Windows of Heaven/Doorway of Destruction
When I was a pastor, I always enjoyed saying to the congregation, “Please turn to Malachi, chapter three.” I’d hear little whispers, and once in a while, a groan or two.
What was exceptional fun was to then add, “And no, I’m not preaching about the tithe today.” A few chuckles, more whispers, and a sigh or two.
And I’m not going to emphasize the tithe here. Why? Because to me the tithe is only a number. It’s a good place to begin training yourself to be generous, but it isn’t the heart of the matter. The heart of the matter is the heart.
Here is the passage from Malachi that we’ll reference:
“For I am the Lord, I do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. Yet from the days of your fathers you have gone away from my ordinances and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’ “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.
“And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes, So that he will not destroy the fruit of your ground, nor shall the vine fail to bear fruit for you in the field,” says the Lord of hosts; and all nations will call you blessed, for you will be a delightful land,” says the Lord of hosts. Malachi 3:6-12 NKJV
Many have taught, and I have as well, that the Lord tells us to prove him, test him, by tithing. I don’t believe that any longer. And here’s the reason why.
The Lord told the Hebrew nation that they had departed from him. They replied, “What?!? What are you talking about? We worship you, attend services each Sabbath; what do you mean we’ve departed?”
He said, “By withholding your tithes.”
Do you know many “tithers”? I’ve known a number of them through the years. In fact, I’m a tither. But did you realize people may tithe and still be far from God? Sad, but true.
The Hebrews could have been tithing, but still be running away from God.
Let’s say, just for teaching purposes, that God had given the Israelites this commandment: “You shall not walk on the grass.” For years, the Hebrew children stayed off the grass. But one day a rebel began walking barefoot in the grass. He enjoyed it so much, he started telling everyone he met about the joy of doing things their own way. He even started blogging, posting pictures of God’s people all over the world walking barefoot in the grass.
God, finally tired of all the rebellion and mockery, appoints the prophet Malachi to proclaim the word about returning to the Lord. Malachi said, “The Lord says you have left me by walking on the grass. Return to me.” “How?” “Stop walking on the grass!”
Tithing wouldn’t have brought them back to God in my example. Sacrifice of any kind never covers ongoing disobedience.
So in Malachi three, the tithe isn’t really God’s focal point. What is?
“You are cursed with a curse! Therefore, quit walking on the grass and see if I’ll not open for you the windows of heaven. Watch me pour out for you more blessing than you can handle.”
“And I’ll rebuke the devourer for your sake.”
It’s not about the tithe, it’s about obedience. And so is giving. So is generosity.
Allowing the Lord to direct every part of our lives (to include ALL of our finances) is where generosity and obedience connect. He leads, we follow. His leading includes every help Heaven has to offer. Disobedience has a way of slamming shut any heavenly windows. Instead, doors of destruction seem to open at the most inopportune times.
There is a God in Heaven who is so in love with you and I, the only way to describe it is by using such words as whip, cross, and empty tomb. Get the picture? He has a wonderful life in store for anyone who’ll simply trust him enough to follow his lead.
May our hearts be willing to do just that. Don’t let the word “tithe” trip you up. Instead, allow your heart to fall in love over and over with Jesus. A generous, prompt to obey spirit will develop.