Bible Study Guides – Tithing, Part II

August 27, 2006 – September 2, 2006

Key Text

“Blessed [be] Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: And blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all.” Genesis 14:19, 20.

Study Help: Patriarchs and Prophets, 134–136; 157.


“Our brethren . . . have not hitherto fully accepted the tithing system and some have opposed this feature in our work as not required of them. But when it was shown to be the Bible plan, ordained of God from the first, that He had a church as far back as the days of Noah and Abraham, and that it was a duty enjoined upon believers in all ages of the world as God’s means to carry forward His work upon the earth, and to impress man that God was the giver of all his blessings and required them to return to Him in tithes and offerings a portion of His bestowed gifts, they saw this in a new light, and there was a unity in voting for the resolution not to be negligent in this, God’s requirement. No man, it was stated, obliged another to pay tithes. God did not make it a matter of compulsion any more than He compelled men to keep the Sabbath. It was God’s Sabbath, His holy time, and to be sacredly regarded by man. But man must obey from a willing heart, both to observe His Sabbath and not to rob God in employing sacred time for his own use or to employ the portion in tithes and offerings which the Lord has claimed to be rendered to Him.” Manuscript Releases, vol. 2, 133, 134.

1 Under what circumstances was the first tithe paid, as recorded in the Scriptures? Genesis 14:16–20.

note: “Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, had invaded Canaan fourteen years before, and made it tributary to him. Several of the princes now revolted, and the Elamite king, with four allies, again marched into the country to reduce them to submission. Five kings of Canaan joined their forces and met the invaders in the vale of Siddim, but only to be completely overthrown. A large part of the army was cut to pieces, and those who escaped fled for safety to the mountains. The victors plundered the cities of the plain and departed with rich spoil and many captives, among whom were Lot and his family.

“Abraham, dwelling in peace in the oak groves at Mamre, learned from one of the fugitives the story of the battle and the calamity that had befallen his nephew. . . . From his own encampment he summoned three hundred and eighteen trained servants, men trained in the fear of God, in the service of their master, and in the practice of arms. His confederates, Mamre, Eschol, and Aner, joined him with their bands, and together they started in pursuit of the invaders. The Elamites and their allies had encamped at Dan, on the northern border of Canaan. Flushed with victory, and having no fear of an assault from their vanquished foes, they had given themselves up to reveling. The patriarch divided his force so as to approach from different directions, and came upon the encampment by night. His attack, so vigorous and unexpected, resulted in speedy victory. . . . Lot and his family, with all the prisoners and their goods, were recovered, and a rich booty fell into the hands of the victors. . . . On his return, the king of Sodom came out with his retinue to honor the conqueror. He bade him take the goods, begging only that the prisoners should be restored. By the usage of war, the spoils belonged to the conquerors; but Abraham had undertaken this expedition with no purpose of gain, and he refused to take advantage of the unfortunate, only stipulating that his confederates should receive the portion to which they were entitled. . . .

“Another who came out to welcome the victorious patriarch was Melchizedek, king of Salem, who brought forth bread and wine for the refreshment of his army. As ‘priest of the most high God,’ he pronounced a blessing upon Abraham, and gave thanks to the Lord, who had wrought so great a deliverance by His servant. And Abraham ‘gave him tithes of all.’ [Genesis 14:18, 20.]” Patriarchs and Prophets, 134–136.

2 What was the office of Melchizedek? Genesis 14:18; Hebrews 7:1.

note: “Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priest of the most high God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 525.

3 What was said of Melchizedek’s genealogy and greatness? Whom did he represent? Hebrews 7:1–4.

note: “At one time Melchisedek represented the Lord Jesus Christ in person, to reveal the truth of heaven, and perpetuate the law of God (Letter 190, 1905).” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1093.

“It was Christ that spoke through Melchisedek, the priest of the most high God. Melchisedek was not Christ, but he was the voice of God in the world, the representative of the Father. And all through the generations of the past, Christ has spoken; Christ has led His people, and has been the light of the world.” Review and Herald, February 18, 1890.

4 Who received tithes of Abraham? Hebrews 7:6. How much did Abraham give in tithe? Genesis 14:20, last phrase; Hebrews 7:4.

note: “God has a claim on us and all that we have. His claim is paramount to every other. And in acknowledgment of this claim, he bids us render to him a fixed proportion of all that he gives us. The tithe is this specified portion. By the Lord’s direction it was consecrated to him in the earliest times. The Scriptures mention tithing in connection with the history of Abraham. The father of the faithful paid tithes to Melchisedec, ‘priest of the Most High God.’ [Genesis 14:18.]” Review and Herald, December 8, 1896.

5 Who was the greater, Abraham or Melchizedek? Hebrews 7:7.

note: “Many persons will meet all inferior demands and dues, and leave to God only the last gleanings, if there be any. If not, his cause must wait till a more convenient season. Such was not the course pursued by Abraham. Upon his return from a successful military expedition, he was met by Melchizedek, ‘king of Salem, and priest of the most high God.’ [Genesis 14:18.] This holy man blessed Abraham, in the name of the Lord, and the patriarch gave him tithes of all the spoils as a tribute of gratitude to the Ruler of nations.” Review and Herald, May 16, 1882. [Emphasis supplied.]

6 What proposition did the king of Sodom make? Genesis 14:21. What response did Abraham give? Verses 22, 23.

note: “Few, if subjected to such a test, would have shown themselves as noble as did Abraham. Few would have resisted the temptation to secure so rich a booty. His example is a rebuke to self-seeking, mercenary spirits. Abraham regarded the claims of justice and humanity. His conduct illustrates the inspired maxim, ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Leviticus 19:18. ‘I have lifted up my hand,’ he said, ‘unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoe latchet, and that I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich.’ [Genesis 14:22, 23.] He would give them no occasion to think that he had engaged in warfare for the sake of gain, or to attribute his prosperity to their gifts or favor. God had promised to bless Abraham, and to Him the glory should be ascribed.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 135.

7 For whom did Abraham make an exception? Was the tithe before or after the young men had eaten? Genesis 14:24.

note: “Not only does the Lord claim the tithe as His own, but He tells us how it should be reserved for Him. He says, ‘Honor the Lord with thy substance, and with the first fruits of all thine increase.’ [Proverbs 3:9.] This does not teach that we are to spend our means on ourselves, and bring to the Lord the remnant, even though it should be otherwise an honest tithe. Let God’s portion be first set apart.” Review and Herald, February 4, 1902.

8 By giving a tithe of all, whom did Abraham acknowledge as the only rightful owner of the tithe? Genesis 14:19; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalm 24:1.

note: “The earth is the Lord’s, and all the treasures it contains. The cattle upon a thousand hills are His. All the gold and silver belongs to Him. He has entrusted His treasures to stewards, that with them they may advance His cause and glorify His name. He did not entrust these treasures to men that they might use them to exalt and glorify themselves, and have power to oppress those who were poor in this world’s treasure. God does not receive the offerings of any because He needs them and cannot have glory and riches without them, but because it is for the interest of His servants to render to God the things which are His. The freewill offerings of the humble, contrite heart He will receive, and will reward the giver with the richest blessings. He receives them as the sacrifice of grateful obedience. He requires and accepts our gold and silver as an evidence that all we have and are belongs to Him. He claims and accepts the improvement of our time and of our talents as the fruit of His love existing in our hearts. To obey is better than sacrifice. Without pure love the most expensive offering is too poor for God to accept.” Testimonies, vol. 2, 652, 653.

9 What solemn vow did Jacob make 150 years after Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek? Genesis 28:20–22.

note: “Jacob also recognized the obligation of tithing. When, fleeing from his brother’s wrath, he saw in his dream the ladder connecting heaven and earth, the gratitude of his heart found expression in the vow to God [Genesis 28:20–22 quoted.]” Review and Herald, December 8, 1896.

“Jacob was not here seeking to make terms with God. The Lord had already promised him prosperity, and this vow was the outflow of a heart filled with gratitude for the assurance of God’s love and mercy. Jacob felt that God had claims upon him which he must acknowledge, and that the special tokens of divine favor granted him demanded a return. So does every blessing bestowed upon us call for a response to the Author of all our mercies. The Christian should often review his past life and recall with gratitude the precious deliverances that God has wrought for him, supporting him in trial, opening ways before him when all seemed dark and forbidding, refreshing him when ready to faint. He should recognize all of them as evidences of the watchcare of heavenly angels. In view of these innumerable blessings he should often ask, with subdued and grateful heart, ‘What shall I render unto the Lord for all His benefits toward me?’ Psalm 116:12.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 187.

10 How can we account for the fact that Jacob knew God’s claim to the tenth? Genesis 18:19.

note: “Abraham’s household comprised more than a thousand souls. Those who were led by his teachings to worship the one God, found a home in his encampment; and here, as in a school, they received such instruction as would prepare them to be representatives of the true faith. Thus a great responsibility rested upon him. He was training heads of families, and his methods of government would be carried out in the households over which they should preside.

“In early times the father was the ruler and priest of his own family, and he exercised authority over his children, even after they had families of their own. His descendants were taught to look up to him as their head, in both religious and secular matters. This patriarchal system of government Abraham endeavored to perpetuate, as it tended to preserve the knowledge of God.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 141.

11 What tithing instruction was given to the children of Israel after they left Egypt? Nehemiah 10:38, 39.

note: “When God delivered Israel from Egypt to be a special treasure unto himself, he taught them to devote a tithe of their possessions to the service of the tabernacle. This was a special offering, for a special work. All that remained of their property was God’s, and was to be used to his glory. But the tithe was set apart for the support of those who ministered in the sanctuary. It was to be given from the first-fruits of all the increase, and, with gifts and offerings, it provided ample means for supporting the ministry of the gospel for that time.” Review and Herald, December 8, 1896.