Malachi was written at a time when the tithe still applied to Israel, and therefore should not be considered as being very relevant one way or the other to the discussion of whether or not the tithe is applicable today.
However, since the Book of Malachi is practically the missal of the pro-tithe doctrine, being by far their single most quoted source, I am including it in our discussion.
When the book of Malachi is brought up, what phrase comes to mind more than “God robber”? This guilt-throwing and accusatory term is the ace up the sleeve of nearly every pro-tithe preacher that I have ever heard, and is used very effectively over and over again to stifle questions or dissent on the subject.
A preacher calling someone a “God-robber” is the moral equivalent of the IRS calling you a “tax cheat” for not paying King George’s stamp tax of 1765.
It seems common in preaching events that at the beginning of the subject, in the middle of a presentation, or when all else fails, pro tithe
preachers inevitably call a non-tither a thief citing Malachi. It is the verbal hand grenade that is supposed to clear their path of any opposition. After all, who wants to think of themselves as a “Godrobber”; or who even wants to admit that someone who is labeled as such may have points worth discussing?
Stick and Stones
It seems a little strange that some people do not like to hear preachers being called liars, deceivers and defrauders, even when evidence for such is abundant; while they do not think twice about preachers calling Christians of the congregation thieves and God-robbers. Mr. R.J.Rushdoony for example has no compunction about calling non-tithers “parasites” with apparently no blowback from the congregation. Is there a bit of a double standard going on here?
Idolatry of preachers, perhaps?
If the preachers are using fraud to live off of the labor and productivity of the congregation, then who is the real parasite? We have often heard a communist handbook quoted as saying “Always call your opponent what you really are”. This tactic, used extensively in politics, appears to be well worn by preachers as well.
Name-calling should not be a problem as long as the unflattering names and identifiers are shown to be factually verifiable descriptions, and not just applied for the sake of dishonest psychological manipulation. In these cases it is no longer malicious slander but an accurate identifying term, and if those who are so described do not like it, they ought to demonstrate that the label is not true, or change their ways so that they deserve a more favorable term to be described with.
Jesus called the moneychangers “thieves” in Matt 21:13 and Mark 11:17, but who did they steal from, if they were just doing business? Their theft came by way of organized deception and coercion – The people were exchanging their street money for “sanctified money” of the same type and denomination but at a higher cost. They were then allowed to offer the sanctified money to the temple. So it is like charging fifty cents for a sanctified quarter that is no different than the two quarters that they are being paid with, except for the fact that they call their special quarter “holy” and acceptable for offering.
So the religious establishment was ripping off the people through the deception of a false doctrine called money changing, much like the situation with today’s tithe. I would call them fraudsters, but Jesus used the harsher word of “thieves”; in essence robbers.
It apparently offended Him greatly that this theft was done in God’s name to people who had a desire to do right by God, and I understand it completely because it is happening everywhere today with the tithe, as well as other money-mooching strategies used by church corporations. People often lament how Christmas, for example, has lost so much of its meaning due to it being exploited and commercialized, but then, what can you expect from a religion industry that itself is based on exploitation and commercialization?
John the Baptist used the word “vipers” and Jesus used the words “fools” and “thieves”. Any softer language would not have gotten the point across. Those who make too big of a deal out of the name calling issue usually just want to cloak themselves and deprive their accuser of a means of identifying who’s who with an accurate name or description.
Aside from all that, today’s question is not “Would a man rob God?” but more appropriately “Would God have a man rob you?” by tithe fraud and profiteering from Christians’ good intentions; a clear violation of the Eight Commandment.
The True Relevance of Malachi
It is obvious that the Book of Malachi is primarily an indictment of the Levitical Priests themselves, not the Israelites as a whole. Incidental mentioning of Judah and Israel are there to illustrate the end result of the priestly corruption and hypocrisy; how the rotten religious leaders spoiled the whole Israel Nation (Ezekiel 34, 44:10-13 for example; same idea in Isaiah 9:16).
This theme is also present in the famous scripture of Hosea 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. The rest of that scripture, the part that is rarely heard, bears out the fact the reason for the “lack of knowledge” was because of the preachers: “because thou [the preachers] hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
Malachi 2:7-9 points out: “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.
But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law; ye have corrupted the covenant of Levi, saith the LORD of hosts.
Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law.”
“Partial in the Law” means that they pick and choose which parts of the Law they are going to promote, and which they will downplay or ignore; as is done today with numerous doctrines including that of the tithe.
Do you think those corrupt preachers of old said to their followers “to hell with the truth and with this ‘law’ business, we’re going to pursue corruption.”? Of course not; it rarely works that way. The idol worship and self-serving doctrines repugnant to God were presented one way or the other as righteousness, truth, and virtue, just as many are today. All false religions and dogmas thereof have been inveigled that way, and the tithe doctrine is no different.
As with the priests, Malachi 2:17 also could not be more clear on the condemnation against the Levites in general.
Read the book, it’s only four chapters long. It is an open letter written to Israel, but it is about “ye priests, who have despised My Name” (1:6), and “ye priests” (2:1), “sons of Levi” (3:3).
It is obvious throughout the book that there was corruption in the house of God, and though the people of Israel were no saints, it was not necessarily them who were “robbing God”, but the professional religious leaders. This clearly ties in with, for example, 1Samuel 2:12-17 and 29-30.
In fact the scripturally depicted theme of crooked, greedy preachers who are incompetent, malicious, contemptible, hypocritical, etc, runs throughout the Bible so there is no reason to pretend that preachers like this do not exist today, or that your preacher is immune to these characteristics. He may just be better at hiding them, or maybe you just have not looked close enough.
Here are a few anti-preacher scriptures to get you started: Jeremiah 2:8,
6:13, 8:8-10, 23:16; Micah 3:11, 3:5-8; Zephaniah 3:4, Ezekiel 34 the entire chapter is practically non-stop condemnation; Hosea 6:9; Matt 5:20; 7:15; Luke 11:39, 11:44, 12:1, 16:11-12,19:46;John 5:41,44; Romans 1:18; 3John 9-11, Jude 1:11.
There are many more that you will run across. However, for some reason the most condemning scriptures are muddled and obfuscated in the King James translation. For instance Hosea 4:8 in the KJV reads “They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.”
This translation does not make much sense, and could easily be read over without catching the true meaning.
The Jerusalem Bible translates it: “They feed on the sin of my people and are all greedy for their iniquity” which more clearly indicates that the more people sinned the richer the priests got from the penalty offerings. This is much like a government that imports illegal drugs to insure a massive supply, but then imprisons and confiscates the property of the users of those drugs, labeling them as the criminals.
Back to Malachi – How is it possible, or at least most likely, to “defraud God” (Mal 3:8) of an offering? One way to do the defrauding is by being the one who does the collecting of the offering and then stuffing a handful (or all of it, for that matter) into their pocket before they turn the collection in to the temple or the particular project that it was meant for.
An example is 2Chronicles 24:4-7 “And it came to pass after this, that Joash was minded to repair the house of the LORD. And he gathered together the priests and the Levites, and said to them, Go out unto the cities of Judah, and gather of all Israel money to repair the house of your God from year to year, and see that ye hasten the matter. Howbeit the Levites hastened it not.
And the king called for Jehoiada the chief, and said unto him, Why hast thou not required of the Levites to bring in out of Judah and out of Jerusalem the collection, according to the commandment of Moses the servant of the LORD, and of the congregation of Israel, for the tabernacle of witness?
For the sons of Athaliah, [priests] that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim.”
So, worse than stealing money for their own personal use, these priests looted money that was given with the intent of supporting Yahweh God’s temple, and used it for the opposite purpose of supporting the religious operations for pagan gods.
So in other words: the more money that the people contributed to a good cause, the more that went to support degenerate, demonic, idol worshipping behavior. Leaving the good people to wonder why the morals of society were spiraling downward. Does this sound familiar to you, oh loyal tither/taxpayer?
Another depiction of Levites with sticky fingers is 2Kings 12:4-9.
Malachi 3:8 is emphasized by 3:10 with the statement “bring the whole tithe of Israel…”.
Who was it that was not bringing it? That scripture could be read two ways. Were the people of Israel not bringing it, or was it the Levites who were receiving it and then pilfering and embezzling it into their basement for their own personal gain before it ever got to the storehouse for distribution?
The priestly defrauding also occurred with the animals for sacrifice (Malachi 1:12-14). Even though certain sacrifices required a perfect animal (Leviticus 22:18-25), the average Israelite did not perform the sacrifice, and could not be held responsible for the “pollution of God’s table”, since it was the Levites and priests in all cases who were responsible for inspecting the quality of animals for sacrifice.
The Israelites brought in bad animals because the Levites accepted them. If an Israelite brought a defective animal in to the temple, it was the Levites responsibility to reject it and demand a good one. It is possible that under that culture of corruption that the Israelite people did not even know that the animals were supposed to be perfect, because the Levites never told them. They did not have their own Bibles to read as we have today, and were dependent on teachers to tell them what the Law said.The priestly defrauding also occurred with the animals for sacrifice (Malachi 1:12-14). Even though certain sacrifices required a perfect animal (Leviticus 22:18-25), the average Israelite did not perform the sacrifice, and could not be held responsible for the “pollution of God’s table”, since it was the Levites and priests in all cases who were responsible for inspecting the quality of animals for sacrifice.
This arrangement of teacher-dependence was also imposed on people by the Catholic Church during their era of dominance where Bibles were scarce. It also appears to now be a self-imposed condition by Christians today who have access to Bibles but do not seriously and independently read and study them; preferring instead to hear a preacher tell them what scripture says and means, or using a church-approved study plan.
Regarding tithing – the average Israelite tithed every tenth animal as they ran through the chute. In other words, take ‘em as they run, whether it was their favorite, best one, or if it was the skinny runt that hobbled through with a bad leg. These were the instructions of God (Lev 27:32-33).
The Levites, however were to pick only the best, blemish-free animals for their various purposes and as tithe to the temple priests (Num 18:26-32). So it appears Malachi was speaking to the Levitical class only about this problem of imperfect lambs.
God was speaking through Malachi about problems with the Levites of that time. The old Levitical paradigm is gone now, but since all scripture is for our learning and as an example to us, and since certain people have presumed themselves to be spiritual “leaders”, even “spiritual Levites”, we can take the same principle that Malachi originally identified as being the heart problem of the Levites and apply it to preachers/clergy of any denomination today even though they are not Levites.
If these preachers actually intend to attach to themselves the status of those few honorable and holy prophets, priests, or Levites that we read about in scripture, then they must first overcome the established, predominant negative connotations of their assumed (crooked) “preacher” title, because that is by far the more commonly depicted scriptural example.
This is not done by lip service and self-promotion, but by living an ascetic lifestyle which exhibits the characteristics of non-materialistic selfless devotion displayed by the prophets, Apostles, and disciples. A lifestyle literally of a slave (bond-servant: Romans 1:1, Titus 1:1, 2Peter 1:1, Jude 1:1, James 1:1) living strictly within the conditional bounds set by the Master, Jesus. This non-materialistic self discipline is, for all practical purposes unheard of today in modern preachers.
In Luke 14:33 Jesus said right out that anyone who does not forsake all worldly wealth and possessions cannot be his disciple. So where does that leave today’s wealth-seeking preachers?
These conditional bounds are not meant to cause the bond-servants of Christ to live a life of misery, but rather these terms of service are meant to act as a filter to select only those with a personality and spirit that can find joy and contentment through luxury-less and non-material means. This puts them in a much better position to receive spiritual insight, just as it apparently did with the true prophets of old.
Materialism is to a great extent an acquired condition. It has been said that the contentment achieved in non-materialistic ways is far more profound and permanent than that obtained through materialistic means. This idea is made well known by the Buddhists, and though it also permeates the Scriptures, the concept is not widely known or practiced among Christians of the last hundred years or so.
In the KJV Matt 21:32 says “For John came unto you in the way of righteousness, and ye believed him not:” Other translations use the terms “showing the way of righteousness”, and “as a pattern for righteousness”, which has quite a bit more meaning than the KJV would indicate. John was the exemplification of a non-worldly, content-to-own-nothing, man-of-God preacher.
Tie this concept in with Luke 7:24-28 “And when the messengers of John were departed, he began to speak unto the people concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness for to see? A reed shaken with the wind?
But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? Behold, they which are gorgeously appareled, and live delicately, are in kings’ courts. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.
For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.”
This is a confirmation of the righteous non-materialistic conduct of what “men of God” are really supposed to be. John, like Jesus, Peter, Paul, etc. are role models for us, especially for anyone wishing to assume any position of responsibility. According to the last sentence of that scriprure, we are expected to surpass John’s righteousness. So, how do you think we might accomplish that, or even recognize the concept, if we have a materialistic preacher for a guide, role-model, or teacher?
The fact that today’s preachers desire to be paid money (or have corporate expense accounts) so they can be “gorgeously appareled, and live delicately” makes them hirelings by scriptural definition and by default puts them in the negative category of false prophets and fat shepherds because this type of person is more in-tune to carnal and worldly pleasures than they are to Godly insights.
This is the type of person who invents things like the selling of indulgences. You can bet that the only reason paid preachers of any denomination do not sell indulgences today, is because they cannot get away with it. If they are comfortable in breaking the scriptural injunction against financial gain for preaching God’s Word, why would they stop there? Selling the forgiveness of sins is no more unscriptural or fraudulent than preaching for money is.
People like this may be fine to put on the church payroll as an employed salesman of the corporation’s doctrines; in other words a profit generator. They are unqualified for true scriptural service however, and certainly not necessarily examples for anyone to emulate.
A modern day parallel to that God-robbing situation in Malachi would be, hypothetically, people giving money to a ministry with the pure though naive intention that they are “giving it to God”. The preacher then using the money for personal pleasure, high-end hotels and restaurants, or to install a swimming pool at his house, buy investment property or precious metals, get a nose job or hundred-dollar hair-dos, even private jets, etc., and one way or another justifying in his mind all this as ministry expenses.
The worst part of this example is that many people think that when preachers lavish themselves in luxury in this manner, the money has still indeed “gone to God”, no matter what the preacher has done with it. That is because preachers have used their own self-interest as a guideline in defining for the people what both “God robbing” and what “giving to God” are supposed to mean, and the people apparently do not know the difference.
Partial in the Law
When was the last time your preacher preached Malachi at you because some congregation members were bringing lame sheep to church for the sacrifice? I will guess never.
Of course he never did, because we all know that the sacrifices are obsolete, and what Malachi is talking about there is obsolete for any purpose other than making a point on principle; a principle of condemning self-centered greed, fraud and the disrespect for God’s will. His will at that time was for the tithes of food items on a regular basis to feed the Levites, and for blemish-free sacrifices.
Yet, while Malachi is intermingling the subjects of tithe and the lame sheep for sacrifice in his writing, associating them really, into one subject; your preacher will ignore half of Malachi’s subject matter – the issue of the now obsolete sacrifices – and arbitrarily validate the other half of what Malachi is talking about – the now obsolete tithe, and apply it to today. They selectively focus in on the tithe part of Malachi – because they do not want sheep, lame, perfect, or otherwise; they just want the money.
The point is that if your preacher is complaining about your “duty” to be bringing more tithe money to him based on the writings of Malachi; then to be consistent and honest he should also be insisting that you bring him blemish-free sheep as well.
The Malachi Prophesy
The Book of Malachi by definition is all prophesy, since it is information coming from God to man through a human messenger. While the vast majority of this book is dealing with corruption issues contemporary to the time that Malachi wrote it, the book does contain a sub-prophesy of a future event that at least one preacher has tried to exploit as being a justification for a modern tithe. His theory is about a future-prophesy in Malachi concerning John the Baptist and the coming of Christ. He says this New Covenant prophesy starts at Malachi 3:1 and goes right through to the end of the book. The claim of course, is that verses 3:8-10 dealing with “God-robbers” are included in that New Covenant prophesy, and that therefore “scriptures demand” that the New Covenant tithe is applicable for today.
Malachi 3:1 states: “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the LORD, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Skipping down to Malachi 3:8-10 “ Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat [food, not money or anything else] in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Though not entirely apparent from the scripture itself, the prophesy spoken of in 3:1-6 is talking about John the Baptist and New Covenant events. That is no secret because, as I had just mentioned two pages back, in Luke 7:27 Jesus plainly told us of John the Baptist: “This is he, of whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee’.”
This is a word-for-word quote from Malachi 3:1. It is reconfirmed in Matthew 11:10 and also supported by Luke 1:76-77, so there should be no controversy as to who Malachi was talking about or what time period was being described.
The important point to make here is that the future-prophesy of 3:1-6 is a short interjection relating to the topic of corruption which was happening in Malachi’s time. This is quite apparent when throughout the book the past and present tense is used (“ye are departed out of the way”, “ye offer polluted bread”, etc) along with imminent consequences, but then switches gear to a distant future frame of reference (“Behold, I will send my messenger…”). This is not hard to see.
The futuristic vision that Malachi writes about does not include the interjected verses 3:8-10, as the pro-tithe preacher hoped to convince us of because for starters, it returns to the present and past tense of what these Levites have done, and were currently doing, just like we see in the first two chapters.
We all know that prophesy can be difficult to follow due to ambiguity as to who, what, when and where is being described. However the Book of Malachi was told to him in a straightforward manner using a first-person narrative, as though dictating a letter, but it also included the use of a future-prophesy (3:1-6) to drive home a particular point. The distinction between the described future events and the present (at the time of Malachi) admonitions is not difficult to determine, because of how the book is written.
As mentioned, the first two chapters are speaking in the (then) present. I do not know of anyone who would dispute that observation. To make the distinction even easier, the writing style, beginning in the very second verse uses the accusation/question/answer format. An example is 1:7 “[accusation] Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar and ye say, [question] Wherein have we polluted thee? [answer] In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.”
This format is used right up to the end of Malachi Chapter 2, and clearly sets that discussion apart from the parenthetical prophetic futuristic statements of Chapter 3:1-6 that were interjected.
We can easily see that the discussion turns back to Malachi’s present time with the accusation/question/answer format returning at 3:7 and 3:8 “Will a man rob God? [accusation] Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, [question] Wherein have we robbed thee? [answer] In tithes and offerings.”
So trying to include this obviously then-current tithe stealing issue into the parenthetically inserted future prophesy, is more than a little ridiculous.
Malachi 3:9-19 goes on to illustrate the benefits for the Levites of Malachi’s time if they heed the message and reform their clepto-parasitic ways.
Then Chapter 4 begins with “For, behold, the day cometh…” indicating a tone of a more distant future event. While the verses of Chapter 4 are somewhat less defined than the earlier prophesy of 3:1-6, it is clear to see that as soon as Malachi reverts to the subject of future events, we see a lot of “shall” references, and he drops the accusation/question/answer format. This makes the futuristic prophesies exceptionally easy to distinguish from the then-current corruption issues that Malachi was dealing with.
Even though there is a New Covenant prophesy in Malachi, it is a non-issue regarding today’s tithe doctrine. The pro-tithers try to attach tithe-related scriptural material into that prophesy which is clearly not meant to be involved with it, in order to attempt to legitimize the idea of a New Covenant tithe.
So then, after thinking about it some readers may wonder why the New Covenant prophesy was even included with Malachi’s upbraiding of the Levites of his time. What is the nexus between self-centered, corrupt religious administrators that Malachi was addressing, and the dawning of the New Covenant by the appearance of John the Baptist?
It looks like one of the reasons that God causes Malachi to insert that particular prophecy, is the same reason that Jesus refers to it in Luke 7:24-28. That is to point out what a real “man of God” looks like.
Basically Malachi is dealing with a nearly hopeless situation, dealing with such entrenched corruption that they were not likely to repent. But as a means of consolation, he says in effect: “oh well, don’t worry, the day is coming when true men of God will make their appearance”, beginning with John the Baptist.
Jesus, likewise felt the need to explain that the religious dandys and hypocrites that the people held in high esteem at that time, were way off base.
Spiritually, and that the ascetic simplicity of John’s life style was a better example for them to follow.
The further meaning and relevance of that prophesy and its New Covenant fulfillment will be covered in Chapter 26, “True Giving to God”.
We really do not need to spend too much more time on dissecting what the Book of Malachi is, when we have plenty of clear evidence that indicates what the Book of Malachi is not.
Pro-tithers have blown Malachi’s writings all out of proportion in respect to its significance as legitimate evidence for a modern tithe. That is because it can be used to such an emotionally provocative advantage. Malachi is, however virtually useless as a factual or logical basis for supporting a modern tithe doctrine.
The writings of Malachi, while valuable for instilling the concepts of integrity, respect for God, and wariness of preachers; are in no way an admonition or instruction for New Covenant Christians today to be paying a cash tithe to anyone.
The Son of Godrobber
A retreaded version of the old “Godrobber” cliché, is one preacher’s 8th Commandment so-called argument.
Malachi 3:7 says in part: “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine statutes, [“ordinance” in KJV] and have not kept them.” and 3:8 follows up by including “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me.”
The pro-tithe schpiel goes like this: The tithe-promoting preacher says that the very same word “statutes” (#2706) used in Deuteronomy Chapters 4-6, in reference to the Ten Commandments, is also used in Malachi 3:7. I think we can agree with him so far; it is the same word.
He goes on to say that since Malachi 3:7 is then followed up by a statement about “robbing God” by not tithing, that therefore the tithe is part of the Ten Commandments, because they both use the word “statutes”. Seeing that a “statute” is part of the moral Law of God (by that preacher’s definition), and seeing how “robbing God” is stealing, and the 8th Commandment against stealing is still in effect; this therefore somehow proves that you must pay the tithe. He says that “thou shalt not fail to tithe” is implied in the 8th Commandment of “Thou shalt not steal”, and since the Ten Commandments are still in effect, therefore not tithing equates to stealing.
The circular reasoning makes this accusation meaningless; it is almost a joke. Especially since he refers to this point as being something like a silver bullet; a coup-de-grace that should drop any opposing argument dead in its tracks. It is all the more corny in light of the fact that this very same tithe promoter states elsewhere in his series that the tithe is unequivocally an offering, with no penalty provision to enforce it.
Statutes that are legitimately derived from the Ten Commandments have a penalty (often death) authorized to enforce them; non-tithing does not.
Furthermore, the very basis of the preacher’s statement that tithing is a “statute” based on his word-play, and thus part of the Ten Commandments, is not true at all.
First off, this preacher who usually refers to a Strong’s number when delving into the original languages, in this case never gives the number but keeps referring to the phonetic pronunciation of the word (mic-kwee-quay). Obviously this creates a bit of a barrier (not much, but it is there) to anyone who might want to look into it. Gee, I wonder why; let us find out.
The Hebrew word for “statute” in Malachi 3:7 is Strongs #2706 (khoke, nothing at all like the “mic-kwee-quay” that the preacher keeps using) which in the original Hebrew is used interchangeably in scripture with #2708 (khook-kaw).
A good example of their synonymous nature is Deuteronomy 6:1 and 2 “Now these are the commandments, the statutes,[#2706] and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes [#2708] and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.”
Both are general words meaning “an instruction” or “something appointed to be done”. They are translated variously as “statute” or “ordinance” and can be used when referring to subjects that are either of a criminal (permanent moral) or of a religious (temporal ritualistic) nature.
What the preacher does not tell his listeners is that it is not at all uncommon for #2706 (even more so with #2708) to be used regarding instructions and statutes that are clearly no longer in effect. Strong’s lists quite a number of them, and here for the sake of time are only three examples:
- Exodus 29:28 dealing with heave offerings for the priests.
- Exodus 30:21 regarding instructions for the priests in washing their hands and feet.
- Leviticus 6:18 and 22 concerning procedure with sacrifices.
So, I don’t know what this “mic-kwee-quay” is that the man is talking about, but he is obviously confused, because the Hebrew word used in both Malachi 3:7 and Deuteronomy 4,5, and 6 that the man refers to is #2706 “khoke”.
Malachi’s use of the word “statute” (“ordinance” in KJV) in a very general way does not permit honest reasoning to identify “not tithing” as the universally understood criminal act of stealing.
Failure to tithe was stealing, when it happened in an era when the religious ordinance of tithing was still in effect. Thus the use of the word “robbing” would have been appropriate at that time, because the people and the Levites of Malachi’s time were bound by a contract to tithe of their agricultural increase. Failure to do so did indeed amount to stealing, but so what? That deal ended over two thousand years ago, and Malachi’s use of the word #2706 “statute” or “ordinance” or “obligation” has absolutely no significance whatsoever in elevating tithes and offerings from their original status of being Levitical religious ordinances.
Unfortunately for those who hold to this pro-tithe faux-argument, in the real world first they have to prove that the tithe is even owed, which is the crux of
the whole tithe issue. Only then can anyone call those who do not pay it a “thief”. This “8th Commandment” argument is a good example of the fallacies, the “mic-kwee-mouse” kind of research, and the deceptive practices that are inherent to the tithe doctrine. In this case the preacher’s alleged base facts are so obviously flawed, and that his point does not even make sense.
We could just as easily and much more justifiably call any pro-tithe preacher with bogus arguments like this a thief, responsible to pay back double what he stole (Exodus 22:9), and tithe-takers in general should be held accountable for impersonating a Levite (death penalty). Someone who falsely accuses good Christians of stealing by using this contrived “8th Commandment” argument, are themselves breaking the 9th Commandment and are liable for the penalty that they are bearing a false witness against (Deut.19:16-19).
We could also identify them as being a false teacher for promoting the tithe through the use of non-facts, and accepting tithe money, which is scripturally-defined God-robbing as well as defrauding. Jesus lists defrauding as a separate crime from regular theft in Mark 10:19. Luke 19:8 indicates that compensation for fraud is four times what was taken. This is twice the penalty for outright theft.
So tell me – is your Law teaching, eighth commandment-waving, tithe-promoting preacher going to pay the congregation back four times what he has taken in tithes, once you have shown him that unjustifiably promoting the tithe amounts to fraud?
These preachers have not established their right to do or be any of what is required to legitimately take tithes, other than repeating Roman Catholic-based traditions of men. Remember – the tithe of the ground goes only to Levites, this is an established fact of scripture until proven otherwise.
The eighth commandment certainly does not do that.
More on Malachi
Malachi 3:10-11 reads: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, and he shall not destroy the fruits of your ground; neither shall your vine cast her fruit before the time in the field, saith the LORD of hosts.”
Notice again, that the tithe is food. It is always dealing with food in one form or another; and the food is for the Levites. The blessing is rain (“windows
of heaven” as in Genesis 11:7) and bountiful crops without insect or animal damage. Tithing revolved around agriculture and the land. That is the extent of the promise in Malachi.
Since wealth comes from the ground, and there can be no prosperity in a society that does not first have abundant food. “Open the windows of heaven” infers that, indirectly, there will be the potential for prosperity in all Israel, for both Levites and the Israelite people of any occupation, as also explained in Deuteronomy 28:12 “The LORD shall open unto thee his good treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto thy land in his season, and to bless all the work of thine hand: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, and thou shalt not borrow.”
According to Malachi, the promise of abundance was contingent primarily upon the integrity and honesty of the Levitical priesthood (religious leaders). In other words: corrupt religion equals a cursed society. The crooked Levites apparently were not paying their tithe up to the crooked high priesthood, and in general they all had a contemptuous posture toward their responsibilities to God Himself.
Misuse of Malachi 3:10, is the granddaddy example of the commercialization, or should I say the marketing of the tithe principle to the customer base (this means you). It is often misused as a carrot on a stick, by those who say “See this here… If you give us more money, God will repay you many times over. You can’t afford not to tithe!”.
This is an unabashed appeal to the base emotion of greed by pro-tithe preachers, but that is understandable because that is apparently the paradigm they are living in personally, if greed is what motivates them, then that is how they relate to their listeners. What else can you expect with a paid preacher? Businesses are there to make money, and church businesses are no different. Almost any businessman is going to look for the most cost-effective and profitable means of plying his trade. Guilt and greed happen to be two of many hot–buttons that are effective short cuts to higher profits in commercial religion.
Tactics like this are destructive to true Christian ideals and faith. For instance you can have one family with a yearly increase that provides for a modest but comfortable living. They have what they need to thrive but not enough to over-indulge themselves in materialism. They are thankful to God for their good fortune, as per scriptural New Covenant teachings.
Then you have another family under the same financial conditions who tithes who are not so happy because abundance is not quite so apparent owing to the fact that they gave away ten percent of their income. The false expectations of riches are not met, and this leads to anything from subtle disappointment, to a perplexed feeling of guilt for having done something wrong but not knowing what, to an outright disgruntled state for having been cheated by God out of a deal that the preacher said would make them rich.
Two families under initially identical conditions: one happy, and one not so much. Both mindsets are related to their state of contentment or expectation, and to whether or not these conditions are based on scripture, or on man-made materialistically created desires. The unfulfilled false expectations created by the tithe myth may eventually lead to doubt as to the veracity of the rest of God’s Word. All because preachers took “I will make you fishers of men”, and construed it to mean “snagging some suckers”.
Proverbs sheds a different light on the get rich scheme that the pro-tithers create out of Malachi 3:10. Proverbs 22:16 says “He that oppresseth the poor to increase his riches, and he that giveth to the rich, shall surely come to want.”
If you are giving money to a preacher with an income higher than yours (which mathematically is any preacher with a tithing congregation of about a dozen or more families), you are violating the principle of this proverb.
Likewise, if you are giving to a well-to-do preacher who is oppressing the poor with get-rich-quick tithe propaganda, this scripture says that you have got another thing coming: You’re going to go broke because you have become his partner. Only in this partnership, you get your share of the guilt, but none of the profits. What a deal.
The principle expressed in Amos 5:11-12 and 8:4-7 confirm the above proverb and how God hates those who deceive and exploit the poor.
So, does scripture contradict scripture? Only when it is misinterpreted, mistranslated, or misapplied. However, scripture does frequently contradict man-made doctrines like that of the modern tithe. This verse from Proverbs has no conflict with Malachi 3:10, when Malachi is read to mean just what it says – rain and abundant harvest.
Paul also had a different message than that of today’s pro-tithers. Paul does not shill for the lottery-type riches that preachers promote using Malachi 3:10 but instead he explains the principle in 2Corinthians 9:5-15 which says, as family number one, mentioned above, demonstrated – that no matter how much you give to those in need, you will always have a sufficient amount of life’s necessities left over for yourself and your family to thrive, thus allowing you to continue doing good works.no conflict with Malachi 3:10, when Malachi is read to mean just what it says – rain and abundant harvest.
The pro-tithers coming from their money-oriented world view cannot help but pollute Paul’s meaning; in fact they actually falsely promote Paul’s statements in 2Corinthians as being based on Malachi 10, when they are on two totally different spiritual plains. Malachi was talking primarily to greedy thieving Levites, and Paul was talking to brothers and sisters in Christ who were spiritually far advanced from those who Malachi was addressing.
Paul explains that your “profit” will be the glory given to God, along with the prayers and blessings of the saints that were helped by your gifts (2 Cor 9:12), which confirms Job 29:11-14, “When the ear heard me, then it blessed me; and when the eye saw me, it gave witness to me:
Because I delivered the poor that cried, and the fatherless, and him that had none to help him. The blessing of him that was ready to perish came upon me: and I caused the widow’s heart to sing for joy. I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: my judgment was as a robe and a diadem.”
Proverbs 19:17: “He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again.” Proverbs 22:9: “He that hath a bountiful eye shall be blessed; for he giveth of his bread to the poor.” Proverbs 28:8: “He that by usury and unjust gain increaseth his substance, he shall gather it for him that will pity the poor.”
There are other scriptures that have a similar message. There is nothing that I have found in scripture along those lines about being blessed for giving to a church or preacher, however.
On the other hand, those crooked preachers that Malachi was talking to would not give a rip about glory to God or the blessings of the people because they were materialists who could not grasp the concept that you gain by giving.
Having enough to superabound in good works does not entail the greed associated with having “more money than you know what to do with”, as is claimed by many preachers today when they promote tithing based on Malachi 3:10.
It is not hard to see why they would ask “Well… breaking even? Still having enough to get by on? What kind of incentive is that?” They identify with the profit motive, and more particularly – easy money such as tithe, (known as “unjust gain” in Proverbs 28:8, above) that has not been earned by any truly productive activity.
This is an important distinction; motivation is everything. If you give with the intention of helping others, and pleasing God, and do so as anonymously as possible, you are less likely to fall into the trap of greed and the expectation of raking in multiple times what you’ve given out, as if you were playing some giant slot machine. Prosperity should be a side effect of righteous, productive living, and not the motivation for living righteously.
The promises of agricultural abundance in Malachi 3:10 were appropriate in their time regarding the tithe, because at that time tithing was the right thing to do; today it is not. Those promises are just as applicable in principle today regarding freewill giving, because freewill giving is the right thing to do for today, and has always been. Some call it “karma”, some say “what goes around comes around”, “you’ll reap what you sow”, etc. Generosity is supposed to be a hallmark of Christianity, and it sets up a positive spiritual energy, while greed and selfishness set up a negative one.
As James 4:3 explains:“You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”
However, there are no guarantees; contrary to preachers’ promises of blue sky if you tithe to them. Keep in mind that in all cases, God will provide or not provide, as He so chooses, whether or not you tithe, freely give, or withhold.
Ecclesiastes 9:11 – “I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
This is verified in Romans 9:12 18 “ it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. Even as it is written, Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.
What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that hath mercy.
For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, For this very purpose did I raise thee up, that I might show in thee my power, and that my name might be published abroad in all the earth. So then he hath mercy on whom he will, and whom he will be hardeneth.”
Jesus indirectly confirms this concept in Luke 4:25-27 – God can deny us whatever and whenever He wants to; Luke 13:1-5 – bad things happening to average people. The rain falls on the just and the unjust alike (Matt 5:45).
You should do the right thing because it is right; do not cheapen your good deed of giving to those in need with an expectation of an Earthly reward or recognition, because if you do, you may lose on both counts. Don’t worry, God is keeping track (Matt 6:4).
By the way – where are all those “storehouses” mentioned in Malachi 3:10 that these preachers talk about so much? As we asked in Chapter 1: “Where is your tithe going now, to fund soup kitchens or other charitable projects?”
If most of the collection is not going right back out to help others in need, what makes you think these tithe collecting preachers will help anyone when hard times are upon us? If anything, they will withhold even the 5% that they now currently claim to hand out, due to the uncertainty of the times.
It is not that your preacher probably does not have a storehouse of lots of food, money, and survival supplies; it is just that the storehouse he has created is for him and his family. It is not for you, as is sometimes implied in tithe propaganda. Many preachers consider the “food in mine house” as belonging to the preacher, not some kind of fund for the emergency needs of the congregation members. This would in fact be true in a legitimate tithe paradigm because in reality the true tithe was food and it was for the Levites specifically, not for the rest of society. The trouble with that is that we are not living in a legitimate tithe paradigm today, so there should be no tithe going to any preacher in the first place.
It would have been a criminal act for any tithed food to be given to a non-Levite, even a needy one. Of course this issue is evaded by the preachers’ false claims to a Levite status, while at the same time they promote the idea thatnot living in a legitimate tithe paradigm today, so there should be no tithe going to any preacher in the first place.
It would have been a criminal act for any tithed food to be given to a non- Levite, even a needy one. Of course this issue is evaded by the preachers’ false claims to a Levite status, while at the same time they promote the idea that the storehouse created by the tithe is some kind of Community Chest for the needs of the congregation. This is just part of the inconsistent schizophrenia of the pro-tithe sales pitch:
The non-Levite preachers collect tithe money and keep it for their personal use;
- they claim a Levitical status in doing so;
- they allude to a storehouse for the needs of the people, but only give out a very small percentage of their take to the needy.
According to true tithe Law, the tithe was food that went to a common storehouse to be allotted to Levites as needed; the right to receive it rested solely with documented bloodline Levites. Giving away any of the tithe, even one percent, to a non Levite was expressly forbidden. The poor got some food from a distinctly separate poor tithe, or the generosity from people in general.
I mean, how many precepts of God’s Law can they violate in one false doctrine? Is there any aspect at all of the modern tithe paradigm that is not contrary to God’s morality?
You would be wise to put ten percent of your income into creating your own family storehouse as a means to provide for your family and others, as scripture suggests, instead of adhering to this myth of tithing your money to impostor-Levites known as today’s tithe-taking preachers.
1Timothy 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.”
Take heed, people – “Worse than an infidel”, God apparently does not suffer fools gladly.
The Book of Malachi was quite specific in its scope. It dealt with a particular problem of corruption: greedy religious leaders abusing God’s Law, and enriching themselves with substance that was meant for other purposes. In other words: the original God-robbers.
Ironically, it seems that whenever Malachi is preached, the message is always spun for you to “test God… pay your tithe, and serendipity awaits you”, when the message should really be “keep a keen eye on the money and the preacher” as Malachi apparently intended it to be, and as Paul confirmed in Romans 16:17-18
“Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting.”
Eph 4:14 ” As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;”
Hmmm… Sounds like professional speakers, trained in communication, group psychology, rhetoric, etc and who have a goal of a certain unscriptural desired end (like personal profit), not necessarily to discover or preach truth (on this subject, at least) or to “serve God” without serving themselves first. Paul warned us about this more than once.
Just as Jesus’ “woe unto you lawyers” statements have remained valid throughout history, so also has Malachi’s indictment of the dishonest professional holy men. A lesson apparently lost on modern Christians. Do not forget, – the “lawyers” that Jesus warned us about were the religious authorities, the “Kingdom Law teachers”, and the preachers of that day. This was all part of the World Order that He was turning “upside down”.