Return Unto Me | Malachi 3:7

In my previous role as a bishop, as each year ended, I was blessed to meet with families to discuss tithing. In those meetings I would share a brief thought, which typically included a reference to Malachi 3:8-12.

One year, I focused my remarks on Malachi 3:10 wherein the Lord invites His people to “prove me now herewith…if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

Last year, my remarks focused on Malachi 3:11-12 and the promises and protection that the Lord will provide for our fruits, which I consider to be our families and children.

I am grateful that our study of the Old Testament in 2022 has helped me to zoom-out from these typical verses and better appreciate their context.

  • Malachi 1-2:10 speak against the polluted altar and profane sacrifices performed in the temple by Levite priests who were not keeping their covenants.
  • Malachi 2:11-17 condemn worshipping false gods in the temple and divorcing “the wife of thy covenant.”
  • Malachi 3:1-6 describe the “messenger” who will “prepare the way before” the Lord who “shall suddenly come to his temple” and sit in judgement.

Malachi 3:7 continues, “Even from the days of your fathers ye are gone away from mine ordinances, and have not kept them. Return unto me, and I will return unto you, saith the Lord of hosts. But ye said, Wherein shall we return?”

The Hebrew word, שׁוּב (shub), which is translated “Return” appears 1,056 times in the Old Testament and is translated most often as “return” or “restore”; it is also translated as “repent” and “repent and turn away.”

Helaman 13:11 teaches, “But if ye will repent and return unto the Lord your God I will turn away mine anger, saith the Lord; yea, thus saith the Lord, blessed are they who will repent and turn unto me….”

These verses in Malachi 1-3:7 and Helaman clearly describe a people not honoring the temple or their covenants and a longsuffering God who never tires from pleading with His children to repent.

After telling His people to repent and return to Him, of all 613 commandments given to Moses, God commands them to renew their covenantal relationship with Him by paying tithes and offerings.

Why did He choose tithing? Practically, tithing supported temple work. Tithes and offerings provided for the Levite priests so they could focus entirely on the ministry (see Numbers 18:20-32). The Lord also knew that if His people’s focus was riveted to the temple, they would remain faithful.

How do tithes and offerings turn us toward God? My life experience continues to teach me that submission to God’s will is the only way to find true joy. Tithing tests my faith, keeps me grounded, helps me turn to the Lord and focus on things of primary importance.

I am grateful for God’s desire to covenant with His children, the temple and the law of tithing. Today let’s share our gratitude for these blessings with others and reflect on how we can better repent & return unto Him.

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