MALACHIChangesI the Lord do not change. (Malachi 3:6)
Every event changes us in some way. Some changes are immediate and obvious while some changes are subtle and are not obvious until much later. As we remember the tragedy of September 11, 2001, we can't help but see how Americans have changed and how certain changes have affected all of us. There is not one area in our lives that has not been changed to some degree ranging from the commonplace act of receiving mail to how we travel.
While we focus on the external changes, think on how the tragedy of 9/11 has also changed us within. More people are praying. More people are joining churches. More people are establishing lifelong relationships with God and others. More people are practicing the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" (Matthew 7:12). And most importantly, more people are seeking God for answers, comfort, encouragement and peace.
As we remember the tragedy that changed our circumstances a year ago, let's also remember the sovereign God who did not change. He is still in control. He has promised us that He is the Lord Almighty and he changes not.
"SOS" Means "Same Old Story"
I the Lord do not change. (Malachi 3:6)
SOS are the letters represented by a radio distress signal. SOS generally means a call for help or rescue. Even though we are Christians, we still need help. In fact, sometimes Christians need more help than non-Christians. We have our own way of communicating to God without a radio distress signal. We can call out to God from our innermost being. We can do that through prayer.
For the Christian, SOS means the "Same Old Story" because the story of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost never changes. Unlike computers that change rapidly with a feature added or a feature upgrade, the story about God is the same. We don't have to wonder if His commandments will change to compete with political or famous religious leaders. We need not fear that God's word will change to fit our lifestyle. It should be the opposite. We should let our lifestyles fit the word of God.
So, if you are waiting for God to be updated, remodeled, or changed in any way, you are waiting in vain. The Same Old Story is that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
God, Our Only Constant
I the Lord do not change. (Malachi 3:6)
Anything that's constant is something that is invariable or unchanging. The word "constant" in math refers to a number that has a universal fixed value. This number does not change value whether it is used in the United States or some other part of the world. A constant is anything that stands firm and is consistent.
A good synonym for constant is faithful. "The Lord is faithful." (1 Thessalonians 3:3) Anyone who is faithful is one who can be depended upon continually. God is indeed faithful. God is our only constant. God is our only constant because He is the only one who does not change. He is the only one who does not deviate from His regular course. God is the only one who never fails to do what He has promised.
Well meaning friends and family members may start out being faithful. They might have good intentions to remain faithful. But what happens when they become weak and frail themselves and can no longer fulfill their promises? They change. Of course, it might not be any fault of their own, but what started out to be constant has fallen by the wayside.
God is our only constant because He never falls by the wayside. He never grows weary or refuses to help. He is with us even when we fail to acknowledge His presence. Friends and family members are good to have, but in times of dire need, we want someone who is constant; someone who never changes. If you are looking for a constant friend; someone who will always be there for you, then let it be God. After all, He said it Himself: "I the Lord do not change." (Malachi 3:6)
God: Our Only Constant
For I am the LORD, I change not. (Malachi 3:6)
The word "constant" means unchanging. Someone who is constant cannot easily be moved. He is steadfast and firm. God is our constant friend. That means He is faithful and will not change His mind about us. When we murmur against God and do not feel His presence, it is not God who changed. When we get angry with God about things that are going wrong in our lives, we should not blame God. Yes, something changed. Yes, someone changed. But it was not God who changed. God's mercy toward us never changes. God said about Himself, "For I am the LORD, I change not."
God is our only constant. Our family and friends might disappoint us by changing their minds and reneging on their promises. Because of God's immutable faithfulness, He is bound by His words. He doesn't break His promises. "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us." (2 Corinthians 1:20)
God is our only constant. We can depend on God to do what He said He would do. When we have problems, someone does change. Since it is not God who changes, guess who does?
Would A Man Rob God?
Would a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, "How do we rob you?" (Malachi 3:8)
We know this familiar question from the Book of Malachi. We associate this verse with tithing. However, the Book of Malachi is NOT about tithing. This short prophetic book was written to rebuke the people of Israel for their shallow worship practices. Unlike any other book in the Bible, Malachi is written in the form of a debate. God first makes a statement of truth that is then denied by the people. God then refutes their argument, restates and proves what He had originally said. Such an example involves the question: "Would a man rob God? And the truth is "Yet you rob me." Malachi uses questions and answers freely to focus his accusations toward the people.
Even though Malachi is one of the most argumentative books of the Bible, it was written to call the people back to authentic worship of God.
Explanation of Malachi 3:6-12
Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, "How do we rob you?" In tithes and offerings . . ." (Malachi 3:8)
Even though the above passage is overused as an offering appeal, the explanation of Malachi 3:6-12 goes much deeper than that. This is the sixth of seven rhetorical questions God asks in the Book of Malachi. To get the full meaning of Chapter 3, one should read Chapters 1 and 2 to see what has led up to this particular question about robbing God which is just part of a much bigger picture.
Malachi 3:6-12 is just as much about returning to God, being obedient and honoring our vows to God as it is about tithes and offerings. The ought God had against His people at that particular time was that they had turned away from Him. When He confronted them, they did what we do when we are confronted. They acted as if they didn't know how they had turned away. So God gives another example in this passage even though He had given other examples in Chapters 1 and 2. This time He reminds them of their covenant to give a tenth of everything to the temple. (Leviticus 27:30, Numbers 18:21) Because of their disobedience not to tithe from the land, God brought a curse on the land. Tithing was to provide resources for the upkeep of the temple and for the priests whose job was to maintain the temple. Since the firstfruits of the crops and animals had stopped coming, there was no food in the storehouse. Since the people had not kept their part of the agreement, God had cursed their land by withholding rain to produce crops. Hence, "you are cursed with a curse." (Malachi 3:9) That which you use to rob God is the same thing God uses to curse you. That's why God said if you want the curse of the land to be lifted, you must bring the tenth (the full tithe) of your crops and your animals to the temple. And when you do this, God promised to open the floodgates of heaven and allow it to rain again to produce more crops.
Those were the conditions and the promises contained in Malachi 3:6-12 for God's people at THAT time. Does the passage mean the same thing to us TODAY? While there definitely is a parallel and a life application, we must understand what the passage MEANT to the original audience before we can get the full measure of what it MEANS to us.
Today God doesn't expect us to give produce from the land so there would be food for the priests or animals to be sacrificed. But He does command us to give so the Word of God may be spread. He has not cursed our land so that our crops won't grow. However, He will withhold other blessings from us. He didn't say He would open the windows so we could have an overflowing blessing of rain on our fields. However, our tithing does open the windows for a blessing, and our offerings determine the size of the flow.
Malachi 3:10 is NOT a promise to us for material things. Many of the Old Testament scriptures are promises for prosperity in the form of good land and fertile soil so that a bountiful crop could be produced. First the physical, natural and material, but during this dispensation of grace, our blessings are spiritual and supernatural. (1 Corinthians 15:46) Being obedient to God in our giving is not a guarantee that we will get a new house, new car, new boat, or even have grapes on our vines. Being obedient to God in our giving as in every commandment is to put ourselves in the position to receive more...more of God and more spiritual blessings.
So the next time you use these scriptures as an offering appeal, perhaps this explanation will help you bring the meaning from the THEN to the NOW.
What is a Blessing?
. . . and I will pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it. (Malachi 3:10)
We all want God to bless us. We want to receive God's blessings on a continuing basis. Have you ever considered what it is you are asking God for when you ask Him to bless you?
A blessing is a hopeful prayer. It is one way of asking for God's divine favor to rest upon you or others. When we ask God to bless us, we are really asking for God's protection, His mercy and His compassion. Embedded in that word "blessing," we are also asking for those things to manifest within our lives that God has already planned for us anyway. Our greatest blessing starts with Jesus. If you want a blessing that leads to other blessings, ask God to bless you by letting His Son become Lord of your life.
Testing the Tithe
Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house, and thus put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts; see if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you an overflowing blessing. (Malachi 3:10)
Have you ever receive a free sample in the mail? The purpose of a free sample is for you to try it and to test it with the hope of loving the small portion so much that you will head right to the store and buy the full size. In Malachi 3:10 God asks you to test him to see what He can do for you in full measure.
In essence, God challenges us to willingly give Him the small portion that we owe Him anyway and see if He will not open the windows of heaven and POUR down an OVERFLOWING blessing. If you want to continue getting raises that amount to almost nothing, then don't tithe. If you are satisfied with making it from payday to payday, then don't tithe. If you are content with having your money run out before the month ends, then don't tithe. BUT, if you are tired of the above situations, then...TITHE! Put God to the test. Tithing works! Tithing is a kingdom principle that works if only we would so diligently test it.
So, go on and test your tithes. "God's word will never return to Him void" (Isaiah 55:11).
Why Serve God?
Now we count the arrogant happy; evildoers not only prosper, but when they put God to the test they escape. (Malachi 3:14)
If evildoers prosper and Christians who serve God don't, why serve God? If evildoers escape punishment and Christians are pruned to bear fruit, why serve God? If evildoers can lie in bed on Sunday mornings, while Christians go to Sunday School and church, why serve God? If evildoers seem to be enjoying the "good life" while Christians are busy working for the kingdom, why serve God?
In Malachi 3:14, people harshly complained they could see no point in serving God especially since the evildoers were prospering and those who served God received no special reward. In responding to this complaint, God did not try to convince them that the righteous were better off. He told them that He keeps a "book of remembrance" (Malachi 3:16) on which He records those who serve Him, and that sometimes in the future He will come as a judge and destroy the wicked and preserve those who serve Him. The value of serving God will be obvious someday, even if it is not today.
Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Malachi 3:18)
Everyone who professes to serve God, doesn't do so wholeheartedly. Everyone who says, "Lord, Lord" may not necessary allow God to be the Lord of their lives. In order to grow spiritually, every Christian should develop discernment. According to the above scripture, you should recognize the difference between the righteous and the wicked. You should be able to detect the hypocrites who profess to serve God on Sunday; yet the rest of the week they dishonor Him with their sexual immoralities and idol worshipping.
"Discernment" is a word that is not in our everyday conversation. Maybe it should be. To discern something is to have good understanding about it. It implies being aware of something when there is no physical evidence to prove it. Discerning is "just knowing." It is having insight and perception about something. To discern is to detect or comprehend with the mind.
What's the point of having discernment? It helps us to be watchful. It keeps us from letting our guards down when people try to "snowball" us, "pull the wool over our eyes," or "hood wink" us. A true Christian will recognize the many disguises of the wicked one and act accordingly.