Monday, October 6, 2014

Repentance and Trusting God to Provide (Malachi 3.6-12)

Scripture: Malachi 3.6-12
Translation: 3.6“For sure I Yahweh don’t change, but you sons of Jacob don’t stop! 7Ever since the days of your forefathers you’ve turned away from My commands! You don’t keep [them]! Turn back to Me and I will turn back to you!” Yahweh of Armies says. But you say, “How did we turn away?” 8Should a human rob God? Because you’re robbing Me! but you say, “How do we rob you?” “The tithe and the offerings! 9You are cursed with a curse! And yet You are robbing ME—the nation, all of it! 10Bring all the tithe to the storehouse and there will be food in My House! And Test Me about this—Yahweh of Armies says—if won’t open the floodgates of the heavens for you and pour down a blessing for you until there’s more than enough [lit. not enough]! 11And I will rebuke the pest [that eats your plants] for you and it will not destroy the fruit of the ground for you. And the vine will not be totally barren in the field.” Yahweh of Armies says. 12“And all the nations will celebrate you as blessed, because you are a land of joy!” Yahweh of Armies says.

1.      Structure
a.       Whole Book
                                                              i.      Heading, 1.1
                                                            ii.      Case 1: Denial of God’s Love (1.2-5)
                                                          iii.      Case 2: Denial of Honor to God (1.6-2.9)
                                                          iv.      Case 3: Rejection of Godly Marriage (2.10-16)
1.      Part A: Undefensible: Marrying an Idol Worshiper
2.      Part B: Flagrant: Divorce/Adultery of the wife of their youth
                                                            v.      Case 4: Rejection of Justice (2.17-3.5)
                                                          vi.      Case 5: Rejection of Repentance and Tithing (3.6-12)
                                                        vii.      Case 6: Rejection of the Value of Serving God (3.13-15)
                                                      viii.      Exonerated: The Faithful (3.16-4.3 [heb. 3.16-21])
                                                          ix.      Closing Statements: (4.4-6 [heb. 3.22-24])
1.      Call to Obey (4.4 [heb. 3.22])
2.      Call to Wait (4.5-6 [heb. 3.23-24])
b.      Section: Case 5: Rejection of Repentance and Tithing
                                                              i.      Accusation A: I’ve been faithful, but you turned your back on Me (3.6-7b)
                                                            ii.      Call to Repentance: (3.7c-d)
                                                          iii.      Defense: How? (Meaning, no, we didn’t) (3.7e)
                                                          iv.      Rebuttal and Accusation B: You’re robbing Me (3.8a-b)
                                                            v.      Defense: How? (meaning: no, we didn’t) (3.8c)
                                                          vi.      Rebuttal: You don’t give the tithe or offerings, and you can see the curse on you for proof, but it hasn’t stopped you as a whole nation (3.8d-9)
                                                        vii.      Call to Repentance: Bring all you should and I will bless you like crazy (3.10-12)
2.      Themes
a.       Turning
                                                              i.      The people Away from God
                                                            ii.      The people Back towards God
                                                          iii.      God back toward His people
b.      Robbing God
c.       Tithes and offerings
d.      Curses
e.       Blessings
                                                              i.      From God
                                                            ii.      Recognized by other nation
f.       Generous/abundant provision
g.      Fruitfulness
h.      Land/ground
i.        joy
3.      Doctrine
a.       Don’t test God, except when He tells you
b.      Trust in God is foundational to the Christian life
c.       Giving gifts to God is important to God
d.      God never changes, also known as the immutability of God, which is different than Divine Impassibility, which is the improper application of the doctrine of Divine Immutability to the realm of emotional states

1.      Outline
a.       Will we repent/be faithful  
                                                              i.      This section after the section promising judgment and justice is a focused mainly on repentance, returning to God after wandering away
                                                            ii.      There are basically two responses to God telling you to repent
1.      Repent (clearly the better and more desired option)
2.      Don’t repent
a.       By denying that you’ve sinned (the option preferred in this passage)
b.      By making excuses for what you’ve done and having no change of heart (i.e. I did what I did because I had to, and implicitly I’d do it again if presented with similar circumstances)
c.       Recognizing it as wrong but refusing to give it up
                                                          iii.      It is clear that God wants us to repent, because not only does He call His people to repent, He challenges them to risk trusting Him, promising to provide more than they need—in fact about half to two thirds of this passage is a call to repentance
                                                          iv.      One thing is clear. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will be faithful, even when we are faithless.
                                                            v.      Additionally, it is important to recognize that while this call to repentance focuses on the failure of the people of God to give the whole tithe and offering, it is just one way in which God could have likely called them out for breaking His commands
                                                          vi.      People change all the time. unlike God we tend to change our commitments and go back on our promises all the time. and we, like the chosen people back then, have in fact abandoned Yahweh over and over, sometimes if we’re honest we don’t even try to live out our relationship with God faithfully—and this is something that God cares about
                                                        vii.      A possible indicator that we are needing to repent is God’s acting against us instead of for us, but cf. the book of Job for other reasons for an apparent attack by God
b.      Will we give
                                                              i.      The problem was they were not giving
                                                            ii.      The problem was so pervasive that God calls them out on here, in fact, He says the whole nation was guilty. Basically everyone was clinging to their money
                                                          iii.      The concept of the tithe, which is another way of saying giving 10% of all your income back to God, which was also essentially a tax to Israel’s ultimate king, since the average tax by kings was around 10% at the time, is something that I am not sure the NT expects of us. Many wise and Godly pastors including some of the pastors I’ve had have come to the conclusion that the NT doesn’t expect Christians to give 10% of their income legalistically. I will admit that I can’t find strong warrant for commanding you to give 10%, since Jesus has taken care of that part of the law for us, and since ultimately God has already raised the stakes on what we owe Him anyways, namely our whole lives and everything we have already should be thought of as His and not ours.
                                                          iv.      That said, I would encourage you to consider giving about 10% of your income to God, not on the basis of a requirement, but on the basis of Christian generosity and ministerial practicality. The truth is that if we as a church were faithful to give 10% of all we got from God, there would be more than enough money available to provide for all the needs of our church and then have plenty left over to expand the capabilities and opportunities of our church to serve God, and reach people with the Good News.
                                                            v.      Furthermore, the reasoning that keeps us from being willing to give 10% is likely the same reasoning that makes it hard for us to give God anything in the offering plate, which leads us to our third point…
c.       Will we trust God to provide
                                                              i.      There are two reasons we don’t give God offerings worthy of Him
1.      Lack of faith that God will provide
a.       Giving to God is often rejected because we just don’t trust Him to give us all that we need. We think, “oh, if I give God a good bit of my paycheck, I won’t have money to eat or pay my bills.” Of course, for most of you at this point in your lives, that is a straight up lie, because you’re parents pay for most of your expenses if not all of them.
2.      Greed/idolatry of money, wealth, or our own wants
a.       For some of us the problem is not that we don’t trust God to provide, but that we don’t trust God to give us joy. We fear that we won’t be able to have all the neat toys or trips or coffee we want, if we give God a good offering
                                                            ii.      The reason we don’t give it is that we don’t trust Him to provide, and yet God wants us to trust Him. Or we maybe have idolized money or our own wants so much that we want those things more than a healthy relationship with God

                                                          iii.      God wants us to trust in Him to provide, but when we don’t trust Him to provide, we still expect Him to and blame Him and get angry at Him when He doesn’t provide for us, even though we weren’t trusting Him to provide. Why should God indulge our lack of faith by providing abundantly when we are refusing to trust Him to provide

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