In our series of Out of Context topics, we will talk about the misappropriation of Scriptures used to either garner control or gain material wealth from congregations. Scripture teaches clearly that the Word was not to be used in this fashion, and yet with humanity involved, it seems almost inevitable, past, present, and future.
Today’s topic is Malachi 3:8, often used incorrectly by pastors to collect more money in Tithes plate. When this Scripture is pulled out, generally some bills are due, someone stopped giving offerings (in Churches that track your giving carefully) or they just want more.
“Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings [you have withheld].” – Malachi 3:8, AMP
First and foremost, this is generally used as a scare tactic and carries with it the whipping stick of a pay or be cursed (pay to play) message. God did not come to give us a spirit of Fear, yet bad pastors attempt to create that fear in order to control your wallet, and that should be sign #1 that this is being used out of context.
Secondly, this creates two types of Christians. One type feels like a bad Christian because apparently, they don’t and never can give enough, which hinders faith based on material wealth. Wealth and faith should never be enjoined.
The other type of Christian in this circumstance is broke and confused, they probably gave all they had, and their own personal storehouse isn’t filling up, only the churches, which hinders faith and causes them to believe they are not good enough for God to bless.
“For the love of money [that is, the greedy desire for it and the willingness to gain it unethically] is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves [through and through] with many sorrows.” – I Timothy 6:10, AMP
The Context of Malachi 3
Most importantly, and it may well be enough said, is that this book and chapter was written to the Israelite nation, under the covenant of the Law of Moses.
The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. – Malachi 1:1
As equally important to understand, is that the majority of Malachi was to the Priesthood.
And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you. – Malachi 2:1
Malachi 1:6-14 was focused on the pollution of the Priesthood and Judah. Then, in Malachi 2:17 and entering into Malachi 3:1, a dialogue began between God, Israel & the Priesthood, focusing on the spiritual application of adultery between a man and his wife as that relationship is intrinsic to the link between God and His people.
Malachi 3:1 begins a prophetic message about the coming of the Lord and more importantly how the nation of Israel will be restored as the Lord comes to the temple and to the people of the covenant. Clearly, the Jewish nation.
Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years. – Malachi 3:4
From this, we can easily see, that the dialogue that begins in Malachi was to the Israelite nation, and it was speaking to a future time when Jesus comes to reestablish His throne in the temple.
For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. – Malachi 3:6
Who are the sons of Jacob but the Hebrew nation? Are we sure this passage talks to a nation of people? Let’s skip verse 8 for a moment and look at verse 9.
Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. – Malachi 3:9
We have seen this in Scripture time and time again, where God has allowed things to befall the nation of Israel for their stubbornness. As a matter of fact, bouncing back to verse 7 highlights this.
Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? – Malachi 3:7
Thus, the context of Malachi 3:8 was to the Priesthood of Israel.
Furthermore, as illustrated at the end of Malachi 3, this was still being spoken prophetically (future tense) between God, his messenger Jesus and His nation about the end times.
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. – Malachi 3:16-18 KJV
Clearly verse 18 is a direct reference to the final judgment of Christ. So it is and should be clear to see that this was in direct reference to the restored Israelite nation, AFTER the Gentile Bride is taken from among the earth.
To apply this demand of Tithing and Offering (covenant law) using Malachi 3:8 is wildly out of context and I urge pastors and teachers to stop using this scare tactic upon your flock! Offerings are still valid, important, yet Paul taught a more perfect message as to God’s will on financial giving to ministerial efforts.
Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. – II Corinthians 9:7, KJV
Let us flee from using God’s Word as if it was ours to do with as we see fit, and use it for the purpose He gave it for – to bring tidings of Good News and to understand what is that perfect will of God!
God Bless and please leave comments about what you think on this topic. We hope to hear from you.