The Wisdom of the Prophet Malachi on Prosperity
There have been a lot of people out in our society that has been burned by Televangelists that teach what people call prosperity gospel or name it and claim it. At the same time, there have been a lot of religious leaders that have not felt comfortable speaking about wealth and prosperity because they are worried that it would come across that they are only concerned about making money for their congregations, and this is in all of the three monotheistic faith groups. Money has been demonized or glorified. However, it has not been properly talked about.
It is important to note that in the very opening chapters of Scripture it speaks to the fact that God is the creator. This is important since it gives perspective. The perspective that the pages of Genesis teach us is that it all belongs to the Almighty. The Almighty is the one that ultimately determines who achieves wealth and who endures poverty. However, with that said, there is an extremely powerful scripture in the prophet Malachi which speaks of wealth.
“Bring all the tithes into the storage house, and let it be sustenance in My Temple. Test Me, if you will, with this, says HaShem, Master of Legions, see if I do not open up for you the windows of the heavens and pour out upon you blessing without end. And I will rebuke the devourer for you, and they will not destroy for you the produce of the ground, and the vine will not cast off its fruit for you in the field, says HaShem, Master of Legions. (Malachi 3:10-11, The Stone Edition Tanach, Feb 2016), Note: The Jewish Bible has only three chapters to Malachi whereas some Christian versions of the Bible have 4 chapters to Malachi).
There are two parts the above verses. A lot of teachers ignore this aspect to the passage. They take that it means that there has to be money brought into the congregation. This is only part of the situation. The passage clearly states two places where the tithes need to be brought to. The first one is the storage house; this means that there have to be savings in life. God knows the cycles and seasons of nature. God is telling us to pay attention as well, there will be times when there are plenty and times when there is scarcity. This is the lesson we learn from Joseph and how he was able to save the entire Jewish people because he properly interpreted the Pharaoh’s dream about plenty and scarcity.
The second part of this is bringing tithes into the Temple. There is no standing Temple that functions right now. This is interpreted as any religious congregation. The principle of helping others is what is powerful here. If a person does not have a congregation then they can give it to any charity. The point of the scripture for us in modern times is that tithing is a transformational process, just like prayer is a transformational process. Find some charity that you can agree with, one that holds biblical truths, and tithe. For many, this is the place where they get a feed from spiritual.
In Judaism, there are three things that nullify an evil decree against people. We say them in the prayer books for Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur. The three things are Tshuvah, (Repentance), Tefillah (Prayer), and Tzedakah (Charity). All three are transformative.
After we apply these principles, God Almighty, says something very strange. We are told to test God. Normally, throughout the course of scripture, we see that it is a bad thing to test God. It should be the furthest from your mind to test God. The very concept conjures up the image of Job testing God, and God rebuking Job. So what is meant here? The word for a test in Hebrew is also related to the word for Grace. This is one topic where God is telling us to test Him. It is God that is testing us, on whether or not we will submit to the test. This test is filled with grace. This is the type of test that a parent does to their child to ensure confidence with the child. Like a father in a pool with his arms out saying to his child to jump into the water. God is asking us to trust in Him and jump into the water. This is a power faith builder. It is necessary for spiritual warfare to be strong in prayer. Trusting in God in tithes and charity, and trusting in Him that you will be taken care of will strengthen you each time that you jump into that water. Financial concerns can be very deep and scary waters to have to tread.
Just as there are two principals at the beginning of the promise which is to save and to pay tithes, there are also two rewards. The two rewards are that God will open the heavens and pour out blessings upon the obedient in this command. The beautiful thing is that in Hebrew there are two words for blessing, one is “Asher” which has a connotation of wealth, and the second one is “Beracha”, this second type of blessing has a broader connotation of all blessings and it has its source in spiritual blessings.
The second reward is that God Almighty will hold back the devourer. I have come to believe that this has a lot of components to it, and this is because to give tithes and charity is a transformative process. The mind becomes clearer. If you are focusing more clearly because you have trust that God is going to take care of you then you will not make decisions based out of fear, or confusion. You will take the time to think through your financial decisions and bring your impulses under control. You will start to look around to those that are successful and out of debt, like Dave Ramsey, or you will start to listen to the ancient of a wisdom of scholars of finances like Rabbi Daniel Lapin who teaches how to network to create wealth. We live in a cause and effect universe. God is sovereign and can step in at any moment and perform miracles, however, I see that here God moves on the person to improve and upon others as well for chances and opportunities to present themselves. In the end, the Bible truth of you reap what you sow plays out from this act of tithing.
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Lion's Den Beit Hamidrash was established in 5777/2017 under the auspices of Rabbi Shaul Danyiel.