The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe


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The people were so far convinced of their duty that they would bring sacrifices; they dare not wholly avoid the duty, but they brought empty oblations even when having a suitable and acceptable [male] in their flock , mocked Yahweh, and invariably deceived themselves, by offering the worst they had.

Huge financial resources were needed to support building projects as well as military ventures in the west. This milieu would have placed a severe strain not only on the economy of Judah but also on the temple Clendenen Whoever was the governor or administrator of Judah during this period, was either incompetent or dishonest or both.

There was acute poverty due to high taxes Neh , 15 and inflation caused by Persian economic policies and famine Neh , resulting in the seizure of property Neh , 11 and debt slavery on a wide range Neh , 8.

As one learns from the book of Malachi itself, there existed a progression of poor crop production and difficult seasons for Israel; drought and locust attacks devastated the land that was already largely unproductive Hg , 10—11; Ml Blenkinsopp Crop failures were a regular occurrence, thus leaving a great many of the people to suffer poverty. The accusations against the people with respect to their unfaithfulness and their deceitful practices in the offering of sacrifices Ml —12 are parallel to the accusations against the priests in — These oracles — and —12, in a sense are companion pieces, in that they focus on the neglect of the cult Tiemeyer Both oracles begin with a double-assertion-questioning pattern, followed by a denunciation of unacceptable offerings, the assurance of the turnaround of fortune, and an exaltation of the name Yahweh in all the nations.

Malachi —12 is addressed to the whole community, not just husbands or priests, it promises blessings whilst the second oracle knows no such promise. Probably, the main difference is that the second oracle is a warning against disobedience, showing the consequences in full, that is, curses, whilst the 5th oracle is an invitation to obedience showing the benefits, that is, blessings.

Similarly, the 2nd oracle is about worship whilst that of the 5th is about temple support Stuart Since they were responsible for teaching the people and also had the authority to reject any sacrifice brought to the temple as well as correct the people, the prophet held the leaders at least partly accountable for the sins or transgressions of their flock.

The substance of the critique in Malachi —12 is not only the people but includes the priests as well Tiemeyer — Verse 6 is understood by scholars in different ways: the beginning of the fifth oracle Stuart ; Smith , the conclusion to the previous section Clendenen ; Pohlig , or it serves as a link between the previous verses and the accusations which follow in Schuller ; Weyde The premise is that Yahweh has not changed. Evidently some sceptics had become weary of waiting for the promised return of Yahweh as Ezekiel and Haggai had promised.

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They had implied that Yahweh had changed his mind and had been unfaithful to his promise. But Yahweh says he has not changed. This verse reveals that Yahweh, in his kindness, fairness, fidelity and commitment to Israel, has remained unchangeable. However, in their disloyalty and revolt the Judeans have not stopped to follow the rebellious ways of their ancestors. The accusation characterises the past and the present as a history of apostasy Weyde Yahweh accuses the people of not keeping his ordinances, of not repenting, and of robbing him. By retaining for themselves the tithes and offerings they owed to God, the people showed their idolatrous hearts in placing themselves before God.

But what was the specific tithe in this verse? Two types of tithes were mandated: the yearly tithe and the triennial one, which was set apart to be distributed to the less privileged: orphans, widows and aliens Dt —27; 28f. This verse denotes the tithe that is set apart for the maintenance and sustenance of the temple personnel Sweeney It could also refer to the 10th just as the usual tithe, assembled together in native outbuildings and set aside for the welfare of the temple personnel, that is, the Levites Petersen According to Wretlind , the idea of the tithe in verse 8 includes the whole of the Mosaic regulation concerning the tithe.

Whilst one will support the view that Levites are treated here as the major beneficiaries, this view does not exclude the other usages of the tithe. For instance, in Malachi the book points out other established beneficiaries of the tithe who are denied justice. This could be as a result of the unfaithfulness of the people in remitting their tithes.

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The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe

The offerings in the text could be equated with first fruits Feinberg , or the tax of tithe or simply tithe of the tithe dedicated to the maintenance and sustenance of the temple personnel as well as temple ministries Petersen What could have led to this unawareness on the part of the people? Could such have been caused by the lack of adequate instruction in the Law? What could have made the priests not want to instruct the people of Yehud to give their tithe? Above all, the priests had access to the Law and the authority to teach the laymen about cultic matters and they were the ones who benefited most economically from the tithe.

It seems that the reason why the people were not tithing is not so much because they were not told to do so by the priests, but because of their contempt for Yahweh. The socio-economic problems in the post-exilic period of the 5th century BCE have already been noted earlier, namely, that the returned exiles grappled with many difficulties. There existed a progression of poor crop production and difficult seasons for Israel; drought and locust attacks devastated the land that was already largely unproductive, thus leading to poverty and years of internal conflict and struggle cf.

Hg , 10— In line with the curses described in Deuteronomy Dt —21, 38, 42 , it is observed that the components of this curse included a devastated and barren land Sweeney Verse 10 gives an answer to the situation which if they accept will lead them to experience the favour of Yahweh again and again. As observed by Stuart , 11 this verse is a combination of imperatives and promises. It starts with commands and ends with conditional imperfects describing what can happen if the addressees obeyed the command. Were the people only bringing a portion of their tithe and holding back the rest, or does the idea refer to a specific kind of tithe already mentioned?

This as well echoes the guilt of the whole nation in verse 9 Clendenen Since the whole tithing structure appears to have been disregarded by those who returned from the exiles and succeeding generations, as can be deduced from the efforts of both Nehemiah Neh —39; —14 and Malachi toward its restoration, it appears as if in this present context the prophet is attempting to get the whole system started all over again. This time however, with the support for the temple personnel as a priority in the light of their significant role in its temple cultic life of both worship and sacrifices.

Thus the major emphasis is that, even in their unfavourable and undesired situation, the people are motivated to dedicate themselves to the fulfilment of their covenant responsibilities with respect to the tithe.

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They are to bring the whole of their tithe and not holding back any portion. Neh — There are several passages that give one a clearer and broader picture of what the temple storehouse looked like. The idea of testing Yahweh in the text appears to be very uncommon and has an undesirable meaning in certain passages of scripture. Why do you test the LORD? Nm In several occurrences, the word is used to mean Yahweh testing man Clendenen The result of the test is made very clear; Yahweh will accomplish what he had declared to do. The promise approximates the language of the covenant blessings. It is the nation as a whole that will reap the blessings.

Their closure was threatened by Yahweh as punishment for disobedience to him Dt f. Pohlig The promise of rain indicates that Malachi and his contemporaries may have been experiencing a want of it, which invariably is an indication of a covenant curse Lv ; Dt —24 Stuart Abundant rain is not the sum total of what is needed for agricultural productivity.

Absence of crop pests and crop diseases are needed as well. It denotes the retraining of something, in other words, that it will not work as it should or that it will be destroyed see 2 Sm ; Is ; According to Keil and Delitzsch , the devourer probably refers to locusts which could destroy any crops, and then leaving barren the land in the process.

As he had been against them in the past for their wickedness Lv —25; Dt ; , so Yahweh promised to be for them: in the opening of the floodgates of heaven, in pouring out of blessing and in rebuking whatever was destroying their crops, to protect their agricultural harvest from destruction and their vines from unfruitfulness cf. Jl , 23—25; Zch —15; Ml ; Clendenen The gift of land provides secured people with dangerous alternatives … Israel knows very early that the need to rework identity in the land can lead to a new identity that perverts the land, distorts Yahweh, and destroy[ s ] Israel … land, source of life … invites Israel to enter life apart from [ the ] covenant … Israel does not have many resources with which to resist the temptation.


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  • The sterility of the land in Malachi, presumes that although the reconstruction of the temple has been achieved, once again, the people are attempting to defraud Yahweh by keeping back their contributions and tithes as well as the appropriate sacrifices.

    Unless they have a change of attitude and return to Yahweh, Yahweh will not bring back the fortunes and abundant fruitfulness of the land for them to experience and enjoy. The prophet then assures the return of rain and the elimination of the destroyer as soon as the people return to Yahweh and with their full tithe to the temple Ml — The anticipated blessing is treble: 1 Yahweh will open the windows of heaven; 2 he will restrain the devourer from destroying their crops; and 3 the vines will not fail to be fruitful.

    The restoration of abundant fruitfulness after chastisement cf. Am —14; Jl —27 is an obvious indication that their covenant affiliation with Yahweh has once again, been re-established Nogalski — One must acknowledge, at this point, though space will not allow for an elaborate discussion, the fact that there are issues that limit the ways in which the text Ml —12 can be made useful to a contemporary Christian community of faith. The limitations involved are both theological and practical. Theologically, one sees a clear argument against the situation of subjecting Christians to the requirements to the Mosaic regulations, 13 especially those regulations that are directly connected to the sacrificial system of the temple.

    For example, if a Christian is a cattle farmer, is he or she obligated to come to Church on Sunday with every 10th animal as his or her tithe?

    With respect to the practical dimension, the tithe was basically limited to farm produce, there were restrictions as to its recipients, and its execution was subjected to certain and changing regulations. If so, then this is not an open-ended promise to bless in a material way anyone and everyone who tithes his possessions.

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    The question of whether the command to tithe is applicable also for the new covenant era cannot be decided. Blomberg notes that one must be able to recognise and appreciate the unique importance of the relationship that existed between the contributions in terms of offerings and tithes and the cult of the temple.

    In the absence of a similar centre for sacrifices today, it becomes very difficult for one to simply attempt to transfer all the various rules for giving in the OT to church giving principles in the New Testament NT category. Christian communities as well as their leaders may freely apply the regulations to fit the prevailing context by way of protecting the intent of the regulations and adjusting the application Goldingay — Yahweh waits to be gracious unto his people; but the exercise of his grace is conditioned upon a proper attitude of mind and heart on the part of the would-be recipients.

    Wright a— Yahweh casts himself in the role of the land owner and the Israelites as the dependent tenants, and as Wright a observes: [ h ]e was a God worthy of obedience; his response to human behavior would be consistent and dependable, not a matter of arbitrary whim. He could be pleased, but not humoured.

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    Wright b notes: Responsibility to God for the land which included such things as tithes and first-fruits of harvest, other harvest laws, and the sabbatical legislation. Thus, the unproductiveness of the produce of the land served as a direct indication of their inability to surrender the specified contributions, namely the tithes and offerings. Gn It is also manifested in his ability to apportion a 10th to temple personnel, that is, the Levites in Israel: And to the sons of Levi, behold, I have given the entire tithe in Israel for an inheritance, in return for their service which they perform, the service of the tent of meeting.

    The submission of the 10th in this manner was simply an indication of reverence that acknowledges Yahweh as the sovereign LORD over the earth and the only supplier and sustainer of Israel Hill Stewardship fits in with such activities as worship, prayer, charity and evangelism.

    Stewardship is one of the many ways by which a Christian seeks to love God with all his heart and soul and mind and to love his neighbor as himself. Valleskey One can say then that the basis of this functional and viable association is love. The love of God for humanity compelled him to giving himself and the Christian response to this love is in following his example.

    The prophet had to remind the people by calling them back to the ethical requirements of their covenant obligations, namely, that the maintenance and sustenance of the temple personnel and temple ministry was their ethical duty. The most reasonable deduction that one can make here is that the ministries of the Christian church should be funded by the contributions of her members. There is nothing that can be more shameful than a church which goes about organising fund-raising events, lotteries and the like in order to carry on the work of the ministry.

    The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe
    The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe
    The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe
    The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe
    The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe
    The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe
    The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe
    The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe The covenant connector : how to get connected to the promises of God through the tithe

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