After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley). Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,
“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And blessed be God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”
Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, and have taken an oath that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the thong of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshcol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”
When Abram finds out that Lot has been taken as a captive of war, he musters his servants and sets out after the four kings who have his nephew. After Abram defeats these kings and rescues the captives and plunder, he is confronted with two opposing views of his victory presented to him in the persons of the mysterious priest king named Melchizedek and the recently defeated king of Sodom. Abram's interactions with these two kings give us insight into the pitfalls and appropriate responses to God's blessing in our lives.
Melchizedek gives Almighty God blessing and praise for Abram's success while the king of Sodom attempts to credit Abram's own power for the victory by offering the spoils to Abram. These represent Abram's options in the face of his success. Should he give the credit to God or keep it for himself? You and I face the same two options anytime we are blessed in this world. This world will try to rob God of the credit and honor of the blessings He has given you. It will do this to both steal God's glory from Him and to try to convince you to seek out future blessing through the ways of the world instead of through obedience to God. But Scripture says that "every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights" (James 1:17).
Abram makes the right choice. He affirms Melchizedek and rebuffs the king of Sodom. Abram gives a tenth of everything to Melchizedek and in so doing sets the precedent for the practice of tithing. But understand that this wasn't a gift to the priest. It was a gift to God. Melchizedek is simply a mediator. Abram also rejects the generosity of the king of Sodom. He doesn't do so out of rudeness but out of shrewdness. Abram is vigilant in guarding against taking anything from this worldly king lest the king later claim that he is the reason Abram has prospered. Abram is relentless in guarding himself from becoming an opportunity for the world to boast against God.
This world wants to take credit for what only God has done in your life, but the way of the Lord cuts against that. When you tithe, you are affirming that you believe your blessing and abundance are from the Lord. And when you refuse to submit to the world's ways of accumulating wealth, you effectively cut them off from taking credit for what only God has done in your life. So stand firm and avoid the trap of your enemy. Be vigilant in giving the Lord the glory for every good thing in your life for He surely deserves it.
For further reading...
- Psalm 110:4 & Hebrews 5-10 (especially chapters 5 and 7)- Check out how this priest named Melchizedek foreshadows Christ.
- Malachi 3:6-12- Don't rob God. Test His generosity
- Isaiah 42:8- God will not give His praise to others. Just something to think about.
- Luke 11:42- Some people say that New Testament Christians are not under an obligation to tithe any longer. Does this passage prove that we are?