Genesis 14:17-24 Giving and God’s Blessing

Genesis 14:17-24 Giving and God’s Blessing August 14, 2016

Genesis 14:17-24 Giving and God’s Blessing

We live in a nation known for the freedom that it offers. We have freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and others.

However, the one freedom that very few Americans are experiencing today is the freedom from debt. Americans are drowning in a sea of debt. Many have become slaves to the lenders in today’s economy. As we read in Proverbs, “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower becomes the lender’s slave” (Proverbs 22:7). For these people, the familiar credit card name, Visa, can be translated as “Volunteering for Institutional Slavery Always.”

Too many consumers are like the Seven Dwarfs who lived with Snow White. We leave for work every morning singing a similar song, “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.” Someone once said, “Money talks, and it regularly says ‘Good-bye!’”

Here is a startling fact that I discovered on CNN Money, a financial website: In 2012, the average American household with at least one credit card now has close to $15,950 in credit card debt alone.1 That’s not counting automobile loans, student loans, and home mortgages. Sadly, for most wage earners, debt has become a way of life. There are now three groups of people in our nation: The Haves, the Have-Nots, and the Have-Not-Paid-For-What-They-Have. Instead of living for the future, people are now paying for the past. Debt has become the new addiction.

Whatever debt rules, debt ruins. Marriages have ended in divorce over fighting about bills and money. Dreams have been sidelined because some people must focus their time and attention on trying to stay afloat in a sea of debt. Homes have been lost, businesses have gone bankrupt, and families have been destroyed over this nemesis called debt.

While there is a lot of bad news about debt, there is some good news as well. That is, you don’t have to be a slave to debt. There is a way out. God has given you a way to completely pay off all of the debt that you have, if you will simply follow His principles.2

The first simple principle is to give back to God what He has given you. When it comes to giving to God, people have their opinions. Many state that it was a practice that derives from the Mosaic law. Therefore, Christians don’t need to give ten percent to the church. The fact is that giving God ten percent (known as the tithe) originated with Abraham, and not Moses.

GIVING THE TENTH

What we learn from this first description about giving ten percent is that if you want to see God’s blessing, you need to give to Him His ten percent. Unless and until you get this part of your financial stewardship right, you will not experience the fullness of the financial blessings that God has in store for you. This principle is the foundation upon which all else is built.

Unfortunately in Christian circles today, we are experiencing a condition that I call “Cirrhosis of the Giver.” While American Christians control over 70% of the world’s Christian wealth, the average American only gives 2.6% of his or her income.3 Furthermore, only 5–7% of all Christians actually tithe.4 And we wonder why we are experiencing so much by way of financial struggles, strain, and defeat. When we fail to live out God’s principles with regard to stewardship—beginning with giving—we fail to reap God’s blessings with regard to reward and provision.

The Hebrew word that we translate as our word “tithe” in the Bible is ma’as5 which simply means “tenth part” or “a payment of a tenth.” In the book of Deuteronomy, God gives us the reason behind the tithe.6

““Each year you are to set aside a tenth of all the produce grown in your fields. You are to eat a tenth of your grain, new wine, and oil, and the firstborn of your herd and flock, in the presence of Yahweh your God at the place where He chooses to have His name dwell, so that you will always learn to fear the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 14:22–23, HCSB)

Honor the Lord with your possessions and with the first produce of your entire harvest; then your barns will be completely filled, and your vats will overflow with new wine.” (Proverbs 3:9–10, HCSB)

GIVE GOD THE FIRST TENTH

God says give Me the first part back and I’ll bless all the rest. God has said that money is the number one test of your priorities. We spend most of our lives trying to earn it. God says that your checkbook reveals what’s really important to you.

CHECKBOOK ILLUSTRATION: If I were to ask all of you to get out your checkbook right now and pass it to the person to the right of you and let them examine it, what would it reveal about the priorities in your life? By simply looking at how you spend your money a person who may or may not even know you could be able to tell a lot about your life. The way you spend your money says what’s first in your life.

What’s tithing? God says that the first 10% of all I make goes back to Him. Why 10%? That’s just what He said. The purpose is simply to teach you to put God first.

Why is tithing so important? God says that if I’m not tithing God is not really first in my life. If He’s not first in your finances He’s really not first in your life.

When should I do it? “On the first day of every week…” I give Him the first 10% of my money on the first day of the week to show that He’s first in my life. “If you put Me first, I’ll direct you and crown your efforts with success.”7

The first day of the week is Sunday. Why does He say tithe on Sunday? Because tithing is an act of worship and that’s the day you worship. You ought to give to other charities in generosity and charity, but that’s not tithing. Tithing is an act of worship and you do it when you worship. I want to share with you how tithing can happen in worship and what God can do for you as a result. It’s a process I learn.

THE PROCESS OF GIVING AND GOD’S BLESSING

1. I make money.

In this account, we see that Abraham made money when his army defeated a group of people in battle.

After Abram returned from defeating Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley ).” (Genesis 14:17, HCSB)

It doesn’t matter the source of your money. One can make money by working. A person can make money by investing. You make money by winning. You take the money you receive and you bring at least ten percent of it to worship.

2. I meet God for worship.

The King of Salem (later known as Jerusalem), Melchizedek – who also happened to be a priest to God, came out to meet Abram.

Then Melchizedek, king of Salem, brought out bread and wine; he was a priest to God Most High.” (Genesis 14:18, HCSB)

Abram is also met by a mysterious, marvelous monarch named Melchizedek, King of Salem. Melchizedek meaning “King of Righteousness,” and Salem meaning “Peace,” this is most likely a Christophany—an Old Testament appearance of Christ. Two thousand years before Christ came to die for our sin, Melchizedek brings a symbol of His death—bread and wine, the elements of Communion. Just as we are saved by looking back to Christ’s death on the Cross, Old Testament saints were saved by looking ahead to Christ’s death on the Cross—of which their sacrifices were a picture. When we partake of Communion it is in remembrance of Jesus. Abram partook of Melchizedek’s bread and wine in anticipation of Jesus.8

In essence, Abram participated in a predictive form of the Lord’s Supper. Abram met the priest to participate in worship.

3. God reminds me that He has blessed me.

This special Priest-King Melchizedek blessed Abram.

He blessed him and said: Abram is blessed by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth,” (Genesis 14:19, HCSB)

Whenever God is referred to as the Most High, it emphasizes God as the possessor of the heavens and the earth.9 So when this priest blessed Abram, he was reminding Abram that God owns everything on earth. When we come here, we are reminded that God owns everything. He owns my possessions. He owns them, even it if have worked hard for them.

4. I give back to God a portion of what He has given me.

and I give praise to God Most High who has handed over your enemies to you. And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.” (Genesis 14:20, HCSB)

The giving to God comes out of my recognition of the blessing from God. God had blessed Abram and therefore Abram gave back to God. Abram learned that the source of his possessions was God. The priest pronounced a blessing that God would continue to provide for Abram. Abram didn’t pay the priest back for the blessing. Abram recognized that the source of his wealth and his blessing was God.

After Abram returned from defeating Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him, the king of Sodom went out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley ).” (Genesis 14:17, HCSB)

5. I recognize God as my only Source.

Then the king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people, but take the possessions for yourself.” But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have raised my hand in an oath to Yahweh, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will not take a thread or sandal strap or anything that belongs to you, so you can never say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing except what the servants have eaten. But as for the share of the men who came with me—Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre—they can take their share.”” (Genesis 14:21–24, HCSB)

This is the reason that Abram would not take money from other people. He knew that the ONLY source of His blessing was God. Abram looked forward to more blessings from God as Abram learned to depend more on God. Abram anticipated that God would continue to provide for his needs. The reason we know this is because he declined money from other sources. Abram showed a dependence upon God that comes from giving God His share.10 You can learn that same dependence and see how giving to God ten percent in worship reminds you of God’s blessing in your life.

1 Money 101, Lesson 9: Controlling Debt. Online article, CNN Money website, http://money.cnn.com/magazines/moneymag/money101/
lesson9/index.htm

2 Tony Evans, Living in Financial Victory (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013).

3 Quote from Randy Alcorn taken from a sermon based on the author’s book The Treasure Principle that he shared at a Crown Financial Ministries pastors’ conference a few years ago.

4 The Barna Group, “The Economy’s Impact (part 3 of 3): Donors Reduce Giving, Brace for the Long Haul,” http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/18-congregations/341-the-economys-impact-part-3-of-3-donors-reduce-giving-brace-for-the-long-haul?q=tithe

5 James Strong, Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Greek and Hebrew Dictionaries, #H4643.

6 Tony Evans, Living in Financial Victory (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2013).

7 Rick Warren, “The Foundation for a Strong Family – Ten Values That Build Strong Values Part 1” Exodus 20:2, sermon, 30 August 1992, Saddleback Valley Community Church, Mission Viejo, California. You can download a free copy of this sermon at: http://store.pastors.com/collections/ten-values-that-build-strong-families.

8 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary: Volume One: Genesis–Job (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 64.

9 Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of the Messiah : A Study of the Sequence of Prophetic Events, Rev. ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 551.

10 Jim Erwin, “The Blessing That Comes From Giving God His Share,” Genesis 14:17-24, Lectionary Reflections (2015-2016) Year C, Logos Bible Software Notes, 19 February 2016, also on Internet, http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jimerwin/2016/02/19/the-blessing-that-comes-from-giving-god-his-share/, accessed on 10 August 2016.

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