Abraham’s Tithe Prefigures Giving From The Heart

 

 

Abraham’s wealth did not come from the kings of Sodom, for Abraham refused to receive what the kings pf Sodom offered him, lest they take credit from God for the blessings he had.  (Read Genesis chapter fourteen)  Abraham’s wealth most likely began from his ancestors, starting with Shem, just after the flood:

 

Genesis 11:10-11 This is the history of the generations of Shem. Shem was 100 years old when he became the father of Arpachshad, two years after the flood.  And Shem lived after Arpachshad was born 500 years and had other sons and daughters.  AMP

 

Shem lived to be 500 years old, having many sons and daughters, and as patriarch, would have accumulated a fair amount of substance.  Arpachshad lived to be 438 years old, and had sons and daughters.  His son Eber lived 464 years, his son Peleg lived 239 years, and so did his son Reu.  Reu’s son Serug lived 230 years, his son Nahor lived 148 years, his son Terah, and Terah was the father of Abram, later named Abraham.

 

Genesis 11:26-32 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of [at different times], Abram and Nahor and Haran, [his firstborn].  Now this is the history of the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot.  Haran died before his father Terah [died] in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldees.  And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor's wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah.  But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took Abram his son, Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife, and they went forth together to go from Ur of the Chaldees into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there.  And Terah lived 205 years; and Terah died in Haran.  AMP

 

Haran was Terah’ s firstborn son, and he died before Terah did, so that made Abram the heir as firstborn to Terah.  In Genesis chapter twelve, we see Abram sent out of the land of Ur to Canaan, and God promised to bless those that blessed Abram.  Next we see Abram go to Egypt during a time of famine, and even though he used deception regarding his wife by calling her his “sister,” (whom the princes of the Pharaoh took as one of his harem), Sarai his wife was returned to him, and Abram was given a great quantity of livestock by the Egyptians, increasing his great wealth.

 

Genesis 12:15-17 The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh, and she was taken into Pharaoh's house harem.  And he treated Abram well for her sake; he acquired sheep, oxen, he-donkeys, menservants, maidservants, she-donkeys, and camels.  But the Lord scourged Pharaoh and his household with serious plagues because of Sarai, Abram's wife.  AMP

 

Genesis 13:1-2 So Abram went up out of Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the South country of Judah, the Negeb.  Now Abram was extremely rich in livestock and in silver and in gold.  AMP

 

When the kings of Sodom captured Abram’s nephew Lot, Abram rescued him, and returned all of Lot’s possessions.  However, Abram refused to take one single item as booty from the kings of Sodom, contrary to the way Hebrews chapter seven is translated:

Genesis 14:16a

 

And he brought back all the goods and also brought back his kinsman Lot and his possessions, the women also and the people.  After his [Abram's] return from the defeat and slaying of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh, that is, the King's Valley. 

 

Melchizedek king of Salem [later called Jerusalem] brought out bread and wine for their nourishment; he was the priest of God Most High, and he blessed him and said, “Blessed (favored with blessings, made blissful, joyful) be Abram by God Most High, Possessor and Maker of heaven and earth, and blessed, praised, and glorified be God Most High, Who has given your foes into your hand!  And [Abram] gave him a tenth of all [he had taken].

 

*NOTE: The words “[he had taken]” are found in brackets because the translators, alluding to Abram’s booty, erroneously inserted them.  In so doing, the translators have alleged that Abram took booty from the kings of Sodom after he defeated them in battle.  The text contradicts this insertion, and Abram refused to take even one single item from the Sodomite kings.

 

And the king of Sodom said to Abram, Give me the persons and keep the goods for yourself.  But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted up my hand and sworn to the Lord, God Most High, the Possessor and Maker of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a shoelace or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’”  AMP

 

Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek king of Salem for two reasons; first, because he blessed Abram, and second, because he gave Abram food (bread) and wine for nourishment.  Abraham acknowledged this man as a priest to God, and felt compelled to share from the heart 1/10 of what he already owned.  None of Abram’s tithe came from any booty taken from the kings of Sodom.  Abram gave the choicest part of what he owned already to this man named Melchizedek, and in so doing, fulfilled the requirement of the Law some 400+ years BEFORE the Law was even given to Moses!

Hebrews 7:1-22 with Commentary

 

7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him,

 

Melchizedek blessed Abram, not just with words, but also in deed (bread & wine) and truth.

 

7:2 To whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils (“spoils” is omitted in the Greek), was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace.

 

Abram, not Abraham, gave Melchizedek a tenth of all he owned, but the NT uses Abraham, because it is more appropriate as his name means, “father of a multitude” and he typifies all whose faith is in Jesus Christ.  The words, “the spoils” were erroneously added by the translators, and is not contained in the original Greek text.

 

7:3 Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually.

 

7:4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils (the word “spoils” is a mistranslation; literally it means, “the choicest; the top of the heap”).

 

Melchizedek is mentioned as a type of Christ, being king of righteousness and king of peace.  The name Abraham is used, and referred to as “the patriarch”; that is, he is the “father” of us all, with respect to our faith.  Again, the NASB translators mess up the Greek text, and erroneously translate a word that means, “choicest” or more literally, “the top of the heap” as “choicest spoils.”  They do this to fit with their previous error in 7:2.  Abraham gave a tenth to Melchizedek from what he already owned BEFORE defeating the kings of Sodom in battle.

 

7:5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest's office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham.

 

7:6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises.

 

7:7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater.

 

Here the writer likens Melchizedek to the sons of Levi who act as the priests, even though Melchizedek has no traceable lineage, and even though he does not seem connected genetically in any way to the Levites.  Because Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth (tithe) he is merely a type of the Levites, who actually are descendents of Abraham.

 

In Genesis, Melchizedek blessed Abraham with bread and wine, and with a word from God declaring triumph and victory in the battle with the kings of Sodom.  Though Melchizedek collected a tenth from Abraham, he is not considered greater in status than Abraham, because it was TO ABRAHAM that God gave the promise that in him all nations would be blessed.  Therefore in Hebrews 7:7, the “lesser” is Melchizedek who gave a blessing to the “greater” who is Abraham, because Abraham was the friend of God. 

 

This is sometimes a confusing point to the novice reader because Melchizedek is said to be a Old Testament “type” (symbol or representation) of Christ.  A type is something symbolic, but is not actually the real thing.  Therefore Melchizedek is a type (symbol) of Christ, not in fact Jesus Christ (as purported by the doctrine of the Trinity & the doctrine of the preincarnate Christ).

 

7:8 In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on.

 

The “mortal men” refers to Melchizedek, proving he is not some cosmic manifestation of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament.  Melchizedek received tithes, just as 400 years after this incident; the Levitical priest would receive tithes from the sons of Israel, as commanded in the Law.

 

The phrase in 7:8 that reads, “… but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on,” is once again speaking of Melchizedek in type.  Melchizedek received the tithes just the same as Levitical priests received tithes, because Melchizedek WAS called, “priest to God Most High” AND because the end of his life is not recorded, making him symbolic of an eternal priesthood, and thus he becomes somewhat representative of Jesus Christ.  The passage does NOT mean Melchizedek LITERALLY “lives on” as the Preincarnate Son of God, as touted by so many Trinitarian preachers and theologians.  The simple fact remains that Melchizedek is referred to as “mortal” meaning he had to have died like any other man.

 

Not being from the line of Abraham, and not being a Levite, Melchizedek forms the basis for a new priesthood, a lasting one like the one Jesus Christ introduces in a new covenant that will never come to an end.  Jesus Christ is a perpetual priest because he did not die and remain in the grave, but was raised from the dead by the indestructible power of his Father God, and then seated at the Father’s right hand of authority, to function as the only mediator (priest) between God and man forever (Read 1 Timothy 2:5).

 

Again, lest the novice reader become confused, the passage in Hebrews chapter seven flits back and forth, alternately revealing Melchizedek as a type of Christ or as a type of the Levitical priest, or else revealing Abraham as a type of the Levitical priest, or as a type of Christ.  It takes a solid foundation and in-depth understanding of the accounts in both Old and New Testament to comprehend the text.

 

7:9 And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes,

 

Levi (the Levitical priesthood, not yet in existence in Abram’s day) symbolically paid their “tithe” (the choicest 1/10 of what they received from the sons of Israel) through Abraham’s gesture, when he (Abram) paid the choicest of all he owned to the priest and king of Salem named Melchizedek. 

 

In other words, Abraham was truly a forerunner of the requirement of the Law, because by giving his choicest tenth, and doing it from the heart to bless Melchizedek, he fulfilled what the letter (the requirement) of the Law later commanded, even though God would not actually give such a Law to Moses for yet another 400 years. The Levites were also blood relatives and descendents of Abraham, making him the father of their faith.

 

Under the terms of the Law given to Moses, the sons of Israel who were only required to pay 1/10 of whatever they chose to give to the Levites.  In turn, the Levites, who owned no land inheritance, received the tithe from the sons of Israel as income, and their duty was to be the priests and minister in the tent of meeting, at the altar, and later in the temple.  However, to insure that the needy, the poor, the widows, orphans, aliens, and others who had no income would be taken care of, God commanded in the Law a requirement that the Levites must tithe the very choicest 1/10 of all they received from the sons of Israel, and it was to be put aside and later placed into the temple storehouse, and be used to feed the needy in Israel.

 

To summarize Hebrews 7:9, the phrase, “through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes,” means:

 

·          Abraham symbolically “paid tithes” on behalf of his future posterity the Levites, or as 7:9 says, “even Levi,” when he gave 1/10 to Melchizedek.

 

·          “Levi, who received tithes” is symbolically referring to Melchizedek, who, as a priest, though not a Levitical priest, received tithes, fulfilling the requirement of Levi according to the Law, though the Law was not yet given.  So to speak, Melchizedek stood in the gap for Levi, allowing Abraham, to fulfill the requirement of the Law, and be the prototype for giving in the new covenant, which speaks of a greater and more lasting covenant than that which the Levitical priesthood offered.

 

7:10 For he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

 

This verse refers to Abraham’s giving the choicest tenth on behalf of his succeeding generations, the Levites, or priests.  The phrase, “he was still in the loins of his father,” is speaking of Levi as, “he,” and Abraham as, “his father.”  Levi was still in the loins of his great, great, great, great grandfather Abraham when Melchizedek met him paradoxically.  Symbolically, we could say Levi met Melchizedek IN TYPE (prefigured by) through Abraham. 

 

There is another New Testament type here as well; Levi typifies the elders that labor hard in the word and teaching, who, according to Paul’s inspired epistle, are “worthy of their hire.”  At the end of this study are several NT scripture passages to support this statement. 

 

The Levite, who received income from the sons of Israel because he had no land inheritance, and because he labored as a minister of the altar, typifies the NT elder/overseer who spends his life laboring for the church to bring forth spiritual food.  Likewise, the NT elder/overseer should give the choicest part of what he receives to help care for the needy, and the proverbial “widows and orphans” which is today like the single mothers and others in need.

 

7:11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?

 

7:12 For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also.

 

Melchizedek typifies Christ, and Abraham’s giving to Melchizedek typifies new covenant giving, which is not legislated by a strict quantification of income, and based upon a tithe (or 1/10 of one’s income), but should come from a grateful heart. 

 

The proof for such an interpretation is found in the text itself, “Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood… what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek?”  Since Melchizedek symbolizes Jesus, his priesthood symbolizes something superior to what the Levitical priesthood offered… a final sacrifice, and a living mediator, who abides forever… Jesus.  Since the priesthood is “changed” the law and its ordinance changes, and the “tithe” changes as well.

 

No longer do God’s people set aside 1/10 of their herds and crops for food to care for Levites, but they surrender ALL to Jesus, and give consistently from the heart.  The form of “storehouse tithing” practiced in churches across the globe today amounts to little more than regurgitated legalistic giving.  This is not to say that all who tithe are not sincere, but this form of giving robs the individual of the responsibility to be guided by the spirit and heart in giving.  It also takes away what should be given to care for the needy, and dumps millions into buildings and programs that are superficial and inanimate.

 

7:13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar.

 

7:14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests.

 

7:15 And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek,

 

7:16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life.

 

7:17 For it is attested of Him,  "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK."

 

7:18 For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness

 

7:19 (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

 

7:20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath

 

7:21 (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, "THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND, 'YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER'");

 

7:22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

NASU

 

Jesus did not descend from Levi or Aaron, but from the tribe of Judah.  As such, he breaks the mold in the line of priests, and begins a new priesthood, according to the order of Melchizedek, which mean, “righteousness.”  He holds the office of this new covenant priesthood non-transferable, and much to the dismay of the Mormon Church, there is no such thing as either Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood that a NT believer can partake of.

 

We draw near to God, not on the basis of the Levitical priest that offers up the sacrificial blood of bulls and lambs and goats, but through the one-time offering for the sins of all who believe, trust in and rely upon the blood of Christ.

Conclusion and Scripture References

 

Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek is the expression of gratitude God wants displayed in the life of every believer professing the name of Jesus.  Melchizedek gave as well, offering bread and wine to Abram in the heat of the battle with the kings of Sodom.  This typifies the sharing the Lord desires amongst his people, as we bear the burdens of those whose load is excessively heavy.  This is not the Law of Moses, but a higher and more perfect law… the law of Christ.

 

Galatians 6:2 Bear (endure, carry) one another's burdens and troublesome moral faults, and in this way fulfill and observe perfectly the law of Christ (the Messiah) and complete what is lacking in your obedience to it.  AMP

 

In the Law given to Moses by God, provision was made to care for His spiritual leader (i.e. – the Levites and the priests).  The Levites had no land inheritance, and so they received income in the form of a tithe, the specifics of which were spelled out in detail in the Pentateuch.  The tithe of the sons of Israel to the Levites was in return for their service in the tent of meeting (tabernacle) and later in the temple.

 

To insure that all of Israel maintained a giving spirit, the LORD commanded the Levites to give 1/10 of the tithe they received, even the choicest part of it (Numbers 18:29, 30), as an offering to care for the needy.

Numbers 18:21, 26-31

 

18:21 And, behold, I have given the Levites all the tithes in Israel for an inheritance in return for their service which they serve, the menial service of the Tent of Meeting.

 

18:26 Moreover, you shall say to the Levites, ‘When you take from the Israelites the tithe which I have given you from them for your inheritance, then you shall present an offering from it to the Lord, even a tenth of the tithe paid by the people.’

 

18:27 ‘And what you lift out and keep your heave offering shall be credited to you as though it were the grain of the threshing floor or as the fully ripe produce of the vine.’

 

18:28 ‘Likewise you shall also present an offering to the Lord of all your tithes which you receive from the Israelites; and therefore you shall give this heave offering lifted out and kept for the Lord to Aaron the priest.’

 

18:29 ‘Out of all the gifts to you, you shall present every offering due to the Lord, of all the best of it, even the hallowed part lifted out and held back out of it for the Levites.’

 

18:30 Therefore you shall say to them, ‘When you have lifted out and held back the best from it and presented it to the Lord by giving it to yourselves, the Levites, then it shall be counted to you the Levites just as if it were the increase of the threshing floor or of the winepress.

 

18:31 And you may eat it in every place, you and your households, for it is your reward for your service in the Tent of Meeting.

AMP

 

Melchizedek represents the NT workman, as does Abraham, the father of our faith.  The concept of giving to elders that labor in the word is foreign to the churches of the west, especially America.  Today many ministers amount to little more than hirelings. They simply preach, do a bit of counseling, perhaps some speaking engagements, and run the 501-C-3 tax-exempt non-profit corporation/organization… appropriately named.  The true workmen labor unnoticed except for a few faithful disciples of Jesus who benefit from their toil and efforts and reward them accordingly.  

 

Levites who act as priests also symbolize NT elders and overseers, but the Levitical priesthood has been done away with.  If that priesthood could have made men complete, it would have done so in the many hundreds of years it existed.  So too, the law of tithing, as a part of the old covenant is obsolete, and those who use it for their own gain do not go unnoticed by God.  He will bring to account those men and women that have endorsed a practice that presents the 1/10 obligation as though it were a holy commandment of God.

 

These self-serving ministers of greed dangle believers over the “curse” of Malachi 3:8-10, hollering in the microphone on Sunday morning, “Will a man rob GOD?  You people might ask, ‘Wherein have we robbed God pastor?’…Well folks, it’s right here in scripture… brothers and sisters, if you’re not giving 10% of your income to the house of God in TITHES and offerings, you’re robbing GOD, not me.  If you rob GOD, then GOD says you’re CURSED with a CURSE!”   Gag. 

 

PRAYER: “Lord, have mercy on Your people, and judge all who use Your word for profit and financial gain.”

 

Tithes and offerings?  If these ministers would look at the context of Malachi, the entire book is a rebuke to the Levites for robbing God of the choicest tithe… the 1/10 of what was given to them, the leaders of Israel.  Taken literally, most pastors should quiver in fear of God’s judgment for misusing the Bible for gain, and should look more closely at how THEY have robbed God.    For more info, see the links below:

 

http://bibleanswerstand.org/tithing1.htm

 

http://bibleanswerstand.org/tithing2.htm

 

http://bibleanswerstand.org/tithing3.htm

 

There is legitimate scriptural basis for financially helping support God’s laborers.  Like Abraham, give from the heart, in gratitude to God for His blessing, acknowledging those He has put in your path to help and support… SELAH.

1 Corinthians 9:6-14

 

9:6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who have no right to refrain from doing manual labor for a livelihood [in order to go about the work of the ministry]?

 

9:7 [Consider this:] What soldier at any time serves at his own expense?  Who plants a vineyard and does not eat any of the fruit of it?  Who tends a flock and does not partake of the milk of the flock?

 

9:8 Do I say this only on human authority and as a man reasons?  Does not the Law endorse the same principle?

 

9:9 For in the Law of Moses it is written, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the corn.’  Is it only for oxen that God cares? [Deuteronomy 25:4.]

10:10 Or does He speak certainly and entirely for our sakes?  Assuredly it is written for our sakes, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher ought to thresh in expectation of partaking of the harvest.

 

11:11 If we have sown [the seed of] spiritual good among you, is it too much if we reap from your material benefits?

 

11:12 If others share in this rightful claim upon you, do not we have a still better and greater claim?  However, we have never exercised this right, but we endure everything rather than put a hindrance in the way of the spread of the good news the Gospel of Christ.

 

11:13 Do you not know that those men who are employed in the services of the temple get their food from the temple?  And that those who tend the altar share with the altar in the offerings brought? [Deuteronomy 18:1.]

 

11:14 On the same principle the Lord directed that those who publish the good news the Gospel should live get their maintenance by the Gospel.   AMP

 

1 Timothy 5:17-18

 

5:17 Let the elders who perform the duties of their office well be considered doubly worthy of honor and of adequate financial support, especially those who labor faithfully in preaching and teaching.

 

5:18 For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle an ox when it is treading out the grain,’ and again, ‘The laborer is worthy of his hire.’  [Deuteronomy 25:4; Luke 10:7.]   AMP

Luke 10:7

 

10:7 And stay on in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not keep moving from house to house.

AMP

Deuteronomy 24:14-15

 

24:14 You shall not oppress or extort from a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is of your brethren or of your strangers and sojourners who are in your land inside your towns.

 

24:15 You shall give him his hire on the day he earns it before the sun goes down, for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it; lest he cry against you to the Lord, and it be sin to you.  AMP

Romans 4:14-16

 

4:14 If it is the adherents of the Law who are to be the heirs, then faith is made futile and empty of all meaning and the promise of God is made void (is annulled and has no power).

 

4:15 For the Law results in divine wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression of it either.

 

4:16 Therefore, inheriting the promise is the outcome of faith and depends entirely on faith, in order that it might be given as an act of grace (unmerited favor), to make it stable and valid and guaranteed to all his descendants--not only to the devotees and adherents of the Law, but also to those who share the faith of Abraham, who is thus the father of us all.  AMP

 

 

SELAH…Pause and reflect

 

 

 


 

 

Links to the Entire "Tithing” Series:

Tithing Series Part 1: New Testament Practice of Old Testament Bondage?

Tithing Series Part 2: Giving God’s Way

Tithing Series Part 3: Supplemental Scriptures on New Testament Giving

Tithing Series Part 4: Abraham’s Tithe Prefigures Giving from the Heart

Tithing Series Part 5: Q & A Series – Does Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek justify church tithing?

 

 


 

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