5.19.19 - Reading a Post-Prophecy Prophet (Kenny Camacho)
SCRIPTURE: Malachi 3:6-12
We want to begin by exploring what it means to read a text like Malachi responsibly: what are we here to find, how can it best challenge us, and how can we be open to it in the best ways? At the center of this book is a promise from God, who says, “return to me, and I will return to you.” What does it mean to return to God? In Malachi 3:6-12, God talks about this through the ancient practice of “tithing,” or giving the firstfruits of your labor back to the work of God’s Kingdom. The Jewish people had strayed from this practice, giving God the “leftovers” of their lives, if they gave him anything at all. God reminds them that this isn’t just a matter of disobedience, but a failure of memory: in their long history, God had proven his faithfulness and generosity to them time and time again...so why had they stopped acting like this was true? Malachi teaches that if we remember who God is, our worship becomes a matter of reflecting his character back to him. As we continue to explore the question “Why Church?” this year, we can ask ourselves: how can remembrance and generosity lead us into greater sincerity in our relationship with God?
Read Malachi 3:6-12 out loud together. What can be difficult about hearing or trusting passages like this? What are some ways we might be tempted to misread a text like this?
Why do you think God begins by saying, “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed”? What point is God making?
What do you make of God’s declaration that “withholding the tithe” is equal to “robbing” him? What does this suggest about ownership? What does it suggest about what tithing--whatever the resource--is really about?
Do you think what God says here is true--that if we are faithful to him, he will be faithful to us? What might this mean in your own context? Where are you holding out...and what might God’s faithfulness look like for you?
What does verse 12 suggest about the relationship between God’s faithfulness to Israel and their neighbors? How does this affect the way you think about the importance of Israel’s faithfulness to God?