Hello Lovely Family, who has missed us. Yes We are back from our brief hiatus and We would be dishing out the posts every Friday and Monday until we are done with the #Tithing post and then we are back to our regular Monday posts. #Getreadytobeschooled as usual. Thanks for sticking with us. Now savour this post.
The book of Malachi: Conversation or Argument?
100 years after Nehemiah, the prophet Malachi had come to observe a Jerusalem far worse than it was in Nehemiah’s days. The author of this book expresses the issues of Israel like a poem in which God accuses Israel and Israel, in defiance, rather than be sober for their sins, accuse God too for not being faithful as in the days of yore (I like that word. Lol!). If you look at the poetic book of Malachi from the very first pages, you would see that wrestling nature that is quintessentially Israel. God says “I have loved you”, the wrestler says “In what way have You loved us” (Mal. 1:2). It’s like a Father trying to give a stubborn first-born reason to realize just how special he is. That’s how the author keeps this discussion. God accusing Israel of their wrong deeds and Israel disagreeing rhetorically.
This generation addressed by the prophet had become way more notorious and evil than their ancestor, Jacob. Rather than wrestle for a blessing they wrestled to show God that His ways are irrelevant. From arguing about the importance of good sacrifices (for they had become like Cain who offered unworthily), to disagreeing about their reasons for divorce, accusing God of favoring evil men over godly men and even claiming that YHWH, the God of the Angelic Armies (commonly interpreted God of Host), had gotten weak for refusing to bring his presence to the tabernacle. This argument was intense and, believe you me, the author’s poetic style shows just how much guts Israel had to keep on disagreeing with the Almighty. They were boldly breaking His laws I tell you.
It’s important to understand that this poetic rendering of the book is the reality of what these people did in the land they had returned to. The discussion, in a sense, begins to be more specific in chapter 2 when God starts to talk directly to the Holy elites in the land, the priests.
The first accused God-Robbers
“And now, you priests, this warning is for you” (Mal 2:1). From this point on we can see God addressing issues with their services and hearts. He accused them for their lack of integrity, then he accuses them of being unfaithful and says they have wearied Him with their talk because they accuse him of not being a just God. God responds with a prophecy in chapter 3 by letting them know of the Messiah who will vindicate his Name by executing His true justice. What exactly is His true justice? Then the discussion becomes more specific to my research in verse 6. God accuses them of not returning [to Him], they argue again “how are we to return”? It’s interesting to note that this discussion is still with the priests. God accuses them of robbing Him in verse 8, they argue again with a question. In verse 9 God says “You are under a curse, even your whole nation, because you are robbing me” (Mal. 3:9). There is a curse for not tithing and both the priests and the nation have been placed under it. Now God urges them to bring all the tithe into the storehouse… why? “That there may be food in my house” (Mal. 3: 10). I know you want me to tell you about the huge blessings that followed this but you could read it up yourself if you really want to know. At this moment I paused, went back, and read this again “That there may be food in my house”. I screamed! This was my eureka moment. I started to see dimensions of visions so I took my new knowledge of Ezra, Nehemiah and Malachi and started researching ancient texts, literatures and scriptures to see if what I might have been hallucinating was seen by others and indeed it was.
You see that statement creates a new question. Who would eat all of this food in the storehouse? I wondered if what God really wanted when gave Moses the laws of tithes and offerings was for the other 12 tribes to cater for the needs of one so they could improve his monuments of worship and keep a fat bank account in its treasury so they can be financially rich on paper. I tried imagining some GDP calculations for Levi and it was ridiculous. Assuming every tribe made 100 million yearly, then those who slaved under the sun would be left with 90million after tithe while the ones who served in the most beautiful duties of the land ended up with 120 million. This would be the revenue from tithing alone. By the time you include all those other offerings wen be like 15-20% of annual income, the tribe of Levi fit dey enter like 300 million while others would be left with like 50 to 60 million annually. Where is the Justice in that? I’m sure God’s true Justice, estimated financially, must be true to the very last calculation.
I started to realize that the most neglected reason for tithing mentioned earlier i.e. provisions of food for the poor, was the most important reason for tithing. Yes salaries, money and building maintenance was important but feeding the people of God who couldn’t afford to feed was the crucial thing. These Levites were receiving tithes from the people of Israel but they weren’t putting it in the storehouse so that the House of God would be a house of plenty. They were keeping it all to themselves. They weren’t paying a tithe of the tithe and the people weren’t paying their tithes too. Remember God accused them of their lack of integrity. They robbed him. I wonder how familiar this sounds today.
I want to share a little more depth into those verses so that you can see why the storehouse is the purpose of all the offering and tithing laws that the Israelites were subjected to. It was to teach them how to properly take care of the ones God has put under their care. Well let’s not stop there because we would discover that many years later, when the Messiah Malachi prophesied about came to the very same land or Jerusalem, He addressed the very same issue but in a subtler way. His words are frequently quoted as a common verse for pro-tithing Christians. The promised Messiah would bring about God’s true Justice and He would teach this in ways the common eyes might just overlook because we are no longer used to seeing things in scriptures the way the first generation of Christians did.
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God bless you.