(The Dissenter) “Will man rob God? Yet you are robbing me.” Malachi 3:8—a verse so frequently plucked from its Old Testament habitat and transplanted into the fertile soil of modern-day sermons, especially when the collection plate seems a little light. It’s become the go-to verse for proponents of “first fruits tithing,” a doctrine that, while superficially sounding spiritually rigorous, crumbles under the slightest scriptural scrutiny. Let’s untwist this verse and see what it truly tells us about tithing, giving, and the nature of our relationship with God under the New Covenant.
First, let’s address the elephant in the room: Malachi 3:8 was written to a specific audience under specific circumstances. This wasn’t a blanket statement to all believers for all time but a direct rebuke to the Israelites who were neglecting the Levitical law. The tithe mentioned here was part of a complex system of offerings and sacrifices detailed in the Mosaic Law, a system intricately tied to the socio-economic and religious fabric of ancient Israelite society. It was a provision for the Levites, who, unlike the other tribes, didn’t have a share in the agricultural land.