We are going to skip to the end of the chapter to the final 7 verses as we focus on what God does, Abraham’s integrity and what is God’s. I am going to quote the whole 7 verses first, then the specific verses which address the topic for today.
17 Then after his return from the [r]defeat 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). 18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of [s]God Most High. 19 He blessed him and said,
He gave him a tenth of all. 21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give the [w]people to me and take the goods for yourself.” 22 Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have [x]sworn to the Lord [y]God Most High, [z]possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ 24 [aa]I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share.
This all takes place after Abram rescued Lot and the people and things of Sodom. The most important, I feel, aspect of these verses comes in verse 18 and I quote:
18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of [s]God Most High
Salem was not a Hebrew possession at this time. it was still in the hands of the Canaanites or the Jebusites, it is hard to say for we really do not know who occupied the city in Abraham’s time yet we find that God has a priest in that city. What does this tell us? That God does not leave any people without a witness to him or a his ways.
To be clear, God leaves a true witness so that all people can hear the truth and have a chance to repent of their sins. In today’s world there are many voices all claiming to speak for God yet if one examines their beliefs and claims one would see that there is always something different in those claims and beliefs which disagree with God and his word.
We are not to despair though, as in the midst of all these voices there is still one that proclaims the truth and the right way to God. It is shouted down a lot, beaten down, elbowed aside but it is still there, ‘crying out in the wilderness’ so that people will eventually hear it and turn to the truth. Melchizedek was not the only voice in the ancient world, but we are not privy to them all. We know of Jonah who was sent to Nineveh and we have the example of the people of Israel who were supposed to be set apart from the secular world, much like today’s Christian, and much like today’s Christian they fell to temptation and lost their light.
So God doe snot just let the unbelieving world live and die without giving them the opportunity to hear the message of God and repent of their sins. God is not a cruel God. Many unbelievers pull out the examples of God destroying certain peoples but they ignore this fact mentioned above. They willfully forget that God provides everyone with his rules and gives them all a choice.
Shem lived 500 years after the flood so that meant that the post-flood world had those centuries to hear about God and what he had done previously; then when Babel hit, those people took with them the memories of those stories and what they did with them afterward, depends upon how much they listened to evil and its deceptive words.
He gave him a tenth of all
The second thing we should note in this passage is the tithe made by Abram. This tells us that giving 1/10 of our income to God is not a product of the Mosaic law but was an established practice in Abraham’s time and probably well-known to those who believed God. So many people today claim that they do not have to tithe because we are under the New Covenant and tithing was a practice under the Old. Yet if we look at Jesus’ life, and words, we do not see him revoke the tithe requirement.
He clearly says to render unto Caesar those things which are Caesar’s and unto God those things that are his and the most famous thing we know that is God’s is that 10 percent tithe. Tithing is not revoked in the New testament era but remains in force. Just as we find that the sacrificial systems was known and practiced in the pre-flood world, tithing is known long before Moses was born.
Like the Sabbath, we cannot place tithing under the Old Testament law and use the idea that we are free from that code because of Jesus. Both were established by God outside of that restrictive code thus we cannot proclaim ourselves free from their observation. We need to go to God for guidance on both issues in order to get how to observe them correctly in order to not draw the wrath of God upon us.
As Samuel tells us:
Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, (1 Sam. 15:22)
And in tithing and observing the Sabbath we need to obey first, not make excuses for failing to observe what God has decreed as good and holy.
“I have [x]sworn to the Lord [y]God Most High, [z]possessor of heaven and earth, 23 that I will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say, ‘I have made Abram rich.
Abram’s integrity was strong. Probably stronger than many modern-day Christians as we allow the pressures of our programs and building funds, etc., to bend our rules of conduct a little. I remember when Pastor Boldt was talking about raising money for his huge church when it was building a new sanctuary. He told us he was asked why he took the money from rich unbelievers. His answer to that question was– it’s all God’s money after all.
Yes if we want to be technical, he is correct but his integrity was not on the same level as Abram’s because of the need to raise , at that time, millions of dollars. This is where we need to be careful. It is okay to accept money as tithe from unbelievers if they are tithing for the right reasons but if they are trying to corrupt the church for whatever reason they may have then we need to look to Abram’s integrity for courage to say ‘no’ to the donation.
We need to discern between the right way of receiving money from the unsaved and the wrong way to receive money. Then be strong enough to reject those impure gifts. In our rejection of the money, we need to do as Abram did and explain why we cannot accept the money or other material donation and we need to be honest about it. We cannot change our minds later on and accept money from for the reasons we rejected from an earlier source, we have to be consistent in our rejection of donations and not play favorites.
The modern church needs godly integrity, we need godly discernment, and godly courage to stand out from the crowd. That way we know our message is getting through and that we are in the category of being the true messengers of God bringing the truth to a sinful world. Being the light unto the world is more than preaching an evangelistic message, it is how we live and meet the challenges of daily life that matter.
We cannot make excuses for our sinful behavior or our lapses in integrity or character. The world is watching and looking for any reason to not believe. Let’s not make it easier for them to do so.