Money: Malachi 3:6-12

Money: Malachi 3:6-12
Pastor John Weathersby
Sunday November 21, 2021

Malachi 3:6–12

6 “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.

Verse 6 for them is a corrective statement. It gives the children of Jacob a factual foundation to stand on to withhold what will come next. Verse 6 is hyper-focused on the audience to whom a unilateral discourse from God to Israel and their presumed argumentation from a sovereign God through Malachi.

I Jehovah, do not change.

Before we go forward here, I want to step back. Turn to Numbers 22, as you’re turning – you’re going back in time to a well-established historical telling that the Israelite hearers of Malachi would be familiar. Here we have Israel in Moab ready to cross into Canaan – God is fulfilling

Genesis 17:8 (ESV)
8 And I will give to you and your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.”

Now what we have in Numbers 22 is interestingly someone who reports knowing God, seems to know God and hears from God – but loves money – his name is Balaam. Balaam called in in Numbers 22, where you are now by Balak. Balak is afraid of what is about to happen. He is looking across the plains of Moab and sees hordes of people, God’s people, Israel. He knows that God is with them, and they’ve defeated anyone in their path (most recently Moab).

Balak sends for Balaam, asking him to come to curse Israel; he first says no, they press and offer him untold riches, he shouldn’t but does go.

Love of money has caused him to divert/dilute His love.

Balaam went to Balak after seeing the angel of the Lord, during which we see that his donkey was first able to see the angel. Balaam is on his way to see Balak in 22:22-25 and has explicit instruction, ONLY say to Balak what God said.

Numbers 22:22-25 (ESV)
Balaam’s Donkey and the Angel
22 But God’s anger was kindled because he went, and the angel of the Lord took his stand in the way as his adversary. Now he was riding on the donkey, and his two servants were with him.
23 And the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road, with a drawn sword in his hand. And the donkey turned aside out of the road and went into the field. And Balaam struck the donkey, to turn her into the road.
24 Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path between the vineyards, with a wall on either side.
25 And when the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, she pushed against the wall and pressed Balaam’s foot against the wall. So he struck her again.

Balak takes Balaam to several vantage points each time repeating God’s blessings of Israel, and in 23:19, we read:

Numbers 23:19 (ESV)
19  God is not man that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

His promises to Israel will come to pass because of His (God’s) faithful and consistent nature. God is not some AI or Machine Learning bot that tests, learns, and adjusts. He is the sovereign God of creation, and His plan will come to pass, in His timing, as He sees fit. Israel will go to Canaan (Genesis 17:8) – which is what Malachi by God is drawing on to snap the Israelites attention to their issue being one of conformity to His will, His eternal character, and His eternal nature.

Think back to the dispute God brings to Israel in Malachi 2:17:

Malachi 2:17
The Messenger of the Lord
17 You have wearied the Lord with your words. But you say, “How have we wearied him?” By saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delights in them.” Or by asking, “Where is the God of justice?”

People who do evil and God knows, but they’re good and where is the God of justice, they deny this long-standing tenant about God and they believe alike, rather than the truth like Romans 1:25:

Romans 1:25 (ESV)
25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

The scriptures spanning time, the new and old Testaments, give us the truth about God. Through His revelation gives differing means to interacting and finding Him (before and after Christ), we learn consistently about His character/nature and progressively about His plan through complete revelation and actualization in Christ, into the age of His church where we stand today. As such, we come to this text in Malachi, realizing both where they were and where we are.

James 1:17 reveals:

James 1:17 (ESV)
17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.

Knowing He is consistent like He was to Israel and his Promises from Genesis 17:8 through Numbers 23 the people who He is communicating to through Malachi’s in their day, hear this disputation from God.

Hebrews 2:10 (ESV)
10 For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.

These Israelites are not consumed because of God’s faithfulness – and that carrels forward as it stems from His nature, Romans 11:29

Romans 11:29 (ESV)
29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

How does God bring this to bear:

Jeremiah 30:11 (ESV)
11  For I am with you to save you,
declares the Lord;
I will make a full end of all the nations
among whom I scattered you,
but of you I will not make a full end.
I will discipline you in just measure,
and I will by no means leave you unpunished.

I say all this to say that here in Malachi 3:7-12, we’re squarely in the middle of Israel’s history and interaction with God. While there are principles that last to uncover and truths about God’s nature, we’re reading about a specifically called people for specific purposes before Christ’s earthly existence. As Malachi’s hearers interact differently with this text than we do.

7 From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’

God calls them to repentance. God’s call to return is normative; we said even that Malachi’s book exists evidence of Grace. God has these straightforward claims against a people who’ve violated His character and nature by sinning, yet He is after them. His pursuit of them to return is evident in Malachi 1:6.

Malachi 1:6 (ESV)
The Priests’ Polluted Offerings
6 “A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’

8 Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me. But you say, ‘How have we robbed you?’ In your tithes and contributions.

Will man rob God?

Now remember they’re in the context of Balak and Balaam, God’s promises from Genesis 17, the fulfillment of His word without variation, His consistency and non-deviance from the plan – will God be thwarted? As that story went on, later Balaam may have repeated the words of God and left, but the careful Bible student would note that Revelation 2:14 (quite a leap forward from Numbers) reveals that he:

Revelation 2:14 (ESV)
14 But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.

Something happened between Numbers 24:25

Numbers 24:25 (ESV)
25 Then Balaam rose and went back to his place. And Balak also went his way.

And Revelation 2:14.

9 You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing me, the whole nation of you.

They’re cursed for robbing God (the whole nation). How are they cursed? Glad you asked – keep reading:

10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.
11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.
12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

Let’s slow it down a step:
10 Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need.

Who was this people’s government? Americans have a president who appoints people representing their policy views (because we elect people in a representative form of government representing our ideals for the nation). As such, the governmental bodies and authorities should reflect the elected president’s views on issues/policy.
Israel’s leader was God we would see that by a phrase Josephus coined, Theocracy. God’s people, bound to Him in Covenant Exodus 19:4-9, Deuteronomy 33:4/5, and so on. The demonstrate God’s peculiar covenant people making Israel, as we’ve said in this study, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). Gideon wouldn’t accept a crown because God was ruler. We’ll see more evidence for the Kingship of God from the book of 1 Samuel, where the Children of Israel desire a king, and this is identified as rejection of God’s authority:

1 Samuel 8:7 (ESV)
7 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.

Exodus 19:4-9 (ESV)
4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.
5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;
6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
7 So Moses came and called the elders of the people and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him.
8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.
9 And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am coming to you in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with you, and may also believe you forever.”
When Moses told the words of the people to the Lord,

Deuteronomy 33:4-5 (ESV)
4 when Moses commanded us a law,
    as a possession for the assembly of Jacob.
5 Thus the Lord became king in Jeshurun,
    when the heads of the people were gathered,
    all the tribes of Israel together.

Exodus 19:6 (ESV)
6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”

With Israel under Theocracy, there is/was no place for secular ideals.
In view for Malachi’s listeners is the bringing the whole tithe, as my brother Jim would say, one of 3 tithes:

Numbers 18:25–30 (ESV)
25 And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying,
26 “Moreover, you shall speak and say to the Levites, ‘When you take from the people of Israel the tithe that I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present a contribution from it to the Lord, a tithe of the tithe.
27 And your contribution shall be counted to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor, and as the fullness of the winepress.
28 So you shall also present a contribution to the Lord from all your tithes, which you receive from the people of Israel. And from it you shall give the Lord’s contribution to Aaron the priest.
29 Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every contribution due to the Lord; from each its best part is to be dedicated.’
30 Therefore you shall say to them, ‘When you have offered from it the best of it, then the rest shall be counted to the Levites as produce of the threshing floor, and as produce of the winepress.

And Leviticus 27:30 adds more clarity:
Leviticus 27:30 (ESV)
30 “Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or the fruit of the trees, is the Lord’s; it is holy to the Lord.

The priests, in scope here, under Theocratic rule which had no other means of income because they were agents of God’s government to the nation of Israel. So, when they short the tithe, they reject the rule of God’s government.

Remember, Malachi is to a people in a governmental system being called to repentance back and restoration. God here says in alignment with:

Nehemiah 10:38 (ESV)
38 And the priest, the son of Aaron, shall be with the Levites when the Levites receive the tithes. And the Levites shall bring up the tithe of the tithes to the house of our God, to the chambers of the storehouse.

2 Chronicles 31:11–12 (ESV)
11 Then Hezekiah commanded them to prepare chambers in the house of the Lord, and they prepared them.
12 And they faithfully brought in the contributions, the tithes, and the dedicated things. The chief officer in charge of them was Conaniah the Levite, with Shimei his brother as second,

11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.
12 Then all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a land of delight, says the Lord of hosts.

Because the agricultural people know this was their harvest, then they know that opening the window of heaven and pouring blessing is rain for crops, not some window of gold coins for buying hot cars and quads.

We have to tune our minds to the context of scripture because we want to be not like Balaam who’s donkey was used to see God and because he was too distracted by the love of money. Still, people who see God in truth shouldn’t be bribed into giving 10% of their income. Instead those who see God for His goodness and glory give Joyfully as redeemed, renewed transformed believers – existed to trust God. Churches would do well to put God on display in the Word, than joint lock people’s arms with guilt and misapplication of scripture.

God’s government to His people Israel are the shadows of the substance to come. With Christ we’re in the light. In order to go back to the shadows we would need to make a clear-eyed walk past the substance.

It would be like if I was sitting with my back to the door, and one of you came in, and I only knew it because I saw your shadow peek up next to me and rather than turn and see who it was I walked up to the outline of your head on the ground next to me, and without looking at you wrongly guessed at who you are.

Church you may NEVER have been manipulated to give to God’s church through these passages. Bless Him for that.

Let me say this; we’ve never at First Reformed had “a message on giving,” whatever that is. By Grace, God has seen fit to provide for His ministry here, and we believe He will continue – please feel no stress. Give to His church in Harrisburg as you’re able and as it pours from the Joy in your heart by seeing Him in the scriptures.

Malachi talked to a people under a theocracy. A theocracy you are not under, about returning to God, through a priesthood that you don’t have (you have the once final sacrificed lamb of God) about giving a food offering to priests—in fact, run from people who bring you here to get money. Better yet, correct them, and if leadership won’t listen, dust your feet off and leave quickly because they’re manipulating people and twisting God’s scripture. I leave you with this:

Matthew 18:6 (ESV)
but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Pray, Observe, Apply.

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