Return to God, and God Will Return to You
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 3:7-12 NKJ).
Health and prosperity is a hallmark in the economy of God. Every true believer in Christ Jesus desires personal health and prosperity. But health and prosperity can never be realized beyond the prosperity of one’s soul (III John 2). A prosperous soul is one who honors God– the source of his prosperity– and keeps His commandments; it is someone whose mind has been renewed and transformed by the Word of God, because the real treasure of the soul of the prosperous is walking in God’s truth.
In Malachi chapter 3, the classic tithing passage in the Bible, the import of the Holy Spirit is not about wealth but rather about health—spiritual health and prosperity. Those who departed and are drifting away from God are indicted and called to return to God, and God promises that He will return to them.
How Do you Know When You Have Gone Away From God?
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. You need not look no farther than to God Himself to determine if you have gone away from God. According to God, the best indication is whether you are keeping His ordinances, i.e., His enacted orders or commands. God’s original ordinances were handed down, written on tablets of stone, to Moses in the form of Ten Commandments:
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image . . . you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.”
“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain . . .”
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.”
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the LORD your God is giving you.”
“You shall not murder.”
“You shall not commit adultery.”
“You shall not steal.”
“You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 3:3-17 NKJ).
It is interesting that of all God’s ordinances that He could have indicted Israel for violating, He did not accused them of any of the major outward breaches of His enacted commandments, but instead, He choose what was the most revealing, the most telling of all that Israel had departed from Him—robbing God! “Will a man rob God?” Honoring God in the paying of tithes and the giving of offerings is inseparably related to one’s heart condition towards God. It is the most accurate Scriptural barometer of the true prosperity of the soul. Jesus taught that, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21 NKJ). You may measure your commitment and devotion to God by numerous standards but God’s only measurement is: do you have a heart of faith and obedience to honor Him in keeping the command to tithe and give offerings? A decision not to tithe and give offerings is the most compelling indicator that you have gone away from God in your heart.
In What Way Can You Return
Return to Me, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. But you said, In what way shall we return? Tithing was before the Law, during the Law, and after the Law. Abraham, the father of the faithful in Christ was the first to tithe to God. He did not tithe because of a commandment or requirement; he paid tithes to Melchizedek (a type of Jesus Christ) out of revelation and relationship. If the father of faith paid tithes, then the faithful in Christ Jesus ought to tithe, as well (Galatians 3:29). Yet in an effort to cover-up depraved minds and departed hearts that have gone away from God, many have accepted half-truths, out-right lies, and heretical teachings that scratch their itching ears to justify not tithing, and at the same time they deceive themselves into believing that their hearts are toward God, when in fact, they have gone away from Him.
Like the people of Israel in Malachi chapter 3, when you drift too far from the truth, then living a lie becomes “your truth” concealed in ignorance, blindness, and disobedience, to the point where you become numb to guilt because your conscience is seared with a “hot iron.” (I Timothy 4:1-2). You can never return to God until you stop living the lie. However, you can return to God by bringing all the tithes into God’s appointed storehouse (your local church).
Three Purposes of Tithing
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 (Malachi 3:10a NKJ). A tithe is ten percent—the topmost tenth, the heap of the pick of one’s income or increase. All the tithes mean the whole tithe—not a tip! Tithing is more than a payment you make to God. Tithing is:
(1) A recognition of who God is and what you choose your life to be in Him (Genesis 14:18-20);
(2) A worship of God as the rightful owner and sovereign Lord of everything (Leviticus 27:30; Psalm 24:1); and,
(3) An expression of expectation of God’s favor (Genesis 28:16-22).
You cannot have a true relationship with God without having a heart for keeping His ordinances (I Timothy 4:1). Of all of God’s ordinances, obedience in tithes and offerings is the most revealing of the condition of your heart and your relationship with God (Matthew 6:21, 24). Disobedience in giving tithes and offerings is most symptomatic of a heart that’s departed from God. Return to God, and He will return to you!