August 18, 2019 – Malachi 3:7-18

Lesson Date: August 18, 2019

Focal Scripture Passage: Malachi 3:7-18

AIM: To lead students to discover what God said about those who rob Him and the instructions and promises He gave concerning tithing, and to confess the sin of robbing God and commit to obeying Him in the area of giving.

 

Before class: Read the notes on Malachi 3:7-18 found in the Sunday School Teacher Book (NOTE: next week’s lesson covers verses 1-6 of chapter 3, as well as all of chapter 4). Write the words “Thieves and Robbers” on the marker board or chalkboard. Bring the sheet titled “Robbers” or similar pictures of your choosing to class. Look for news articles about recent robberies or thefts in your area.

 

INTRODUCTION (Create Learning Readiness): Read the words written on the board. Tell the students about some recent robberies in your area. Ask: “When you hear the words ‘thieves’ and ‘robbers’ what mental image comes to your mind?” (probably a thug or a masked gunman).

Direct the class’ attention to the sheet titled “Robbers” (or to any pictures you have collected). Ask: “Which of the people in the pictures look like thieves or robbers?” (the hooded man breaking into the house). Tell the class while the hooded burglar is one kind of robber, the happy, friendly-looking people at church represent another kind. Explain that there are many thieves and robbers who don’t wear masks or carry guns. In fact, we will probably sit near some of them in our class or worship service this morning!

 

HEART OF THE LESSON (Bible Study):

  1. Review.
    • Remind the students that we are studying the Old Testament book of Malachi.
    • Remind them that Malachi wrote around 433-400 BC. He delivered God’s last messages to His people for 400 years – until John the Baptist came on the scene.
    • Ask: “What was last week’s lesson about?” (things that made up Israel’s moral climate).
  2. Return to Me and I will Return to You.
    • Explain that today’s lesson begins with Malachi 3:7. We will study verses 1-6 next week, along with all of chapter 4.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 3:7.
    • Ask: “How long had the Jews disobeyed God’s ordinances?” (from the time of their ancestors).
    • Ask: “What did God tell them to do?” (return to Him).
    • Ask: “What did He promise to do if they obeyed?” (return to them).
    • Ask: “After God gave this command and made this wonderful promise, what did they ask?” (why did they need to return; they didn’t think they had done anything wrong).
    • Ask: “Have you ever disobeyed any of God’s commands?” (everyone has).
    • Tell the students God’s promise to the ancient Israelites applies to us as well – if we return to Him (repent), He will certainly return to us and restore our fellowship with Him.
    • Summarize: God called His disobedient people to return to Him, promising to return to them if they did. Sadly, the ancient Jews didn’t think they had done anything wrong.
  3. Robbing God.
    • Read Malachi 3:8-9.
    • Ask: “According to verse 8, what did God say the people had done?” (robbed Him).
    • Erase the board and write the words “Robbing God.”
    • Tell the class the Jews again tried to act innocent.
    • Ask: “What did they ask the Lord in verse 8?” (How are we robbing you?).
    • Ask: “In what way did God say they were robbing Him?” (they were withholding their tithes and offerings).
    • Explain that the word tithe literally means a tenth. Tell the class the following:
      • The Jews were required by the Law to bring tithes to the Lord at the Temple (Lev. 27:30-32; Num. 18:24-28; Deut. 12:5-6; 14:22).
      • The tithe was commanded in the Old Testament and affirmed by Jesus Christ in the New Testament (see Matt. 23:23).
      • The word offering encompasses both freewill gifts that express gratitude, love, and devotion to the Lord, as well as offerings required to cover sin.
    • Ask: “According to verse 9, what did God say was the result of robbing Him?” (their whole nation was cursed with a curse).
    • Ask: “Do you think this warning applies to us today? Will we be cursed (miss out on God’s blessings) if we fail to give God His tithes and our offerings?” (yes).
    • Ask: “Can any of you testify of God’s blessings when you faithfully give Him tithes and offerings; or the loss of those blessings when you have not done so?” (allow time for a few brief responses).
    • Summarize: God rebuked the ancient Jews for robbing Him – withholding their tithes and offerings. Their actions brought God’s curse upon them.
  4. Instructions Concerning Tithing.
    • Tell the class that God doesn’t rebuke without offering corrective instruction.
      • Explain that 2 Timothy 3:16 tells us God’s Word is useful for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.
      • After rebuking the ancient Jews for robbing Him, God next gave them instructions about giving and promises for those who obey.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 3:10-12.
    • Ask: “What instructions do you find in those verses?” (bring all the tithes into the storehouse and put God to the test).
    • Explain that the ancient Jewish Temple included many storerooms.
      • Offerings of wood, grain, oil, wine, and meat were kept in these storerooms.
      • Why was this done? Because the priests, musicians, and other Temple workers lived off those tithes and offerings.
      • God wanted there to be meat in His house to feed those who worked there.
      • The ancient tithes and offerings made it possible for the ministry to be carried out.
    • Tell the class that the local church is the New Testament “storehouse.” Our tithes and offerings make it possible for the church to carry out its ministry.
    • Recite the first half of verse 10, with the following emphasis: “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts ….
    • Explain that God invited the Jews to prove Him – put Him to the test – in the area of tithing.
    • Tell the class that in both the Old and New Testaments we are told not to tempt or test the Lord (Deut. 6:16; Matt. 4:7).
    • Stress the fact that tithing is the only area of our lives in which the Lord has clearly told us to put Him to the test.
    • God told the Jews to put Him to the test – to faithfully give their tithes and offerings and then see what He would do for them. He promised to do certain things if they tithed.
    • Ask the students to identify the promises God made to the Jews in verses 10-12. They should name the following:
      • He promised to open the windows of heaven and pour out a blessing upon them – so much that there would not be room enough to receive it.
      • He promised to rebuke the devourer for them, protecting their crops and possessions from premature loss.
      • He promised that all nations would recognize that God was blessing them.
    • Ask: “Do you think those promises still apply to us if we faithfully give God our tithes and offerings?”(yes).
    • Summarize: God gave the ancient Jews clear instructions concerning tithing, promising to bless them if they obeyed.
  5. A Stubborn Majority and a Faithful Remnant.
    • Read Malachi 3:13-15.
    • Tell the class in verse 13 God said the Jews were speaking stout (proud, obstinate) words against Him. They again tried to act innocent, asking what they were saying against God.
    • Ask: “According to verses 14-15, what were their proud, obstinate words?” (they said there was no benefit to serving God, obeying His commands, or mourning over their sin; they were also praising and exalting sinners).
    • Ask: “In what ways do these sentiments remind you of our modern society?”
    • Tell the students the majority of ancient Jews were stubborn, self-righteous, and obstinate. This is much like America today.
    • There was still, however, a faithful remnant in Israel – just as there is in the church today.
    • Ask a volunteer to read Malachi 3:16-18.
    • Explain that instead of praising and exalting sinners, God praised and exalted the faithful and obedient remnant. He even wrote their names in a special book of remembrance. God claimed the faithful remnant as His own.
    • Ask: “What does verse 18 say God can discern (know)?” (who is righteous and who is wicked; who serves Him and who does not).
    • Summarize: In spite of God’s goodness and His rebuke, many in Israel remained disobedient and self-righteous. Some, however, were faithful to Him. The Lord knows who is truly faithful and who is a fake.

 

PERSONAL APPLICATION: Direct the class’ attention once again to the sheet titled “Robbers” (or the pictures you brought). Tell the students we have learned this morning that not all robbers look like the hooded burglar in the picture. In fact, many robbers appear clean-cut and respectable. We usually think of thieves and robbers hitting banks and convenience stores, but there are far more robbers at church on Sunday than there are at the bank or convenience store the whole rest of the week. They are robbing God of tithes and offerings.

Tell the class some people mistakenly think Christians are no longer required to tithe. They say tithing is from the Old Testament and we are New Testament Christians – no longer under Law but under grace. The truth is, however, that Jesus Christ actually endorsed and affirmed the tithe during His earthly ministry (Matt. 23:23). If we think tithing is no longer required we must ask ourselves this question: Should Christians (who should be overwhelmed with gratitude for the priceless grace of God purchased by Jesus’ death on the cross) give less to the Lord than Jews who were merely fulfilling the obligations of the Law?

Tell the students modern-day Christians should think of the tithe not as a goal, but as a starting point. We who claim to be children of God should be happy to give ten percent or more of our income to the Lord through our local church.

Ask: “Are you robbing God? You and God are the only ones who really know the answer to that question. Are you bringing tithes and offerings to your local church?”

Say: “If you already give tithes and offerings, thank God for His blessings on your life. If you don’t, confess your sin and start tithing this week.” Voice a closing prayer of commitment to bring our tithes and offerings to God’s storehouse – our local church.

 

CONCLUSION: Ask the students to memorize Malachi 3:10. Encourage them to follow through on the commitments they made this morning.

Give everyone present a copy of the Sunday School Member Quarterly for the fall quarter. Tell them in two weeks we will begin a three-month study of the New Testament book of Hebrews.

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