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Levi himself, Who Receives Tithes, Paid Tithes Through Abraham

16 March • Thursday of the Third Week in Lent

Hebrews 7:1-10

1. For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 and to him Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. 3 He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.

4. See how great this man was to whom Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the spoils! 5 And those descendants of Levi who receive the priestly office have a commandment in the law to take tithes from the people, that is, from their brothers, though these also are descended from Abraham. 6 But this man who does not have his descent from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. 7 It is beyond dispute that the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case tithes are received by mortal men, but in the other case, by one of whom it is testified that he lives.

8. One might even say that Levi himself, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, 10 for he was still in the loins of his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

 

Meditation

The encounter between Melchizedek and Abraham is found in Genesis 14:18. Abraham had returned from a victory over Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him who had captured Lot. We read that Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was a king of God Most High. Melchizedek blessed Abraham and also blessed God Most High “who has delivered your enemies into your hand”.

In response, Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. From the Hebrew word for tenth, we get the word “tithe”. We tithe when we give to God a tenth of what God has blessed us. After their freedom from slavery in Egypt, the descendants of Abraham continued the practice of tithing. Levi in his priestly office received tithes from the descendants of Abraham.

Yet Levi as a descendant of Abraham, gave a tithe to God. Levites need to recognise that they too are indebted to God for everything.

In whatever office we hold in Christian service, we need to recognise that we too are indebted to God for everything. When I was a young man, I remember the phrase that God is no man’s debtor. No matter how much we have done for God, God has done much more. It is like a father who gives money to his children. They in turn use the money to buy the father a present. Is the father indebted to his children?

Many who serve the Lord are guilty of the sin of presumption. They are so used to receiving appreciation from others, that they forget that it is God who deserves our appreciation. We should never forget, when in times of distress, the words of Job that “the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Naked we came from our mother’s womb and naked shall we return.

It is our privilege if the Lord calls us to serve the Lord in any capacity. If others show their appreciation to us, all the more we should praise God. If others do not do this, we should still praise the Lord. Melchizedek appeared to Abraham as a reminder that God was the author of his victory over Chedorlamer and the kings who were with him. We too need to be reminded that it is God who is behind our every victory in our mortal lives.

 

Prayer

God Almighty, from whom comes every good gift, we thank You for continually giving us what we do not deserve. While we have breath, let us praise You in our appreciation of others, as well as the material things You have given to us. Let us not take You for granted as if You are obliged to be on our side. We affirm that we are on Your side in giving to others what we have received.

We want to give more of our inner self to You, so that our lives may abound in thankfulness and overflow in love, joy and peace.


Show Yourself to us from time to time so that we give You back at least a tithe. We need to give all of ourselves to You, and keep only that which we need, not what we want. You gave all of Yourself to us in the person of Jesus in His life, death and resurrection. We need only follow in Your footsteps. There is nothing we give which we have not received from You.

 

Action

Say thank you to those around us. Follow that with doing something to those near us. Continue the same sequence to those further away from us. May we enlarge the circle of our appreciation in our daily life, in the same way as God has expanded His love for us in ever larger circles.

Dr Lee Soo Ann

President

The Bible Society of Singapore

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