“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings.” (3:8)
The New King James Study Bible provides a good description of what Israel was doing at this time to provoke God’s charge of robbery: “They had not brought the required tithes and offerings, those used to fund the theocracy by sustaining the Levites (cf. Lev. 27:30-33; Num. 18:8-28; Deut. 12:18; Neh. 13:10), the religious festivals (Deut. 12:6-17; 14:22-27), and the poor (Deut. 14:28). But in not paying their taxes, and so robbing God, they had robbed themselves, for God had withheld His blessing.”
Not surprisingly, Israel in their downward spiral had turned their noses upward as the collection plate was passed. Once again they ignored their responsibilities to God and man. Once again they looked past the fact that all things belong to God in the first place. In the time of David as the nation gave bountifully to build the temple the king declared, “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power and the glory, the victory and the majesty; For all that is in heaven and in earth is Yours…both riches and honor come from You, and You reign over all…for all things come from You, and of Your own we have given You.” (I Chronicles 29:11, 12a, 14c)
The people had come a long way from the time of David to Malachi; a long way down! Through the prophet God issues a challenge to try Him by bringing what was required and then see, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it.” (3:10) The late preacher/teacher Ron Hembree used to say of this scripture: “Man says, ‘Prove it and I’ll believe it.’ while God says, ‘Believe it and I’ll prove it.’” And so He has, and so He does, and so He will.
What of us, today? God demands of us a cross on our shoulder, a life laid down, and a vessel useful for the Master (II Timothy 2:20, 21). He seeks out such to pour His blessings through to bless others and to receive the glory and honor due Him. If we are not wrapped up in a relationship with Him, if we are not in fellowship with Him, if we are not cooperating with Him in reaching out to a world He loves, then we too, are robbers.
Next time: (Part 7 – Remnant)