Daily Family Worship

Malachi 3: Will a Man Rob God?

by | Dec 30, 2023

malachi 3

The first words of this chapter seem to be an answer to the scoffers of Malachi’s days. Here we have a prophecy of the appearing of John the Baptizer: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me” (verse 1). John was Christ’s harbinger; he prepared the way before Him by calling people to repentance.

Throughout the Old Testament, the Messiah had long been understood to be “he that should come,” and now the prophet said that He would indeed shortly come (verse 1). He is the One Who is referred to as the “messenger of the covenant.” Those who seek Jesus shall find pleasure in Him – often when it is not looked for. The Savior prepares the sinner’s heart to be His Temple, by the ministry of His Word and the convictions of His Holy Spirit; and then He enters it as the Messenger of peace and consolation. However, no hypocrite or formalist can endure His doctrine, or stand before His tribunal. Christ sits as a Refiner of precious metals. By His Gospel, He purifies and reforms the “sons of Levi” – that is, all those who believe in Him, who are now spiritual kings and priests unto God (Rev. 1:6). And by His Holy Spirit’s work, He regenerates and cleanses their souls, and takes away the dross that is found in them. He separates them from their corruptions, which naturally render everything they do as worthless and useless. But the believer does not need to fear the fiery trial of afflictions and temptations, by which the Savior refines His gold. He will take care that the process is not more intense than is absolutely necessary; and as for the outcome of this trial, it will be far otherwise than that of the wicked. The very reason why the Lord’s people are not consumed (verse 6) is because His love and compassion never fail!

Although there are none who can abide the day of the Lord’s coming – either in His first coming to a sinner in a way of grace, or hereafter on the Day of Judgment – yet His faithful people know that the Holy Spirit is their Comforter in life, and that those who die in the Lord do not need to fear His wrath. And when Christ – the Refiner and Purifier – breaks the hardened hearts of sinners by His Word and fire, He also melts their souls into softness and love. What blessedness is then experienced when the Almighty Refiner has fulfilled His promise in purging away all the dross of His people, and taking away all their sin! (Isa. 1:25) It is then – and only then – that the offering of a regenerated and renewed soul is made sweet and pleasant to the Lord (verses 3-4), because that offering is made in and through Jesus!

Beginning in verse 8, we find another complaint that Jehovah justly leveled against His people. “Will a man rob God?” He asks. “Yet ye have robbed me!” What a fearful charge! How had they robbed Him? “In tithes and offerings,” was the reply. In other words, there was a certain Divine claim that God made upon these people; there was a tithe that was to be given to Him, and they had indeed responded to the demand. “That is what God asked for,” they reasoned; “surely that was right!” But it was not right. Let us make a point clear. People often tell us that God demanded the tithe. That is completely at variance with the truth. God demanded the tithe only as a minimum; and in Malachi’s day, they were carelessly giving Him what He claimed – the bare minimum – in tithes and offerings. They had robbed God in the sense that they had not responded to the Divine claim in the spirit in which it was made; but rather, they had offered that which was required by measurement and rule, rather than in the spirit of love.

What is the Divine claim upon Christians? God is not asking you for a tithe. Some do give a tithe – 10% – of their income, and that is not a bad thing in itself. However, there are instances in which it is right, and there are also times when there is a reverse side to the picture. Some men have no business to give a tithe of their earnings, for our Savior teaches that the Lord is not pleased when a person offers a gift to the Temple when his own family members are in need. A tithe is a fine thing if it is something you truly desire to contribute to the Lord’s work, and have the lawful means to do so. But if it is something which puts you in danger of being dishonest, it is wrong; and if it is prevents you from fulfilling your natural obligations to those whom God has placed in your care, it is absolutely wrong. To insist upon the mere giving of the tithe is to miss the point. God’s claim is all – everything is already His!

The last paragraph of this chapter (verses 13-18) may be summed up in the last verse, which speaks of His discernment between the righteous and the wicked. And observe the contrast in the Lord’s people, as it is set forth in the beautiful words of verses 16-18! “They that feared the Lord spake often one to another.” It is a great help and encouragement to brothers and sisters in Christ when the glorious topics of redeeming love, covenant-mercy, the grace and loveliness of Jesus, His blood and righteousness, and the Holy Spirit’s work in the heart become the sweet subjects of discourse. But we must not stop here in our consideration of this blessed passage! The Lord adds a promise: “They shall be mine … in that day when I make up my jewels.” On the Great Last Day, the entire world shall be on fire; but Christ will gather up His chosen ones as if they were jewels that He was saving from the midst of the flames – just as men will do anything to rescue their loved ones and valuables when their home is burning down!

Lord, thank You for purging away all our sins, and for counting us – Your sons and daughters – as Your precious jewels! Amen.

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