Return to the Lord

By Pastor Teck Uy

We all have the tendency to adapt to the ever-changing practices of the society we are living in. We go with the prevailing trends and quickly discard anything that goes out of fashion. This is true, whether this pertains to the way we live our daily lives or the way we worship the Lord. Because of the changes from generation to generation, there is much confusion as to what is right and what is wrong. Meantime, many have wandered from the faith because of the influence of the ungodly. Israel was not an exception to this. However, they survived as a nation and as a people all through the years despite their ever-changing allegiance to God, because God remained faithful to them. He said, “I, the Lord, do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed” (Malachi 3:6).

The apostle James beautifully portrayed God’s unchanging nature when he said, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). God does not change his mind, regardless of our changing environment and circumstances. He remains faithful to all of his promises. We may notice changes around us, yet it is not the Lord that has changed, but we. It is for this reason that he said, “Ever since the time of your forefathers you have turned away from my decrees and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you” (Mal. 3:7). The initiative of return comes from us who have sinned. It is us who have drifted away.

God’s unchanging love and care for the Jews is based on a covenant. He made a covenant with Abraham, saying, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing; I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you will be cursed; and all the people on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen. 12:2-3). Throughout the years, nations attempted to annihilate Israel, but not one attempt succeeded. In his faithfulness, God always kept a remnant from which he rebuilt Israel. As recently as over sixty years ago, God restored the land of Israel to her rightful owners, the Jews. Once again, the Lord, in accordance with his covenant, made Israel into a great nation. Though they are few in number, occupying a small piece of land compared to their neighbours, they have one of the best economies in the world. As for those who have chosen to curse Israel, they are learning their lesson the hard way as they find themselves under God’s curse. The effect is seen in their general wellbeing. While they seem to have all the ingredients to prosper, they are denied of such prosperity. Now, just as God had promised, all the nations of the world are blessed because of the Lord Jesus Christ, a Jew.

Because the Lord does not change, he demands that those who have drifted away must return to him. He said, “Return to me, and I will return to you. But you ask, ‘How are we to return?’ Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, ‘How do we rob you?’  In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it. I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit” (Mal. 3:7-11). The Lord gave the Israelites’ failure to bring their tithes and offerings as the evidence of their drifting away—and the reason for their sufferings and destruction. When God commanded them to bring their tithes and offerings, it was not because God needed their money and goods. Rather, it was a way by which God could gauge their obedience and determine who their real master was: God or money.

Money is always a contentious issue, even among believers. Many believe that their pastors are only after their money. They are completely oblivious of the true benefit of their giving. The apostle Paul said, “Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account” (Phil. 4:17). No wonder those who do not bring their tithes and offerings and are not generous in their giving do not prosper as they should. Not only is nothing is being credited to their account, but there is also a devourer that continues to wreak havoc in their lives—be it in their finances, relationships or health. Friends, it is time to return to the Lord. Let us not rob God of what is due to him. Let us bring our tithes and offerings to the Lord and enjoy the fullness of his blessings. Glory to God!