Intro: Last Sunday we learned about who gave God’s people the ability to produce wealth. But what about those who are not God’s people, why are they richer than Christians and they are among the vast majority? It is said that money begets money. But if one has no money to start with how will it beget and grow? There is also a saying that money makes the world go round. My interpretation to that is money makes your mind go round and round because that’s what fills the mind. There was a man who was the richest in the world and even today his assets could not be surpassed. God used him to write down what he experienced and the lessons he learned and what we can also learn about wealth. Here’s the truth: “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income.” Ecc. 5:10
And what was his conclusion to the lesson he learned? “This is meaningless.” So what has God revealed to us through him about wealth? “God gives a man wealth, possessions and honor, so that he lacks nothing his heart desires, but God does not enable him to enjoy them, and a stranger enjoys them instead. This is meaningless a grievous evil.” Ecc. 6:2
Have you heard about a rich widow who died and left one million to her son and three million to her dog? Who is now enjoying her wealth that made her son very angry with what she did. What about those who love money? “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” 1 Tim. 6:10
Is money evil? No. It is the love of money that leads to do evil. This is true to both Christians and non-Christians. To the non-Christian what will be his end? “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matt. 16:26
What about to the Christian, what did Jesus say about money to them? “No servant can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money.” Luke 16:13
But you ask, how can I be guilty of loving money? God has this answered. I have titled the message I believe God wants us to hear and to “Listen to Him.”
“Money, matters to God”
“I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord Almighty. “But you ask, ‘How are we to return?” “Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. “But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?” In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse – the whole nation of you – because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you may not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruits,” says the Lord Almighty. ” Mal. 3:6-11
I made this statement in the past that I will only bring up the matter of money and tithing once a year. To those who have been members here for a long time, this is not the first time you heard me use this passage. And if you have just joined as members this may be new to you and to our guests. The focus of our church is to know Christ, to become like Him and to make Him known. So where’s the part of money in our purpose? It’s not there because that’s not the reason God saved us. Money is for us to use to meet our needs but not to love.
But does money really matter to God? My answer to this is “yes” because it is His business. This is part of His plan for our good. God will supply us with money to meet all our needs. Paul has learned and experienced God’s faithfulness. “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 4:19.
But does God need our money or does He need us to finance His work in redemption? What He wants us to do is to be channels of blessing to others and be a part of His enterprise in reaching the lost. He does this through His church. Jesus warns us of loving money because this will be competing in our love for Him. Our text shows God rebuking those who do not tithe. But first let’s understand what is “tithe”? By definition, the English word denotes a tenth part of our income we pay as a voluntary contribution. And this tithe is to be taken to the sanctuary as a thank offering to God. The giving of the tithe was first observed by Abraham. When his nephew Lot was captured by invaders in Sodom, he rallied his men to rescue Lot. The Lord gave them success and rescued Lot, his family and others with him. Abraham also took all the wealth that the invaders took from the cities. “Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand. Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” Gen. 14:18-20
Nothing else was mentioned about Melchizedek subsequent to his blessing Abram. Years later he appears again in the New Testament revealed as a type of Christ. “This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First his name means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginnings or genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son of God he remains forever. Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder.” Heb. 7:1-4
In the Genesis passage “God Most High” is mentioned three times. This is another name of God “El Elyon” meaning “Sovereign Lord.” In the same way the name “Lord Almighty” was mentioned three times in our text from Malachi. I take this as referring to the Triune God as one. The reference to Melchizedek being priest, and given the name with meanings as “king of righteousness”, “king of Salem” (which is Jerusalem) and “king of peace” is a type or precursor of the one who was to come, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ would be much more superior in His priesthood because He is now our High Priest, King of kings and Price of Peace. So then when Abraham gave a tenth, it was a thank offering for the success that the Sovereign Lord gave him to express his gratitude. God revealed to Abraham in his heart the offering pleasing to God in expressing gratitude for God’s blessings.
The next time the tithe was mentioned in the Bible was through the grandson of Abraham, Jacob. Jacob was the twin brother of Esau. While they were still in the womb, God revealed to Rebekah the destiny of the two boys. The older one that would be born was named Esau and Jacob would be the younger, but the younger will be stronger and the older, Esau will serve the younger. After Esau came out, his twin brother Jacob was grasping Esau’s heel, thus he was named Jacob meaning “he grasps the heel” figuratively meaning “he deceives.” As they were growing up, it happened that Esau sold his birthright to Jacob in exchange for a meal. When Isaac was about to die it was customary to bless the first born. Jacob agreed with his mother Rebekah to deceive Isaac so Jacob would get the blessing of the first born and they succeeded. When Esau did not get the blessing he was so angry and planned to kill Jacob after his father dies. When Rebekah learned about his plan she sent Jacob away to her brother in Aram. So Jacob left his home and on his way he went to sleep when it was night, “He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. There above it stood the Lord, and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Gen. 28:12-15
When Jacob woke up from his sleep he felt God’s presence and was in awe of God, then made this vow because of the promise God gave him. “Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s house, then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and all that you give me I will give you a tenth.” Gen. 28:20-22
Where did Jacob learn about tithing? There could be no other source but from his father Isaac coming from his father Abraham. I believe that when Jacob made this vow he did not yet have a personal relationship with God. He only came to know God personally on his way to return to Israel. This was when Jacob wrestled with God. We can read this account in Genesis 32:22-32.
After God delivered the Israelites, descendants of Jacob from Egypt, God gave them the Ten Commandments. In addition to that God gave other commandments in regards to worship and offerings. “A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord.” Lev. 27:30
When it said it belongs to the Lord it simply means that God owns it. So if one is a believer a tenth of our income is not ours for it belongs to the Lord. We are just given the privilege to give it back to Him in obedience from a willing heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion. Then God said this to the many generations after. “I the Lord do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed.” Mal. 3:6
When God said this, does this mean tithing will not also change? Yes. But are we descendants of Jacob? No. Whose descendants are we? We are God’s offspring through our union with Christ, thus we became co-heirs with Christ. When Jesus came this is what He said to the Jews to affirm that tithing has not changed. “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices – mint, dill and cumin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former.” Matt. 23:23
So what was God’s message to those who were not tithing then and to us today? Return to God. Why, because they were sinning against God. He charged them of robbing Him, because they were not tithing. When we don’t give back to God what belongs to God we have broken the 8th Commandment. This is an act of disobedience, “You shall not steal.” What if one is not yet a Christian? This does not matter because there are many more sins that an unbeliever ought to repent and turn away from before they come to Christ and surrender to Him as Lord for salvation. Just like Jacob, he promised to give the tithe only after he experienced and tasted the goodness of God. Then he struggled with God to bless him and then committed to make Him his God. Only then will God own the tithe and not only the tithe, God will own you.
What is the consequence when a Christian does not tithe? God says you are under a curse. What is cursed here is your money that is not holy to the Lord. The tithe that you are withholding from God will become a curse. Here’s what will happen. God will not prevent pests from devouring your crops and the vines in your field will cast their fruit. Since these were the major sources of income of God’s people at that time, their crops were their means of livelihood. To us today unless you are a farmer, our means of livelihood are our jobs and the money we receive from it. The pest could be anything that will deplete your income and even get you into debt because of unexpected expenses.
But to those who are faithful in tithing, God’s promise is that He will supply your every need. The blessings the Lord will pour out from heaven is not necessarily more money but being content with what you have, have no worry about the future whether there will be enough for your retirement. The confidence that God will meet all our needs and keep us from having to worry about what we will eat or drink is already the blessing from heaven and have a good night’s sleep.
I have said this in the past, I do not know who is tithing or not among the members. That is not my business to know, but God knows. Only our treasurer and the finance committee are the ones who know that and that is confidential. So, if it’s only today that you have come to learn and understand about tithing, God is giving you a challenge to test Him. This is the only time that we are allowed to test God of His faithfulness to His Word. However don’t test God just for this reason, so that He will bless you in return. Tithing is not an investment. This is to express your love for the Lord by your obedience to His command. There are many who manipulate people into giving to them with a promise that God will give them in return blessings pressed down and overflowing just to get their money. Christ’s also test us if you are really His by your love for Him. “If you love me, you will obey my command.” John 14:15
Lastly, where do you give your tithes? To the church where you are a member of, where you are being fed and serve God, that is your storehouse. But here’s what really matters to God. He wants all of you. When you give your all to God, you will give your tithe with joy because of what you already have, His Son and eternal life. INVITATION