1. Lesson One of the Book of Daniel, Introduction to the Book of Daniel

The Book of Malachi, Lesson XIV, Malachi 3:7-12

We continue with our lessons from Malachi 3:7-12 in which God asked that probing question, that poignant question, that question designed to make one think of oneís own responsibility to his maker. 

For God simply asks, Will a man rob God? 

Will a man created and given life and purpose take that life and purpose and squander it, thinking apart from any responsibility to the one who brought him to exist?

God brings this shocking accusation against His people Israel in this way in Malachi 3:7-12, which is a conversation between God and Israel.

Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return? Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.

We ended our last lesson remembering the instruction of our Lord regarding our responsibility to our maker with regard to that which God places in our hands for his glory for simply put that is what true life is all about.

We have been created for Godís glory and part of that includes our role as stewards of God, responsible for that which belongs to Him.

Jesus clearly taught that money or unrighteous mammon as he expressed it, is given in order to be faithful in little that in time to come one may be faithful in much.  

If therefore you have been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, God will commit to your trust the true riches.

All of us manage money.  All of us make decisions as to where that money goes. 

 

And all of us should remember daily as we make those decisions that all of those dollars belong to God. 

 

And in the use of those dollars God clearly has expressed that we are to seek first the kingdom of God. 

 

So what are your priorities?  Does the cause of Christ come first? 

 

Do you consider yourself a giving person or do most of your money decisions involve taking for yourself?

 

God told the Israelites that they had robbed him in tithes and offerings. 

 

They have taken that which should have gone to God and used it on themselves.

 

God did not confine their giving to the tithe but included offerings. 

 

The tithe was required but the offerings were to be something they gave from the heart but they had no heart to do so. 

 

Needs were no doubt expressed but many needs were not being met because decisions were being made to use for selfish reasons what should have been offerings to God.

 

The needs of this work are many for there is a serious desire that the cause of Christ is paramount and this cause is first and all things are to follow. 

 

Is this seriousness displayed in the offering plate? 

 

Are the needs being met and should additional ministries be supported instead of funding things for self which have no eternal worth?

 

Godís word describes the Christian as a soldier of the cross and as a soldier we are to endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. 

 

And in that endurance we are to be strong in the Grace that is in Christ Jesus remembering that God will always provide and give to the giver all his needs.

 

God is always looking for effective givers for that is where He is going to channel His giving.

 

He is like a business man who always funds that part of his business that brings to him the most profit. 

 

He takes away from that which is not functioning as he desires and gives it to that which brings him the most return. 

 

God is looking for givers for He is that ultimate giver and He has chosen to give thru His children but children who choose to close up shop on giving He also closes up shop on His giving and perhaps will even take from the miserly child that which he has.

 

Remember that miserly child of Matthew 25:25-29 who closed up his shop of giving and said to his Lord,

 

And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: 27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

 

This parable should communicate to all of us how serious God is in this matter of using his assets, his money, in responsible ways, ways that bring to him glory. 

 

Look at the reaction of this manís Lord to his servantís careless handling of the talent in which he was entrusted. 

 

We in our soft culture would say, Oh that poor servant and that mean unloving Lord but that Lordís reaction is completely appropriate for all those talents belong to Him for the servantís purpose was to bring profit to his Lord.

 

This reaction was nothing new for we see the same thing in our passage as God answers his question, Will a man rob God? by reminding his careless servants, the children of Israel that they have robbed Him in tithes and offerings.

 

He could have said, Thou wicked and slothful servants, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: but instead He said in verse 9:

 

Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.

 

Can we assume this curse hangs above our heads if we rob God? 

 

Is not our God the same God who pronounced this curse against Israel? 

 

Did not He say this curse involved not opening the windows of heaven, the withholding of blessings, instructions to the devourer to destroy the fruits of their ground, and the absence of grapes on the vine?

 

God has given clear instructions to His children concerning their responsibilities to use whatever He has given them stewardship over for His glory and withholding those things for selfish purposes carries with it great consequences. 

 

God had total control over the windows of heaven, every devourer, every locust, every insect, knew Godís voice, and every vine, every grape listened to Godís command as to its fruitfulness.    

 

Yes when we rob God we come under His curse.

 

God has a wrench to crack every nut.

 

It may be the weather it may just be the small insect but God has declared Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap. 

 

If he sows bountifully he will reap bountifully.

 

If he keeps the seed in the barn he will reap nothing.

 

Now God takes no delight in this. 

 

I know as a father it was not easy to bring pain to my children but I knew pain was a seed that in time would bring forth fruit in their lives.

 

No pain no gain and God saw in Israel the withholding of tithes and offerings causing much harm in the temple, and with the priests for there was no meat in Godís house.

 

God has made provision that his house be supplied but Israel had better things to do with its money and saw no connection with the barren fields, the sick vineyards and the dying animals.

 

One of the things most absent in our day is a refusal to see Godís hand as to what consequences He brings into our lives because of decisions and behaviors in which we have engaged ourselves.

 

God is in control and robbing God brings with it Godís curse.

 

Obedience to Godís word, giving of that which God has placed in your trust will bring the rains, will devour the devourer, and will fill the vine with fruit. 

 

God wants to pour out his blessings and he looks diligently for those who plant His seeds in His fields that He may bring forth bountifully.

 

So what does robbing God keep you from? 

 

From what did robbing God keep Israel? 

 

That question is answered in verses 10-12. 

 

For God says here is the remedy. 

 

It is not a complex solution but a simple solution.

 

The solution is found in giving, for God is a giving God and he has made you and I and all those of Israel to be giving people.

 

He has made us in His image and to fit that image He says this.

Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.11 And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the Lord of hosts. 12 And all nations shall call you blessed: for ye shall be a delightsome land, saith the Lord of hosts.

We easily see in this a picture of the kingdom on Earth to come but we can also see in this a picture of our own home, our own church, our own community as we take on this challenge. 

 

Our pastor brings before our ears and eyes many needs of the kingdom of God in which we are given to choose Yea or Nae. 

 

Just the other day we heard about the challenge to brings Bibles to all the children of Papua New Guinea.

 

We heard about the need to generate power that the radio waves of the Harbor Light of the Windwards be sent with the Gospel message to all the Caribbean islands and beyond.

 

We heard about the need for money in South America for building church buildings and what about that great need of our school and camp ministry for a new larger and more capable bus?

 

Wouldnít it be a wonderful step of faith if this class took on that need and prayed and paid personally for that bus? 

 

And think about our missionaries in foreign fields as they labor in the name of Christ but they also labor in the name of Grace Bible Church and in the name of our country for I suppose one who finds Christ because of your giving will indeed call our country a delightsome land, a land that cared enough to send the Gospel.

 

So as the Apostle Paul asked the Corinthians, there should be a time to examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith, prove your own selves. 

 

And I think a major test in this examination is in the matter of giving. 

 

Will a man rob God?

 

God told Israel after saying yes to this question, Return unto me! 

 

He did not say, Return unto keeping my law, or return unto the ways of the temple, or the traditions of the Priest.

 

For this is where the lack is. 

 

God has commanded that He be loved with all thine heart, and with all thy soul and with all thy mind.

 

Loving God is loving His purposes and His purposes involve so heavily His giving. 

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son who loved me and gave Himself for me.

 

God gave, His Son gave and we are to give.

 

We can never repay such an act of giving but we can be obedient to Godís call to be a giving people like His Son was in giving for us. 

 

Our love of God should move us to follow God as His sons and daughters in giving generously and sacrificially and regularly expressing our gratitude to Him for every day He gives us to serve in His kingdom.

 

Now as believers in Christ, free from the law, our New Testament passage of 2 Corinthians 9:7, tells us: Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

 

Look at this word "cheerful." 

 

We think of it in a certain way but it derives from the Greek word ďhil-ar-osĒ from which we get our word hilarious.

 

God loves a giver who loves to give and is merry about it. 

 

Merry about being a channel through which He can send His blessings to others.

 

He is one who sings this song with gusto if I may use such a word.

Make me a channel of blessing today,
Make me a channel of blessing, I pray;
My life possessing, my service blessing,
Make me a channel of blessing today.

 

In wrapping this lesson up listen to the Apostle Paul instruct Timothy as to what he should instruct the rich in this world.

 

Rich in goods is relative I suppose and if it is I would think all of us are rich. 

 

Compare yourself against many of those whom our missionaries serve in foreign fields and we are rich indeed.

 

But most of all we are rich in Christ and this passage certainly applies to all who love him and desire to serve him.

 

So Paul said this in: 2 Timothy 6:17-19, Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.