The lady came into my office with emotions running high; part scared, part frustration and anger. "I've done what the pastor says; I tithe and I work hard and I don't see the windows of heaven opened to me. What am I doing wrong?"
Once calmed down a bit I learned she was making minimum wage and barely getting by. She had upcoming bills and was afraid how she would pay them. She realized if she had taken her tithe and spent it on paying her bills, she would have enough to live on. Yes, she saw a grace others around her didn't have, but she struggled.
To properly understand the infamous Malachi 3 you first have to understand this
Righteousness is more than just 'right standing before God'. It is also horizontal:The reason we love our neighbor as ourself is that we have this river of life from the Father flowing into our spirit. Once in us that river of living water naturally flows outward to others. I covered this a couple weeks ago when outlining the 4 tithes of the OT.
When we give ourselves, our talents, our time, our resources to others, we are letting our walk with God flow outward to our neighbor. Jesus said in Luke 6:38 that if we give it comes back to us, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over. If I pay for food, that money is gone forever because its an expense. But Jesus said when you give to another it enters into your future and will be given back to you good measure, pressed down, and running over. "He that gives to those in need lends to the Lord, and He will pay him back." Proverbs 19:17
That gift enters into our future and at some future date will flow back to us. That means giving is an investment, not an expense. If I spend money at the market that money is gone forever. If I give to God and God's people, that money will come back to me and more than what I gave.
Paul put it another way in II Corinthians 9:6-15, telling us to give not because we are being pressured, but because we want to. Only give he said, to the point you can do it cheerfully. In the previous chapter he said not to give out of your need, but as you have in hand, and out of your extra. "If is figured according to what you have, not what you don't have, because I don't want you to be burdened while meeting someone's need." 8:12-13
In chapter 9 he says that God will provide seed to be sown and bread for our food - our job is not to eat our seed but at the same time, don't try to plant your food. God will give you something to give and give you food too - don't eat your seed but don't give your food. Paul said:"And God is able to make all grace abound to you that you, having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good thing." v8
Now that we understand that, on to the dreaded "Let's all turn to Malachi 3 this morning..."
3:10:"Bring all the tithes into my storehouse (temple) that there may be food in my house. Prove me in this, see that I will open the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing which you won't have room enough to receive it."
A law of Bible interpretation is that we understand the Old Testament through the eyes of the New Testament. The reason is clear. The cross acts like a giant filter. Anything making it from the OT through the filter of what Jesus did on the cross, is for us today and taught in the pages of the NT. If it didn't make it through the filter, then it isn't written about in the New Testament, so we take anything filtered as an example to learn from, but not for us today. Paul stated 2x in I Corinthians 10:6, 11:"These things (that happened to Israel) were written as examples for us..."
In Mark 4:13 Jesus said if you don't understand the Parable of the Sower you can't understand any of His parables - it is that important. In that parable the earth stands for the human heart, the seed is the Word of God (the person of Christ in your heart, not the printed Bible), and the devil tries to take or hinder the work of the Word (Jesus) in our hearts. That's the basics.
So in Malachi 3 we understand through the filter, that the ground is the human heart, the water is the Holy Spirit (John 7:37, rivers of living water will flow out of us by the Spirit). The seed or crop is the Lord and all we do in life.
When we lived in Colorado we saw irrigation at work. A borrow ditch worker would open the floodgate (that is the Hebrew word translated 'windows' in Malachi 3) and the water would flow to a field, and down the furrow in the field.
The water would soak the ground which watered the seed, causing the plant to grow. Then the water was always more than could be contained, so the excess ran off one field and onto another, and repeated from farm to farm.
So we understand when we give we shouldn't expect an immediate increase in our wages. No, that's not what it says. It says when we give God pours out His Spirit to water our field (heart) and the water of the Spirit then causes our crops to grow - family, work, relationships - and those things in turn grow up and provide abundance for us, as even what we have of the Spirit is beyond containment and flows to other hearts and their crops, and so on and so on....(I cover this in more detail with Biblical examples in the Balanced Biblical Prosperity series on our site)
And that is how to understand Malachi 3:10 through the eyes of the NT. I had previously taught on the different tithes of the OT law and how 4 of the 6 types of tithe went back to the people who gave the tithe. And we see the NT equivalent in Acts and what Paul wrote. You and I are a royal priesthood - we are a kingdom of priests - so we give to each other. Just do as Paul said in I Corinthians 16:2 - let everyone set aside something according to how God blessed them that week. When you give, it never leaves your life, but enters into your future and will return back to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over....
God pours out His Spirit to water our hearts, and from our heart our crops of life grow...and He give more than enough of His Spirit to water our heart/field, providing enough to flow into the hearts of our neighbor....
New subject next week, until then, blessings,
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