As an offshoot of the Abraham/Melchizedek tithe event, tithe promoters point to Genesis 26:5 – “Because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.” regularly and preach this fantasy as you should too”.
They then imagine that Abraham tithed fact, then inevitably concluding: “therefore Again, they resort to name-dropping in order to achieve a fake endorsement from Abraham for the modern tithe.
This is an example of one of those presuppositions that pro-tithers rely on to make their case. Since God had some type of laws of conduct at the time of Abraham, pro-tithers claim that this automatically is proof that a tithe law, as documented by Moses generations later, existed from the beginning and was practiced by Abraham. We just saw however, that if Abraham was following some kind of Divine law, that law is unknown to us today because his tithe was totally different from that instructed in the Mosaic Law.
An honest assessment leads to the fact that, like it or not, Abraham was simply following the trend of the local culture when he tithed to Melchizedek, in order to honor him at that particular place and time.
I find it interesting that in Genesis Chapter One through Twenty, there is no mention of God’s Law at all, let alone statutes. The only commandments that seem to exist are God’s personal instructions; for example to Adam, Noah and Abraham.
The closest thing I see to any “Law-keeping” is in Genesis 18:19 “For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.”
“Justice and judgement” require some kind of moral standards to go by, so I am not saying that there was no Law at that time, I am just saying that we are not given any specifics about what it was and how it compared to the Law as written by Moses, since there apparently were differences.
If you want statements about a pre-Mosaic law in Abraham’s time, I would refer you to a few of the Apostle Paul’s writings:
- Romans 4:1-5 Says the blessings and promises made to Abraham were based on his faith, not Law-keeping.
- Romans 4:13-17 says that Law-keeping is irrelevant at best, and if too much emphasis is placed on it, it negates the salvation that would have come through faith. This is confirmed in Galatians 3:17-19.
- Romans 5:13-14 states that there was sin in the world from Adam to Moses even though there was no Law.
- Romans 9:4 Says the Law and the ritual were drawn up for Israel, long after Abraham died. So this includes the whole Law as written by Moses, not just the sacrificial/temple parts.
So there is plenty of fuel for debate on the subject of whether or not a set of laws as we know it, was in force pre-Moses. The pro-tithers would have to prove the case that there was such a set of Laws, before they even begin to try to convince us that a Levitical type tithe was included in it.
That debate is not our purpose today, however, mainly because there is nothing on the pro-tithe side of the issue to provide any evidence for a debate. I only mention it in order to bring up the fact that evidence indicates that Abraham lived in a whole different paradigm than that which existed for Israel after The Law was given to Moses.
We know that a Levitical type tithe was practically impossible during Abraham’s time because there was not the community or societal structure in which to do it. Abraham was a stranger in a strange land, do not forget. He even had to send an agent far away to find a wife for his son Isaac.
Abraham was following some kind of moral instructions, otherwise God would not have acknowledged his obedience. The issue at hand is whether or not those unspecified laws, precepts and commandments that Abraham was keeping are of any concern for us to speculate on today. Surely, anything relevant from Abraham’s time would have been incorporated into the Mosaic Law and the teachings/commandments of Jesus Christ that we have readily available to us now. We do not need to look for or speculate on any secret laws that preachers like this tell us are hidden in the vagueness of Genesis.
We have a few choices in answering what Genesis 26:5 is talking about. One thought is this law referred to consisted entirely of God’s personal instructions to Abraham, just as it was with Adam.
Another idea is that Abraham intuitively lived under a set of unwritten rules that that had a moral similarity to that written by Moses, but of which we have no formalized copy or specific working knowledge. In other words it was written on his heart, or in his DNA to put it in modern terms. That would explain why Abraham, though not perfect, was the best choice as the alpha type stock from which to procreate the Israel race.
In either case, the exact rules are something that we are not familiar with, since we do not have a reference guide to consult as we do with the Mosaic Law. We would have to look at Abraham’s activities and behavior, and then resort to assuming which of his actions are the result of Law-keeping and which are just general human nature or even sinfulness.
I will not speculate on details of what kind of law Abraham lived under and then guess as to what was the same, and what was different than the Mosaic Law. This type of conjecture proves fruitless for those seeking facts because the information is just not there.
Conjecture does seem to work wonders however, for those who create false doctrines. The fact is that we don’t know the facts pertaining to the specific laws, if any, of the era in which Abraham lived.
Instead of speculating, I will reiterate that Abraham himself deferred to the Mosaic Law as the authority for us to follow in Luke 16:29-31: “ Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.”
Note that Abraham gives authority to “Moses and the prophets” (What is commonly known as “God’s Law”). He does not refer to the “Abrahamic Precedent” or “Melchisadek Model” as the previously mentioned pro-tithe preacher would have us believe he would. Abraham probably did not do so because of the fact that those two alternatives to God’s Law are bogus and never legitimately existed outside of someone’s wishful thinking.
This agrees completely with the words of Jesus Christ in John 7:19 “Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law?”
So if God’s Law, as written by Moses is good enough to be endorsed at that time by Abraham and Jesus Christ, is that not the Law we should pay attention to? Or should we instead give heed to fables of some other unknown, undefined law that is created and changed at the preacher’s speculative, self-serving whim?
If we follow the Law as written by Moses (or better yet those concepts put forth by Christ himself), then we do not need to be sidetracked by any other so-called models, precedents, or exaggerated misdirecting claims about the significance of Abraham’s tithe to Melchisadek.
Hebrews 7:11-12 says “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”
That is saying that the Law came from Moses, not Abraham, because that is what created and defined the Levitical priesthood that was established to teach the Law (and
receive tithes). That Levitical system was replaced with a Melchizedek paradigm of having Jesus as high priest therefore the rules needed to be changed.
We are told by some of today’s preachers to keep everything written in the Law of Moses, minus that which pertained to the sacrifices, because that is “what was added”. Of course that is an opinion, and pro-tithers say the tithe was not added, citing the example of Abraham tithing to Melchizedek long before Moses.
Again, the anomaly of Abraham’s tithe bears almost no resemblance to the tithe instructed by Moses, so how can it be the same law, or even relevant to today’s tithe issue? That event was a totally different kind of tithe so it was not particularly done in obedience to, or in defiance to God’s Law, it was just something that Abraham did. Abraham was the only person in known Biblical history to ever do that particular type of tithe, and he only did it once that we know of.
This does not include yet a third type of tithe in Egypt that Abraham paid under circumstances totally unrelated to Melchizedek or Levitical law, according to Jasher.
In the Eye of the Beholder
Abraham lived a long life and did many things, but not every move that he made is necessarily something for us to imitate. Abraham put his wife Sarah in harm’s way twice in order to protect himself: once in Egypt (Gen 12:13) and once in Gerar (Gen 20:12).
In both cases he represented Sarah as his sister, not his wife, and was willing to let her become a concubine or wife of those in power as a means of providing for Abraham’s safety. Furthermore, Abraham’s son Isaac did the exact same thing with his wife Rebekah in Genesis 26:6-11. We have three scriptural examples of this appeasement strategy, with the third taking place just after God instructs Isaac and is quoted as saying “Because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
So is this “throw your wife to the wolves” strategy something that is referred to in that quote as being a law, charge, commandment or statute that we are to emulate?
As improbable and as unrelated as that thought is, it is still has much better odds of being true, than does the pro-tithe assertion that the above quote is referring to a tithe to Melchizedek made decades earlier. The anomalous non-Levitical tithe has only one example in scripture, while the human shield tactic is related to us three times; the last being immediately after God’s words about Abraham’s obedience.
So, how many lessons or examples could be “spun” out of those three incidents? Many.
For example someone could say:
- Abraham was using the logic and resourcefulness that God gave him in looking out for his own best interests.
- A wife is the husband’s property and he can put her out to prostitution if he so desires.
- A wife is there to protect her husband at any cost.
- A wife is there to obey her husband at any cost.
- Abraham showed great faith by putting Sarah at risk, “because he knew God would deliver both of them safely”.
- Abraham was a gutless, craven coward for committing this act.
- Abraham was obeying God’s charge, His commandments, His statutes and His laws by implementing this plan.
- Et cetera.
As you can see, various take-away lessons could be gotten from these three identical situations, dependent solely on how the preacher wants to present it. Any, all, or none of them may be true, and Abraham could be made to look like a man of faith, or a cad if the preacher wants to do so. His preaching angle would certainly not be limited to the number of positions that I have listed here.
The point is that just because Abraham did it, it does not make every preaching about that act an accurate representation of how we are to live based on that example, because the preacher’s view of it could be way off base.
We have not heard the three above-mentioned scriptures regularly expounded upon one way or another, perhaps because it is very difficult to create a positive message from them, combined with the fact that there is nothing to financially gain from it.
Not so with Genesis 14:20 and the tithe to Melchizedek. This scripture could be preached from several different aspects, but instead is repeatedly and almost universally preached with the intent of convincing the congregation to pay a tenth of their income to the church corporation, or preacher. They do so, even though Hebrews 7 clearly explains a totally different significance to that event; Abraham’s willful submission to Melchizedek as a priest of the “Most High God” had no financial connotations tacked on to it at all.
In light of this fact, one could easily make the case that the reason that the tithe to Melchizedek was so extremely dissimilar to the tithe described in God’s Law, is that it was done that way for the express purpose of isolating it from being confused with a lawful Levitical tithe.
The circumstances of this event seem to deliberately provide plenty of evidence, and an element of reason into the situation that was meant to identify this event as being unique; to prevent this scripture from being abused the way pro-tithers have done.
The Blind Eye of the Beholder
A pro-tithe self-proclaimed “seer” and “prophet” that I knew did a series of study sermons on “The Law”, While he did agree that the sacrifices, the temple, and the Levitical class were all done away with, he schizophrenically still promoted a tithe and accepted tithe money; the basis for which has its origins in that part of the Law that he accepted as being obsolete. This is not unusual.
Even if there were some as yet undiscovered information to prove that scripture-based tithing existed on a widespread scale before the time of Moses, it would not by itself prove the requirement of a modern day tithe, because we are dealing with a certain degree of change in the Law that has obviously affected the tithe.
If circumcision was made obsolete, becoming a spiritual “circumcision of the heart” (Romans 2:29), then why not the obvious obsolescence of the tithe as well? Along with stone temple (gone), the animal sacrifices (gone), and Levitical priesthood (gone) that the tithe (also gone) was so intimately associated with and specifically applied to?
I do not see these preachers that make their fortunes from tithe money as self-proclaimed neo-Levitical quasi-priests, also wearing fringes and blue ribbons (Numbers 15:28, Deut 22:12), or wearing untrimmed beards (Lev 19:27), or completely shaving his body (Numbers 8:7) or taking only a virgin as a wife, or excluding himself from preaching because of a missing eye or limb or other physical injury or malformation (Lev 21:17-21), or washing his hands and feet in a footed brass basin before he preaches (Exodus 30:18-20), or observing many of the other laws of that time.
How about restrictions on inheritance? Or prohibitions against owning agriculturally productive land? These were required trade-offs that Levites were subject to, as part of their tithe-receiving status, but they are ignored by tithe promoters today.
Numbers 18:23-24 “But the Levites shall do the service of the tabernacle of the congregation, and they shall bear their iniquity: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations, that among the children of Israel they have no inheritance.
But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering unto the LORD, I have given to the Levites to inherit: therefore I have said unto them, Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance.”
The tithe promoting preachers seem to pick and choose the good laws from the bad laws as it fits their purpose. They seem to want Levitical and priestly honor and privileges, but not Levitical responsibilities, restrictions, or regulations.
They also seem to have established a pattern of making these determinations based on their own best interests i.e. what is profitable and expedient for them, and what is not.
If there were changes made from one covenant to another, we have to abide by the latest changes. The New Testament indicates a discontinuance of animal sacrifices and a Levitical class of priests, which no one seems to have a problem with. But for some reason, when we include the tithe with the closely associated extinct Levites and demolished temple, it seems to cause spasmodic kniption fits and eye-bulging vascular events among preachers.
The bottom line is that it is inarguable that changes have been made, and Jesus is the last word on that, since He speaks for God (John 8:28-31,40). Jesus tells us how to “Give to God”, but as we shall see in coming chapters, pro-tithers disregard His words on several subjects entirely.
Faith vs. Law-keeping, vs. Works
James 2:21-24 helps clarify the essence of Abraham’s obedience: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
Though the KJV is not the clearest interpretation, we can still see that James highlights this incident with Isaac as being the notable example of Abraham’s faith put into action; not his tithe to Melchizedek as the pro-tithers would like to have us believe. There is nothing in scripture that ties Genesis 26:5 or James 2:21-24 to the fact that Abraham had made a tithe to Melchizedek. The real, non-financial significance of that act is explained in Hebrews 7 which we cover in the next chapter.
As mentioned above, Paul expounds on the other side of the coin: faith that precedes action. Romans 3:20-28 for example points out that Law-keeping, though commendable, takes a back seat to faith. Paul goes on through Romans Chapter Four explaining that it was Abraham’s faith that made him righteous, not his Law-keeping or lack thereof. This takes the wind out of the sails of the pro-tithe presumptions about Genesis 26:5 – “Because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
Somewhere between the teachings of James and Paul is a balance of applying actions to faith to achieve righteousness, but this is a topic for another book.
The point of all this is that no matter how much faith a person may have, or how much Law-keeping they try to keep up with, neither of these two Apostles (nor any other Scriptural instructions) define righteousness as only following The Law, or only having faith. I mean, tithing away someone else’s property requires neither faith or Law-keeping.
Above all else, scripture never associates righteousness with worshipping idols or following false doctrines such as today’s tithe, no matter how well-intentioned the tither is. If there is any “faith” or “law-keeping” attached to modern tithing at all, it is faith in the preachers’ teachings, and the keeping of a man-made law; a law that cannot be found in any scripture that applies to us today.
Think about it. The context of the story about Melchizedek proves that the tithe that took place was one that had parameters that were different from those detailed by Moses later on. Therefore if it was a law or custom of some sort, and not just Abraham’s decision at that moment, then it was of a man-made nature because it was a different tithe than any scripturally defined tithe law that we are familiar with.
Namely, it was a tithe on something that did not represent an increase (It did not even represent Abraham’s property); it was tithe on something other than food; and it went to a non-Levite. All of which run counter to God’s Levitical tithe Law. Not to mention that this one lone event in the life of Abraham was, as well as Jacob’s situation, done under very extraordinary circumstances.
We know for a fact that the Mosaic Law tithe had only three variations. In one case the tithed food went to the Levites, in another case it went to the widows, orphans, sojourning Levites, and strangers; and in a third case the farmer sold the tithe/produce and used the money to contribute to a good time for yourself and others at the feast day events (Deut 14:23-26). Melchizedek qualified as none of the above.
All three of these Lawful tithes are basically ignored by preachers today, who instead promote almost exclusively the invented, non-scriptural doctrine of a fifth tithe: cash tithe to the preacher, on income from any and all sources. This is a doctrine totally alien to both Old and New Covenants, including Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek, and this is also the kind of bogus tithe that they want you to believe God was referring to when He said “Because Abraham obeyed Me and kept
My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”
The Arrogance of Wealth and Worldliness
For the sake of argument let’s ignore everything we’ve seen so far, and assume that the pro-tithers are totally right – that Abraham really did have this tremendous gain that he felt obligated to tithe from so he tithed to Melchizedek. Is this somehow an example for us to now tithe to the preachers?
Hebrews 7:1-4 describes Melchizedek this way:
For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually. Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.
Well, let us do just that: Let’s consider how great this Melchizedek was who had no genealogical record, but was made comparable somehow only to Jesus Christ Himself.
Except apparently, in the eyes of the preachers who compare themselves to Melchizedek when they use this as an example for you to tithe to them.
When you get right down to it, that is exactly what they are doing. They take an incredible special event, which is how scripture treats this story, then they try to impute the greatness of Melchizedek to themselves (the preachers) in order to get free money. They will condemn and ridicule the concept of a Pope, or a witch doctor, or some hippie in the park who claims to be Jesus, but these same pro-tithe preachers will somehow equate themselves as a proxy for Melchizedek based on this story.
They’ll say something like:
“If Abraham tithed to Melchizedek, surely you should be tithing to Jesus, who is the anti-type of the first Melchizedek. Do you non-tithers think you are better than Abraham?”
By framing the question like this, they can force the answer that they want, and make it sound logical. The answer of course is “No, we are not greater than Abraham”, which leaves the inevitable (desired) conclusion that “well then, you had better tithe”.
The question should really be: “Do you preachers think you are as great as Melchizedek, if you expect us to tithe to you, based on this scripture?”
Assuming that they say “no”(but don’t count on it), then the follow up question becomes “Then why should we tithe anything to you? You are not a Melchizedek priest”.
These paid preachers do not even work for Melchizedek – they work for themselves. Melchizedek was a priest of the “Most High God” who was recognized as such not only by Abraham and the other Hebrews, but also the Canaanites and nearby Phoenicians. This Most High God was not known by the name of Yahweh at that time.
Preachers are trained in using words, and they use words as tools to manipulate the thoughts of others. However, there is a way to defend yourself: Whenever they lay some line on you like giving to God, or tithing to Jesus, or honor God with your wealth or God-robber; just realize what they really mean. Mentally substitute “me” (the preacher) for “God”, and you will have a more accurate understanding of what is really going on and being said.
So a realistic interpretation of what they are saying is: “giving to God” means giving to me, “tithing to Jesus the King” means tithing to me, your pastor, “honor God with your wealth” means honor me with your wealth. “God-robber” means preacher-robber, because now he cannot buy the new SUV, golf clubs or private college for his spoiled kids, or engage in other scripture-defying activities with the money that you thought was going to do God’s work and being used for commendable purposes.
The Old Covenant defines “Honoring God with your wealth” and Jesus himself also told us how to financially and materially give to Him. Both descriptions disqualify 99.9% of the preachers that we know today. This subject is covered in Chapter 24: “True Giving to God”.