Return to God (Malachi 3:7-12)
Faith That Acknowledges God The Creator
God is the Creator. He appointed His son heir of all things, and He created the heavens, and the universe and everything in them (Hebrews 1:2). Therefore, creation exists to be used by God’s Son. When Jesus was hungry and He encountered an unfruitful fig tree, He cursed it and it withered from the roots. That is because the tree had lost its value for which it was created (Mark 11:21). The universe exists as a place where His church can grow and thrive. But when Jesus returns for His church and takes them with Him to heaven, it will disappear like a scroll that is rolled up after it has been read.
Abraham’s faith is very important to Christians. That’s because Abraham’s faith and Christians’ faith are genetically identical (Romans 4:16). What characterized Abraham’s faith? Abraham could not understand why people served idols made of wood or stone. He never considered it a god unless it had the power to command him, which means a god has the power to make him obey. To Abraham, God is the master who commands faithfulness and to whom he must be faithful.
We have the same faith as Abraham. We serve Jesus as our master and obey Him, acknowledging that Jesus has the right to command us. Proverbs 25:13 says, “Like the coolness of snow at harvest time is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him; for he refreshes the soul of his masters.” How refreshing it is to drink a glass of cold water at harvest time after you have been working up a sweat! We are the ones who should refresh Jesus’ spirit.
Only those who recognize God as their master are able to tithe. Abraham believed that God created everything so everything belongs to Him. Everything is God’s including the sun, the soil, the water, and even the air upon which I depend for my survival. Therefore, everything I have is from God. I will give one tenth of all of my possessions as a testimony, even though I should give Him everything because it already belongs to Him. Today, the same faith that Abraham had can be found in us who have been united with Christ.
The Tithe Is Not Of The Law
Some people say, “Tithing belongs to the Law, and because the Law has been abolished, it is no longer necessary to continue tithing. The Levites who depended on the tithe for their livelihood are no more, and so there is no need to tithe anymore. But, the origin of the tithe pre-dated the Law. It began with Abraham long before God gave the Law to Moses.
Hebrew 7:1-3 says, “Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, his name means “king of righteousness.” Additionally, it also means “king of Salem” which means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains a priest forever.” Abraham offered a tithe to Melchizedek who was pointing us to the Son of God. It is symbolic of what those who will inherit the faith of Abraham should do for God’s Son.
It is a mistake to think that everything pertaining to the Law has been abolished. Of course, some provisions have been set aside, but there are parts that can never be abolished. For instance, the Blood which Jesus shed on the cross abolished the need for any further sacrifices to be made. However, never has the requirement to serve God been set aside. It has never been abolished. Serving God predates the Law since Abraham was serving God before the Law was given. Abraham met the God who must be served so he offered a tenth of his possessions.
The tithe which the Israelites gave according to the Law of Moses went to the tribe of Levi. But Melchizedek was not a descendant of Levi because he received the tithe from Abraham. Rather, Levi paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. Therefore, the tithe did not come from the Law, nor was it started to provide for Levi’s livelihood. It began with Abraham (Hebrews 7:4-9).
Jacob also testified of his faith through tithing. When he was running away from his brother, he placed a stone under his head for a pillow while he slept. He dreamed of a stairway resting on the earth, reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. The Lord reminded him that he was about to leave the land which God had promised to Abraham and his descendants to fulfill His covenant with Abraham. The Lord also said that He would bring Jacob back to the land. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he made a vow to God that if He brought Jacob safely back to the land, he would give Him a tenth of everything God gave him (Genesis 28:10-20).
Therefore, anyone who has the faith of Abraham should tithe regardless of the Law. Jesus said, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the more important matters of the Law: justice and mercy and faith. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” (Mathew 23:23) Here Jesus clearly indicated that the tithe had never been abolished.
Money Reveals Your Mind
Someone whose love for God has grown cold is reluctant to give any offering to God, and even covets that which belongs to God. Jesus loved His own who were in the world to the end. Nevertheless, the devil placed the thought to betray Jesus in the mind of Judas Iscariot which he readily accepted (John 13:1-2). The reason Judas could entertain that thought was because his heart had already drifted away from Jesus. What kind of behavior did he demonstrate? He had often stolen money from the money bag (John 12:6).
If you make a vow to God but later change your mind, that is a warning sign that there’s a problem with your relationship with God. Take Ananias and Sapphira for example. They vowed to sell their land and give the proceeds to God but they kept back part of the money for themselves. They then brought the rest of the money and placed it at the apostles’ feet. Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” When Ananias heard this, he fell down and breathed his last. About three hours later, Sapphira, his wife, when Peter asked her if the land sold for the price her husband had said, replied, “yes, that was the price.” Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed to test the Spirit of the Lord?” When she heard this she also fell down and breathed her last. (Acts 5:1-11)
Do not neglect your vows before God. Even if your vow was rash and thoughtless, once you have made a vow you must fulfill it. Proverbs 20:25 says, “It is a trap for a man to make a vow rashly and only think about it after it is done.” When things are going well it is easy to say, “I am doing well because God has blessed me. If I succeed in this business, I will give all the proceeds to God.” Unfortunately, I have seen this happen and the one who promised did not keep his word. God has strong warnings against those who do not keep their vows to Him.
Deuteronomy 23:21-23 says, “If you make a vow to the LORD your God, do not be slow to pay it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and it would be sin to you. But if you refrain from making a vow, it shall not be sin to you. Whatever your lips utter you must be sure to do, because you made your vow freely to the Lord your God with your own mouth.” Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 says, “When you make a vow to God, do not delay to pay it; for He has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you have vowed. It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not pay.
Return to Jesus
Those whose heart has drifted far from God do not recognize Him as their master. God says, “Return to me!” You ask, “How shall we return?” God says that this response is like asking, “How have we robbed you?” while they are robbing God and pretending not to. They have robbed God in tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:7-8).
He who acknowledges God as his master will return to Him. He who returns to God offers a tithe. But he who steals from God has not returned to God, and that person is under a curse (Malachi 3:9). Being cursed means his relationship with God has been broken. What is worse than that? If anyone truly has the faith of Abraham, he must acknowledge that Jesus is his master and return to Him.
The devil is good at inventing believable lies in order to keep us away from Jesus. John 8:44 says, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” In order not to be deceived by such a lie, you must know the truth.
The devil uses words that seem to identify with our difficult circumstances, and sometimes they sound sweet, but they are just a tool to seduce people. 1 John 4:5-6 says, “They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” Check yourself to see whether you have returned to Jesus, or are still being deceived!
People in the world criticize tithing. We must not listen to what the world says, but listen to what the Holy Spirit says to the churches. Return to Jesus! You must no longer steal what is the Lord’s but give Him all the tithes and offering. The tithe originated with the faith of Abraham, and only a person who acknowledges God as his master can offer it. Giving your offering to God is fulfilling your vow before God, and only a person whose heart is right toward God can do it. Do not let stinginess ruin your eternal soul, but rather recognize Jesus as your master and return to Him.
Preached by Overseer Ki-Doing Kim
Translated by Sungrak Mission Center