Podcast: Play in new window | Download
3:6 Great Is Thy Faithfulness
God identifies himself here with his covenant name – the Lord. In Leviticus 19, God taught the Israelites that the obedience that he required of them resonated with who he was, with his holy name. But now we learn that on top of being holy, God is constant – he does not change. And this constancy of God is, surprisingly, the foundation of his mercy. It is because he is always the same that you are not consumed.
It is deeply ironic that God now tells the Jews that what they really need to do is “return.” Had they not already done just that? These were the people who had given up everything to return to Israel. And yet God says that their heart, which is what he really wanted, was far from him. But if they would return to him, he would return to them. And he had been saying this to them for some time (Zech. 1:3).
3:8-10 Test Me
The return to Jerusalem also meant a return to funding the temple system (Neh. 10:35-39). When we think of giving to God the way we would filing our taxes, we find that we are actually robbing ourselves.
God says, “test me.” There is a kind of testing God that we are not supposed to do (Deut. 6:16). But here we find that there is a kind of testing God that we are supposed to do. These actually correspond to two different ways that we can be tested. But God wants his steadfast lovingkindness to be proven, to be displayed. That is what this kind of testing does.
Tithing is meant to be an act of faith, as obedience before God and not man (Luke 21:1-4, Mat. 6:1-4). Your approach to tithes and offerings reveals something fundamental about where your heart is (Mat. 6:19-24). When your eye is on God, you will be generous and you will live under God’s blessing. But if your eye is on the blessing, you will be neither generous nor blessed.
In this passage, we see that God is zealous for his house. Does that make him a great “me monster”? God’s zeal for his own holiness and glory is his supreme gift to you.
3:11-12 The Fruit of the Land
The motivation to hold back the tithe is to hold on to your wealth for yourself. But ironically, we see that this holding back is exactly why they are struggling. Remember that God has been saying that his name will be great amongst all the nations (1:11). But now we see that that when we magnify God’s name, he magnifies us.