Who Robbed Who of WHAT in Malachi?
by Patricia Backora
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Malachi 3: 10: Who Robbed Who of What?
YE ARE CURSED WITH A CURSE! How many times a Sunday is this execration bellowed forth from pulpits far and wide, all across America? Preachers are like grave robbers digging for buried treasure. Christ took the old Law with Him to the Cross and nailed it there (Col.2:14). But preachers dig up their favorite part of the Law, Malachi 3:8-10, up from the grave of sweet forgetfulness and reapply it to Christians who are NOT under the Law of Moses (Rom.6:14). They care not that in reimposing any part of the Law of Moses upon those justified by faith, they are bringing blood-washed saints back under the Curse of the Law and causing them to stumble and run the risk of falling from grace (Gal.3:10; 5:4). If you bind yourself to observe one part of the old Law you are spiritually bound to keep it ALL! Christ pronounced a “woe” upon any devious person who would offend (cause to stumble ) babes in Christ (Matt.18:6).
Let’s read this passage, which has caused so much bondage and fear out in the congregation and profited so many preachers: Malachi 3:8-10.
Malachi 3:8: Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
VERSE 9: Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
VERSE 10: Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat (food, not money!) in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Whenever preachers excoriate the congregation with dreadful execrations for defrauding “God” of monetary tithes, they’ll soften the blow just a bit at the end of verse 10, by repeating God’s promise to pour out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. Why, then, have I read countless testimonies which prove just the opposite? Far from bringing a blessing upon us, returning to the Law of Moses or any part of it actually results in a curse (Gal.3:10). In one religious sect, members were required to double-tithe as punishment if, even out of great hardship, they “borrowed the tithe” to spend on family necessities. Seems to me like those folks should have been SHOWERED with blessings!
Instead, there were woeful tales of kids who rarely saw their parents because both parents had to go out to work all kinds of crazy hours to earn “tithe money” for their “church”, which was run by a control freak who lived high on the hog. Kids went without decent food, dental care, new shoes, etc., just so tithes could be paid to the pampered leadership of their sect. At their “annual feasts” the congregation would gather in a big hall to chow down on boiled beans while the “leadership” ate separately in a fancier dining room, feasting on the finest. The question remains: Why all the hardship if tithing brings blessings? Those poor kids who suffered privations had PLENTY of room to receive more from God! That abominable religious system which oppressed those poor people caused parents to have to neglect their children because they had to be out working like slaves. When poor people pay their bills, there is often just a very thin margin of disposable (spendable) income left to buy the necessities of life. Whenever Christians take the food out of their own kids’ mouths to “pay tithes”, they are literally forced to disobey I Timothy 5:8: But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.* * * Lots of “infidels” are being churned out by infidels behind modern pulpits!
God DID promise to pour out His blessings upon SOMEONE who was asked to tithe SOMETHING at some point in history, but who was this Scripture talking about? We don’t have to pay tithes to a religious hierarchy INVENTED BY MEN anymore than we’re responsible for paying George Washington’s phone bill! Christ DID NOT ordain a two-tier clergy-laity distinction in the Body of Christ! He said we are all to treat each other equally as being brethren in the Lord (Matt.23:8). The early church had their elders, apostles, and deacons, but those men were there to SERVE God’s people, not to make slaves of them! For the first couple of centuries after Pentecost God’s people related to each other on an equal basis as brothers and sisters. Elders shared the wisdom of the Lord as fellow brethren, rather than mounting a tall pulpit and threatening God’s retribution for failure to give generously for the upkeep of the institutional church.
First, let’s address the question of WHO was robbing God in Malachi. Malachi 3:9 says: ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. But the word “even” is in italics. Any word in italics was added by translators. In reality, whoever was doing the robbing was defrauding not only God, but the whole nation.
WHO is God addressing in this book of Malachi? Just two verses before our main text, God says:
Malachi 3:6: For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye SONS OF JACOB are not consumed. Are WE literal sons of Jacob? I don’t think so, at least not the majority of those who are reading this! Was God also addressing the sons (or daughters) of Gentiles far and wide, of all times? Forget religious sentiment! A plain reading of Scripture does NOT support preachers’ contentions that Malachi (and its many rebukes) are addressed to the Church of Jesus Christ living under the New Covenant! That’s just as stupid as saying that I Samuel 28: 16 is directed at the Body of Christ. But I wouldn’t put anything past today’s greedy preachers. If they could make an easy buck by convincing Christians that the ghost of the prophet Samuel pronounced judgment not only upon King Saul but also upon modern-day Christians, they wouldn’t hesitate to misapply I Samuel 28:16 just like they twist Malachi to line their own pockets. It really boils down to this: preachers are running a protection racket to protect God’s people from an obsolete curse which had nothing whatsoever to do with monetary tithing either in the Old Testament or now! They are threatening Christ’s redeemed ones with a curse! THEY ARE ACTUALLY THREATENING CHRIST HIMSELF! When you sin against the brethren in any way, you sin directly against Jesus (Matt.25:40; I Cor.8:12). What a damnable sin preachers commit against the Body of Christ! Christ REDEEMED us from the curse of the Law (Gal.3:13). HOW DARE those greedy serpents (Matt.23:33) put Old Covenant curses back on God’s people! Those who “beat their fellow-servants” with vile lies are merciless thieves and crooks who will themselves receive no mercy from God (Luke 12:45-46; James 2:13).
As much as preachers might deny it, it was the SONS OF JACOB, not the sons of other nations who were held responsible for those sins in the book of Malachi! Now, what sins were those rascally “sons” of Jacob guilty of committing? Malachi 3:5 says:
And I will come near to you in judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the LORD of hosts.
Notice that the hireling (wage earner) is lumped together with other oppressed groups, such as the widow and the fatherless. How can anybody construe that the rebukes of Malachi are aimed at the poor wage earner? Can the hireling oppress the hireling?
Just three verses later in Malachi 3:8, we read God’s first mention of tithing in this book. Now why would God suddenly shift gears in mid-stream and decide to level His rebukes at the very ones who are being victimized by the sins in this particular book of Scripture?
The Sons of Jacob (Israel) were divided into twelve tribes and many sub-clans. WHICH “sons of Jacob” is God primarily addressing in the Book of Malachi? Let’s go back to the very beginning of Malachi for a clue.
Malachi 1:6: A son honoureth his father, and a servant honoureth his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the Lord of hosts unto you O PRIESTS, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
VERSE 7: Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye (the priests) say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.
VERSE 8: And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? Offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the LORD of hosts.
AHA! So it’s the PRIESTS OF ISRAEL this book is addressed to! To claim that this book is an indictment against 21st-century Christian believers is spiritual abuse of God’s people, plain and simple. Ordinary Israelites weren’t permitted by God to even come NEAR the Tabernacle of the Congregation, on pain of death (Num.18:22). The Israelites’ Tabernacle was NOT the Old Testament counterpart of today’s “church building”. Ordinary Israelites did not congregate in the Tabernacle of the Congregation to sing songs, put money in the plate, or hold potluck dinners. They definitely did NOT carry “tithe money” into that Tabernacle, either!
Not only are monetary tithes extracted from God’s people by misinterpretation and misuse of Malachi, so are “offerings above and beyond the tithe”. But what did God demand in offerings? Well, if you’ll reread verse 8 it speaks of bad offerings being lame, blind and sick! How on earth can a hundred-dollar bill be lame, blind and sick? Get real! Do preachers think we’re stupid? God is clearly referring to offerings of ANIMAL SACRIFICES in this passage, nothing more and nothing less! If any of you have ever been asked by your preacher for an animal sacrifice to be brought to church to be burnt on the altar, please let me know about it. That would hit the headlines!
Malachi 3:3 reinforces my belief that the Book of Malachi is addressed by God to the priesthood of Israel, not to us:
And he (God) shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; and he shall purify THE SONS OF LEVI, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.* * * *WHO is God purifying here, so that they may offer up the LORD’s offering in righteousness? The SONS OF LEVI!
God’s tithes weren’t being brought into the Temple storehouse (Heb.owtsar), which simply means a granary to store food, not a bank for hippie bread! We’ve clarified what God demanded as offerings to lay on the altar, but what did God demand as tithes?
If it was grown BY THE LAND or nourished BY THE LAND (grain, fruit, cattle, sheep, etc.) it was a tithable commodity (Lev.27:30; 32-33). Even under the Law, money was NOT a tithable commodity! Those who earned their living through banking, midwifery, carpentry, fishing, etc., did not owe any tithes in ancient Israel, unless they raised crops or livestock on the side!
The farming family would set aside one tithe of their crops to consume at the three annual feasts in Jerusalem (Deut.14:22-27). Every three years a special tithe was “laid up within their city gates” to feed poor people (verses 28-29). Whenever the tithing storehouses were empty, that vital social safety net for hungry poor people wasn’t available. The poor, as well as the Levites, would have been robbed if tithing were neglected by those who grew or raised tithable commodities in the Land of Israel. It was not the weaver or fisherman who was liable for supplying edible tithes, so God’s rebuke could not have been aimed at everybody in the nation for failure to tithe!
The priests’ tithe of the tithe (heave offering) was the one addressed by Malachi. The Tribe of Levi would receive as wages for their service the Levitical tithe, which constituted ten per cent of all the agricultural produce of Israel (Num.18:21). But they, in turn, were to present ten per cent of their tithe to the actual priesthood, the Aaronic sub-clan of the tribe of Levi who outranked all other Levites and actually served at the altar (Num.18:25-32). It was the LEVITES (sons of Levi), not the other tribes of Israel, who were being rebuked by God for failure to bring their “tithe of the tithe” to the storehouse so that the officiating priests in the Temple could eat and be satisfied.
Neglect of the tithing storehouses resulted in hunger for poor widows, aliens, orphans and others, including the “hireling”, or wage earner. Wage earners were poor in those days, and at great risk of going hungry at least part of the time, because of poor wages, locust plagues, seasonal unemployment, etc. The wage earner, who once helped eat the tithe, often still lives hand to mouth, and is often one or two paychecks away from being out on the street. Yet the wage earner is being spiritually blackmailed by religious tyrants to fork over ten per cent of his paycheck! Aside from the fact that it’s ILLEGAL to mix profitable parts of the Old Covenant with the New Covenant and to substitute money for farm produce, NOT ONE Gentile tithe collector today can prove through reliable genealogical records that he (or she) is descended from Aaron the High Priest and entitled to take any kind of tithes from the people of God! There is no Temple in Jerusalem to tithe to today, and no Levitical priesthood to support. It is an act of gross heresy and robbery to take tithes under the New Covenant, and anybody who collects tithes is an imposter!
Under the Old Covenant, the Levitical priesthood served as intermediaries between a Holy God and His people. No ordinary Israelite would have been allowed to approach things pertaining to the Tabernacle on pain of death (Num.1:51)! Far from being required to bring unscriptural money tithes into the Temple storehouses, “strangers” (or non-Levitical Israelites) were forbidden direct access into the place of God’s Presence, and were forbidden to touch any of His holy things. Only the Levites were permitted to physically enter the Temple storehouses to fill them up. Although all priests were Levites, not all Levites were priests. Most members of the tribe of Levi ranked beneath the priesthood and served them. Far from being a “church building” where ordinary Israelites congregated to hold services, the Tabernacle of Moses’ Day inspired terror in the hearts of God’s people. They were afraid to come anywhere near it (Numbers 17:12-13).
One interesting point to ponder is this: The Children of Israel could not have owed or paid any tithes while they lived in the Wilderness! They were supernaturally fed manna. The Children of Israel could not grow crops to collect tithes from until they entered the Promised Land.
We, the blood-bought church of Jesus Christ, ARE the Temple of God (I Cor.3:16). And, we are the new priesthood of God (I Pet.2: 5,9). We are NOT under the Law of Moses, and we are NOT under the authority of the old Levitical priesthood, who took tithes only from the produce of the Land of Israel. Gentiles and Jews living outside the Land of Israel did not owe any tithes. God’s rebuke TO THE SONS OF LEVI for failure to bring all the tithes into the storehouse could not have been directed to the midwives, fishermen, carpenters, and potters of ancient Israel, and it certainly cannot be aimed at us, at least by God!
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