Could you explain the concept of “testing God with your offerings”? I have heard some friends recently discuss this concept from Malachi 3:8-10. It seems confusing to reconcile those verses with Deuteronomy 6:16. Does God “return favors” to us? Where is the line with the prosperity gospel in regards to offerings?
Malachi 3:8-10 takes place when the Jewish people are under the Mosaic Covenant. By this time, the temple was reconstructed after their Babylonian captivity. The offerings at the time were on a schedule and consisted of first fruits, firstborn, and first harvest. In addition, there were free will offerings, peace offerings, and guilt offerings. You were to give 10% minimum tithes.
In 2 Corinthians 8, we see that the people gave beyond their ability and out of poverty. On Malachi 3:10, Joyce Baldwin writes, “Let those who have been doubting God’s existence take His demands seriously and honor Him with substantial gifts, for the tithes were at least as costly as a 10th of a modern wage packet. If His people are to blame, at the same time, they are depriving themselves of the joyful rights of God’s servants. They also missed a personal discovery that God pours an overflowing blessing out of all proportion to the human gift.”
Craig Blaising writes, “The promise was reaffirmed in the Mosaic law’s obedience, blessing motif. However, one must be careful in applying these promises as believers today. The Mosaic Covenant, with its promise of material blessing to Israel for obedience, is no longer enforced. The New Testament speaks of generosity in giving and does not require a tithe of the believer today.”
The blessing and curse motif is fascinating in the Old Testament because it reminds us ‘if you do well, everything’s going to be fine.’ It’s easy to obey because the outcome is always good. Giving and generosity put you in a posture for God to bless. That doesn’t mean you’re always going to be blessed.
We can pull principles from the Old Testament to apply to our lives. However, there’s much more to think through in terms of direct application from the Old Testament; we must be careful.
We must ask, ‘What is that passage saying? What did it mean to them? Is there an application today?’ For example, in this passage, we would jump over to Ephesians 2:14-15. Paul’s saying that Jesus did everything the law couldn’t do, as stated in Romans 10:4. You’re not righteous because of what you do; You’re righteous because you believe. Go to 2 Corinthians 8, and study what it says about giving above and beyond your ability.
Prosperity theology is a lie from hell that speaks only of material and physical blessings. Ephesians 13 reminds us that He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ. You need to understand what you have. You’re forgiven. He’s patient with you. He’s reconciled you, and He’s called you his adopted child. You’re part of the Kingdom of God. You’re assured of your ongoing forgiveness. You’re assured of your salvation on the last day as you confess. You’re assured He is going to raise you from the dead.
Find more episodes of Ask Dr. E here.
Joyce Baldwin- Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi
Lewis Sperry Chafer- Systematic Theology
Craig A. Blaising, “Malachi,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures
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