Lesson 7

You rob God daily. Did you realize that? You might be robbing Him of your time, your resources, your possessions, your heart. But you do rob Him.

This is nothing new in the history of the world. The Israelites were doing this all the time over the course of their history and believers still do it now. And God waited for the realization to hit them (and us) and for us to return to Him. Return to Him? What does that mean? That means getting back on the right path and making Him the highest priority in our lives – note that I did not say church was to be the highest priority. It should be God – there is a difference.

In the Old Testament book of Malachi God addresses the fact that the religious leaders of the day were being dishonest and downright disrespectful and insulting to God. They gave Him sacrifices that they never would have accepted themselves. They gave Him not second best, but the worst. And then questioned why they were not receiving all these blessings. God tells them in chapter 3:6-7

“I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD Almighty.
“But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’

God was reminding them that He was still there. He always had been. But they ask specifically on how to do that. Remember that when you ask God a question you should be prepared for a wise and extremely honest answer.

“Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me.
“But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’
“In tithes and offerings.
(3:8 NIV)

The people of the day were not giving all that was required of them. They only gave a portion, if they gave anything at all. When they did give, the priests were beginning to pocket some of it. Nothing escapes God. He knew of these acts, and He confronted them.

A tithe was the first tenth of everything. It was first tenth of their crops. It was the first tenth of the money they earned. God didn’t need these items for Himself. He set the system of tithing up so that the priests who could not work outside the ministry could be taken care and so that the temple and all worship places could be maintained.

The offerings were ones above the tithe. It was giving more as a thank you and in remembrance of past blessings. Once again not because He needed them, but because the people needed to keep in the forefront of their minds that God was the reason for their blessings and He was there for them.

You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. 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 you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty. (3:9-12 NIV)

When we withhold from God, how could we expect any blessings from Him? Would you be willing to continue helping someone out when they refuse to say thank you or even acknowledge the help you gave them? Not that you need it, but no one wants to be taken advantage of. Neither does God. He doesn’t need our tithes. He needs us to remember why we are doing it and His part in all of this. When we can come before Him humbly and sincerely thank Him, He will pour out so many blessings.

Now, I would like to note that just because you give $500 a month to the church or a ministry does not mean that you will be a millionaire very soon. That is not what He is saying here. Blessings can come in various forms. It could be peace of mind. It could be a better job (maybe not more money, but a better job). It could be friends to support you during a crisis. It could be numerous things. God’s blessings might not fit our preconceived notions of them, but when He begins to bless you it is neigh impossible to contain it all.

He continues to tell them how they have left Him and insulted Him.

“You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD.
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’

“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’ “ (3:13-15 NIV)

Saying harsh things against God seems to become a full-time job for some and a hobby for the rest of us. We want. We want. And we want it now. We give and we give and still don’t have that flat screen TV or the job of our dreams. Then why continue to serve Him? Do you see something wrong here? Do you see that you are making everything focus on you? You are setting yourself to be the center of the universe. Are you God? Can you control nature and human hearts? Can you see what tomorrow holds and determine the best action? The priests during Malachi’s time realized what they had done. And they changed their ways.

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. And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not. (3:16-18 NIV)

When the word “fear” is mentioned here, it is not talking about trembling fear of God. So many misinterpret these words. When you research the word fear, you also find a definition of respect and viewing in awesome worship. That is what is meant when you see the word “fear” in the Bible. You could argue that the “fear” here is also because they know the power of God and what He can do so therefore there is an element of the regular fear that we see here in that “Oops, we’ve done it now” feeling. These priests realized their errors and began to show proper reference to God. So they re-committed their lives and their hearts to Him. And God acknowledged that. He states that when the day comes when they would have been punished for their actions, He would remember their repentance (confession and turn around). They would not receive the punishment that they were headed for.

Are you robbing God today? Are you speaking harshly against Him? Just because you are a believer and attend church every day does not mean automatic “NO” answer to these questions. Even a regular church attender can be answering “Yes” to these. The big question then becomes, “Are you repenting”? The answer to that is vital. No – then you are neglecting God or thumbing your nose up at Him. Yes – then you are humbly approaching Him and asking for growth.