Summary: "Paying tithes? That's UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW. It just doesn't apply today." Someone draws out Genesis 14:17-24 from it's holster like a Colt Peacemaker six-gun and recites "ABRAHAM PAID TITHES 500 YEARS BEFORE THE LAW!" but was it an imaginary gun?
Part 2 - Genesis 14:17-24 - TITHING WITHOUT A GUN HELD TO MY HEAD
Most Television Preachers and many well known and Respected Pastors would all agree that TITHING IS FOR TODAY. After all Malachi 3:10 says, "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!"
Some however say "Paying tithes? That's UNDER THE OLD TESTAMENT LAW. It just doesn't apply today.". And at this point someone draws out Genesis 14:17-24 from it's holster like a Colt Peacemaker six-gun and recites "ABRAHAM PAID TITHES 500 YEARS BEFORE THE LAW WAS GIVEN TO MOSES!" I notice that Woody from Toy Story doesn't have a gun in his holster, but that's another story.
Before I can get the safety catch off I am bleeding. "Since ABRAHAM TITHED before Moses was given the law on Mt Sinai, then it follows that GOD INTENDS ME TO TITHE because TITHING is a BASIC PRINCIPLE and a CONTINUOUS RESPONSIBILITY for EVERY CHRISTIAN even BEFORE the law was given." Then another bullet rings out - "So this must be a UNIVERSAL PRINCIPLE." and I am thrown backwards and into the dust.
"So if you're a Christian, and you don't tithe, then you must be sinning and God won't bless you." RIGHT BETWEEN THE EYES!
What I want to know is "IS THAT TRUE?" or like Woody do these arguments for tithing have a holster, but only an imaginary gun.
SINCE I PRACTISE TITHING, then I want to do that BIBLICALLY, not because of some distorted view of a TV Evangelist firing guilt bullets because I don't send him a tithe of my income.
Abram showed his generosity in giving Lot the choice of the best land, but what about Genesis 14:20 when the FIRST TITHE is mentioned? There is no tithe mentioned before Genesis 14:20. Adam and Eve didn't tithe. Cain and Abel didn't tithe. Noah didn't tithe. Imagine if Noah had tithed. We would have had 10% of the animal population wiped out! Enoch didn't tithe. Or if they did, there is no mention of it in the Bible. God doesn't give any command for tithing yet to anyone, even in this passage. Tithing is a principle that unrolls gradually in the Bible, like a scroll.
We do know from history that TITHING WASN'T UNIQUE TO ISRAEL. Many pagan gods were honoured by giving a tithe. The tithe was the basic tax system. Kedorlaomer probably demanded a 10% tax or tribute from the vassal cities under his control in Canaan. That's why Sodom had the war in the first place. We know tithing was used by the Babylonian kings and the Persians. Greece and Rome used the idea of a tithe as a basic tax system. TITHING WASN'T NEW TO ABRAM.
In Genesis 14:17 Abram had just returned from fighting Kedorlaomer, and some other kings in the valley of Shaveh. He had RESCUED LOT. He had WON THE BATTLE. He had taken a tremendous amount of the spoils of war - TREASURE from these kings that he had conquered.
On his way back, he runs into the KING OF SALEM. Salem is the ancient name of Yerushalayim, or as we know it "JERUSALEM". So this is the ancient KING OF JERUSALEM. Now, the name of the KING OF SALEM was MELCHIZEDEK.
Melchizedek was not only a king, BUT ALSO A PRIEST - "Melchizedek, the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High" (Genesis 14:18). We'll come across him again in the Bible. So when Abram sees this man who represents God, he naturally wants to express thanks to God for the recent victory.
SO WHAT DOES HE DO? Genesis 14:20 says "he gave him a tenth of all." that is a tenth of all the SPOILS OF WAR. You gave kings and gods a tenth in the ancient world after a victory.
Abram is not about to give a tenth to HEATHEN GODS or to a HEATHEN PRIEST, but MELCHISEDEK is both A KING AND PRIEST OF GOD MOST HIGH. So Abram HONOURS THE KING AND GOD at the same time by GIVING MELCHISEDEK A TITHE.
This is the first mention of a TITHE in the Bible BEFORE THE LAW was given. John Macarthur asks some interesting questions about this passage that can't be ignored.
DID GOD TELL HIM TO DO THIS? NO! He was NOT COMMANDED to give a tenth.
DID HE TITHE HIS ENTIRE WEALTH? NO! Although Abraham was a VERY RICH MAN Hebrews 7:4 tells us that he gave "A TENTH OF THE SPOILS" of war, not of everything that he owned.