Giving Back To God

Memory Verse: Malachi 3:10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in My Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put Me to the test!"

We left our last lesson with Jacob fleeing for his life from his brother Esau. He had not only gotten Esau’s birthright, but also tricked his father Isaac into giving him his brother’s blessing. The sibling rivalry between these two was horrendous, and now his brother was planning on killing him as soon as their father died. Isaac and Rebekah had fostered these attitudes in their sons by each favoring one son over the other. Jacob’s mother went so far as to pit him against his brother, by telling him to deceive Isaac, her husband, into giving Jacob Esau’s blessing. As a result, she would not see her beloved son, Jacob, again in her lifetime.

Genesis 28:1-9
1 “So Isaac called for Jacob, blessed him, and said, “You must not marry any of these Canaanite women. 2 Instead, go at once to Paddan-aram, to the house of your grandfather Bethuel, and marry one of your uncle Laban’s daughters. 3 May God Almighty bless you and give you many children. And may your descendants multiply and become many nations! 4 May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings He promised to Abraham. May you own this land where you are now living as a foreigner, for God gave this land to Abraham.”
5 So Isaac sent Jacob away, and he went to Paddan-aram to stay with his uncle Laban, his mother’s brother, the son of Bethuel the Aramean.” 6 Esau knew that his father, Isaac, had blessed Jacob and sent him to Paddan-aram to find a wife, and that he had warned Jacob, “You must not marry a Canaanite woman.” 7 He also knew that Jacob had obeyed his parents and gone to Paddan-aram. 8 It was now very clear to Esau that his father did not like the local Canaanite women. 9 So Esau visited his uncle Ishmael’s family and married one of Ishmael’s daughters, in addition to the wives he already had. His new wife’s name was Mahalath. She was the sister of Nebaioth and the daughter of Ishmael, Abraham’s son."

Jacob, with another blessing from his father, is sent away to his uncle Laban’s home to secure a wife. Evidently Esau had already married some of the Canaanite women. When he realized his father did not want Jacob to marry any of the local heathen women, he went to his cousin Ishmael and married one of his daughters, but he still kept his heathen wives too.

Genesis 28: 10-12
10 Meanwhile, Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. 11 At sundown he arrived at a good place to set up camp and stopped there for the night. Jacob found a stone to rest his head against and lay down to sleep."

Jacob stopped for the night and set up camp. During the night he had a dream.

Genesis 28:12-15
12 As he slept, he dreamed of a stairway that reached from the earth up to heaven. And he saw the angels of God going up and down the stairway. 13 At the top of the stairway stood the LORD, and He said, “I am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham, and the God of your father, Isaac. The ground you are lying on belongs to you. I am giving it to you and your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants. 15 What’s more, I am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. One day I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have finished giving you everything I have promised you.”

In the dream God affirmed the blessing that Isaac had given him before he left. God identified Himself in the dream as the God of Abraham and Isaac. He promised Jacob the land he was lying on to him and to his descendants who would be a numerous as the dust of the earth. He promised that the rest of humanity would be blessed through Jacob and his descendants. He promised protection for Jacob wherever he went. He promised not to leave Jacob until all the promises He made had been fulfilled.

Genesis 28:16-22
16 Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, “Surely the LORD is in this place, and I wasn’t even aware of it!” 17 But he was also afraid and said, “What an awesome place this is! It is none other than the house of God, the very gateway to heaven!” 18 The next morning Jacob got up very early. He took the stone he had rested his head against, and he set it upright as a memorial pillar. Then he poured olive oil over it. 19 He named that place Bethel (which means “house of God”), although the name of the nearby village was Luz. 20 Then Jacob made this vow: “If God will indeed be with me and protect me on this journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, 21 and if I return safely to my father’s home, then the LORD will certainly be my God. 22 And this memorial pillar I have set up will become a place for worshiping God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything He gives me.”

Up until this dream, there was no real evidence that Jacob had anything other than a surface relationship with God. His life up to now certainly didn’t bear out a godly life. He had tricked, deceived, lied and stolen to get what he wanted – possessions and wealth. The birthright and blessing bestowed prosperity to the recipient. Now He was having an encounter with his Creator God in a dream. The God he had heard about was suddenly personal to him. God was really talking to him and promising to bless him as his father had blessed him. He was so moved by this that he made a vow to God to make him his God. He set up the stone where he slept as a memorial pillar and a place to worship God. All of the things he had coveted now took second place to God. He even vowed to give a tenth of everything God gave him back to God. God was now real to him and took first place in his life. He was even willing to part with ten percent of everything God gave him. Jacob’s attitudes and perspectives began to change that very day.

The same thing will happen to you when you answer God’s call in your life. Worldly things that used to seem so important to you may not seem so important anymore. Your attitudes and perspectives will change and be less about self and more about God and other people in your lives. This may happen very gradually so you don’t even notice it, or it can happen suddenly like it does for some people who are suddenly freed from addictions to alcohol, cigarettes or drugs when they turn their lives over to God and accept His call. It is amazing to experience how God works in us so we can shine a little bit of Him to others.

Let’s talk about the promises God made to Jacob in his dream. Did you ever wonder where Jacob’s descendants are? If they are as numerous as the dust of the earth, we should be able to find them somewhere. Let’s look at the promise to see where they might be.

Genesis 28:14
“…Your descendants will be as numerous as the dust of the earth! They will spread out in all directions—to the west and the east, to the north and the south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your descendants.”

Is there a nation or a group of nations that this description fits? What nation, after it has conquered its enemies, helps to rebuild them back up so they can be productive and self-governing? What nation helped Germany and Japan to rebuild after World War 2? What nation is helping Iraq to get back on its feet after going to war with it? What nation gives money and medical and humanitarian aid to the rest of the world? Does Israel fit this description? Does Europe fit it? How about the United States of America? The US gives back a portion of what it has taken through war. Unlike most nations who would kick an enemy when it is down, America gives it a hand up and a handout after we’ve won. When there is a natural catastrophe, the US is one of the first to respond with aid and money to help those suffering to get back on their feet. As a rule the Western nations are the most generous with the US being the most generous. Is the US giving back to God some of the blessings He has given us by this generosity and compassion we give to others?

Jacob promised to give God back one tenth of whatever blessing God gave him. God became more important to him than anything else. Is God more important to you than anything else in your life? Would you give God back ten percent of whatever blessing He gives you?

God has given you so much. He only asks for ten percent of it back.

Malachi 3:6-9
6 “I am the LORD, and I do not change. That is why you descendants of Jacob are not already destroyed. 7 Ever since the days of your ancestors, you have scorned my decrees and failed to obey them. Now return to me, and I will return to you,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.
“But you ask, ‘How can we return when we have never gone away?’
8 “Should people cheat God? Yet you have cheated me!
“But you ask, ‘What do you mean? When did we ever cheat you?’
“You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. 9 You are under a curse, for your whole nation has been cheating me.”

When it is given freely and joyously, He even promises to pour out blessings on you. He asks you to test this promise by stepping out in faith in obedience.

Malachi 3:10-12
10 “Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test! 11 Your crops will be abundant, for I will guard them from insects and disease. Your grapes will not fall from the vine before they are ripe,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. 12 “Then all nations will call you blessed, for your land will be such a delight,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies.”

He asks for only ten percent – 10 cents out of every dollar. He has given you so much. He even promises to bless you for your obedience. What is your relationship with God worth to you? Is ten percent too much to ask from you?

Matthew 6:19-21
19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

What you consider valuable you will put your effort, money and heart into. Where is your heart? Where is your treasure? What are you putting value on more than God? Everything you have, health, wealth, possessions, homes, families, children, cars, horses, everything you have can be destroyed by fire, war, disease, lack of love, death, etc., etc. Only your relationship with God can survive everything that the world throws at it, if you value it, if you put your treasure there. Give back to God and see what He does in your life. Trust that He knows you better than you know yourself and that He knows what is best for you. Look to the goal – eternal life with Him – and anything bad that the world throws at you pales into insignificance with that goal.

Luke 6:38
38 “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

The night Jacob dreamed and saw God in his dream changed him. He wanted to give back to God. He wanted to know God. He knew where his treasure lay. Where is your heart? Where is your treasure?

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