How to stay out of error
There are (2) foundational rules of Bible interpretation that must be followed or you will open yourself to error. The first is that we interpret the Old Testament in light of the New Testament, or to say it another way; we look at the Old through the eye glasses of the New. Because the New has superseded the Old, we must look back through the New to properly understand the Old.
Paul stated this in I Corinthians 10:11: “Now all these things happened to them (in the OT) for examples to us; And they are written for our instruction…” So Paul followed this rule too.
Two examples: The Passover lamb of Exodus 12 was a type of the true Passover Lamb, Jesus. And I Cor 10:2 where Paul said when Israel passed through the Sea it was a type of being baptized.
The second rule is that the scripture had to make sense to the original hearers/readers, so you first have to understand it as they did, and once done, we can update it to our day, but through New Testament eyes.
The Storehouse – not what you think!
The first week of this series I shared from Malachi 3:10 how the Lord will ’…open the windows of heaven, and I will pour out for you a blessing you won’t have room to contain’.
Following these 2 rules, I shared in the first of this series that to the original readers of Malachi, what the Lord was pouring out was rain for their crops. They irrigated much as Israel does now, and He said He would open the windows of heaven, which in Hebrew is head gates, or flood gates, an irrigation term.
I gave the understanding that the NT uses water as a type of the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said in John 7:38 when He said ‘rivers of living water’, meaning the Holy Spirit, will flow out of our innermost being. That means the rain the Lord promises to pour out in Malachi 3, is for us in the NT, the Holy Spirit revelation and wisdom which waters our ‘crops’ – again updated; our jobs, investments, possessions, etc.
So we must follow these same rules when we look at the storehouse mentioned in Malachi 3:10: “Bring the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house (temple), and prove me now in this, if I will not open for you the floodgates of heaven and pour you out a blessing you won’t have room to contain.”
What was the storehouse in Malachi’s time? It was the innermost vault within the temple. I found 61 uses of the Hebrew word translated as ‘storehouse’ in the OT. 60 times it is translated ‘treasuries’ (or some form of ‘treasure’), and 1 time here as ‘storehouse’. In their time the storehouse ‘in My house’ (temple), was an inner room in the temple where the offerings of gold, silver, jewels and such were stored.
People offered grain and animals for sacrifice, but they also gave jewels and jewelry, fine dinnerware, and so forth – these were stored in the treasury, and could be sold by the priests to help pay their salaries or temple maintenance or by the king for national needs like building up the army or public works.
To understand this we have only to remember Hezekiah in Isaiah 39 where he showed the ambassadors of Babylon this treasury in the temple. He told Isaiah “There is nothing among my treasures that I have not shown them.” Isaiah then prophesied because he had been so foolish in showing them the national treasury, Babylon would one day come and steal it all until nothing was left. (Nebuchadnezzar did this)
You may also remember the history of the burning of the temple by the Romans in the year 70. They looted the storehouse/treasury, which was so rich in gold Josephus says it melted in the fire and flowed between the cracks in the stone blocks. Once cooled they tore the blocks apart to get to the gold, thus fulfilling Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 that not one stone would be left upon another – so this understanding is well known.
So the Old Testament meaning was to bring the tithes into the temple where the excess could be stored in the treasury, and in doing so, Israel would be blessed by having more than enough rain to irrigate their crops. Remember too that lack of rain was a curse that came upon the land due to not walking with God, as seen in Elijah’s lifetime and Deuteronomy 28:23-24, and in Malachi’s time, they were not walking with God either.
Enter the error of pastors everywhere
The traditional church is of course set up like the Old Testament temple. It has a priesthood, a series of qualifications and protocols by which to enter into service in the temple, overseen by a ‘high priest’ who has assistants of various ranks, and so forth. Not a put-down, just a fact that pastors state themselves at offering times and whenever they teach along these lines – they think the modern church is the NT temple.
They use Malachi 3:10 to call the church building a temple and storehouse to urge the people to bring their tithes into the temple, and therefore God promises to bless their bank accounts because they bless the bank account of the man of God and house of God.
But that interpretation is not in keeping with the rules of interpretation, for we must interpret the Old Testament through the eyes of the New Testament, not through the eyes of man made tradition.
The New Testament says in I Corinthians 6:19 that WE are the temples of God now, not a building. Steven in Acts 7:48 and Paul in Acts 17:24 say God no longer lives in a building made with hands, but now within us, for we are living temples. Ephesians 2:20-22 says as a body we are built up as a habitation for God through the Spirit – not an actual building, but people are the temples of God. It is Christ in us, the hope of glory, not Christ in a temple – He doesn’t live there.
So the traditional church teaching that the storehouse is the temple/church/building where people worship, is not Biblically accurate. That teaching is error! The Bible says WE are the temples of God.
So what is the storehouse, what is the treasury within the temple, what is that inner vault?
Prepare for goose bumps
If we are now the temples of God, then our ‘vault’ or our ‘storehouse’ is our inner most life, our being, where we live, our family, what we are all about.
In other words, the tithes and offerings go to the true storehouses in living temples – to people to affect them where they live, in their basic needs of life – their most precious areas of life – the roof over their heads, the clothes they wear, the food and drink they need to live. Bring the tithes to the NT storehouse, the NT vault – to the people where they live! That means you, me, those around us in Christ, leadership who sows into our lives – we are all equal in that we are all temples of God, and we all have ‘treasuries’ in our hearts and lives.
This is why Jesus said in Matthew 25:34-40 when He returns and sets up His kingdom, He is looking for: I was naked and you clothed me, I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was sick or in prison and you visited me.
He is looking for people who are givers into the true temple storehouses – where people live, where their basic needs of life are. Beyond that, we can update this further into the NT by saying the ‘storehouse’ that is the basic needs of life includes giving to their emotional and spiritual needs, life training and walking them through hurts and into healing – give into the storehouse, the innermost sanctuary of people’s lives!
This is why tithing…
is not talked about in the New Testament. The church was nearly exclusively Jewish for the first 10 years of its existence, so everyone who was at Pentecost and for the next 10 years were tithers and givers. That’s understood as basic foundational history.
When they realized God moved out of the temple and into them, that they were now temples and they were to bring their tithes and offerings into the storehouse that was where people live, they continued to tithe and give, they just gave according to New Testament realities:
“And they would sell possessions and divide to others as they had need.” “And the multitude of them were of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that anything they had was theirs alone.” “No one lacked anything, for they gave (to one another) and brought proceeds to the apostles to be distributed as needs arose (as well).”
They gave to each other, they gave to leadership, they gave to meet needs where any in Christ lived – food, clothes, drink, provision to get through life!
“If a brother or sister is naked, and without daily food, and one of you say to them ‘Be at peace! Be warmed and filled!’, and you don’t give them what they need, do you think that is to your profit? Faith without works is dead, being alone.” (Acts 2:42-46, 4:31-37, James 2:15-17)
Even ‘faith without works is dead’ is talking about faith responding to the basic needs of life for those in Christ lacking food and clothes. not to acquire a bigger bank account or more ‘things’.
Why drop back to 10%?
When you understand these truths and put them into practice, you will become a bigger giver than ever. When people realize Christ lives in them, and therefore they must get with Him and determine a disciplined & spontaneous lifestyle of giving, and deal with the fear of not having enough, they will for the first time in their lives (perhaps) enter into the blessing on their lives Malachi actually said would happen.
It is our responsibility to give to each other, to include those who sow spiritual food into our lives, and as we’ll see next week, it is figured according to what you have, and as you determine in your heart. Stay tuned!
Please send all personal emails or questions to me at firstname.lastname@example.org