The origin of tithing begins with Abraham and Melchizedek, and those who are conversant with the story often ask: why did Abraham pay tithes to Melchizedek?
In this sermon, therefore, I am going to show you why Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek; and this story of why Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek will really help you to understand the origin of tithes in the bible, as well as who were Abraham and Melchizedek.
So without much ado, let’s get down to this sermon.
Why did Abraham pay tithes to Melchizedek?
Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek because of the bread, wine, and blessings he received from him as a priest of the Most High God. The whole incidence is recorded in Genesis 14:17-20. as we can see below:
And the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him. 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.
As we can clearly see from the Bible passage above, immediately after receiving the gifts and blessings from Melchizedek as a priest of the Most High God, Abraham paid his tithes to him, which was ten percent of all the loot he brought back from the war.
With this knowledge, we can gain the understanding that tithes is repayment for a favor or blessings received from a priest (or any man of God).
And as we all know, the priest acts as a mediator between God and human beings.
And as we can see in Numbers 18:21-24, God gave the tithes to the Levites as a payment for their service in taking care of the tent of the Lord’s presence.
Behold, I have given the children of Levi all the tithes in Israel as an inheritance in return for the work which they perform, the work of the tabernacle of meeting. Hereafter the children of Israel shall not come near the tabernacle of meeting, lest they bear sin and die. But the Levites shall perform the work of the tabernacle of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a statute forever, throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer up as a heave offering to the Lord, I have given to the Levites as an inheritance; therefore I have said to them, ‘Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.’ ”
Where did Abraham meet Melchizedek?
Abraham met Melchizedek in a city known as Salem, and he (Melchizedek) happened to be the King of Salem and also a priest of the Most High God.
Now let’s review the story of how it all went down.
It all began when four kings: Amraphel of Babylon, Arioch of Ellassar, Chedorlaomer of Elam, and Tidal of Goiim; went to war against other five kings: Bera of Sodom, Birsha of Gomorrah, Shinab of Admah, Shemember of Zeboiim and the king of Bela (or Zoar).
The war went against the latter five kings, and as the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah tried to flee the battlefield, they fell into the pits.
And the other three kings escaped to the mountains.
The four kings however took everything in Sodom and Gomorrah, including their kings and Lot, Abraham’s nephew who was living in Sodom.
But a man escaped and went to relate all that happened to Abraham, most especially the fact that his nephew, Lot had been captured.
Abraham immediately called all his fighting men in his camp, 318 in all; and pursued the four kings all the way to Dan.
There he divided his men into groups, attacked the kings by night, and defeated them. In the process, he safely rescued his nephew, Lot, and all his possessions.
Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and priest of the most high God must have heard of Abraham’s victory; and so he went out to meet him.
When Melchizedek met Abraham, he gave him bread and wine and blessed him.
And after Melchizedek blessed Abraham, he gave him a tenth of all he recovered.
It is this tenth that we refer to as ‘tithes’ today.
Who was Abraham?
According to Joshua 24:2-3, Abraham came from an idolatrous home.
It clearly states that his father was Terah, who lived on the other side of the River Euphrates and worshipped other gods.
And in verse 3 of the above scripture, God said that He took Abraham from beyond the Euphrates and led him through the whole land of Canaan, and gave him descendants.
God’s call to Abraham is recorded in Genesis chapter 12.
And in that bible portion, the Lord said to Abraham, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s home, and go to a land that am going to show you. I will give you many descendants, and they will become a great nation, will bless you, and make your name famous, so that you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, But I will bless those who curse you. And through you, I will bless all the nations.”
When Abraham said this, he did not hesitate to obey the Lord’s call.
So at the age of seventy-five years old, he took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot and all the wealth and slaves he had and started out from Haran.
The country he headed for was Canaan, and when he arrived there, he traveled through the land until he came to the sacred tree of Moreh, the holy place of Shechem.
It was here that God confirmed Canaan as the land he is going to give to Abraham and his descendants.
The descendants of Abraham.
The descendants of Abraham begin with the birth of Isaac as recorded in Genesis chapter 21.
And in Genesis 24:5 we see how Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac.
Isaac begot Esau and Jacob and in Genesis 32:28, Jacob’s name was changed to Israel; who is the ancestor of the Israelites whose history is the backbone of the bible.
Therefore, Abraham is the grandfather of Jacob who is the ancestor of the Israelites.
Who was Melchizedek?
In Genesis 14:18, the bible introduces Melchizedek as a king of Salem and priest of the Most High God.
In Hebrews chapter 7:2-3, the first meaning of Melchizedek’s name is given as “King of Righteousness”. And as king of Salem, his name is given as “King of Peace”.
However, the bible says there is no record of Melchizedek’s father or mother or any of his ancestors; no record of his birth or of his death.
From the above bible passage, we can see that the purpose of tithes was for the upkeep of the Levites whose duty was to serve God in the temple.
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