“Remember the law of My servant Moses, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, the statutes and judgments.” Malachi 4:4
Remember – Most of us don’t think of this verse when we think of the prophet Malachi. We think of this verse: “Bring all the tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house. And test Me now with this;” says YHWH of hosts, “whether I will not open the windows of heaven for you;” (3:10). I’m guessing that you have heard at least one sermon that used this verse to cajole you into tithing to the local building. It’s a favorite of the prosperity crowd. Test God. Give your tithe and see if He doesn’t shower you with blessings. Isn’t it odd that we don’t read the rest of Malachi’s message? Maybe the condition of keeping the law of Moses just doesn’t seem comfortable. It’s so much more convenient to lift Malachi 3:10 out of the context and apply it where we wish. We want to profit from the prophet. But he just won’t oblige us.
Malachi’s real message is quite different than the issue of tithing. Malachi is calling God’s people back to full-bodied endorsement of Torah. Malachi’s message is about how we live, not how we give. Malachi 3:10 without the rest of the message makes no sense at all. Why would God care about how you give if you aren’t obedient to His instructions for living? Did you think you could buy your way into His favor? Of course not! So, what motivation is there for putting all of Malachi’s emphasis on tithing (if that’s what 3:10 really means)? There can only be one reason. If I can’t buy my way to God, then maybe I can get His blessing by showing how much of His own provision I am willing to give back to Him. Put as crassly as that, it seems a bit foolish, doesn’t it? Malachi isn’t interested at all in your profit. He is interested in your righteousness. So, he points out that ignoring God’s instructions given to Moses is the equivalent of slapping God in the face. In fact, Malachi mentions (not too subtly) that the day is coming when those who do not live according to the Torah will be swept away in a dreadful day of judgment.
“Remember,” says the Lord. The Hebrew verb is zakar, but it means a lot more than simple cognition. Remember (lol), Hebrew is an action language. So, mental recall will not capture what Malachi commands. To remember is to bring to mind and act accordingly. Simply recalling the commandments is not remembering in Hebrew. Remembering means doing them! If you don’t keep Sabbath, you are not remembering Sabbath. If you don’t avoid evil, you are not remembering the way of the righteous. If you don’t bring your specified sacrifices to the priests of the temple, you are not remembering how to worship. And you are not remembering to tithe. If you want God’s blessing, remember His commandments! It’s pretty simple, right?
Promise yourself you will remember this: context! Never allow another occasion when you read a verse out of context. Remember God’s Word. It all fits together.
Topical Index: remember, zakar, tithe, Malachi 4:4