Through the years of investigation, prayer and research, I realised that Abraham’s one time “tithe” or tenth giving is totally different from today’s tithing practices.
I also used to quote Genesis 14:20 to encourage people to give their tithes to the church because it was an “eternal principle” of giving that was outside the bounds of the Mosaic law.
Yet, our modern day tithing practices is based (rather loosely) upon the Old Testament ordinance of tithing which is part of the Mosaic Law.
We even quote Malachi 3:9 to remind the congregation that the curse will linger if one is not faithful in giving their tithes.
Malachi 3:9-11New International Version (NIV)
9 You are under a curse—your whole nation—because you are robbing me.
Of course, with the Mosaic law comes with the curses (Deuteronomy 28:15) and death (Romans 6:23) if one iota of that law or ordinance is not followed or erred.
Deuteronomy 28:15New International Version (NIV)
Curses for Disobedience
15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:
Romans 6:23New International Version (NIV)
23 For the wages of sin is death, …
1 John 3:4New International Version (NIV)
4 Everyone who sins breaks the law; in fact, sin is lawlessness.
However in Galatians 3:13 Paul said that we were redeemed by the curse of the law through Christ. That includes the curse in Malachi 3:9 which is referring to the tithes instituted in the Mosaic Law specifically in the book of Numbers chapter 18 under the ordinance of tithing.
Galatians 3:13New International Version (NIV)
13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[a]
Look at these verses in Ephesians 2:14-15 too concerning about the ordinances of the commandments.
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace.”
Even if I use Abraham’s tenth giving to Melchizedek as a justification for modern day tithing because of the “eternal principle” then, I am not being totally honest.
Abraham’s tithe or tenth doesn’t even count as the “10% from your produce that belongs to the Lord.” We now know that Abraham gave the spoils of war which belongs to the pagan kings (and not agricultural produce) and he even gave it all away.
Yes, I believe in the principle of giving but Abraham’s one-time tenth giving is totally off based within the context of modern day tithing which is again roughly and wrongly based (reserved for another blog) on the Mosaic Law tithing. No, it doesn’t really connect at all.
Here’s 5 obvious example:
- Modern day tithes: money, income vs Abraham’s one time tenth: spoils of war, not income or money
- Modern day tithes: weekly or whenever your earning vs Abraham’s tenth: one time only and no more
- Modern day tithes: 10% and keep the 90% vs Abraham’s tenth: 10% + 90% = 100%
- Modern day tithes: Obligated under Old Testament ruling with a curse vs Abraham’s tenth: freewill giving and no curse attached
- Modern day tithes: give your tithes that you may become more blessed (some even say to avoid poverty) vs Abraham’s tenth: thanksgiving, gratitude, respect (blessing is out of the question because he was already super blessed)
Biblical tithes as I learned through these years is not even money but that’s reserved for another blog post for a more in-depth examination of the Old Testament tithing.
I also heard someone said that in the times of Genesis, money was not yet invented that is why they use produce of the land like fruits or seeds and I used to believe it too.
Eventually I learned that they do have money in those times like in Genesis 37:28 were Joseph was sold for 20 pieces of silver.
Genesis 37:28New International Version (NIV)
28 So when the Midianite merchants came by, his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels[a] of silver to the Ishmaelites, who took him to Egypt.
In fact, Genesis 13:2 says that Abraham had lots of money which is in silver and in gold! In Genesis 20:16 it states that Abimelech told Sarah, he gave Abraham a thousand pieces (shekel) of silver as a payment for her vindication.
Genesis 13:2New International Version (NIV)
2 Abram had become very wealthy in livestock and in silver and gold.
Genesis 20:16New International Version (NIV)
16 To Sarah he said, “I am giving your brother a thousand shekels[a] of silver. This is to cover the offense against you before all who are with you; you are completely vindicated.”
I hope we learned a lot from this because I myself was rocked when I discovered the real truth of Abraham’s one time tenth giving and how it is fundamentally different to today’s tithing practices both in letter and principle.
Just a thought: Melchizedek was the king priest of Salem and the Valley of Shaveh could be a part of his domain (perhaps along with the king of Sodom). It could be that Abraham gave a tenth as a tribute (gratitude, respect as practised by people of the ancient Near East) to Melchizedek’s kingly/priestly status and also for blessing and giving him bread and wine.
Additional useful information:
Verse 17. – And the king of Sodom – Bera, or his successor (vide Ver. 10) – went out to meet him (i.e. Abram) after his return from the slaughter (perhaps too forcible an expression for mere defeat) of Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him (the entire clause from “after” is parenthetical), at the valley of Shaveh. A valley about two stadia north of Jerusalem (Josephus, ‘Ant.,’ 8:10), supposed to be the valley of the Upper Kedron, where Absalom s pillar was after. wards erected (2 Samuel 18:10); which may be correct if the Salem afterwards mentioned was Jerusalem (vide infra); but if it was not, then the exact site of Shaveh must be left undetermined. Which is the king’s dale. Or valley (emek); so styled because suitable for kingly sports or military exercises (Onkelos); because of its beauty (Poole); because Melchisedeck had his camp and palace there (Malvenda); or most likely because of the interview between him and Abram which there occurred (Keil, Lange), with which agrees the rendering τὸ πεδίον τῶν βασιλέων, (LXX.).