Melchizedek Receiving Tithes
November 3rd, 1957 @ 8:15 AM
MELCHIZEDEK RECEIVING TITHES
Dr. W. A. Criswell
11-3-57 8:15 a.m.
You are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor, bringing the early morning hour’s message. These services are given over to a study of the New Testament in the Old, the Old Testament revealed in the New. Sometimes we call them "types," what it was that God taught His people in an ancient day, and what it meant as it came to fruition and full revelation in the new day.
We are learning many things of the immutable unchanging purposes of God. The Old is in the New contained. All of these incidents, these characters, these laws, these ceremonies, these rituals, even the colors and the substances, are adumbrations of great spiritual truths that God, in a later day, will reveal. Everything that is in the New is back here in the Old.
This morning, because of a special reason, as you will see, we are picking a character who is a type of the Son of God Himself, one of the most mysterious, and strange, of all the characters to walk across the pages of the Holy Bible. He is found in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis. If you would turn to the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, to the one hundred tenth Psalm, and to the seventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, you can follow this message this morning, all the way through.
The name of this strange and mysterious person is Melchizedek. He is introduced to us in the first Book of the Bible, the Book of Genesis and the fourteenth chapter, in three verses, the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth verses:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the Most High God.
And he blessed him, and said, 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 thine hand. And He gave him tithes of all.
That is all that is said about Melchizedek, just that, nothing before, nothing after, just that. In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, Lot lifts up his eyes and beholds all the plains of the Jordan. And Lot chose then all the plain of the Jordan, and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent towards Sodom. That is the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis.
In the fourteenth chapter, there is a confederation of kings that overwhelmed Sodom and the cities of the plains, and they take Lot captive. News is brought to Abram the Hebrew that his nephew has been taken into slavery by this confederation of kings. Abram arms his 318 servants and, by the help of God, the victory was of God, he overwhelms those armies and brings back Lot and the great substance that has been taken by the confederation. He brings it back, and in his return we come to the eighteenth verse of Genesis fourteen:
And Melchizedek king of Salem brings forth bread and wine:
the priest of the Most High God. And he blessed Abram,
and Abram laid at his feet a tenth of all that God had given him.
Now a thousand years later, the fourteenth chapter of Genesis, Melchizedek appears about the year 2,000 BC, a thousand years later, in the one hundred tenth Psalm, which was expressly a "Messianic Psalm," recognized so by all of the Jewish people, in the one hundred tenth Psalm a thousand years later, we meet that same strange, mysterious person, "And the Lord, God Jehovah, said unto my Lord, Messiah, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." Remember, Jesus asked the Jews about that. If the Lord God called David "Son," Lord, Messiah, how is He then David’s Son? If David and the Lord call Him My Lord, how could He be a Son?
Now, the fourth verse, the Lord God, Jehovah says again, about this Messiah, "The Lord, Jehovah God, hath sworn, and will not repent; Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek." And we meet it there again a thousand years later: Lord God Jehovah hath sworn, saying of His Son the Messiah, like He said up here to the Messiah, "Sit Thou at My right hand," that is where Jesus is today, "Until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool." [Psalm 110:1]
Do not ever worry who is going to win this conflict. Some of these days all of the enemies of Christ, darkness, anarchy, iniquity, Satan, death, hell, sin, night, destruction, all of these shall be placed under the feet of the Son of God. "His feet shall bruise thy head," the first promise, the protevangelium. God never changes in that Person. He says in this Messianic Psalm, to this Messianic Son, calls Him Lord, "Sit Thou at My right hand, Until I makeThine enemies Thy footstool." Then, that same Lord God addresses that Son and says, "I have sworn and will not change. Thou art a priest for ever After the order of Melchizedek", a thousand years later, there He is again.
Now, a thousand years later, we meet Him again. In the fifth chapter of the Book of Hebrews, in the sixth chapter, and in the seventh chapter, this strange person comes to view again. In the passage that we read, in the fifth chapter of Hebrews, he quotes from the Psalm, as God saith also in another place, "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedec." [Hebrews 5:6b] Then, in the tenth verse of Hebrews 5, he repeats it, "called of God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek." Now in the sixth chapter, he closes the chapter in the twentieth verse, "whither the forerunner: is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek."
Now, he had just said here, "Of whom we have many things to say," this is Hebrews 5:11, "Called of God and high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing." Now, look at these strange things he is going to say. Beginning at the seventh verse, after he speaks of our Lord Jesus who has entered into the heavenly sanctuary, "an high priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek":
For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;
To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation, King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;
Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
Now consider how great this man was, under whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils:
Verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:
But he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.
And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them of whom it is witnessed that He liveth.
And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes of Abraham. For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchizedec met him.
If therefore, perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there, that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
Now, look at the fifteenth verse:
And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchizedec there arise up another priest,
Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.
For He testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedec.
And then in the twenty-first verse, he repeats it again:
(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by Him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not change, Thou art a priest for ever, after the order of Melchizedec:)
You have an unusual thing here when you turn to this high priest of the Most High God, possessor of heaven and earth. Now we are going to take just a few minutes – and we could take a few hours if we had it – we are going to take just a few minutes and look at this strange and unusual person, Melchizedek. He is as the author of Hebrews says, He is as God said in the one hundred tenth Psalm, He is a type, a figure, of the Son of God.
Well, in three ways: first, he is a king. "And Melchizedek, King of Salem," meleki tsedeq, melekalim. The Hebrew word for king is melek; the Hebrew word for righteousness is tsedeq – so melechi tsedeq, "righteousness is my king," or, Melchizedek, "King of Righteousness." Then you have it, immediately after, melek salem, "King of Salem." And in the Book of Hebrews, he translates it for you: "first being by interpretation," Melchizedek, melechi tsedeq, "King of Righteousness. And then immediately, without a break in the Hebrew, melek salem, "King of Salem," salem, which is "King of peace." The modern word over there, shalom, same word, salem, peace. Melchizedek, "King of peace, King of righteousness."
This man who met Abraham, this man recognized – how did he know? – this man recognized the covenant relationship between Abraham and God. This man recognized, as in the twentieth verse of the fourteenth [chapter] of Genesis, that the victory Abraham had won with 318 of his men over this confederation of kings – one of those kings was Amrafel, King of Babylon; read that name in our history book by the name of Hammurabi – how this man Abraham, with 318 men, overcame a confederation of great armies and kings. This Melchizedek recognizes, he understands, that this was wrought by the hands of Almighty God and he is a representative of el elyon, "God Most High." Then he describes Him as "possessor of heaven and earth."
But what is unusual and amazing is the instinctive, intuitive recognition by Abraham of Melchizedek, by who he is, from God. Melchizedek recognizes the covenant relationship between heaven and Abraham. But immediately – there is no introduction to it; there is no following it – immediately, intuitively, Abraham recognizes Melchizedek as being a higher spiritual personality than himself. This Melchizedek blesses Abraham, not Abraham blesses Melchizedek. This person, this king, recognizes Abraham and Abraham recognizes him. And this strange person, this king, blesses Abraham and Abraham dedicates to him a tithe of all that he possesses. What an unusual figure!
He is a king, and we are never to forget that our Lord is a King and He has a kingdom. To spiritualize the Christian faith is to deny its heart and its ultimate content and certainly, to deny its certain God-chosen, elect destiny. To mention the Christian faith as being just a conglomerate of spiritual principles, to speak of the Christian faith as having just to do with the here and now is, I say, to deny the manifest destiny of our people under the guiding hands of God. This man who is presented in the Bible as a type of Christ is first of all a king and our Lord is a King and He has a kingdom, and some day He shall reign in this earth.
But, oh – we must hasten. This Melchizedek, whose name is king; king of righteousness, king of peace. First Corinthians 1:, "Christ Jesus, is made of God unto us wisdom and righteousness." The King of Righteousness: in Ephesians 2:14, "For He is our peace." But, we must go on; a king.
Another thing, this Melchizedek is a priest, and our Lord is a priest, "And Melchizedek, king of Salem", king of peace, "brought bread and wine: and he was the priest."
Whenever you see a man named Mr. Cohen – cohen, that is the Hebrew word for "priest," C-O-H-E-N, cohen. He was a priest. This is the first time the word is used in the Scripture. This is the first time any priest is mentioned. And Melchizedek, King of Salem, brought forth bread and wine, and he was the cohen, a priest of el elyon, the Most High God."
Our Lord is a priest. "And He brought forth bread and wine." Why not cucumbers and turnip greens? Why not apples and asparagus? Why not roast beef and mutton gravy? Because there is a meaning in the Word of God and that is what we are trying to learn and to see. These things that happen were great adumbrations and they had deep significance. And what we casually run over in God’s hands had eternal pertinence and meaning. This Melchizedek brought forth bread and wine and he was a priest of el elyon, the Most High God.
Bread and wine calls to mind on another time, in another place, when there stood Him who was the anti-type of Melchizedek. And He consecrated bread and wine, and they ate of that feast, that supper together, bread and wine. And he was a priest of a Most High God, and the whole long dissertation, most of which I read in the seventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, he was a type, an adumbration, a picture says this eloquent preacher of the Lord Jesus Christ, who abideth the priest forever in keeping with what God hath sworn, in the one hundred tenth Psalm and the fourth verse, "Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest forever, continually."
When you meet Melchizedek here he has no genealogy. He comes to us without father, without mother. He has no posterity. None is made; none is mentioned. He received his priesthood from no predecessor and he delivered his priesthood to no successor. He abides unique and alone and forever.
The Levitical priest receives his office by virtue of his ability to trace his genealogy to the Scriptures and back to Aaron. And he functions in the service and ministry of a priest because he belongs to the line and the family of the Levitical tribe and of Aaron, the high priest. Without that genealogy, he could not officiate as a priest. He was a priest by virtue of his ancestry. He received it from men. He inherited it from his fathers.
But the eloquent preacher in Hebrews says that this Melchizedek received his priesthood from no father, from no genealogy, from no ancestry, nor did he deliver his priesthood to any son or to any successor. But he received his priesthood by appointment from God alone and from God Himself. And the author says that is a type of the great high priesthood of Jesus Christ. He received it not by genealogy, not by ancestry, not by inheritance; nor did he resign or die from his high-priestly office and turn it into the hands of a son or a successor. But, the high priesthood of Jesus Christ is by appointment of God, "who swear and will never change: Thou art a priest forever", abiding continually, "after the order of Melchizedek."
Don’t you see that? Abiding unique and for ever and alone. What God is saying is: his ministry does not close at the cross, nor was it ended at the ascension, but it is for ever. We have a high priest who can "be touched with the feeling of our infirmities," "who is able to save to the uttermost,because He ever liveth and abideth." [Hebrews 7] Listen, if you could not preach on that, you just could not preach. Did you know that? You just could not. Isn’t too bad we do not have half a dozen hours for these things? Just to think about them, much less preach about them.
I make one sentence and I’m going on to the third one. I can see in this, and can’t you, that it was a deep and ultimate purpose of God to abolish the Levitical priesthood? It was never the plan of God that sacrifices should be offered forever in the temple, that the blood of bulls and goats should expiate sin. But it was the consistent purpose of God through all these ages that the Levitical priesthood should be abolished. And why was it instituted? It was a lesson. It was a type. it was a teaching, pointing to Him whose blood can cleanse us from our sins and that was all.
Now we haste fully go to the third. This king who is a type, the Scriptures say, of the Lord Jesus, king of our hearts and souls; this Melchizedek who is a priest of the Most High God, this Melchizedek received from Abraham tithes of all. Doesn’t that astound you? Isn’t that an amazing thing to you? What he said is that Abraham, when he met Melchizedek and was blessed by Melchizedek, what did Abraham do? The only thing that is recorded is that Abraham gave to Melchizedek, the king and priest of God, gave to him a tithe of all that he possessed.
I meet that same unusual response just a few years later in the life of the grandson of Abraham. At Bethel, Jacob saw the beautiful vision, the ladder, and the angels ascending and descending which John says in the first chapter of his Gospel, "was a type of the angels ascending and descending upon the Son of God." And what was Jacob’s response? And Jacob says, "And of all that Thou shalt give me, I would surely give the tenth unto Thee." [Genesis 28:22] Isn’t that a strange thing? That is a response, not by law or by compulsion, but it is a response of the heart to the great revelation of God.
Dear people, this isn’t the law. I am not speaking about the law. I haven’t got to it yet. The law is four hundred fifty to five hundred years later. This thing was half a millennium before the law was given. Now, it was incorporated into the law. It was made a part of the law. The Book of Leviticus closes with that,
And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed or of the fruit or of the tree, is the Lord’s: it is holy unto the Lord.
And concerning the tithe of the herd, or of the flock, or of whatsoever passes under the rod, as the shepherd holds the rod over the little gate into the fold all that passes through, the tenth shall be holy unto the Lord.
He shall not search whether it be good or bad, neither shall he change it: it belongs to God.
As it was incorporated into law, in the twenty-third chapter of the Book of Matthew, in the twenty-third verse, "Ye pay tithes," of even those little things, "of mint and anise and cummin," little things, little condiments, little seasonings:
You pay tithes even of that,
– you are so careful –
but you have omitted the weightier of matters of law and judgment, mercy and faith:
these ought you to have done and not to leave the other undone.
It is a part of the law; it was incorporated into the law and Jesus has proved it, but I am not talking about the law.
Five hundred years before the law, there before Melchizedek is Abraham bowing and dedicating to the priest of the Most High God, a tenth of all that he possesses. And that is the basis of this tremendous argument that we haven’t time to follow, in the seventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews. "Here men that die receive tithes." He is talking about the Levitical priesthood and the temple worship and the people coming by the law to dedicate a tenth to the priest in the temple. "But there he receiveth them of whom it is witnessed that he liveth." [Hebrews 7:8] It is gratefully this: when you meet the Lord face to face that will be also in your heart – not by compulsion, not by necessity – that will be in your heart. It comes from the fountains of the soul, this dedication of a tenth unto the Priest and the King of the Most High God.
"And he gave him tithes of all that he possessed." And here men that died according to the Levitical priesthood, received tithes, but that is by law, that is by commandment, and it passed away, it vanished for ever, "but there He receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that He liveth," our Savior in heaven.
May we pray? Our Lord, in the makeup of our lives – oh, that our people have that faith and commitment to believe that when we dedicate to God this proportion of our income, God will give it back to us a hundred-fold multiplied. There are things ahead that God can see and that God knows. He collects. But, oh Lord, why should a child of heaven be in the hands of a providence that tears it away, that confiscates? How much holier and sweeter and better to be like Abraham, like Jacob, like the children of God who have trusted in Thee through all of the ages, gladly, Lord, dedicating to Thee a tenth of all, and then trust God who can see the future to ward off the evil day, to see us through the hour of darkness, to strengthen us in that time of need, and to give us all for which our bodies and souls and human lives shall require.
"I have been young, and now I am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread." [Psalm 37:25]
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse,and prove Me, saith the Lord,
if I will not open of the windows of heaven, And pour you out a blessing,
there shall not be room enough to receive it.
As we give to God, He gives back to us. O Lord, grant to our people a like faith and a like consecration in our Savior’s name, amen.
Now, just for a moment, we are going to sing a song, just for a moment. And as we sing that song, one stanza, into the aisle and down to the front, to give your life and trust in the Lord or to put your life by letter or baptism into the fellowship of the church, while we sing this stanza, would you come and stand by me, while all of us stand together?