What Was Stolen, and Who Stole It?
by Ronald W Robey
A little lesson from the Old Testament Book of Malachi…
Malachi 1:1 The burden of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi.
Malachi tells the reader whom it is that he is addressing… Israel.
As we continue to read this Book comprised of only four chapters, we find that Malachi is addressing specifically the Levitic Priests of Israel. He is not speaking to the congregation (the other eleven tribes) Notice:
Malachi 1:6 A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? and if I be a master, where is my fear? saith the LORD of hosts unto you, O priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?
Malachi 1:7 Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, Wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, The table of the LORD is contemptible.
In Malachi 1:6-7 we see why Malachi said what he did in Malachi 3:8-9. The Priests had shown contempt for God. They had removed the acceptable animals from the Temple Storehouse and replaced them with animals that were unacceptable.
God was using Malachi to tell the corrupt Priests that God, who sees all, was angry with the Priests. Their sin had brought famin to the land.
Malachi 2:1 And now, O ye priests, this commandment is for you.
In Malachi 2:1, we learn that subsequent to the exposure of the Levitic Priest’s sinful actions, God has a command for them.
But, what is that command that Malachi says is specifically for the Levitic Priests? If we read the entire second chapter of Malachi, we will discover that not one command is given. It is not until we arrive in Malachi 3 that we see the command.
Malachi 3:7 Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the LORD of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?
In Malachi 3:7, we see the command that Malachi was to deliver to the Levitic Priests… “Return unto Me” It is only upon returning to God that God will return unto Israel.
Return? Return what? The stolen animals from the Temple Storehouse!
Malachi 3:8 Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
God is STILL speaking to the Levitic Priests. God said the Priests had robbed Him. The Priests ask how they have robbed God.
What tithes was Malachi speaking of? Since Luke 16:16 says that the Law was until John (speaking of John the Baptist) we must look to the Law to see what God said His holy tithe was.
Leviticus 27:30 And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’S: it is holy unto the LORD.
Leviticus 27:31 And if a man will at all redeem ought of his tithes, he shall add thereto the fifth part thereof.
Leviticus 27:32 And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, even of whatsoever passeth under the rod, the tenth shall be holy unto the LORD.
Leviticus 27:33 He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: and if he change it at all, then both it and the change thereof shall be holy; it shall not be redeemed.
According to Leviticus, God’s holy tithe was the seed of the land, the fruit of the tree, and every tenth animal to pass under the rod. They were agricultural,… not money. And the text of Matthew 23:23 reveals that tithes were still agricultural more than five hundred years after Malachi had addressed the corrupt Priests.
Therefore, the only tithes Malachi could have been speaking of… were agricultural tithes.
Malachi 3:9 Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
God tells the Priests that their act of thievery had brought a curse upon the entire nation. What was that curse? Famine. God had shut the windows so that rain would not fall upon the land. Thus bringing a time when crops would not grow as they should. And God allowed locusts to invade the gardens to eat away at what little food could grow.
The Priests thievery had not only be an act against God, but it robbed the nation as well. Food that had been in the Temple Storehouse for provision of the Poor was no longer available. Food that grew throughout the land had dwindled. The entire nation had been robbed of God’s blessings… because of the dishonest Levitic Priests.
Malachi 3:10 Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat 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.
The only thing that would cause God to open the windows of Heaven so that rain would fall upon the land again would be the Priests returning the stolen tithes. and offerings. The return of the stolen tithes would appease God’s wrath and cause Him to lift the curse that had plagued the land.
Conclusion: Malachi 3:8-10 is not speaking of a monetary tithe requirement for the saved in Christ Jesus today. It was about agricultural tithes and offerings that were stolen by the Levitic Priests who worked in the Temple..