Read Malachi 3:1-10. What is God saying to His people here?
What specific elements are found in these texts, and why would they all be tied together? That is, in what ways are these things all related to each other?
With these verses, God restates the basic message of the Minor Prophets: His love remains constant and unwavering. In verse 7 God’s call is heard once more: “‘Return to me, and I will return to you’” (NIV). The people then ask: “‘How shall we return?’” (RSV). This question is similar to the one in Micah 6:6, about the bringing of sacrifices to God. In the case of Malachi, however, a specific answer is given, and, surprisingly enough, it has to do with the question of their tithing, or lack thereof.
In fact, they are accused of stealing from what belongs to God. This happened because they were not faithful in the returning of their tithes and offerings.
The custom of tithing, giving ten percent of the income, is presented in the Bible as a reminder that God owns everything and all that people have comes from Him. The tithe was used in Israel to support the Levites, who ministered in the temple. To neglect the returning of one’s tithe is, according to Malachi, the same as robbing God.
Malachi 3:10 is one of the rare Scriptures in which God challenges people to put Him to the test. At the waters of Meribah in the wilderness, the children of Israel repeatedly “tested” God’s patience, something that He was angry about (Ps. 95:8-11). Here, however, God is inviting Israel to put Him to the test. He wants them to see that they can trust Him in this matter, which, according to the texts, is something of great spiritual significance.
How does the act of tithing (and of giving offerings, for that matter) strengthen you spiritually? In other words, when you cheat on tithe, why are you cheating yourself, not just God?