In today's message, we examine Melchizedek, one of the most mysterious men in the Bible. What little we know about him, illustrated in Hebrews 7:1-3, lends to the theory that he may have been Jesus Christ showing himself on earth. Additionally, we continue to examine the life of Abraham, father of faith and man of character.
When Abraham departed for the promised land, his nephew, Lot, went to Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot and several kings were captured, and Abraham took his army of trained servants and rescued all of the defeated people, including his nephew. After Abraham's victory, he was blessed by Melchizedek, "priest of God Most High." After his interaction with Melchizedek, Abraham felt led to present him with a tithe (for Melchizedek was clearly no ordinary man, deserving of the same honor Abraham also afforded to the Lord).
Tithing, Giving Back to God
Tithing is an act of faith and obedience, one of the most clear physical manifestations of our trust in God's promises. It may feel like an obligation, a nuisance, or even an economic sacrifice. Yet our attitude in giving should be one of gratitude and cheerfulness, knowing that it is required by our all-knowing, good, and faithful God, who has promised blessings in return for our sacrifice.
Proverbs 3:9-10 calls the believer to Honor the Lorg with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. Today, when Christians tithe at the Rock, they are essentially doing so unto God through the church; for His services/purposes. The person who tithes should do so out of service to God, not out of service to the Rock or others.
As Colossians 3:23 states, And so whatever you do, do it heartily. As to the Lord and not unto men. When Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, he was giving to the Lord, as Melchizedek was an earthly representative of God.
Melchizedek, the Mysterious Priest
Few Biblical descriptions exist in regards to the elusive Melchizedek; however, Psalm 110:4 and Hebrews 7:1-3, provide a few important details which prove him worthy of Abraham's tithe. When God gave Moses the Law, he set aside all of the Levites for His service. Of the Levites, only the sons of Aaron could be priests.
However, that system, as set into place by God, was established after the events found in Genesis 14-15. Thus, Melchizedek was not a priest according to the Law, but according to God.
Hebrews 7 says that Melchizedek was without mother or father; much like Adam and Eve who were created directly by God. But unlike Adam and Eve, Hebrews 7 also says that his life had no beginning or end, and that he was made like the son of God". Hebrews 7:3
Abraham recognized that this man was not a normal human being, and that he needed to honor him like he honored God (demonstrated through his desire to tithe to Melchizedek).
Abraham, His Selfless Faith
Through the example of Abraham, we see a man who gave credit only to God, accepting no personal glory or wealth. After his victory, when offered the spoils of war, he turned down all riches because of his oath to God. Genesis 14:22-24 He had complete, unwavering faith in the promise that God would take care of him; thus, he had no need for the goods offered.
Even today, the devil will give us opportunities to "cut a corner" in order to get ahead. However, it is always best to be a person of integrity, following God's instructions completely, and doing exactly as God tells us. Because of his devotion to God, Abraham serves as our model of faith.
God, our Faithful Provider
God blessed Abraham for his commitment by affirming his faith, saying Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward. Genesis 15:1
We constantly seek things from God (God's hand, what He can give us), instead of actually seeking God himself (God's face). Not Abraham, however. As God continued to call on his faith, Abraham continued to trust in his Creator. Even after Abraham had demonstrated his faith, God made more promises which required continued measures of trust on Abraham's part (most notably, God's promise to an elderly Abraham that he would father a male heir).
Our salvation (in Old Testament times, New Testament times, and today) is totally contingent upon faith in God, not our good deeds. God called Abraham "righteous" for his belief. The purpose of our lives is to exist in an intimate relationship with God through our actions, words, and thoughts. As followers, we are called to live in obedience to Him; we are taught through His Word and led through the inner workings of the Holy Spirit.
At the moment of our salvation, we are born again as children of God. John 1:12 Through faith in Him and the growth of our relationships with our savior, our lives will be transformed in accordance with His will.