Malachi 3:8-9 is one of the most misused and abused Scriptures in the Bible.
Many who quote this passage have never studied the entire book of Malachi (it’s only four chapters long). Therefore, they don’t know the historical background behind it. This lack of knowledge makes it very easy for religious leaders to misuse Malachi 3:8-9 for financial gain.
It is important to study the context surrounding a passage of Scripture so that we understand its meaning and won’t fall prey to Scripture-twisting.
Firstly, who was God rebuking when He said “you have robbed Me of tithes and offerings” and “you are cursed with a curse”? Malachi 1:6 and Malachi 2:1-9 indicate that God was specifically rebuking dishonest Levitical priests, not the general assembly of Israel or New Covenant Believers.
Secondly, when did this take place? Knowing the time period is important. Malachi 3:8-9 took place during the Old Covenant era while the curses of the law were still in effect (see Deuteronomy 28:15-68).
These curses are no longer in effect and do not apply to New Covenant Believers, because the Old Covenant is obsolete (Hebrews 8:7-13). God has replaced the Old Covenant with the New Covenant, which is a far better covenant based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).
We are not under the Old Covenant law nor its curses. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Old Covenant law, having become a curse for us (Galatians 3:13). Pronouncing curses from the Old Covenant upon born-again Believers is anti-Gospel and equivalent to witchcraft.
Let’s look at the historical context surrounding Malachi 3:8-9.
During this time, the Levitical priests represented the nation of Israel before God. As such, not only did their disobedience bring a curse upon themselves, but also upon the entire nation of Israel whom they represented.
What did the Levitical priests do to bring a curse on themselves and the nation of Israel? Here are God’s charges against them:
They despised God’s name by presenting defiled food on the altar, they kept the best for themselves and offered God blemished sacrifices, they were swindlers, they complained about serving God, they caused many to stumble, they corrupted their priestly covenant (the covenant of Levi), they showed partiality, they mistreated their wives, they cheated employees of their wages, they oppressed widows and orphans, turned aside the stranger, and they robbed God of tithes and offerings.
Let’s zoom in on God’s charge against them regarding the tithe. How did the Levitical priests rob God of tithes? What were they doing? In order to understand how they robbed God of tithes, you have to know how tithing worked during the Old Covenant. Pay close attention.
You may not be aware of this, but there were three different tithes during the Old Covenant: The Levitical Tithe, The Festival Tithe, and The Poor Tithe.
1. The Levitical Tithe was the first tithe. This tithe provided food for the Levites and the priests, since they received no inheritance of land in Israel (Numbers 18:21).
2. The Festival Tithe was the second tithe. This tithe provided food for festivals in Israel and was eaten/drank by tithers and their family (Deuteronomy 14:22-27).
3. The Poor Tithe was the third tithe. This tithe was stored in the nearest town and used as a “food pantry” for poor people in the local area (Deuteronomy 14:28-29).
These three tithes were carried out over a 7-year cycle, with a break from tithing during the 7th year because it was a Sabbath year of rest. No one was allowed to “work the soil” by sowing and reaping during Sabbath years, and thus, no one was suppose to tithe during Sabbath years. Sabbath years gave the soil in Israel a time to rest and replenish nutrients (Leviticus 25:3-7).
Now that we’ve briefly covered the three tithes in the Old Covenant, we’re going to talk a little bit more about The Levitical Tithe, because this is the tithe that God was rebuking the priests for stealing. Once you understand how The Levitical Tithe worked, Malachi 3:8-9 will make even more sense to you.
So, how did The Levitical Tithe work?
Once again, The Levitical Tithe was the first tithe. The purpose of this tithe was to provide food for the Tribe of Levi since they did not inherit land with the other tribes.
Here is how it was carried out. . .
The tithers in Israel (farmers and shepherds) would transport their tithe (one-tenth of their crops, herds, and flocks) to the Levites who lived in nearby Levitical cities (remember, there were 48 cities set aside for the Levites to live in because they did not inherit land with the other tribes).
The Levites would then transport *only* one-tenth of this tithe to the Old Covenant temple in Jerusalem when it was their turn to assist the priests. This is the ONLY portion of tithe that made it to the temple in Jerusalem. Let me make it plain: out of all 3 tithes — only 10% of The Levitical Tithe ever made it to the temple in Jerusalem.
Once that tenth of The Levitical tithe made it to the temple into the hands of the priests, the priests were supposed to present it as an offering to the Lord and put it in the storehouse so that there would be food in God’s house. The food in the storehouse was supposed to be shared with the poor and with the Levites who assisted the priests at the temple.
Yet Malachi 1:14 shows that the priests offered up the worst of this tithe to God and kept the best part for themselves — God considered this to be robbing HIM.
The priests did not put this tithe in the storehouse so that there would be food in God’s house to share with the poor and the Levites who assisted them at the temple — they kept it for themselves — God considered this to be robbing HIM.
As we can see, the issue was not that the general people were robbing God of tithes and offerings. The issue was that the PRIESTS (the religious leaders) were robbing God of tithes and offerings by keeping it for themselves and offering up the worst part to God.
There’s sin in the camp! Just like Achan’s sin, the priest’s disobedience impacted everyone, and God cursed the whole nation of Israel by sending devourers (pests and diseases) to consume their crops (Deuteronomy 28:18). He also shut up the windows of heaven (the clouds) by withholding rainfall which caused a drought (Deuteronomy 28:23-24).
Religious leaders who twist Malachi 3:8-9 to obtain 10% of your income are operating in witchcraft. It is divination and sorcery to misuse God’s word to pronounce empty curses on blood-bought Believers. Leaders who are guilty of such are the one’s robbing God.
If a leader claims that you are “robbing God” and “cursed with a curse” if you don’t pay 10% of your income to his 501 c3 organization, please know that he is lying on God, twisting the Scriptures like Satan, and in disobedience to God.
No weapon formed against you shall prosper. This is fear-mongering and condemnation, which utterly opposes the Gospel.
The God-robber is the person standing in the pulpit operating in witchcraft like Balaam who tried to curse God’s people for financial gain.
“Like a fluttering sparrow or a darting swallow, an undeserved curse will not land on its intended victim.” (Proverbs 26:2)
For further study, read the book of Nehemiah. Nehemiah and Malachi were contemporaries, and Nehemiah provides additional background information to Malachi 3:8-9.
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