Good morning everybody! Happy belated Thanksgiving. I was thinking if there was going to be a post-thanksgiving rapture, then the Lord would have to use extra energy to get us all off the ground (laughs)
Let’s take our Bibles this morning and open them to the book of Genesis, chapter 14 and verse 17 (Gen 14:17). The title of our message this morning is “Giving God’s Way”. This time of the year we think about giving and gifts. How do we do that God’s way? Well, we have a tremendous example of that in our passage this morning. Just to give you and remind you the big picture of the book of Genesis.
We have completed chapters 1 through 11, featuring four events, creation, fall, flood and national dispersion, where a promise has been traced. That promise is the coming Messiah, who is revealed in Genesis, 3, verse 15 (Gen 3:15) He continues to be traced through that entire section, right down to the patriarch Abraham.
Abraham of course, is very special and very significant because it’s through Abraham that a very special nation is going to start and that nation of course is the nation of Israel. God, in Genesis, 12 through 50, is creating and He is preserving the nation of Israel, and so the calling of Abraham is actually a very big deal and we’ve traced God’s dealings with Abraham, chapters 12 through 14
Genesis, 12‒14 – Abram’s Early Journeys
and the last time we were together, we saw this man Abraham win a stunner, he won an upset. The number 64 team in the nation just wiped out or defeated the number 1 team in the first round of the NCAA playoffs where Abram was essentially invaded by a conglomeration of nations to the east and in the process they swept away his nephew Lot, and Abram with 318 men and a rag-tag three man confederacy in addition to the 318, pursued this eastern power and subdued them and rescue Lot and rescued his wealth and brought back with him many, many prisoners of war. It’s a battle he should not have won, particularly as a 75 year old man, but he did, because of God’s strength. 3:26
I will, before we leave that story, that historical event and comment on what happened following that historical event, I will make you aware of the fact that your Higher Critics have written off this story a long time ago. They say a civilization like this, and an army like this, and a battle like this, there’s no archeological evidence for it and this fits nicely into something that we’ve talked about throughout this series called the JEDP Hypothesis.
It’s the idea that the book of Genesis really wasn’t written by Moses but it was written and pieced together by people living long after the fact relying upon fables and things like that. Genesis, 14, they attack, the Higher Critics do, regularly, because they say there is no archeological evidence for a military like this or a battle like this or a civilization like this all the way back in the time of Abraham, 2000 BC. I’ll just draw your attention to this note in the Ryrie’s Study Bible.
Charles Ryrie – The Ryrie Study Bible
“Genesis 14:1 (RSBEE:NASB1995U): Though some have dismissed this chapter as being an historical impossibility, archaeological discoveries have demonstrated the existence of a flourishing civilization in Palestine [Israel] between the twenty-first and nineteenth centuries b.c. and of the savage destruction of the cities at the end of that period.”
Charles Ryrie correctly says: Though some have dismissed this chapter as being an historical impossibility, archaeological discoveries demonstrated the evidence or existence of a flourishing civilization in today what we call the land of Israel between the twenty-first and nineteenth centuries BC and of the savage destruction of the cities at the end of that period… (close quote) The interesting thing is when Higher Critics developed the JEDP theory, largely in Germany, in Europe in the 19th century, they just did not have the archeological evidence that we have today and many people believe, including myself, that if those higher critical liberals had had the archeological evidence that we have today and they tried to espouse this nonsense called the JEDP theory, which by the way you’re going to hear about on Mysteries of the Bible, A&E and all these kinds of stations where they just give the liberal perspective and they never invite a competent conservative one to counter the evidence. Had all of those people had the archeological evidence that we have today, their theory in the 19th century would have never got off the ground. 6:14
For one thing, they tried to argue that we all know that was not such thing as writing in the time of Moses, there’s no example of a human language. Well, they didn’t have the discovery of the Code of Hammurabi, which is a pre-Mosaic legal code, pre-dating Moses by about four hundred years, which evidences, not only writing, but sophistication and legal thought. I mean, the Code of Hammurabi discovery should have totally derailed the JEDP theory and the same thing with what Charles Ryrie is speaking of here. There is existence of a flourishing civilization and warfare in the very time period that we’re talking about and what is happening today is they are so interested in discrediting the Bible, they are hiding certain pieces of evidence from you, and yet those pieces of evidence are there and so I bring that to your attention because your children, your grandchildren sitting under their learned professors and teachers and watching all of these things on YouTube and watching all of these things on cable television are actually going to come to you for the answer. I mean, what about that Grandma? Grandpa? What about that Mom and Dad? I mean, this is what I just heard on cable, is this true? And you need to be in a position where you’re equipping yourself and you need to be in a church that is involved in equipping you, related to how to give an answer for the hope that lies within you, and so some of these things I bring to your attention just for that reason.
Genesis 14:1‒24 – Abram Rescues Lot
So there’s been a war, there’s been a rescue operation. War, verses 1 through 12 (Gen 14:1-12). Rescue operation verses 13 through 16 (Gen 14:13-16) and we come to the very end of the chapter where we have Abram, who is a victor, interacting with two kings.
Interaction with Two Kings – Genesis 14:17-24
First he interacts with the king of Solomon, excuse me, Sodom, verse 17 (Gen 14:17). Secondly he interacts with the king of Salem, verses 18 through 20 (Gen 14:18-20) and then third he interacts again with the king of Sodom, verses 21 through 24 (Gen 14:21-24) and so, what happens here? Notice Abram’s interaction with the king of Sodom. 8:51
Notice if you will, Genesis chapter 14 and notice if you will verse 17 (Gen 14:17): Then after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer… I think Ed’s pronunciation, I think it’s the one trusted here, not mine… and the kings that were with him, the kings of Sodom went out to meet… or the king of Sodom rather went out to meet him at the valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley)… So, essentially what happens here is you have the timing of this.
The timing is after the defeat of the king of Elam. Remember? It was the king of Elam that sort of, with his eastern confederacy went upwards there roughly to the Damascus area and sort of followed a north-south trajectory and got down there to the bottom and sort of circled back up and in the process defeated these kings here, called the Valley of the Jordan or the circle of the Jordan, better said. So it was four against five and that’s where those kings, that I have circled there, were captured and that’s when Lot was taken into captivity and he would have spent the rest of his life as a slave and Lot was taken into captivity because he, Genesis, 13, verse 13 (Gen 13:13) was pitching his tent, actually Genesis, 13, verses 12 and 13 (Gen 13:12-13) pitching his tent towards Sodom and he was beginning to dwell there. So he was in the wrong place at the wrong time and he was taken into captivity and Abram with his rag-tag force, as a 75 year old man rescued Lot, a stunning victory. So when Abram meets these kings, first the king of Sodom and then a little bit later the king of Salem, this takes place right after the defeat of this eastern power. It mentions here only the king of Elam because he was probably the leader of that eastern confederacy. It says here: The king of Sodom went out to meet him. That would be Abram. You say, well I thought the king of Sodom got killed back in Genesis, 14 and verse 10 (Gen 14:10), as a consequence of this eastern invasion and the truth to the matter is: Yes, he did get killed, so obviously this would be a new king, a replacement king and Abram goes to this place called the Valley of Shaveh… if I’m pronouncing that right, and meets the king of Sodom. Where is this particular Valley? You see I’ve got it circled there. It’s basically a Valley called the Kidron Valley, sometimes called the Valley of Jehoshaphat and it’s basically a wadi, which basically means a river emptying into the Dead Sea and so this is where the victory occurred and so the king of Sodom comes out now to meet Abram and we’re going to hear more about the conversation or interaction between Abram and the king of Sodom in verses 18, excuse me, no, verse 21 through 24 (Gen 14:21-24). 12:31
So the discussion leaves Abram’s interaction with the king of Sodom and moves to verses 18 through 20 (Gen 14:18-20) where it’s Abram’s interaction now with the king of Salem. So, notice if you will verse 18 (Gen 14:18): And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God the Most High… So, before Abram deals with the king of Sodom, he deals first with this king, called the king of Salem.
Abram & The King of Salem – Genesis 14:18-20
Well, who is this king of Salem? Well, he has a name. His name is Melchizedek, Melchizedek in Hebrew, just means king of righteousness. We know his name and we know that he was an actual king and he actually ruled over a particular city called Salem. Boy, that kind of rings a bell, Salem kind of sounds like Jerusalem, doesn’t it? So this is what we believe, the first reference to Jerusalem in the entire Bible. In fact, over in Psalms, 78, excuse me, Psalms, 76, verse 2 (Psa 76:2) it equates Salem with Zion. It says over in Psalms, 76, verse 2 (Psa 76:2): His tabernacle is in Salem; His dwelling place also is in Zion… So Zion, is the equivalent of Salem, the first reference to Jerusalem in the entire Bible. Now, Jerusalem at this time was not a Jewish city, it was not a Hebrew city. In fact the nation of Israel is just barely getting off the ground at this point. In fact, Jerusalem would be under the control of a group of people called the Jebusites. The Jebusites are mentioned all the way into the time of the book of Joshua, Joshua, 15, verse 63 (Josh 15:63) as ruling over this city of Jerusalem and so Jerusalem would not become a Hebrew or Jewish capital until the time of who? Until the time of David, which would be about a thousand years after these events that we’re reading about transpired. Jerusalem is not going to become the capital of undivided Israel until 2nd Samuel chapter 5 under the time of David. Right now, it’s what would become a Jebusite, Canaanite city and we go on with our description here of this man, Melchizedek and we learn that he’s a priest. It says (Gen 14:18): And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High… So he was not a pagan priest, he was a godly priest. Now, this is the first mention of the word priest in the entire Bible. What is a Priest? A priest is basically an intermediary, if you will, between God and men, Jesus of course being our ultimately High Priest, because he is the only one qualified to be our intermediary between God and men because He is the unique God-man. Who better to mediate the two than Jesus Christ Himself, but this is the first reference to priest in the entire Bible. He is not a pagan priest, he is called a priest of the Most High. 16:31
So this is very interesting because what we start to learn here is that there were others outside of Abram’s household that were believers, or else this man who had no contact with Abram until this point in time, would not have been called a priest of the most High. So how did this man Melchizedek learn the truth? Well, the truth is disclosed for the first time in Genesis, 3, verse 15 (Gen 3:15) there’s coming a Messiah from the seed of the woman and as we’ve journeyed through the book of Genesis, we learn that through Noah’s son Shem, this Messiah would come and so many, many people in this part of the world particularly, knew that a Messiah was coming.
God’s Messianic Purposes Beginning in Genesis
They learned about it, most probably, through the lineage of Shem and this is where this man, Melchizedek, who’s not just a priest but the priest of the Most High, that’s probably how he became a believer in the promises of God. You’ll notice that this man, Melchizedek, is called a priest of the Most High God. The Hebrew for Most High God is “El Elyon” and it is used only four times, actually, five times in the Bible. Four of the five usages of this unique Hebrew term occur right here in our verses. The only other time it’s used is over in Psalm, 78, verse 35 (Psa 78:35) where God is called the most High God. Generally, when God is referred to, He’s just called the Most High. He is not called the Most High God, El Elyon, and here it’s used not just for the first time but it’s used four times just within the span of a few verses and so this was a priest who was not just a priest of the Most High, but the priest of the Most High God. He was somebody who obviously had a knowledge of the truth through the descendants of Shem and you’ll notice what this man does, Melchizedek, verse 18 (Gen 14:18): And Melchizedek king of Salem… He’s the king and priest of Jerusalem… brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of the Most High God… 19:17
Now, I realize we’re going to be celebrating communion next week, but this has nothing to do with the Lord’s table. Why does this have nothing to do with the Lord’s table? Because even though it says bread and wine, the Lord’s table would not be implemented for another two thousand years. The Lord’s table as a memorial for what Christ did for us on the cross two thousand years ago is something that would exist for the church and the church at this particular point doesn’t exist yet. There is no knowledge of the church here, there is no understanding of the church. God is barely bringing into existence a very special nation, the nation of Israel. In fact when you read the Gospels, Jesus makes this statement (Matt 16:18): I will build my church… All the way late into the time of Christ, you’ll notice that the verb build is in the future tense and that’s probably the first revelation of the church in the entire Bible. So it’s very tempting to take communion, the Lord’s table, which by the way is implemented by Christ in the upper room, and read it back into this passage but it really doesn’t belong there. Don’t worry, the Lord’s table is going to be implemented, but that’s only post cross. Luke, 22, verses 19 and 20 (Luke 22:19-20) says: When He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me. In the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, This cup which is… This is the cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood… That revelation is coming, the revelation of the church is coming, but it’s not found here. You’ll say, well, then if this is not the communion service, can you give us the mystical secret interpretation of the priest king of Salem coming to Abram and giving him bread and wine? Here is the mystical interpretation, are you ready? The king priest of Salem came to Abram and ministered to him by giving him bread and wine That’s all it says. Not exactly the most exciting sermon you’ve ever heard in your life, but we’re really not in a position here to start rewriting the Bible to make it sound and say things that really it’s not saying. 21:58
So, here is this priest and king basically ministering to Abram’s physical needs, bread and wine. Why? Because he had just come out of warfare, he’d just come out of conflict. Now, the big discussion here with this man, Melchizedek, coming from Jerusalem is people think that this is a Theophany. Sometimes, you’ll hear the word Christophany. What is that? It’s Christ before the manger. Preincarnate appearances of Jesus Christ. Are there preincarnate appearances of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament? You can bet your bottom dollar that there are. One of the clearest ones to my mind is in Joshua chapter 5, verses 13 through 15 (Josh 5:13-15) where Joshua is seeking to enter the land and he’s in the land and he’s going out to battle and it talks about an angelic messenger that was there, as this was happening, and it says in Joshua chapter 5, verse 14 (Josh 5:14): … And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down… and the angelic being there receives the worship. Now, when that happens, you know you’re not dealing with an ordinary angel. You’re dealing with what arguably is the Angel of the Lord, a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. Why is that? Because a true run of the mill angel will never receive worship. In fact, it’s interesting that John in his little epistle in 1st John, 5, verse 21 (1 John 5:21) signs off and he says: Little children, keep yourselves from idols… and John didn’t practice his own advice because when he was on the island of Patmos and, you know, received a vision from God coming from Jesus to an angel to John that we call the book of Revelation, John starts to worship the angel and the angel says: Knock it off, I’m just a fellow servant… That happens not once but it happens twice. You’ll find it in Revelation, 19, verse 10 (Rev 19:10) it says: Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy… You think John would have learned his lesson? He does not because in Revelation, 22, verses 8 and 9 (Rev 22:8-9) it says: I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things, but he said to me, Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God… And that is actually a pretty good practice for us to get into because when you discover you have spiritual gifts and you discover that God is actually using your spiritual gifts to bless people and to reach people, people will have a tendency to give you all the credit and in human pride it’s very tempting to say, yeah, you know, my sermon was pretty good, wasn’t it? You know, I stayed up late and I worked hard on it and I was on Logos and I found all this stuff and you know, isn’t it kind of great? In fact, I’ll tell you a story, I was in Albuquerque and I was in one of those mindsets. I was in a hotel room, I was sticking around for an afternoon meeting and I had just spoken about what I think is probably the second largest church in Albuquerque and everybody just said, Oh, Pastor Woods, that was just phenomenal, you just blessed my life and I was in one of those moods where, you know, Lord, you’re really lucky that I’m on your team (laughs) I mean, what would you do without me Lord? And I was in my hotel and I had these black shoes that, you know, you can see when I’m walking around and so, when the drapes are shut you can’t see the shoes and I literally tripped, as I was thinking this, I literally tripped right over the shoes, I went right into a lamp and had I not caught myself, I could have done very severe eye injury and that happened to me the moment I was thinking: Lord, aren’t you lucky to have me on your team? (laughs) And so when you start to think like that, the Lord has a way of getting our attention. He was basically saying to me: You are such an idiot (laughs). You can’t even walk across a hotel room without getting yourself injured (laughs). I mean, the only reason I use you is because, you know, I don’t have anything better to do, quite frankly, and after all, in the Old Testament, I used a donkey (laughs) or the translation is a jackass. I used a jackass so I can use you too. So, just keep that in mind, but the truth of the matter is John, he starts giving the angel all the credit and the angel says: Knock it off, and that’s really the right way when people want to gush over you and praise you and all this kind of stuff. You just say well, praise the Lord. You just direct the attention back to God where it belongs and then maybe God will spare you from tripping over your own shoes in the middle of a hotel room. 28:35
So, John worships the angel, the angel says: knock it off and you’ll notice in Joshua, 5 (Josh 5:14) that this angel doesn’t say that. He doesn’t say worship God, why is that? Cause that’s an example of a Theophany. A Christophany, it’s not just an angel, it’s the Angel of the Lord, it’s a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. There are those in the Bible. If you want a wonderful book on this, that’s readable but biblically accurate, I recommend the book by Dr. Ron Rhodes entitled “Christ before the Manger.” It’ll take you to every single reference where this kind of phenomenon takes place and it’s a great thing to study this time of the year as we’re getting ready for Christmas and celebrating the birth of Jesus and sometimes we forget that Jesus is active all the way through the Old Testament. So, what people do when they discover the reality of theophanies is that they want to read it everywhere into the Bible. Everything you see is Jesus, they say. Jesus is hiding under every rock and tree, you know, in the Old Testament, and that is what I would call theophany override. You suddenly don’t start saying: Okay, it’s in Joshua, 5, so I’m going to find it here in Genesis, 14. So many, many people will take Genesis, 14, and this reference to Melchizedek, they’ll take that as a theophany or a Christophany. They largely do it from the book of Hebrews, where the author of the book of Hebrews, particularly in chapter 7, verses 1 through 3 (Heb 7:1-3), skillfully reaches back into history and uses Melchizedek as a type, typology, foreshadowing, of the high priestly ministry of Jesus, which is a ministry that is higher than Aaron’s because it is after the order of who? Melchizedek.
6 Reasons Why Melchizedek is a Type of Christ (Heb. 7:1-3)
People say: after all, he was ruling in Jerusalem, that sounds like what Jesus will do one day. He’s called the king and priest of peace and righteousness, that kind of sounds like Jesus, Isaiah 9:6,7. He’s king and priest, only Jesus can be both. After all, the book of Hebrews says Melchizedek had no beginning and ending and after all, he brought bread and wine, that’s a communion service and he’s a priest of the Most High. So Melchizedek equals a preincarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. I don’t think this is a case where you can call Melchizedek a theophany. I think he was a real person that lived, that the author of Hebrews reaches back to, to build typology.
Melchizedek is Not a Theophany
That’s it’s only purpose, because when it says in the book of Hebrews, he had no genealogy, what it’s really saying is he had no documented genealogy that people could observe. The book of Hebrews does not call Melchizedek, the Son of God, it calls him like the Son of God and theophanies typically bring a message from God to men, that doesn’t happen here and theophanies don’t rule over a particular geopolitical place. This man, Melchizedek, is ruling as king priest over a particular city called the city of Jerusalem. 32:28
Arnold Fruchtenbaum, puts it as follows:
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 268, 270-71
“While many have taught that Melchizedek was a preincarnate Christ, this simply cannot be. This was not a theophany, because theophanies came and went; they appeared, gave their proclamation, message, or commandment and then disappeared. Theophanies never held an office here on earth. Here, Melchizedek holds two offices: that of king and that of priest…Again, he was not a theophany (or he was only a type), for several reasons. First, theophanies merely appeared and disappeared, not holding an earthly office like king or priest. Second, Hebrews 5:1, which begins listing several prerequisites for priesthood, makes the point that a priest had to be human.”
“The Messiah did not become human until the Incarnation. So for Melchizedek to first be a priest, he first had to be human. Third, Hebrews states that he was like the Son of God, not that he was the Son of God: He was made like unto the Son of God. Therefore, there is no biblical basis for making Melchizedek a theophany or the preincarnate Christ. Melchizedek was a human being who was said to be a type of the Messiah in that he was both king and priest. When the Book of Hebrews mentions that he had no genealogy—no father, no mother—the main point of the author of Hebrews is that there is no record of a genealogy for Melchizedek, no mention of a father or a mother.”
“It does not say that he did not have one, only that there is no record of it. The point Hebrews is making is that the correct genealogy was vital for the Levitical Priesthood. Unless one could prove that he was a descendant of Aaron, he could not serve as a priest under the Levitical Law. However, the Melchizedekian Priesthood was not based upon descent, but it was based strictly on divine appointment. When Hebrews states: neither beginning nor end, it does not say he did not have one; it just means that there is no beginning or end of his priesthood in the biblical record. The typology being drawn is that of a continuous priesthood, as is the case with Jesus.”
“Others try to defend the theophany view by pointing out that the name Melchizedek means ‘king of righteousness’; and, therefore, he had to be a preincarnate Christ. However, the last part of the name, zedek, was a Jebusite dynastic name for the kings of Jerusalem. This is seen in Joshua 10:1, where the king of Jerusalem then was named Adonizedek, which means the ‘lord of righteousness’, yet this was a wicked, idol-worshipping, Canaanite, Jebusite king. So using the meaning of the name to prove a theophany does not work here, since zedek was merely a dynastic title of Jebusite kings of Jerusalem, as in the case of Melchizedek and Adonizedek.”
While many have taught that Melchizedek was a preincarnate Christ, this simply cannot be. This was not a theophany, because theophanies came and went; they appeared, gave their proclamation, message, or commandment and then disappeared. Theophanies never held an office here on the earth. Here, Melchizedek holds two offices: that of king and that of priest…Again, he was not a theophany, he was only a type, for several reasons. First, theophanies merely appeared and disappeared, not holding an earthly office like king or priest. Secondly, Hebrews, 5, verse 1 (Heb 5:1) begins listing several prerequisites for a priesthood, making the point that a priest had to be human. The Messiah did not become human until the Incarnation. So for Melchizedek first to be a priest, he first had to be human. Third, Hebrews states that he was like the Son of God, not that he was the Son of God: He was made like unto the Son of God. Therefore, there is no biblical basis for making Melchizedek a theophany or the preincarnate Christ. Melchizedek was a human being who was said to be a type of the Messiah in that he was both king and priest. When the Book of Hebrews mentions that he had no genealogy—no father or mother—the main point of the author of Hebrews is that there is no record of a genealogy for Melchizedek, no mention of a father or a mother either. It does not say that he did not have one, only that there is no record of it. The point Hebrews is making is that the correct genealogy was vital for the Levitical Priesthood. Unless one could prove that he was a descendant of Aaron, he could not serve as a priest under the Levitical Law. However, the Melchizedekian Priesthood was not based upon descent, but it was based strictly on divine appointment. When Hebrews states: neither beginning nor end, it does not say he did not have one; it just means that there is no beginning or end of his priesthood in the biblical record. The typology being drawn is that of a continuous priesthood, as is the case with Jesus… He has another slide there for explanation which I let you read on your own. 35:14
The author of Hebrews is not saying that Melchizedek is Jesus. What he’s doing is he’s reaching back in history and finding an actual king that resembled Jesus and skillfully using it in his argument to show that Christ brought in a priesthood higher than Aaron’s because it was patterned after the priesthood of Melchizedek.
Abram & The King of Salem – Genesis 14:18-20
What is interesting though is this man, Melchizedek who was an actual person, not a theophany, blesses Abram and you see that blessing being dispensed there in verse 19 (Genesis 14:19): He blessed him and said, Blessed be Abram… God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth… Melchizedek, a real person, recognized something unusual in Abram. He recognized that the God that was with him, Melchizedek, was also with Abram. He recognized Abram as a fellow servant of the Most High God. In fact, here you’ll see a repetition of that Hebrew expression “El Elyon”, Most High God and as Melchizedek is blessing a fellow servant, he also calls God, the possessor of heaven and earth. That’s a description, of course, that goes all the way back to Genesis chapter 1 verse 1 (Gen 1:1) where we learn in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Jeremiah chapter 23, verse 24 (Jer 23:24) God says: Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?…Do we understand that the God that we serve as Christians is the one who spoke and the heavens and the earth leapt into existence? I mean, if we really believe that then why are we so uptight about our problems? Why are we so uptight about difficulties that we have? Christ sees that we see, do we not understand exactly who it is we are connected to? We are connected to the one, El Elyon, Most High God, who is the very possessor of heavens and earth and if God is the possessor of heavens and earth, he is also in possession of your employment situation, your family friction this time of the year, your health concern. I mean, whatever it is that’s nagging you, plaguing you, bothering you, it’s just a matter of looking at that through the lens of God who is the Most High God, who is the very possessor of heavens and earth. Boy, we would save ourselves a lot of anxiety if we started to look at life situations through that lens. 38:31
We now have this man Melchizedek blessing God. First he blesses Abram, now he blesses God.
Abram & The King of Salem – Genesis 14:18-20
It says (Gen 14:20): And blessed be God the Most High; who has delivered your enemies into your hands… So you’ll notice that Melchizedek doesn’t just dwell on Abram’s military success because he understands that Abram just had that military success cause God is the one that gave it to him and as a fellow servant of God, he could recognize that, he could see it for what it is. You’ll notice again, the repetition of “El Elyon”, Most High God and he recognized God as Abram’s deliverer. Notice what it says there in verse 20 (Gen 14:20): …Who has delivered your enemies into your hand… You know what that is folks? That’s salvation. What did Jonah say in the belly of the fish before he was vomited out onto dry land? He said (Jonah 2:9): Salvation is from the Lord… Salvation is not just being delivered from sin’s penalty through the blood of Jesus Christ by faith alone in Christ alone. That is an ultimate form of salvation but it’s deliverance from one’s enemies, it’s deliverance from being in the belly of the fish, it’s deliverance from inflation, it’s deliverance from the job or the jab, it’s deliverance from health scares and health concerns and what you’ll discover as you walk with the Lord, because salvation is of the Lord, is you start to be delivered from a lot of things in God’s way and God’s timing. I can’t count the number of times as a Christian, God has bailed me out of circumstances, which I saw absolutely no way out of. This is the kind of thing that Abram was up against and the Lord delivered him. Salvation is of the Lord and if God provided your ultimate salvation, the deliverance from sin’s penalties, your employment situation, inflation, health concerns, relational conflict, whatever it is, I mean, that’s just the small stuff. I mean, just think of it from the greater to the lesser, if God already gave you the greater, isn’t he going to help you with the lesser? And that is what this fellow servant Melchizedek is acknowledging, that just happened in Abram’s life. A deliverance from a military conflict that he had absolutely no business winning. Salvation is of the Lord, and now what does this man Abram do?
Abram & The King of Salem – Genesis 14:18-20
He pays tithes, uh-oh, he pays tithes to Melchizedek, Melchizedek receives tithes from Abram. It’s at the very end of verse 20 (Gen 14:20), it says: He gave him a tenth of all. Now the “he” there is Abram paying the tithes to Melchizedek. It’s not as clear here but it’s crystal clear in Hebrews, 7, verse 4 (Heb 7:4) recounting the same story and it says: Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of choice… his choicest spoils… which raises a very interesting question, that’s why I’ve entitled this sermon “Giving God’s Way”, is the whole issue of tithing. 42:36
Now, you’ll notice that when I bring up this issue of tithing and this issue of money, I do it when it’s in the context of our verse by verse teaching. We have no agenda at this church of being a shake down operation, where every single sermon you hear somehow has something to do with, you need to give more because we need to build this or build that, there’s no agenda like that here. God has provided for this church many times over. In fact, it’s stunning how the Lord has provided for this church above and beyond anything anticipated in this year and this year is not even over yet. I mean, I don’t even like talking about things like this cause I don’t want to discourage giving. I mean, if I tell people how well we’re doing, maybe they won’t give anymore. But the truth to the matter is, this church beat its budget from last year, back in September. In other words, all the money that came in in 2020 has already come in, in the year 2021 and it keeps coming in. What do you attribute that to? You attribute that to the fact that people are being blessed and without being shaken down, they just give as God has purposed in their hearts. You know, there’s pastors that get up in front of their flocks and they say this: At this time we’re going to take the offering… That always has bothered me. It gives you the impression that God is like reaching out and just ripping goods out of people’s wallets and so forth. We don’t take the offering, we receive the offering and by the way, you’ve probably noticed in this church we don’t even pass a plate. Why do we not do that? Because people shouldn’t feel under duress and compulsion to give when everybody is looking at them. Now, I realize that other churches do it different and that’s fine. That’s between them and the Lord, but our church operates differently. We have two offering boxes in the back, they are hardly ever mentioned. Noone is going to put neon lights on them as you walk out because we believe that giving is a matter of privacy between people and God and as people are blessed they just have a natural desire to give. In fact, we used to make it so hard to give in this church. We used to just hide our PayPal account, where you had to just go through a maze to find it, and finally we reach the conclusion that well, why are we making it so difficult when people, when they are blessed, naturally want to give. I mean, why would we deprive them of the right that they have to give if they want to give and it was also overloading our staff with a bunch of emails, “I can’t find the PayPal account!” So we have a very low, emphasis here on finances. Finance is God’s thing. You know, a lot of ministries they make it sound like, Gosh, if you don’t give this month or if you don’t give this week or if you don’t give today, God is going to go out of business. You know, poor God, he doesn’t have two nickels to rub together. When the fact to the matter we just read that He’s the possessor of the heavens and the earth. I mean, if God is involved with any ministry, there shouldn’t have to be this huge emphasis on money, money, money, giving, giving, giving. You know, some of them that say: Gosh, if we don’t get money, we’re going to go off the air, I wish they would go off the air quite frankly, because they are more of an annoyance and a nuisance then, you know, someone or a group that wants to actually teach.. teach truth. 46:36
So here you get in this question of giving, where Abram gave a tenth of his spoils from war to this man, Melchizedek. So, is tithing something that the New Testament Christian is supposed to do? Tithing of course, giving the first ten percent of your income onto the Lord. Now, the response to that is, tithing is part of the Mosaic Law. The Mosaic Law was given to the children of Israel at Mount Sinai. That’s where tithing comes from and the Mosaic Law would not be given till six centuries later and in fact, if you want to put the church under that system, you can’t just teach tithing cause there were three tithes, two annually, one every third year and so you’re average Israelite was actually giving twenty three and a third percent of their income to the Lord. A lot of churches will put you under that system by teaching the Malachi blessing, great fundraising tool by the way. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse and see if I will not rebuke the devourer and pour out so great a blessing on you that you don’t have room to receive it. The problem with that is you’re using Malachi which concerns the dispensation of the law, not the age of the church. The Mosaic Law was given to one nation, the nation of Israel. Psalm, 147, verses 19 and 20 (Psa 147:19-20) says: He declares His words to Jacob, His statutes and His ordinances to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any nation; As for His ordinances, they have not known them. Praise the LORD!… You put the church under the doctrine of tithing as found in the Mosaic Law, you’re putting the church under a legal system that was only intended for one nation, the nation of Israel. 48:42
Now, the counterargument to that is, well, this precedes the Law of Moses. This is six centuries roughly before the Law of Moses. Abram tithes, so we should tithe also. In fact, you may not know this, but when I graduated from seminary, I was within a millimeter of heading to a very well-known group and being a professor there in Lynchburg, Virginia and the deal breaker on that was they wanted to know my position on tithing because that particular ministry taught tithing. The founder of that ministry taught tithing and they did not want professors in their school teaching you what I’m saying. The tithing is for Israel and not for the church and that’s why I ended up here in Houston, because nobody else wanted me (laughs) because I kept quoting the Bible, but as I was involved with this long email conversation with the higher ups there, they would come back with Abram. Abram tithed pre Mosaic Law, so we should tithe as well, right?
Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes to my rescue here, he says:
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum – The Book of Genesis, 268
“In verse 20b is Abram’s response to Melchizedek: And he gave him a tenth of all. Abram is again proving to be a blessing to others. What should be noted, however, is that Abram is giving a tenth of the spoils of war, not his income. Many have used this passage to try to claim that tithing was an Old Testament law even before the Mosaic Law, and they do this because they recognize that the Mosaic Law is no longer in effect. If, therefore, they want to teach tithing, they have to use a different basis for tithing; and so they often refer to this event. However, one should note the following points. First, there was no commandment to do so; Abram did it voluntarily. Second, this was a one-time event; there is no record of him doing it repeatedly. Third, this was not a tithe from his income; there is no record of Abram giving a tenth of the income he received from all the wealth gifted to him by Pharaoh, etc. This is one-tenth from the spoils of war, and the spoils originally belonged to others.”
In verse 20b is Abram’s response to Melchizedek: He gave him a tenth of all. Abram is again proving to be a blessing to others. What should be noted here, however, is that Abram is giving a tenth of the spoils of war… to the Lord or to Melchizedek… not his income. Many have used this passage to try to claim that tithing was an Old Testament law even before the Mosaic Law, and they do this because they recognize that the Mosaic Law is no longer in effect. If, therefore, they want to teach tithing, they have to have a different basis for tithing; and so they often refer to this event. However, one should note the following points. First, there was no command for Abram to do so.. God didn’t say, Okay Abram fork it over, it’s just something he did on his own… Abram did it voluntarily. Secondly, this was a one-time event; there’s no record of him doing it repeatedly. Third, this was not even a tithe from his income; there is no record that Abram gave a tenth of the income he received from all the wealth he had gained that was gifted to him by Pharaoh… for example, in Genesis, 12. This is one-tenth from the spoils of war, and the spoils originally belonged to others anyway… I mean, did Abram tithe? Yes, he did. Why did he tithe? That’s what he wanted to do. Is that some kind of binding mandatory commandment for everyone to follow today? No, it’s not. So, in the New testament we are put under no numerical requirement concerning what to give. Now, this ruins… I understand what I’m doing here… I’m undoing countless fundraising projects but this is Sugar Land Bible Church. This is not Sugar Land Fundraising Enterprises. Bible is our middle name, we follow what the Bible says and you can study the New Testament Epistles all you want and you’ll never find a number given concerning what you are to give unto the Lord in the church age. What you’ll find are adverbs. Adverbs modify a verb, they describe a verb. In this case the verb is giving. Well, how are we to give? I want a number, Lord. The Lord says, I’m not going to give you a number. What I’m going to give you though is adverbs that you should follow as you contemplate giving. 53:11
By the way, you’ll find all of these in 2nd Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, one of the greatest passages or chapters on the whole issue of giving, and ten percent or twenty three and a third percent is not even mentioned. What you’ll find mentioned are adverbs.
Give secretly. When you give, don’t let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. Don’t demand that they, you know, put a brick in the ground with your name on it, or a building named after you, give secretly, don’t do it with trumpets and pizazz, don’t let everybody know you’re doing it because, don’t you want your reward from God? Rather than man? I mean, if everybody sits around and applauds you when it comes time for you to be rewarded at the Bema Seat judgment of Christ, the Lord says: Well, you already got your reward.
Give proportionally. Give as God has prospered you. Quite frankly, there are some people that should not be giving ten percent because they’re dangerously in debt and the Bible says, if you don’t pay down your debts you are a thief. There are other people that are walking as we like to say in high cotton and they ought to be giving far more than ten percent, because the Bible, New Testament does not give you a number, it gives you adverbs.
Give sacrificially. I mean, isn’t that what impressed Jesus in the Gospel of Mark where all of the rich were coming in and putting all of these huge gifts into the offering and a little old widow puts in the widow’s mite? And Jesus calls His disciples over and He says: You know, she’s given more than everybody else. But why is that? Because she gave to the point of sacrifice. She gave to the point where it actually could potentially hurt her and she had to trust the Lord, give sacrificially.
Give joyfully. You know, when you go to a church and it’s pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure, duress, all of the time about giving, you have a situation where people really aren’t doing it joyfully, they’re doing it grudgingly. You ought to be joyful that God has even given you the means and the ability to do it.
Give worshipfully. Give as if this is part of your worship unto the Lord. This is what you find in the New Testament, it’s called being under grace rather than being under law and my goodness, folks! Let’s get this one straight, don’t give to get. Don’t give to be blessed. You run into so many people, I’m giving, I’m giving, why are you doing it? I want to be blessed. Well, should I tithe on my gross or my net? Well, do you want to be blessed on your gross or your net? It’s that kind of mentality. We don’t give, particularly in this age of the church, to get blessed. We give because we’re already what? Blessed. That’s what the book of Ephesians chapter 1 and verse 3 (Eph 1:3) says: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with … what’s the next word there?… every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places… Oh, Lord, bless me, bless me, bless me, bless me, the Lord is saying, what else do you want? Your account has already maxed out. You give because you have been blessed. You don’t give to get blessed. Giving, giving God’s way. 57:16
Interaction with Two Kings – Genesis 14:17-24
Now Abram begins to interact with the king of Sodom, verse 21 (Gen 14:21): The king of Sodom said to Abram, Give the people to me and take the goods for yourself… The king of Sodom actually gives Abram an offer for the people and the wealth that he had captured.
Abram & The King of Sodom – Genesis 14:21-24
Give me the people and you can keep the goods. Who are the people? Prisoners of war that Abram captured probably back in verse 11. The fact to the matter is this offer means nothing because of the right of conquest. Abram didn’t have to give up anything here and then you have Abram’s response to this offer from the king of Sodom. Abram has a threefold response, first notice Abram’s oath, verse 22 (Gen 14:22). This is something Abram said in his heart before he even went to battle: Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have sworn to the LORD God Most High… there’s “El Elyon” again, by the way… possessor of heaven and earth… In other words, before the conflict ever started I purposed in my heart to do something and that’s when to developed convictions. You don’t develop convictions in the heat of battle. What you say is before the battle even starts, here is my stand, because that way you won’t be tempted to compromise your positions in the heat of battle because they didn’t originate, because you were in the heat of battle. They originated through logical thought ahead of time and what is the content of this oath? That’s given right there in verse 23 (Gen 14:23), look at this, this is stunning: …that I… Abram is speaking to the king of Sodom… will not take a thread or a sandal thong or anything that is yours, for fear you would say that I have made Abram rich… I’m not taking anything from you. Why? Because I don’t want you to think, you made me rich. You know who made me rich? God made me rich and what you see here is Abram, watch this very carefully, disentangling himself from the king of Sodom just like he disentangled himself from Lot in the prior chapter when he said: Lot, the land that you take, I’ll take the opposite. 1:00:10
This is a principle that’s almost never taught today but it’s the principle or the biblical basis of ecclesiastical separation. You do not align yourself with people and with groups and with enterprises that don’t share your core biblical values. You don’t get in bed with the Mormons, you don’t get to bed with the Roman Catholic Church, you don’t get in bed with the Jehovah’s Witnesses. When the different denominations that don’t hold to our convictions come to this church and say can we rent your building for this? or can we rent your building for that? Our answer politely is thank you but no thank you because we’re not into forming ecumenical alliances with groups that don’t agree with our convictions concerning the Bible, we separate ourselves. Now, the religious world of the community is not going to stand up and give you a great big applause for doing that. Yet it’s exactly what the Bible says. I wish I have time to show you all of these verses calling for ecclesiastical separation in the New Testament.
Biblical Basis for Separation?
One of the most prominent is 2nd John, 7 through 11 (2 John 7-11) which says, if someone denies the deity of Christ and the incarnation of Christ, you do not invite them into your house… 2nd John, 7 through 11. It doesn’t mean you leave the Jehovah’s Witnesses on the porch in the middle of the Houston summer and don’t offer them a glass of lemonade, that’s not what it’s talking about. The house is where church was conducted in the first century. You don’t let them come into your pulpit and take control, you don’t let them pass out literature in your foyer. You don’t let the Muslims, and they’ve tried to do this here by the way, come in and put out their gift bags, which by the way looked very suspiciously similar to our gift bags (laughs) and we’ve found a few of those around here where it looks like it’s one of our gift bags but Oh, it’s not because it has got a Quran in it and an invitation saying come to our community service and learn more about Islam. They show up here with their garb, mask, all that stuff, very nice, very smiley. I’m sorry but you just believe differently than we do. We’re practicing ecclesiastical separation because 2nd John, 7 through 11, says do not allow such people into your house. That is what Abram is doing here and now Abram is in a position to be blessed by God,
because he’s separated himself, because what’s coming in Genesis, 15, listen to me very carefully, is the most important chapter in the whole Bible. If you can understand Genesis, 15, you’ll understand the whole Bible, and what precedes the revelation in Genesis, 15, is Abram doing two acts of what we might call “ecclesiastical separation” in Genesis, 13, and Genesis, 14. Come out from among them and be ye what? Separate. God is not interested in all of these interfaith alliances. He is also not interested in interfaith dialogue. You know, everybody is dialoguing with everybody today. It’s almost like Jesus said, Go into all over the world and dialogue (laughs). When you dialogue with a Muslim, you have to understand this, that the game is rigged before you even sit down at the table and dialogue, because they’re allowed to lie, it’s called “Taqiyya”. You’re not, because you’re bound by New Testament revelation which says, don’t lie. So the whole game of interfaith dialogue is not designed for the two of you to meet in the middle somewhere. It’s designed to lower your defenses to their false doctrine and so Abram here practices separation. He separates himself from the king of Sodom. He says, you know what? All this money, you can have it. You can take it, cause I don’t want it… all this money that I gained through the right of conquest, you can have, cause I don’t want you to think that you made me rich. You didn’t make me rich, God made me rich and I don’t want to entangle myself with you because I want the blessings of God on my life and by the way, this money that I gained through warfare, I don’t need it anyway because who’s my provider? God is, cause after all he’s the possessor of heaven and earth. 1:05:45
You see how this man is different than he was in chapter 12? Remember in chapter 12, there was a famine so he got scared and went to Egypt? Now he’s in a position where he’s able to say no to finances that would illicitly connect him with Sodom. That’s the goal of our Christian life. Not that we’re the person we are supposed to be or should be, but thank God I’m not the man I used to be. I can now trust God through different problems. Abram is saying I couldn’t do that in chapter 12. There’s growth in his life. Abram says, I just have a couple of exceptions though.
Abram & The King of Sodom – Genesis 14:21-24
These are very unselfish exceptions, verse 24 (Gen 14:24): I will take nothing except what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their share. You can have the people even although I don’t have to give them back. You can have the spoils of war, but very unselfishly he says, You know what? My men have already eaten, they should get that and I think he’s referring to the three hundred and eighteen men that were with him and beyond that there’s Aner, Eshcol and Mamre, they should have spoils since they’ve participated in the invasion with me. Other than that, I don’t want anything, I don’t want anything for personal wealth, I don’t want anything for personal aggrandizement. You take it all, and you’re seeing a man growing by leaps and bounds. 1:07:35
You’re also seeing and we’ll end with this, the outworking of God’s promise to bless those who blessed Israel, didn’t God say that in Genesis 12:3: I will bless those who bless you… Notice these three brothers are blessed financially. Melchizedek is blessed, cause he received tithes, but what else does God say? I will… Genesis 12:3, curse those… who what? curse you. You know who got cursed here? The four kings from the east. God cursed them in kind. They thought they were cursing this part of the word by causing a military conflict and conquest, but they in the end were cursed by military conquest themselves, by a 75 year old man. Wow! What an outworking of what God said in Genesis, 12.
Abram Rescues Lot – Genesis 14:1‒24
So we’ve seen war, we’ve seen rescue, we’ve seen the interaction with two kings and I really strongly encourage to be here next week, cause we’re going to talk about the greatest chapter in the whole Bible, Genesis, 15, the foundation of the whole Bible and you know, if you’re here today and you don’t know Christ personally, this is all a bunch of Bible information that likely just went right over your head and the reason you don’t understand it, is you don’t have the Holy Spirit in you yet. So you’re showing up to do a religious routine. The truth to the matter is, unless a man is born of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God and how does a person become born of the Spirit? They trust in the provision of Jesus Christ two thousand years ago. They trust in his death, burial, resurrection and ascension for their eternity, for the safekeeping of their souls and for the sin that they have committed against a Holy God. They trust in that and in a nanosecond they receive the gift of life or eternal life. There’s not multiple conditions that have to be satisfied to receive this gift. There’s a single condition, you come under the conviction of the Spirit, you hear the Gospel and then you respond by way of volition, by trusting in what Jesus did. One step. Trusting is another word for saying believing in the Bible. It’s not enough to know about Jesus. You have to trust in what Jesus did for you and as I’m speaking, as the Spirit places people under the sound of my voice under conviction, you can become a Christian right now. Not by giving money, joining a church, walking an aisle, even praying a prayer. It’s just a matter of privacy between you and the Lord where you trust in his provision. You stop trusting in everything else for your eternity but you trust in what he has done for you. If it’s something that you need more explanation on, I’m available after the service to talk. 1:11
Shall we pray? Father we’re grateful for this ancient historical happenstance and the things that it speaks to in our lives. Help us to walk these things out this week, help us to keep you first and foremost on our thoughts in this very special time of the year where we not only gave thanks last week but looking forward to celebrating the advent of your Son into the world coming up on Christmas. We’ll be careful to give you all the praise and the glory. We ask these things in Jesus’ name and God’s people said, Amen.