Genesis 14:20-24 Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything

Excerpt from interview with boxer:

Then Abram gave him (Melchizedek) a tenth of everything.

The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.”

But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you, not even a thread or the strap of a sandal, so that you will never be able to say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ I will accept nothing but what my men have eaten and the share that belongs to the men who went with me—to Aner, Eshkol and Mamre. Let them have their share.”

Genesis 20-24

Fight Night in Chicago–Bennett vs. Bursey

It’s Tuesday evening, February 10, 1959. Don Bennett, a young light heavyweight is sick with strep throat and only weighs 167 lbs. At 6’2″ he looks even skinnier than when he’s at his usual 175. He hopes he’s recovered enough to pass the physical so he’s allowed to fight in tonight’s Golden Gloves tournament, in Chicago. He runs from the bus stop near the arena to check in. As he approaches the doctor for his pre-fight physical, he’s overwhelmed by the aroma of alcohol on the good doctor’s breath.

“Your temperature is above 99. Sorry, but you can’t fight,” the doc mumbles.

“I just ran from the bus! That’s why I’m so sweaty and warm,” Bennett says.

After some more begging he’s finally allowed to register. He enters into the selection room where the night’s pairings will be decided. His eye is drawn to a 5’8″ boxer who’s the most muscular man in the room.

“Man, I hope I don’t draw him,” Bennett thinks to himself.”

The draw is decided and Bennett discovers he’s drawn that muscular fighter, the very one he wanted to avoid. Timothy Bursey is his name. A fighter with a reputation for toughness and great punching ability. A fighter with considerably more experience and success than the young skinny guy with strep throat.

But in the ring Don Bennett finds hope. He’s left handed and this confuses Bursey. Bursey’s been trained to circle away from his opponents power but against a lefty he needs to move the other way, and Bursey is clearly uncomfortable with it. When Bursey does circle in the right direction Bennett pops him with a couple of jabs, just as his trainer Tony Zale taught him to. This causes Bursey to fall back into his old habit of circling as though he’s fighting a right hander.

Bennett catches Bursey with a good punch and Bursey drops his hands as though he’s hurt. Bennett then swings with a right but he only grazes Bursey who then comes with everything he has, with a right hand that catches Bennett in the temple. Bennett’s knocked five feet to the side where he bounces off the ropes. But, surprisingly, as he’s coming off the ropes Bennett quickly throws a couple of jabs.

Bursey’s eyes grow wide. He can’t believe this skinny kid didn’t go down. Bennett looks unhurt, unfazed.

In the next round Bennett feints with his left and Bursey covers up with both gloves, peek-a-boo style. Bennett then steps to the side and hits Bursey with a solid left hook to the jaw, just in front of Bursey’s right ear.

All of Bursey’s muscles go slack. He goes down. He’s limp and flat on his back.

“1, 2, 3…” the referee counts.

Then, incredibly, when the ref is at the count of 5, Bursey gets up. Now it’s Don Bennett’s turn to be surprised.

But something’s wrong. Bursey’s not all there. And the referee seems not to notice Bursey’s lack of alertness.

“Fight,” the referee says.

“Why isn’t the ref stopping the fight?” Bennett wonders. He gestures with his hands to indicate Bursey’s not capable of defending himself.

“Fight!” the referee barks.

Bennett gestures again.

“Fight or I’ll disqualify you!”

“Don’t want that,” Bennett thinks to himself. “And I don’t want Bursey to come back from this round and catch me with another great punch like he did in the first.”

So he kept boxing. Later, after the fight, in the locker room, someone who saw it from ringside told Bennett, he hit Bursey with eight straight lefts before the referee stopped the fight. As he was pulled back Bursey fell to the canvas unconscious.

The crowd went wild.

After things calmed down some, Bennett searched the arena for Bursey. He found him still unconscious in the hospital tent. He felt horrible. He was afraid. Bursey’s parents and brother were there. Bennett thought they might be upset with him but instead they shared words of comfort.

“You know, that’s boxing,” they said.

“The ref should have stopped the fight,” they reasoned.

Minutes went by and Timothy Bursey still lay unconscious.

One half hour went by and Bursey was still unconscious.

Finally, after 48 minutes, his eyes fluttered open. Bennett says he was near tears and had never felt so much relief.

He Made Me An Offer I Could Refuse

On the way out of the hospital tent Don Bennett was approached by an older man in a suit.

“Nice fight tonight.”

“Thanks.”

“You know we need white fighters who can take a punch.”

The wheels started turning. This man was a powerful person in the boxing business. He was one of the premiere boxing promoters in the country at the time. Don Bennett was 20 years old with a one year old son and another on the way.

“I could sure use the money.” He didn’t say it out loud, but he sure was thinking it.

“Don,” the promoter called him by name. “We take care of the fights, do you know what I mean?”

“Yeah, I know what you mean.”

He thought about just exactly what that would mean. He understood that they’d fix his fights, to provide him with success for their own financial gain. He also realized, at any time, they could ask him to throw a fight. If he didn’t fall in line there’d be consequences. With a young family to think of…

“No thanks,” Bennett said.

Abram’s Offer And His Offering

“Give me the people and keep the goods for yourself.” the king of Sodom said to Abram in verse 21.

But Abram refused. “With raised hand I have sworn an oath to the LORD, God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, that I will accept nothing belonging to you…” (verse 22-23)

Abram gave one tenth of everything to Melchizedek. (verse 20) But refused to accept anything from the king of Sodom.

Wise is the man who avoids financial entanglement with the world.

And wise is the man who invests in God’s kingdom.

The world system is founded on owing something to somebody. For the twenty year old boxer, yes he’d receive riches from the promoter, but there would be strings attached.

The king of Sodom offered Abram riches from the spoil of battle. And yes, Abram would receive riches, but with strings attached.

Whenever you accept an offer from the world system, there are strings attached, whether it be from someone with political influence like the king of Sodom, or a corrupt fight promoter, or a credit card company. There are always strings attached, and before you know it, those strings can become a tangled mess.

So refuse to invest in the world.

As Abram did when he tithed to Melchizedek, the prophet, priest, and king, invest in heaven.

You’ll never regret it.

As Jesus said,

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

References:

Chicago Mail Tribune, Sports Section, February 10, 1959

The Chicago Golden Gloves account is a true story as told by Don Bennett to Kurt Bennett June 11, 2011. For the full 5 minute interview see below:

Genesis 14:17-20 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram

Isaiah-David-Melchizedek-by-Ted-CC

After Abram returned from defeating Kedorlaomer and the kings allied with him, the king of Sodom came out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying,

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
Creator of heaven and earth.
And praise be to God Most High,
who delivered your enemies into your hand.”

Genesis 14:17-20

So here’s the scene: After Abram’s stunning and miraculous victory over the armies of four kings. After successfully rescuing his nephew Lot from these four armies, he’s met in the Valley of Shaveh by the king of Sodom and also Melchizedek the king of Salem.

Melchizedek — the king and priest of God Most Most High verse 18 tells us. But that statement creates a problem. Because Melchizedek holds the offices of both king and priest of God Most High, simultaneously? How can that be? Only one person in the Bible holds both of those offices — Jesus.

Some scholars say that Melchizedek was a mere mortal, a man who was an actual king of a literal city named Salem. Other scholars believe that Melchizedek was something more. They believe he was a preincarnate appearance of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Either way, God paints a beautiful Old Testament picture of our New Covenant Lord Jesus Christ in the following ways:

  • In all of scripture, only Melchizedek and Jesus held both the office of priest and king. (Genesis 14:18, Hebrews 6:19, John 1:49)
  • Melchizedek and Jesus are both described as having no earthly father. (Hebrews 7:3, Matthew 1:18)
  • Melchizedek and Jesus both have no beginning of days or end of life. (Hebrews 7:3)
  • To finish the picture, Melchizedek brings bread and wine out to Abram even as Jesus brought bread and wine out to his disciples at the first communion. (Genesis 14:18, Luke 22:19-20)

Adding to the mystery of Melchizedek is that after Genesis 14 we don’t see him mentioned again until Psalm 110:4. In Psalm 110:4 the author David, seemingly out of nowhere writes,

The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”

It’s amazing the way the whole Bible fits together to tell the story of salvation through Jesus Christ. This statement four verses into Psalm 110 is completely cryptic as is Melchizedek himself until the book of Hebrews.

In the book of Hebrews, chapter 7, we learn that the Person referred to in Psalm 110 as a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek is Jesus Christ. It’s here in Hebrews that we’re reminded that the lesser is always blessed by the greater. Levi, the father of the Levitical priesthood and Abram’s great-grandson, is yet within Abram’s loins at the time of Melchizedek’s blessing. So Levi is in effect being blessed by Melchizedek. And as we’ll see later, through Abram, Levi pays tithe to Melchizedek as well, which also speaks of Melchizedek’s position above Levi. (Hebrews Chapter 7)

So Hebrews chapter 7 establishes the superiority of the order of Melchizedek over the order of Levi. That is, the order of Melchizedek which speaks of our new covenant priest Jesus Christ is completely superior to the priesthood given by the law, the Levitical priesthood. For without a doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater.  The Levitical priesthood, while still inside Abram’s body, was blessed by Melchizedek. (Hebrews Chapter 7:7)

I searched high and low while researching this section of scripture and by far the best material I could find on Genesis 14:17-20 came from Hebrews chapter 7.

In Hebrews 7 God tells us of Melchizedek:

This Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of God Most High. He met Abraham returning from the defeat of the kings and blessed him, and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything. First, the name Melchizedek means “king of righteousness”; then also, “king of Salem” means “king of peace.” Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, resembling the Son of God, he remains a priest forever.

Just think how great he was: Even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their fellow Israelites—even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. In the one case, the tenth is collected by people who die; but in the other case, by him who is declared to be living. One might even say that Levi, who collects the tenth, paid the tenth through Abraham, because when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor.

If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that priesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. He of whom these things are said belonged to a different tribe, and no one from that tribe has ever served at the altar. For it is clear that our Lord descended from Judah, and in regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests. And what we have said is even more clear if another priest like Melchizedek appears, one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life. For it is declared:

   “You are a priest forever, 
   in the order of Melchizedek.”

The former regulation is set aside because it was weak and useless (for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.

And it was not without an oath! Others became priests without any oath, 21 but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:

   “The Lord has sworn 
   and will not change his mind: 
   ‘You are a priest forever.’”

Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.

Hebrews Chapter 7

As the author of Hebrews wrote, the law made nothing perfect, and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God. (Hebrews 7:19)

That better hope is our Lord.

Glory to Jesus Christ in the highest.

Notes:

Blue Letter Bible

Bible Gateway

Chuck Smith

Jon Courson

Image of Isaiah, David, and Melchizedek via Ted – Creative Commons