Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said: “Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.” And he gave him a tithe of all. (Genesis 14:18-20)
He Gave Him A Tithe Of All
It was not uncommon for regional kings to go to war against one another. In the days of Abraham, four kings decided to go to war against five kings. For twelve years, Chedorlaomer king of Elam had ruled over all the kings, but after twelve years, the five kings rebelled. In the fourteenth year, Chedorlaomer and his allies captured the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, taking all the goods of the cities with their provisions and people as captives. Included among the number of slaves was the nephew of Abraham and his family. Lot moved his family into Sodom when he and Abraham agreed to separate their flocks from one another. Sodom was an excessively wicked and evil city.
When Abraham heard that Lot was captured, the patriarch gathered three hundred eighteen of his trained servants born in his house and attacked the forces of the five kings. God delivered the kings into the hand of Abraham. Lot and his family were rescued, along with the people taken from Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham destroyed the alliance of kings taking all of their possessions along with the provisions and goods from the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The Holy Spirit does not tell the worth of the goods returned from the two cities, but it would have been a staggering amount. Lot’s material wealth was such that he and his uncle, Abraham, needed to separate to allow their flocks to survive. Abraham and Lot’s possessions were so great that the land could not support them.
After Abraham returned from defeating the five kings, he was met by Melchizedek, king of Salem. Melchizedek was not only the king of Salem but also a priest of God Most High. Melchizedek blessed Abraham for his great victory, and Abraham gave the king of Salem a tenth of all he had. A tithe is a tenth of something and was part of the worship of God before the Law of Moses. Abraham recognized the importance of Melchizedek as a king and priest. Giving him one-tenth of what he had (including all he had captured) was immense. There was no hesitation on the part of Abraham. He honored God with his giving to show glory to God Most High.
The Law of Moses would establish a covenant with the Jews about tithing. It is clear tithing was a part of God’s law before Moses. When the early church was established, tithing was taken away as a command. From the days of Abraham (and before) to the modern world, God Most High has required of His children to return to Him what they have gained in this world. In the early church, the Holy Spirit directed that giving must come from the heart as a man will purpose. Moses gave a tenth. The Law of Moses required a tenth and more. In the Law of Christ, the decision is left to the individual as a test to see how much a man will give.
Giving has been a delicate question because of the covetous desires of the heart. While tithing is no longer a command of God, some think it gives them the license to give sparsely and minimally. Failing the test of giving can bring judgment on the heart. Abraham is an example of a heart willing to give to God Most High all He desires. The amount of the gift to Melchizedek was enormous, but without hesitation by the hand of Abraham. What is offered today is measured by the heart. It really is not so much the amount of what is given but what is kept. At best, as an example only, if a man gives ten percent of all he has, he keeps ninety percent for himself. Abraham was not concerned about numbers. He had defeated five kings by the power of God, and he was giving glory to God Most High for His grace and mercy. What you and I have is only by the grace of God and His mercy. Think more deeply when returning to God what He can take from us. Give cheerfully. Abraham did and never regretted it.