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
Who left who? God left the people or the people left God?
What does verse 7 teach us about God’s character?
In what way do these verses show us they turned away from God?
What language is used to describe their conduct toward God?
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 the 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 which 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 – Each must give as he has decided in his heart.
Matthew 6:1-4 – Do not give publicly to be recognized by man.
Mark 12:41-44 – The widow gives all she has.
Proverbs 19:17 – The one who is generous to the poor lends to the Lord.
1 Corinthians 16:2 – Setting aside our giving is a good habit.
Philippians 4:19 – God will supply all your needs.
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 actually belongs to Him. But He puts some of it into our hands so that we can be stewards over it for a period of time. 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 for His glory. 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 brothers/sisters 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 the 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.
In the Old Testament the Jews were commanded to tithe a certain amount to God. Leviticus 27:30-34. 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. In verse 7 we have seen that the people were distant from God. One reason is because 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 of the flock, which was a direct insult to God.
In the New Testament Paul says that a worker is worthy of his wages. Tithes an offerings of the saints 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 and 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.)
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? How can you improve in this area?
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 give us physical blessings for our obedience like 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, would have certainly 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 to give where God leads and individual believers should feel 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 certainly do not need to succumb to unbiblical pressure to give all there. 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 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 even after 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 like a curse from God which comes and sets itself against them. When God sets the devourer on you, it is as if nothing goes right. At that time it might mean that your crops are destroyed and your vines bear little fruit. Today it mean that your car breaks down, your kid has to go the dentist, you break your ankle, and various other surprise and sudden expenses come up. Understand none of these things is a guarantee that God is disciplining you. But sometimes He does 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 personal credit/glory for their own 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 in our spiritual life. See Proverbs 12:15, 15:31-32, 19:20.
How do you respond when people rebuke you or even when people 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 not profit just like they said.
Which one do you think is most likely?
I tend to believe that 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. We see even in verse 14 that their motivated by personal gain. When they didn’t get the benefit they hoped for, they quickly lost 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 get to America if they believe in Him. People want to know what tangible benefits they will receive if they believe in God. How would you answer these questions?
Is it profitable to follow after God?
Should we be motivated by this?
See 1 Timothy 6:6. In fact there is great profit to us in believing/following God. Everlasting life, indwelling of the Spirit, spiritual gift, joy, peace, blessings here and now; these are a just a few of the ways God blesses His followers. But I believe that these should all be a secondary motivation 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.
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. See Psalm 73:12 and 37:1-20. For a while the wicked may appear to prosper. For example because they didn’t offer the best to God they may become more rich 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.