We have reached the end of the Old Testament in our tour through the Bible. We come to the book of Malachi. Malachi has some strong words about tithing. The name Malachi means “messenger of Jehovah”. We are not exactly sure when Malachi lived but conditions and circumstances alluded to in the book make it seem likely that the book was written about the same time that the returning exiles were rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple under the leadership of Nehemiah and Ezra.
In fact, some have suggested that Malachi is not a name but rather is a title given to Ezra. With the conclusion of the book of Malachi, the Old Testament canon closed and the Jews would not hear from another prophet until John the Baptist began to preach repentance and that the kingdom of heaven was near. Most think, and so it appears, that there was a four hundred year period of silence from God following Malachi’s prophecy.
There are some powerful statements in the Scripture that are designed to stop you dead in your tracks; statements that should cause you to immediately stop whatever it is that you are doing and consider your ways. At least they have that effect on me. Samuel’s question to Saul, “What is this bleating that I hear in my ear?” Nathan declaring to David, “You are the man!” The gospels pausing to relate, “Jesus looked at him” after Peter heard the rooster crow. Isaiah proclaiming, “Woe is me! I am a man of unclean lips.”
John in Revelation weeping greatly and crying out, “I saw no one worthy to open the scroll.” Malachi 3:8 contains such a question: “Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me!” Is it really possible to rob Almighty God, the Creator of heaven and earth? Can we really take what rightfully belongs to Him? Would He allow us to rob from Him? If so, why would He? If we could, why would we?
I can’t answer those questions. However, they must be related to our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Freely turning over money to God, which we have firmly within our clutches, is one of the best opportunities that we could possibly have to give evidence of our faith in Him. The only stronger evidence for most of us would be refusing to deny Christ while facing a would-be executioner intent on making us recant or become a martyr. Yes, money does have that type of hold on most of us.
Our handling of money is a very, very clear indicator of our faith in God or our lack of faith in Him. I have not done an exhaustive study of tithes and offerings in the Old Testament but I have spent some time considering them. It is a little confusing as to exactly what was required. It is clear that more than one tithe was required but not all were paid every year. For sake of discussion, I will assume that the tithes added up to twenty percent annually. I might add: Special offerings were also taken regularly.
We live under the New Covenant not the Old Covenant. That causes many to assume that we are no longer bound to tithing. Even though I am not absolutely sure that it is true, for the sake of discussion, I will grant that we are no longer bound to Old Testament tithing. Many people believe that reduces the amount they are expected to return to their God and His work. Maybe it does and maybe it doesn’t. What is clear is that Jesus increased the requirements in every facet of life. He holds us accountable not only for wrong actions but also for the wrong thoughts that might lead to those wrong actions. He issued an increased call for forgiving those who have wronged us. He replaced vengeance with a call to turn the other cheek. Thus, I cannot imagine that He reduced giving requirements. Logic would indicate that He increased giving expectations. And oh by the way, one of the last things Jesus did, just a couple of days before going to the cross, was to sit down beside the place of offering in the Temple specifically to see how much each person gave. Then He commented on it. It’s worth thinking about.