These small group studies of Malachi contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Malachi 3:8-15 Inductive Bible Study – Online Lesson With Discussion Questions
I. Robbing God (8-11)
II. What is profit in serving God? (13-15)
I. Robbing God (8-11)
- How can someone rob God? What does this principle teach us about God? About people? About money?
- Is there a difference between tithes and offerings?
- What does it mean to bring the whole tithe into the storehouse?
- Some pastors have used this verse to say that a person’s entire tithe should be given to their local church? Do you agree or disagree? Why?
- What does God promise to the Jews who do this? Do you think this promise applies to us? Will God bless us if we give Him our tithes/offerings?
- What is the devourer? Why would the devourer come?
- What principles can we learn from this passage to apply to our use of money today?
- Are there any New Testament verses that can give additional insight on this?
- What do you need to do to obey what we have learned in this passage?
Cross-References on Giving
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Matthew 6:2-4 – So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
1 Timothy 5:18 – For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”
Proverbs 19:17 – Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward them for what they have done.
1 Corinthians 16:2 – On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.
Philippians 4:19 – And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.
Romans 3:31 – Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.
Romans 10:15 – And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
1. Will a man rob God? – God is the Creator of all things. He made us and He made this world we live in. Everything belongs to Him. But He puts some of it into our hands so that we can be stewards over it, using it for His kingdom. All the way back in Genesis 1:26 God put man as a steward over the earth. A steward is a caretaker who is entrusted with his master’s possessions. His job is to take care of these possessions, use them for his master’s business, and protect the interest of the master. We should understand that whatever God has put into our hands, we are to use for Him and His glory.
Reflect: Why does God give us something just so that we will give some of it back to Him again?
When I was growing up, my parents sometimes gave me and my siblings an allowance. It was their money and they were not required to give us anything. But they did. And then they taught us how to use it. They taught us to give some to God. They taught us to save some. They taught us to use some to buy gifts for others including for them. They used money as a way to teach us how to be generous and think of others, not just ourselves.
I believe God entrusts materials and money to us for the same reason. He wants us to use these things wisely. He wants us to extend them back to Him with an open hand. He wants us to be generous.
Now I am a father with four children. And I also give them an allowance. It makes me so happy when I see them being generous with what they have been given, joyfully sharing with others. On the other hand, when they are selfish or stingy, it saddens me.
We can imagine that God feels the same way when He looks down from heaven and observes how we manage the resources He has entrusted to us.
In the Old Testament, the Jews were commanded to tithe a certain amount to God.
Leviticus 27:30-34 – “‘A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord; it is holy to the Lord. 31 Whoever would redeem any of their tithes must add a fifth of the value to it. Every tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd’s rod—will be holy to the Lord. No one may pick out the good from the bad or make any substitution. If anyone does make a substitution, both the animal and its substitute become holy and cannot be redeemed.’” These are the commands the Lord gave Moses at Mount Sinai for the Israelites.
The Levites served God full time as priests, instructors, teachers, mediators, etc. If the people did not tithe then the entire system would collapse. Very strong language is used as God accuses the people of actually robbing Him! This is how seriously He takes the issue of giving. Refusing to tithe is the same as robbery.
In verse 7 we have seen that the people were distant from God. One reason is that they disobeyed God by selfishly and greedily refusing to give their tithes and offerings. From chapter one we see that when they did give, they gave the worst of what they had, the blind and lame, which was a direct insult to God.
In the New Testament Paul says that a worker is worthy of his wages (1 Timothy 5:18). Tithes and offerings enable full-time workers to continue their ministry for their Lord. We should be supporting God’s work with our time, our energy, our talents, our spiritual gifts, and our money. Do you know that money is one of the most talked about topics in the whole Bible? It is talked about more than hell, heaven, marriage, parenting, employment, relationships, and a host of other issues. Why?
A wrong attitude toward money clouds our whole outlook toward life. Money can be very divisive. Our use of money often shows where our heart is and what our priorities are. God knows that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10.)
Reflect: What are some excuses people make for not giving to the Lord? How would you answer those?
Application: What does God think of your account books? Are you being a good steward? Are you generous with others? Are you faithful to offer God your tithe and offering? Spend some time this week to evaluate your giving. Prayerfully ask God if you need to make any changes and increase your giving in some area. Remember that God commends the one who gives sacrificially. And He loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
2. You are cursed with a curse – In the Old Testament, the Israelites were cursed when they disobeyed God and blessed when they obeyed God. God does not necessarily give us physical blessings for our obedience as He did them. But He does bless us spiritually when we obey. We should also understand that disobedience always comes with negative consequences.
3. Bring the whole tithe into My storehouse – In the Old Testament, the tithe was apparently collected by a central organization. It was then their job to disburse it to the temple workers, priests, etc. We can see that the priests were not sincere to worship God from their hearts (from chapter 1). This method of distributing the tithes could have limited corruption. Otherwise, individuals may have given money, animals, or other valuables directly to priests as bribes in exchange for favors. By giving it all to a central storehouse, hopefully with adequate supervision and accountability, it would limit corruption and the opportunity for both giving or taking bribes.
Some pastors have used this verse to tell their congregation that each individual’s entire tithe should be given to their local church and the leadership of that church will then decide where to use it. Such an interpretation has no biblical basis as the church did not exist at that time and nowhere does the New Testament make such a demand.
When giving our tithes and offerings, we should realize that the church is universal. Therefore leadership should give freedom to their congregation and individual believers should feel the freedom to give where God leads. Certainly, it seems reasonable to give at least a part of your tithe to the local church you attend to support it. But you do not need to succumb to unbiblical pressure to give all there. And leaders should not pressure people in this way. Give as God leads you, but do give.
4. I will… open for you the windows of heaven – God promised to bless the Jewish nation if it would obey God in this area. Here we see God’s divine power. Nothing is too difficult with Him. Our logic makes us think if we have $100 and give God $10 we have lost $10. God is telling them that He is greater than that. He can give them much more than the $10 they “lost.” God is able and willing to bless His people.
We should be careful to note that how God dealt with the Israelites in the Old Testament is different than how He deals with us. He blessed them materially when they obeyed Him. In the New Testament God does not promise to make us prosperous if we give to Him. Some pastors might make outrageous claims that if you give $10 to God He will give $1000 back to you. What they really want is for you to make a donation to their “ministry.”
Let me be clear. God never promises to make Christians rich no matter how much we give! Be very wary around any religious leaders who make claims such as these.
Nonetheless, God is able to take care of us and provide for our needs when we give Him a portion of our income. He works in mysterious and marvelous ways. Trust in God. He is not limited by the size of our bank accounts. Hudson Taylor and George Mueller are two people who saw God miraculously provide for their physical needs (and those around them) again and again.
If you have faith in God and allow that faith to direct how you use your money, you will also be amazed. Basically, in this verse, God says, “give Me a chance!” He wants us to give Him a chance to show His power and His care for us. If we stingily hang on to our money and trust in ourselves, we are also robbing God of a chance to bless us like He wants to.
5. The devourer – What an interesting verse! Those who stingily hang on to their money, depending on it as if it was their god, may face a devourer. This is a divine curse. When God sets the devourer on you, it is as if nothing goes right. At that time it might have shown itself in destroyed crops and poor harvests. Today the “devourer” may inflict many expenses on your families like a car that breaks down, a kid who has to make an emergency dentist trip, a broken bone, and various other surprise and sudden expenses. A trial should not be assumed to always be a manifestation of God’s discipline. But it is possible that it is. He does sometimes use these things to discipline us for our love of money and lack of faith in Him.
What can we learn from this passage? What do you need to do to change your use of or your view of money? How will you apply what you have learned about giving today?
III. What is profit in serving God? (13-15)
- What attitude do these verses reveal about the people?
- What motivation did they have for serving God?
- Have you seen the same type of attitude by many people today?
- Is it beneficial to serve God? How?
1. Your words have been arrogant – Pride is one of our most natural sins. It was the sin of Satan when he rebelled against God. And people have carried on the tradition. What are some ways in which people act pridefully against the Lord these days?
- People refuse to acknowledge God.
- People try to make God into their own image.
- People equate their own opinions or traditions with Scripture.
- People exalt evil as good and claim that good is evil.
- People say “I believe in myself.”
- People take full credit for their successes in life when these are a gift from God.
2. Yet you say, “What have we spoken against You?” – Many times our go-to move, when we are criticized or accused, is to deny and deflect. This is yet another example of pride. And this response demonstrated once again that the people were in fact arrogant just as God said.
What should they have said when God told them about their arrogance?
Instead of denying it, they should have humbly taken responsibility and admitted their sin. True confession does not blame others, make excuses, cover or deny sin, or minimize sin. If we are truly humble we will listen to others when they share with us how we need to improve, whether it is academically, in ministry, in our marriages, or our spiritual life. (For more on pride, see Proverbs 12:15, 15:31-32, 19:20.)
How do you respond when people rebuke you or give you suggestions? Are you open and teachable? Or are you close-minded and believe that your own way is always right?
3. Verse 14 – The people were so discouraged in their spiritual walks that they believed it was useless to serve God. What could have led them to believe it? Logically speaking there are several possible reasons why they could have felt this way:
- They weren’t serving God sincerely. They only thought they were serving God. Because it wasn’t from the heart God did not bless them.
- They were serving God sincerely, but the profit was a different kind of profit from what they were hoping for.
- They were serving God sincerely and there was no profit just like they said.
Which one do you think is most likely?
The first option is the most likely. We have seen in the first two chapters of Malachi that the people had not completely abandoned worshiping God. They still went to the temple. They still made offerings. But what they did was at this point just a ritual. They were not doing it from their heart or with the right motivations (if they were they would not have offered blind and lame animals as offerings). We see even in verse 14 that they were motivated by personal gain. When they didn’t get the benefit they hoped for, they quickly lost their heart.
This still happens many times today. I’ve had people ask me if God would help them pass exams if they believe in Him. I’ve had people ask me if God would help them immigrate to America if they believe in Him. People the following questions?
Is it profitable to follow after God?
Should we be motivated by this?
In fact, there is great profit to us in following God. Everlasting life, the indwelling of the Spirit, spiritual gifts, joy, peace, and blessings here and now; these are just a few of the ways God blesses His followers.
But these should all be secondary motivations to us. Our primary motivation should be to glorify God and serve Him because He is worthy. He is the Creator. He is the Almighty. He deserves our allegiance and our praise. He is the truth. And even if we never get any personal reward, we should still serve Him because it is right to do so.
If we see a person drowning, we should save this person without thought of personal reward. I should tell the truth to a shopkeeper even if I never see him again. Some things are just inherently right and we should do them for rightness’ sake reward or no reward.
4. Verse 15 – The people’s arrogance was growing even more. These words were likely not actual words that were said, but nonetheless what was going on in their hearts. In their hearts, they exalted the arrogant one who could stand up to God and escape without punishment.
For a while, the wicked may appear to prosper (See Psalm 73:12 and 37:1-20). For example, because they didn’t offer the best to God they may become richer in the short term. If they spend more time working their farms or pursuing their career instead of God then they may achieve more material prosperity in the short term. What they failed to understand is that no one escapes God forever. Each person will one day have to answer to God for their deeds. There will be a day of reckoning. And on that day no one will escape. Only the person whose sin has been washed away by the blood of the Lamb of God can stand up before God.
Malachi Bible Study Guide – Get the entire Malachi study in one convenient downloadable e-book.
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