and is not God's method of giving for the Church. Christians are to give as God has
prospered them (I Cor. 16:2), and the ratio of giving is based on one's income.
God asks the Christian to give graciously,
liberally and systematically that His work may be carried on in the world. Christians are also to give with the
right mental attitude (II Cor. 9:7). If a person feels forced
to give or gives grudgingly, He is not giving out of love for Christ. A person will never give liberally to
God until He has first given himself to God (II Cor. 8:5). NOTE: No local church or Christian
organization has the right to pressure people or to stir up their emotions in
giving. NOTE: Tithing is not God's method for the Church
although there is nothing wrong with it,
for tithing was practiced before Israel came into existence (Gen. 14:20). Giving
a tenth is a good place to start,
Testament "grace giving" is a higher principle, for
Christians are left with the choice as to how much they
will give. The amount one gives as he has been prospered
tells something of his real heart devotion to God. NOTE:
Christians rob God when they fail to give to
Him what is rightfully His. The
question for the Christian is not how much shall we give but how much shall we keep?
IV. THE PUNISHMENT (3:9)
are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me." For their rebellion towards God in the
tithe, God brought a curse on them. Their excuse for not bringing a full tithe or
any tithe at all was that hard economic times had hit the nation. But why these hard times? They had failed to obey God and this
brought them their impoverished condition. NOTE: Low income is never a proper reason for failing
to give God His due. Remember, God
blessed the widow when she gave 2 mites!
the whole nation." The entire nation was cheating God. Lack of personal integrity
and honesty had become an accepted way of life in Israel. NOTE: Failing to
give was a sin not against Israel, not against men, not against spiritual leaders,
but against God.
V. THE CHALLENGE (3:10-12)
"Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in
mine house" The
"storehouse” was the temple treasury. The Jews brought all their tithes
to this one place that the Jewish nation as a religious and political entity
might continue to exist. NOTE:
There is no New Testament basis for "storehouse
tithing" as taught by some Christian groups. Where a Christian puts his money is entirely his
business, but it stands to reason that every local church needs money to
operate and every Christian has a financial responsibility to the local
church he attends. To say,
however, that a Christian must give all his money to a local church
has no Biblical basis.
"Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you
the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there
shall not be room enough to receive it.” God puts a challenge before these Jews to prove or test Him to
meet their financial obligations to God, and God promises great blessings, for he
will bring rain and the crops will be great and their material prosperity will be
more. By faith, they were to put
God to the test (II Cor. 9:6).
"And I will rebuke the devourer of your sakes, and he shall not destroy
the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her
fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord
of hosts." God promises
to protect their crops from locusts and every injurious thing if
they would be obedient in their giving. NOTE: The Christian who faithfully gives of his monies will see
God meet his needs and there will be blessing beyond the basic necessities. Shoes will last longer, the
washing machine will not wear out so quickly, bargains will be seen unexpectedly,
money will come from sources unknown, etc. God protects His own who are obedient.
"And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith
the Lord of hosts." In the
way of obedience and as a result of the blessing of God upon them, all
nations would call them blessed. Both God and man would find delight in
Israel. NOTE: The Christian who
gives liberally to the work of the gospel of Christ shall be blessed of God, so as
to gain the praise of God and the respect of men.
. . . Don't
give till it hurts: give a little
more . . . till it feels good!