“Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house, and try Me now in this, says the LORD of hosts, if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you such blessing that there will not be room enough to receive it” ~ Malachi 3:8-10
There are three words which describe how the church in the last century has been so successful in obtaining the tithe, fear, guilt and intimidation. Pastors have quoted this passage using every cliché imaginable, “Tithe up brother,” If you don’t tithe, you are cursed,” and “You can’t afford not to give,” are but a few used to induce the fear that if you don’t give at least 10% of your gross income, you are out of God’s favor and in jeopardy of God’s scourging.
When compared to Numbers 18:21-24 and Nehemiah 10:37, the usual interpretation of “bring the whole tithe into the storehouse” has been turned into an appalling lie which, for the integrity of God’s truth and for what is advantageous to Christ’s church, must stop immediately. To gain a clear understanding of what and of who Malachi is speaking about all four chapters should be read and the context considered. Several questions should be considered when reading all four chapters such as, “Who is God speaking about?, Is he speaking to one group of people or many? Does he address more than one group of people? It becomes clear in the first chapter that Malachi addresses the open contempt of the priests for the braking of the Law and their negative influence upon the people. Just six verses into chapter one he says, “To you priests who despise My name.” And following through to chapter two Malachi opens by saying, “And now, O priest, this commandment is for you. If you will not hear, and if you will not take it to heart, to give glory to My name, says the Lord of host, I will send a curse upon you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have cursed them already, because you do not take it to heart.“
The natural result of corrupt leadership becomes the bane of the people, an epidemic which produces bankrupt values. In effect, the priest offered what was blind, lame and sick as a sacrifice, the priest broke their vows, corrupted the covenant and did not regard the offering as a good will offering, and by doing so provoked the LORD of host to curse the nation.
Malachi 1:6 and 2:1 offers evidence that God is specifically addressing the priest, not the people! These two verses are the keys which unlock the entire book of Malachi. God is rebuking His ministers, the priest who are guilty of dishonoring God and despising His name, not the people. This is confirmed if you follow the pronoun “you” from Malachi 1:6 on through the end of the book. Chapter 2:1 becomes the greatest key as for the second time God distinctly makes it clear He is specifically addressing the priest, not the people. Since there is no corresponding text anywhere else in the book of Malachi that God has changed his primary audience, then the conclusion must be that God did not change his audience for the remainder of the book.
The word “curse” occurs seven times in the book of Malachi, 1:14, 2:2, 3:9, 4:6, and again are all directed towards the priests themselves, not the people (See Footnotes) How is it then that so many preachers ignore the many uses of the word “curse” in Malachi when they preach on the curse of Malachi 3:9? And lastly, there is the issue of the law, the priest self-deceivingly claimed the privileges of the covenant, while neglecting the conditions of it as if God were bound by it to bless them. The covenant is said to be not merely “of life and peace 2:6,” but “life and peace” for the keeping of the law. The priest neglected their covenant relationship with God by robbing Him of the tithes and offerings 3:8-12. Nothing is said here of the people, in fact, all indication is given that the people gave tithes according to the law. Which brings us to the most important part of our discussion here, the New Testament Church is not bound by the law, either for blessings or curses. “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree” ~ Galatians 3:13. The law makes demands no one can keep, and obedience to the law is to be absolute in every detail. A feat only Christ Himself accomplished!
The covenant made at Sinai witnessed the era of Israel’s birth as a nation. It was then that God created them as a people for His own possession (Malachi 2:10). The law revealed the holiness of God and the sin of the people and serves as a reminder that the law only condemns. It could not save but was the schoolmaster to Christ (Galatians 3:24). The covenant of Grace unlike that of the law is an unconditional, everlasting covenant spoken of as “The New Covenant” or “The New Testament,” and was an agreement ratified by the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The New Covenant is referred to as a “Better Covenant” (Heb 7:22; 8:6) because it was established on grace and truth, plus the reality of Christ’s Covenant exceeds that of the Levitical priesthood just as substance surpasses shadow. Why then do we see a bleeding over of a legalistic system where it concerns giving (tithing) into the Covenant of Grace? For far too long Pastors have used the iron fist of the law as a means of obtaining finances. The very fabric of the modern Church structure is manufactured on an outdated form of economics using the machinery of archaic times. As it was during the era of Malachi, spiritual decline produces failure in the stewardship of possessions. The old garments of the law have been cast off, the Levitical priesthood failed to reach perfection so another priest after a better order has appeared. Just as there has been a change in the priesthood it was of necessity there is also a change of the law (Heb 7:12). Jesus Christ, who’s priesthood is in the likeness of Melchizedek has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life (Heb. 7:14-16).
For the modern Church, tithing has become the anvil for profit seekers and hirelings who’s objective is personal gain rather than the care and provision of the needy. For example, Ed Young’s recent sermon “Show Me The Money.” Ed Young delivered a tithing sermon to scare, humiliate, intimidate, and offend his church members into giving 10% of their income. If you go to a church where the preacher tells the people that they are obligated to give 10% of their income to the church, you probably have heard many of these same things. But Mr. Young puts them all together in one single mammoth of a manipulative, self-serving, heretical sermon. There is nothing new under the sun and these types of tactics have been advocated across denominational lines. So I ask you, when your preacher has to use fear, guilt, intimidation, humiliation, and manipulation as methods of securing finance, is he doing so through a legalistic approach or do you really believe he is operating via the principles of grace? Preachers who use unsympathetic techniques to assure income either for themselves or the church organization do so out of concern for their own livelihood. For a pastor to say you’re doing the church no good by just showing up and not tithing, that you’re better off staying home or, if you don’t tithe don’t bother coming back, is uncaring, indifferent, and uncaring for the body of Christ.
Just as Salvation is by Grace through faith, New Testament Giving is regarded as the gift of grace. Believers don’t give because they have to or because they are compelled or commanded to. Believers don’t give to secure an extravagant lifestyle for its leadership so that they can live in expensive mansions, drive luxury cars, or purchase privet jets. No, believers give simply to exemplify Jesus. For the believer, giving is not just a part of our created make up, it is an expression of the nature of God within us to others. The grace we receive from God finds expression in the grace we give to others. New Testament giving should be patterned after the Divine example revealed in Jesus. Giving should always be on the bases of love, love for God, for other believers and for the lost. Grace is a universal principle that Christ gave us through the cross. He gave all, His very life for the sake of the world.
Grace however becomes contaminated anytime the jurisdiction of the law is set over the values of New Testament giving. It is not the amount that is as important as it is the motive in the giving. Prior to any legal requirement, Abraham responded to Melchizedek’s office, generosity, and blessing by giving a tithe of all the spoils gathered in a recent war (Gen. 14:18-20). Abraham received the grace in giving that was not found in the Livitical Law. It is the priestly order of Melchizedek that Christ’s priesthood rises from (Hebrews 7), thus, giving today is a matter of liberty. The dispensation of the law is a parenthesis between Abraham’s dispensation of promise and its enduring fulfillment at Christ’s coming. Abraham’s act affirmed Melchizedek’s superiority even to the Levitical priest themselves. Now here is where an argument can be made in defense of the tithe, Abraham gave a tenth. And pastors are quick to point that fact out, however, the tenth Abraham gave was strictly a free will offering. A study of the context reveals Abraham kept nothing for himself, he gave it all, a tenth to Melchizedek and the rest was divided up between his men. A tithe may be implied through the example of Abraham but still cannot be imposed. There are many examples of Grace giving in the New Testament, examples which would serve the Church well, if practiced. (Acts 4:32-35; 2 Corinthians 8-9)
 Curse 2764 ḥērem: To be set aside for destruction. Example: The entire city of Jericho was a deadly threat to the formation of God’s people and fell under a ban, except for Rahab and her family (Jos_6:17-18), and was set aside for destruction.
Curse 779 ’ārar: This verb, in a more specific sense, means to bind (with a spell); to hem in with obstacles; to render powerless to resist. It is sometimes used as an antonym of bāraḵ (H1288). In Genesis 3, God renders curses on the serpent, the woman, and the man for their sins in the Garden of Eden
Curse 3994 me’ērāh: It refers to God’s sending evil or destruction on His disobedient people (Deu_28:20; Mal_2:2; Mal_3:9)