Malachi 3:10-12

Sermon preached on April 26, 2015 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2015. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

In his biography of
George Whitefield (Vol. 1. p. 482, 483) Arnold Dallimore tells a story about Benjamin Franklin and how he loved Whitefield's eloquence. At the time Whitefield was also raising money to build an orphanage in Georgia. Franklin writes,

"Mr. Whitefield… preached up this charity, and made large collections, for his eloquence had a wonderful power over the hearts and purses of his hearers, of which I myself was an instance. I did not disapprove of the design, but as Georgia was then destitute of materials and workmen, and it was proposed to send them from Philadelphia at great expense, I thought it would have been better to have the house here, and brought the children to it. This I advised; but he was resolute in his first project, rejected my counsel, and I therefore refused to contribute.I happened, soon after, to attend one of his sermons, in course of which I perceived he intended to finish with a collection, and I silently resolved that he would get nothing from me. I had in my pocket a handful of copper money, three or four silver dollars, and five pistoles in gold. As he proceeded I began to soften, and concluded to give the coppers. Another stroke of his oratory made me ashamed of that, and determined me to give the silver; and he finished so admirably that I emptied my pocket wholly into the collector's dish, gold and all. At this sermon there was also one of our club, who, being of my sentiments respecting the building in Georgia, and suspecting a collection might be intended, had by precaution emptied his pockets before he came from home. Towards the conclusion of the discourse, however, he felt a strong desire to give, and applied to a neighbor who stood near him, to borrow some money for the purpose. The application was unfortunately made, to perhaps the only man in the company who had the firmness not to be affected by the preacher. His answer was, 'At any other time, Friend Hopkinson, I would lend to thee freely; but not now, for thou seems to be out of thy right senses.' "

That's quite a story. Whitefield was a persuasive preacher, so persuasive that he could get people to empty their pockets to give to a worthy cause.

We're not having an extra offering this morning so my goal is not to get you to give to a specific cause but to get us to think biblically about giving. In our text God says something very revealing the giving of His ancient people. He said, (Malachi 3:8–10)

"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.' "

They were robbing God. Robbing God is one of the most foolish things you can do. Most robbers try to get away with their theft. They hope that the theft wouldn't be noticed at all, or if it is noticed, that no one will know who took them money. But you can't do that if you rob God. God knows everything. He knows exactly how much you've robbed him of and He knows that it was you who robbed Him. Robbing God and denying it is the same as a kid next to the cookie jar who has chocolate all over his mouth and denies that he ate a cookie. "No. I didn't take a cookie." You just can't get away with it.

What the people in Malachi's day were doing was withholding part of their tithe. In the Old Testament God required certain tithes of the people. There were three basic tithes. The first was the Levitical tithe. This was the tithe that was to take care of the Levites. The Levites offered daily sacrifices for sin on behalf of the people. Numbers 18:21 and Lev 27:30–33 details how the Levites would receive the tithe for their services as payment for their work and for not getting an inheritance of land. This tithe was 10%. Deuteronomy 14 describes a second tithe, the Feast Tithe. At prescribed times the Israelites would bring their tithes with them have a feast in which they ate their hearts desire. John MacArthur refers to this as an "a national potluck." The third tithe was Poor Tithe. It was to be given every third year and was used to take care of the needy.

But the Israelites of Malachi's day were not fulfilling their duty. They were robbing God by not bringing the 'whole tithe' into the storehouse. So God tells them, (Malachi 3:10–12)

" '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 will
not have room enough for it.
I will prevent pests from devouring your crops,
and the vines in your fields
will not cast their fruit,'says the Lord Almighty.'
Then all the nations will call you blessed,
for yours will be a delightful land,'
says the Lord Almighty."

There are great lessons for us here. Although the New Testament doesn't specifically require a tithe for New Testament believers—it does encourage us to give generously. There are principles in our text that if we take them to heart, will help us to do that.

The first great truth we see in our text is that it clearly shows

God's ability to abundantly provide for His people.

Are you ever afraid of giving because it will mean that you will have less? Do you ever think that you have to really hold on tightly to what you have because if you let it go you'll be impoverished?

Normally we think something along the lines of this. If I have a thousand dollars and I give a hundred dollars to the Lord, I'll have $900 left. That's less than a thousand. So I'll have less. I won't have enough for my needs.

But that's not the way it works. Consider what God says in verses 10-11.

" '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 will not have room enough for it.
I will prevent pests from devouring your crops,
and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,'
says the Lord Almighty."

God controls all things. If the ancient Israelites gave their tithes to the Lord, God would have opened the windows of heaven and poured out blessings on them. He would have prevented pests from destroying their crops. If they had given their tithe, He would have prevented the fruit from dropping prematurely. They would have been so much better off if they had given their tithe to God.

The point we need to keep in mind is that God controls all the wealth of the world and He gives it to whomever He wants to. We see this principle in Jeremiah 27:5 also. God said,

"With my great power and outstretched arm
I made the earth and its people
and the animals that are on it,
and I give it to anyone I please."

God is intimately involved in our lives. As Psalm 33:13–15 tells us,

"From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind;
from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—
he who forms the hearts of all,
who considers everything they do."

God consider everything we do. The context there is about God saving His faithful ones. Verse- 17-18 says,

"A horse is a vain hope for deliverance;
despite all its great strength it cannot save.
But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him,
on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,
to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine."

God watches us and considers are ways. The teaching of our text is that God would bless those who gave their full tithe. God controls all the wealth of the world, as far as His ancient people were concerned, He very often gave it to those who were faithful in their tithes.

At any time God is able to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings on us, more than we can take in. This is a lesson we need to take to heart. Even Moses, at one point in his life didn't understand this. In Numbers 11 we read that some the people were complaining to Moses because they didn't have any meat to eat. We read, (v. 4-6)

"If only we had meat to eat!
We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—
also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.
But now we have lost our appetite;
we never see anything but this manna!"

They provoked the Lord. God told Moses to tell them, (verse 18-23)

"If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!
Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it.
You will not eat it for just one day,
or two days, or five, ten or twenty days,
but for a whole month—
until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it—
because you have rejected the LORD,
who is among you, and have wailed before him,
saying, 'Why did we ever leave Egypt?"

But Moses didn't believe that God could do it. He said to God,

"Here I am among six hundred thousand men on foot,
and you say, 'I will give them meat
to eat for a whole month!'
Would they have enough if flocks and herds
were slaughtered for them? Would they have enough
if all the fish in the sea were caught for them?"

The LORD answered Moses,

"Is the LORD'S arm too short?
You will now see whether or not
what I say will come true for you."

And it did. We read, (Numbers 11:31)

"Now a wind went out from the Lord
and drove quail in from the sea.
It brought them down all around the camp to about
three feet above the ground,
as far as a day's walk in any direction."

Wow. Incredible. Don't ever doubt God ability to provide for you. At any time He can open the gates of heaven and pour out such a blessing that you will not have room to receive it. He is always able to provide for you and take care of your needs. (See also 2 Kings 7)

The second thing we should note about the words of our text is that

God spoke them to a rebellious people.

These were a people that were robbing Him. At this point we must ask ourselves,

"What was God trying to teach them?"

We need to be clear on one thing.

He was not teaching them that He could be manipulated through giving.

God was not trying to teach them that giving tithes was like putting money in a vending machine where you got more out than what you put in. Usually in a vending machine you put a dollar in and you get a can of coke or a bag of chips. What you get is roughly the worth of the item.

When I was in university I remember some guys telling everyone that the vending machine in the dorm was malfunctioning. What was happening was that instead of putting your quarter in and getting a can of coke, you'd put your quarter in and get five or six cans of coke. Just about everyone started taking advantage of that. They thought it was great. You were getting more value for your money.

So what is God teaching His rebellious people here? Is He teaching them that giving to Him is like inputting into that malfunctioning vending machine? You put a dollar in church and you get an iPhone? You put ten dollars in and you get a new iMac?

No. No. No. You can't manipulate God like that. God is sovereign. He decides to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing—or not. He's wasn't saying to His ancient people, every time you give more and you'll get more. That wasn't the lesson God was trying to teach them. No. He was offering to give them an demonstration of His ability to do it. He wasn't giving them a series of signed blank checks that they would fill in whenever they needed to for the rest of their lives.

God doesn't need our money. He's not short of cash. He is in control of all the wealth of the world and He hasn't lost His ability to give it to whomever He wants.

It wasn't their money that God was after—it was their hearts.

If your heart is not into your giving, your giving means nothing to God. You can't bribe God with your money. The people of Israel in Amos' day loved to brag about their tithes (Amos 4:5) but God would have nothing to do with them. God said, (Amos 5:21–24)

"I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.
Even though you bring me
burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!"

The people were giving to God, but they were cheating their fellow men. They were ignoring justice and righteousness. God refused to accept their offerings. Their offerings were in vain.

Jesus taught the same thing. In the story of the Pharisee and the tax collector in the temple Jesus said, (Luke 18:11-12)

"The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:
'God, I thank you that I am not like other men—
robbers, evildoers, adulterers—
or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.'

He tithed. But what did Jesus say about him? He wasn't right before God. He wasn't justified. If your heart isn't right with God your money means nothing to him.

God wants us to be completely devoted to Him. Giving is just part of that. Have you given your all to Him? If you haven't, your offerings to Him are meaningless. They're worthless. You can't buy God. He doesn't accept bribes.

He wants you, your heart, your obedience, all of you. He wants you to know Him, to follow Him. He wants you to know that you can trust Him. He wants you to know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and that not matter what you go through you are always safe in His care and you can trust Him to bring you to glory.

Thirdly, for Christians, this passage shows you that

God is an abundant fountain of blessings.

He promised the people of Malachi's day that if they were obedient in their tithes He would pour out such material blessings that they would not have room to receive it.

We don't have that promise. God is sovereign and He does bless some Christians with great material blessings. But poverty is the lot of other Christians. And the ones that are poor could very well be more faithful to God than the ones that are rich. We see that in Jesus' letters to the churches to Smyrna and Laodicea in Revelation 2 and 3. In Revelation 2:9 Jesus said to the church at Smyrna,

"I know your afflictions
and your poverty—yet you are rich!"

On the other hand, Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, (Revelation 3:17)

"You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth
and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize
that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked."

Christians, don't set your heart on material things. In 1 Timothy 6:6–12 Paul wrote,

"But godliness with contentment is great gain.
For we brought nothing into the world,
and we can take nothing out of it.
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content
with that. People who want to get rich
fall into temptation and a trap and
into many foolish and harmful desires
that plunge men into ruin and destruction.
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.
But you, man of God, flee from all this,
and pursue righteousness, godliness,
faith, love, endurance and gentleness.
Fight the good fight of the faith.
Take hold of the eternal life to which
you were called when you made your good confession
in the presence of many witnesses."

Don't pursue money. Don't set your heart on it. Pursue righteousness. Pursue love. Pursue Christ's kingdom. Delight in His commands.

If you do find yourself in possession of material things—even if they are meager—don't be afraid to use them to God's glory. In 2 Corinthians 8:1–4 the apostle Paul wrote,

"And now, brothers, we want you to know
about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy
and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
For I testify that they gave as much as they were able,
and even beyond their ability.
Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us
for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints."

They gave beyond their ability, out of their extreme poverty. And what did Paul say about them—that they were foolish? That they shouldn't have done that? No. No. Paul was commending them—holding them up as examples. They did the right thing. Paul knew that God wasn't going to abandon them.

Or think about the widow that Jesus saw put in her last two copper coins—all she had to live on. Did Jesus criticize her or call her foolish? No. No. He commended her. He said, (Mark 12:44)

"They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty,
put in everything—all she had to live on."

There's an old saying in Christian circles that is true.

"You can't out-give the Lord."

You give to Him and He will bless you, often in far better ways that with material things.

Always remember the words of 2 Corinthians 9:6–11,

"Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly
will also reap sparingly,
and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give,
not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves
a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace
abound to you, so that in all things at all times,
having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
As it is written: 'He has scattered abroad
his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.'
Now he who supplies seed to the sower
and bread for food will also supply
and increase your store of seed and will enlarge
the harvest of your righteousness.
You will be made rich in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion,
and through us your generosity
will result in thanksgiving to God."

What a great God we have. Jesus died for us—so that we might live. Trust Him and use everything you have for His glory.