Malachi was a contemporary of Nehemiah, Ezra, and Ester. Much of the background for Malachi is found in these other books, and in fact, our commentaries cross reference several verses.
Daniel’s prophesy of the 70 weeks from the command to restore Jerusalem till Messiah is grounded in these events.
Nehemiah is the story of the man Nehemiah who in captivity became the cup bearer for Artexerxes 1, king of Persia. As cup bearer, he had favor with the king. Nehemiah gets permission to lead a group back to Jerusalem and rebuild the walls. It is completed in 52 days with the workers holding a sword in one hand and building with the other!
Nehemiah, as Governor of area and Ezra as Priest, restore the Temple, Priest, Levites, sacrifices, etc.
Later Nehemiah goes back to Jerusalem to check on things… It is bad! This is where Malechi comes in.
Nehemiah has to deal with corrupt Priest who have stolen the Tithes and not shared them with the Levites. Neh 13:10. The Levites who have been cheated out of their share of the Tithes have had to go home to survive.
The people, priest and Levites too, have married foreign wives, they are buying and selling on the Sabbath, as well as working just like any other day.
Nehemiah appoints one honest Priest, one Levite, one secular ruler, and a laymen to guard and administrate the Tithes in the storehouse. Neh 13:13.
Malachi is written to the Priest and Levites who have become corrupt. Neh 13:29. Chapter 1 focuses on how the priest defiled the alter with defiled food, sick and lame animals, etc. chapter 2 continues with “and now O priest…
If you read Malachi along with Ezra and Nehemiah, you have to really stretch to assign Malachi 3 to the nation of Israel and prophetic Church. The blessings and curses are directed to the preachers who steal the Tithe once given (and then on to the nation in general). For it is true the nation was not filling God’s storehouses as earlier commanded, but it is also true that the corrupt priest had transformed the storehouses into apartments. There weren’t physically any storehouses to be filled!
In Malachi 1:6-8, it is shown that God were speaking to the leaders (the Levites and Priests of Israel) who were defrauding and robbing God of the tithes and offerings not the people who brought the tithes to them (the people continued to give and tithe to them even while these corrupt Levites and priests stole from God – and the widows, the poor and strangers in the land). These priests were not giving God His due honor before the people by taking care of those widows and orphans in need nor were they sacrificing the best of the grain and livestock to God rather they were keeping the best for themselves to sell and increase their own wealth from the things tithed and offered by those who were required to tithe. Just think of the glory our God in heaven would receive if these so-called “tithes and offerings” ministers actually followed these old Covenant instructions by helping the poor and needy with your “tithes and offerings” money instead of helping themselves. Today, we as Christians are called upon in the New Testament (or Covenant) which requires much more in giving and helping those in need than the Old Testament. For, we as Christians shall be judged by our treatment of those in need and those well to due Christians will be judged by what they did with their money (Matthew 19:16-24; Luke 12:33; Luke 19:1-10 and Matthew 25 – more on this later).
Notice in verse 6 of Malachi chapter one God says, “It is you, O priests, who show contempt for My Name”; there you have it, it were the priests not the people, who were not respecting God as a Father and Master (if they were sons or servants then they did not show it, making them neither as for as God was concern). God says these priests showed Him contempt instead of honor and “place defiled food on”(v. 7) His altar (this phrase give us more proof that God was talking to the Levitical priesthood because they were the only ones commanded by God to offer the sacrifices on the altar).
Now, when we move to Malachi chapter two we see God is still speaking to the priests and not the people as so many Christians have been led to believe by their leaders, these money lovers and self-proclaimed “tithes and offerings” collectors who have declared themselves to be God. For they say to those who they demand money from, that if you don’t give to them you are robbing God. Thereby, claiming if you want to give to God then you must give to them and no one else.
These ministers peddles the word of God for profit and financial gain – teaching for doctrine the traditions of men and doctrines of Satan concerning tithes and offerings; something God have not command them, and He have not given them this authority to demand money from you under the new Covenant. They are misusing the Holy Scripture to fill their pockets and “their churches” bank accounts. They are “living it up” on the word of God rather than being content, and helping those in need. These ministers are refusing to preach the word without cost. The Holy Spirit speaks of these ministers in2 Peter 3:16… where it is said, these ministers have used Malachi 3 as “untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scripture”. Yes, some twist the Scripture through ignorance and some through deceit and evil motives, and they all resist sound doctrine.
Now, let us re-read Malachi 3 again, where it speaks of these priests (today, they are commonly called ministers) robbing God – we will start in verse one, and I want you to pay particular attention to verses 3-5, and 9; where we see the phrases “sons of Levi”, “that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness”, “then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem”, “those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans”, and “even this whole nation”.
You know the more I study what God really says about “tithes and offerings”; the more I wish these gospel peddlers would rightly divide God’s word for a change and give God His honor and reverence among the people of this world. For many of our poor widows and fatherless children would be cared for with the tithe money they collect, and God would receive His honor and be reverend. Yet, these ministers uses your “tithes and offerings” for “their pet projects”. Oh yea, they will definitely declare to you the word of God when they stand to profit from it, but never are they truthful when it may take money out of their pockets and their “human organizations” aka “their churches”.