Friday, May 23, 2014

An Indictment Against the People of Israel: The LORD'S Declaration Concerning Repentance (Part III)

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.” (Malachi 3:10)

The Lord commanded that all the tithes be brought. He wanted the tithes of the poor as well as those of the rich. The poor man was not excluded from placing God first simply because his physical possessions were less than those of his neighbor. The wealthy man was not expected to take over the poor man's responsibility toward God. God wants all men to realize that He should be first whether there be much or little. Man's heart will counsel him to withhold tithes and offerings from God lest there not be enough for the giver, but this type of reasoning has no biblical foundation. Giving of one's substance to God encourages a man to exercise faith toward God, faith that God will meet the need. When a man refuses to walk in this principle, because he has limited substance, he is refusing to place his trust in God. The church-age believer falls under this same principle. The Church is the body of Christ. No part of that body is excluded from doing its job. The entire body is to be subject to the authority of the Head. The entire body is to walk by faith. If a member of the body is not giving tithes and offerings to God, this member has failed to fully give himself over to the Lord. Sacrificial giving is a result of one's surrender to the Lord's will. This principle is seen in the sacrificial giving of the Macedonian churches mentioned in II Corinthians. Concerning their obedience, Paul writes, “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God (II Corinthians 8:1-5).” If a man does not first give himself to the Lord, when hard times come, he will fail to bring in “all the tithes” to the Lord's house.

God's promise of faithfulness was given to Israel if they would obey His word. The Lord told Israel to prove Him. This means to test or try out. If they would humble themselves and exercise faith by bringing their hard-earned tithes, God would more than meet their needs. This principle is clearly taught in Proverbs 3:5-10, “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.” Before sacrificial giving comes a willingness to trust God over one's own wisdom. This decision is motivated by a fear of the Lord. The decision is proven genuine by the action of giving to God the first-fruits, and the result is God's provision. Jesus Christ expounded upon this same principle when He said, “Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again (Luke 6:38).” One must be careful not to apply these promises out of context. The promise here in Malachi was given to Israel as a nation. If they would honor God, He would care for them as a whole. This is not to say that no Israelite would ever experience hunger or need. Many Old Testament saints experienced such things, but they still had close fellowship with God. Paul experienced hunger, thirst, nakedness, cold and many other troubles, but it was not because he failed to honor God with his tithes and offerings. God allows trials into the believer's life for reasons of chastening and sanctification. The presence of trials does not mean a failure of God's promise to provide. This passage here in Malachi is promising that God will take care of the man who puts God first. Many people lack the basic needs of food and shelter simply because they will not submit to God. Many believers struggle daily and feel as though they are earning wages to place them into “...a bag with holes...(Haggai 1:6)” simply because they are not obeying the principles of this passage. If God's child will honor the Lord with all that he has, he need never fear want brought on by a refusal to tithe. God will meet the need whatever it may be.

How faithfully God has held true to this principle down through the ages! And yet, the believer's heart still tends to wander and doubt when hard times come. The flesh is quick to say, “But you won't have enough if you tithe. Better wait, and give later when money improves.” What a lie! The believer should give now! He should honor God now, and see Him meet every need in His perfect way! The Lord often allows His children to come upon hard times so that they might be encouraged to give in faith and personally witness the faithfulness of God. God will hold true to His word! Even in times of trial and want, the believer who gives in faith can still have peace of heart and peace of mind, knowing that God will meet the need in His time and in His way. Even though Paul was well acquainted with hunger (I Corinthians 4:11), he saw God meet his own needs over and over again (Philippians 4:18). He saw God meet the financial needs of the various churches. He saw hungry people fed and ministry needs provided, and at his death, he could truly say, “I've seen God open the windows of heaven.”

No comments:

Post a Comment