Just What WAS Abraham’s Example?

There are 7 articles in the “Tithe” series. Please click HERE for all 7 articles. They are:
1. To Tithe Or Not To Tithe: The $earch For Truth
2. Tithe Follow-Up
3. The Tithe: Who’s Robbing Who?
4. Just What WAS Abraham’s Example?
5. Fun With Numbers
6. The Tithe: Final Thoughts
7. The Tithe Revisited
Written between 2000-2002, they were posted on my former web site Lord, You Are (dot) com (now defunct). Exposing the falsehood of the modern tithe doctrine was instrumental in setting me free from man’s Laodicean traditional church. As always, I pray the Lord will use them to set you free from false teaching and guilt-based giving. 

donottithe9I have received many responses to the article “To Tithe Or Not To Tithe”. The following message from Doug White, a dear brother in British Columbia, is very insightful, and I believe Doug has touched upon the heart and faith of Abraham. I made a few edits for readability, and converted the scripture passages to contemporary English versions to assist with understanding Doug’s insightful reply. Here is his reply, posted by permission.

Dear Jack,

I recently read with interest your article “To Tithe Or Not To Tithe” … It confirmed and clarified some things I have been thinking myself in reference to the institutional church’s preoccupation with the tithing ordinance. Later this evening I found the follow up article on tithing. Your reference to Abraham’s tithe to Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-20) was of particular interest to me because I studied it a while back trying to reconcile the issue of Abraham’s “example”.

When Abram came back from his victory over Chedorlaomer and the other kings, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in Shaveh Valley (also called King’s Valley). And Melchizedek, who was king of Salem and also a priest of the Most High God, brought bread and wine to Abram, blessed him, and said, “May the Most High God, who made heaven and earth, bless Abram! May the Most High God, who gave you victory over your enemies, be praised!” And Abram gave Melchizedek a tenth of all the loot he had recovered. (Genesis 14:17-20, GNB)

If we are to look to this passage and Abraham’s actions as an example for us today, should we not consider the whole example? Or are we allowed to pick and choose just the portions that what we want to emulate and ignore what we don’t?

To those who would insist on making Abraham’s giving an example for us today, I would say, “OK, what WAS Abraham’s example?”

Abraham gave a 10th of the spoil to Melchizedek. How much did Abraham keep? Sorry folks, the answer is NONE!

Abraham gave the rest of the spoil (which was rightfully his to keep) back to the people from whom it was stolen. We are all familiar with his statement.

The king of Sodom said to Abram, “All I want are my people. You can keep everything else.” Abram answered: The LORD God Most High made the heavens and the earth. And I have promised him that I won’t keep anything of yours, not even a sandal strap or a piece of thread. Then you can never say that you are the one who made me rich. Let my share be the food that my men have eaten. But Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre went with me, so give them their share of what we brought back. (Genesis 14:21-24, CEV)

donottithe16If Abraham IS our example of giving (as we have so often heard), then let us all rise up to the example shown. ABRAHAM GAVE ALL!! He kept NOTHING for himself. The mathematical term for this kind of “offering” is called 100%. There is NO language in this passage for the “doctrine of portions.” The “bridge to the New Covenant” that this passage makes is “you are not your own, you have been bought with a price.” EVERYTHING we have is an offering to our high priest and mediator. The only variable suggested here is in where it is allocated.

Which brings us to one of those “between the lines” kind of questions. Why did Abraham do it? Obviously he was expressing his gratitude to God. But was there another layer of consideration in his actions?

These next thoughts are speculative. There really is no way to prove them one way or another. But I think there may be enough reason to give them serious consideration.

When Abraham made his offering to God via Melchizedek, who else was there to witness to the whole event? The King of Sodom of course. Immediately following the offering event was the dialogue between Abraham and the King of Sodom regarding the allocation of the remaining spoils. My question is: Was Abraham ONLY expressing thanks to God through this offering? Or was he making a statement as well?

Was Abraham in effect and action, saying to the King of Sodom, “I KNOW who looks out for me, who protects me, who prospers me and who gives me victory over my enemies. I don’t need your wealth to be blessed because I trust Him to prosper me. King of Sodom, you would do well to pay attention and look to the Lord most high yourself that you too would come under His banner of protection and blessing”?

Now that may be a speculative stretch to suggest, but we all know what happened a short time later when God revealed to Abraham Sodom’s future. Abraham interceded for Sodom. He begged God to spare the city for the sake of even a few righteous. I suspect that the burden of Abraham’s intercession for Sodom did not begin the day he was visited by the messengers from God. I suspect that Abraham had been interceding for Sodom, people he knew personally and had risked his life before to aid, for some time.

If we are going to make bridges between Abraham and the New Covenant, I think we can make one here. As wicked as they may have been, Abraham was willing to risk his life for them, willing to defend them, willing to give to them, willing to pray for them AND willing to witness to them of God’s grace and mercy.

So, while we gather in our cloistered meeting rooms and haggle among ourselves over Abraham’s example of “tithing”, I wonder if we should be taking Abraham’s example far more seriously. Like Abraham, are we willing to put our lives on the line and give ALL to the wicked people living outside our Christian ghettos that the judgement of God that is poised over their heads may be averted?

Or do we just want to drop 10% in the bucket on Sunday mornings and live the rest of our lives and spend the rest of our money however WE choose and “cross by on the other side” (Luke 10:30-35) when we encounter the morally bankrupt people of our communities?

Abraham’s true example of giving all makes the whole “tithe” argument a moot point doesn’t it?

Doug White

Thank you Doug! – Jack