“I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed. 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,” says the LORD Almighty.
“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,” says the LORD Almighty, “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,” says the LORD Almighty. “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the LORD Almighty.
“You have said harsh things against me,” says the LORD.
“Yet you ask, ‘What have we said against you?’
“You have said, ‘It is futile to serve God. What did we gain by carrying out his requirements and going about like mourners before the LORD Almighty? But now we call the arrogant blessed. Certainly the evildoers prosper, and even those who challenge God escape.’ ” (Malachi 3:6-15)
God’s character is consistent: he is patient, kind, does not envy, does not boast, is not proud, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres, and never fails. All part of Paul’s definition of “love” and since God is love (1 John 4:7-8) what Paul says of love is true also of God. As a result of who God is, God has not destroyed Israel. From the time of the Exodus until the time of the prophet quoting God’s words in this passage, the Israelites had been rebellious and disobedient, chasing after other gods and concerned only with themselves instead of others. In typical fashion, they are oblivious; they don’t understand why God could be bothered by their behavior. But despite all their sin, God’s love for them has never—and can never—falter.
So the Israelites are unconvinced that it is in their best interests to serve God. Because the rain falls on the just and the unjust, they think it doesn’t matter which they are. As if one should be good only if one gets paid for it—as if the only reason to get good grades in school is because your parents paid you more for an A than they did for a C.