This passage reminded me of the importance of giving tithe for the furtherance of God’s Kingdom. Most Christians overlook the basic truth behind this which often leads to the lack of willingness, insufficient motivation, and the absence of joy in giving. I believe that falling short in this area is not in the issue of financial constrains but the displaced focus. Every day, let us recalibrate our lenses and make God the epicentre of our existence. Let us refresh our minds and renew our souls through the principle behind the meeting of Melchizedek and Abraham in Hebrews chapter 7. I pray that this would provide us with a new perspective in giving a tenth of our portion to God and for God and help us be consistent in it and fill us with satisfaction and gladness in doing so.
Hebrews 7:1-10 (NIV)
Melchizedek the Priest
1 This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him,
2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.”
3 Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.
4 Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder!
5 Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people —that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham.
6 This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises.
7 And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.
8 In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living.
9 One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham,
10 because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.
Before anything else, a very vague overview of Melchizedek should be understood. This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything (Heb 7 v. 1 & 2a; Gen 14:18-20). There was no trace or record about Melchizedek’s parents and children, nor his birth and death, but it was clear that he was a real, historical figure. The writer of Hebrews uses the silence of Scripture about Melchizedek’s genealogy to portray him as a prefiguration of Christ in many ways.
THE GREATER and THE LESSER
In this particular passage, verse 4 emphasizes the greatness (or worth) of Melchizedek because of the fact that even Abraham gives him a portion (tenth) of his plunder.
Relating to verse 6, it says that although he was not a priest from Levi, because his genealogy is unknown, Melchizedek “collected from Abraham and blessed him“. Then the succeeding verse assures, “the lesser person is blessed by the greater person“. To put it simply: The one giving the blessing, Melchizedek, who is also the receiver (of Abraham’s portion), is greater than the one being blessed, Abraham, who is the giver.
This concludes that “the one who receives is greater than the one who gives” in the context of tithe giving which, at that time, was a requirement of the law (v. 5).
Our giving to God, though no longer dictated by law, is a reflection of our acknowledgement that God is superior, greater, and supreme and by doing so, we are submitting to His authority and dominion over our wants, our needs, our gains, and our deficits. Surrendering a product of our sweat and toil to the God who enabled us in the first place, forms in us a humble heart and a God-dependent life. It keeps us from being self-sufficient, greedy, and proud and creates within us a longing for God to be our satisfaction and fulfilment. Giving a tenth of our portion is not just about incorporating it on our monthly budget but most importantly laying our dependence and trust in the greatness of our God.
BENEFACTOR and BENEFICIARY
Just as how Abraham was blessed by Melchizedek, we should also empty ourselves as the beneficiary, and God as the benefactor, not necessarily of material blessings but of joy, wisdom, peace, love, hope, contentment, and satisfaction which does not depend on circumstances but on the Sovereignty of our Lord. It has been said in Acts 20:35 that it is better to give than to receive, but in this case, by giving gladly, we are receiving from Him who can truly satisfy with blessings that matter for eternity. In verse 5, “Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people”, we see that Abraham was not even bound by law to give a tenth to Melchizedek because Melchizedek was not a descendant of Levi (v. 6) and also that Levi has not yet been born when he and Melchizedek met (v. 10). This shows that Abraham gave not out of the motive of receiving a blessing for following the law but out of the abundance of his respect and love for God and His people. In the same way, rather than fixing our aim on the blessings, our hearts should be driven by joy and love for God, and our motives should be direct towards the goal of glorifying God when we give. It is the reason behind the giving that matters rather than the giving itself.
THE PRIEST THAT LIVES FOREVER
“In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living” (verse 8). Although Melchizedek’s death was not recorded, him and other priests who collected tithe eventually aged and died. Our greatest High Priest, however, lives forever and sits on the right hand of God interceding for us (Romans 8:34). This makes it more glorious. Knowing that we now have such “a High Priest who truly meets our need for salvation—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners and exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7 v. 26, 27), it makes our giving so much more meaningful. Imagine giving to the Father, through the Son who sacrificed for our sins once and for all, reigning in heaven and able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us…FOREVER (Eph. 3:20)! What a great and glorious truth it is! Pondering on this just causes us to want to offer not just our tithe but basically our whole life with genuine joy and thanksgiving.
THE LOCAL CHURCH
Just as the descendants of Levi indirectly gave to Melchizedek through Abraham (Heb 7:9-10), Christians should also give to God through the local church.The church is Christ’s body and we are its members (Rom. 12:3-8). It is where we can function as collective members of one body. So, it is but fitting to say that acknowledging God as Lord of your income means acknowledging the role of His body (the church) as the treasure using it in various ministries ultimately for His glory.
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