Tag Archives: Options

Prepaid Debt

Hebrews 7: 9 In addition, we might even say that these Levites—the ones who collect the tithe—paid a tithe to Melchizedek when their ancestor Abraham paid a tithe to him. 10 For although Levi wasn’t born yet, the seed from which he came was in Abraham’s body when Melchizedek collected the tithe from him. [NLT]

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I accept God is using the faithful recording of the writer of Hebrews to reveal truth.  Truthfully I don’t understand much of the chapter BUT verses 9 and 10 jumped out at me. I certainly can’t explain Melchizedek or what prompted Abraham to give him a tithe but those two verses did make me think about that tithe.  Abraham’s tithe was like a prepaid debt to satisfy the wrath of sin and the law long before the law was even given to Moses.  Long before Jesus.

What if that tithe set in motion God’s plan to protect His promise to Abraham and his descendants even before those descendants became a reality?  What if that tithe was God’s symbolic way of ensuring his own interest in the salvation of His creation?  The word sacrifice is familiar when thinking about Jesus but it was a new and meaningful thing for me to consider Abraham’s tithe as the prepaid debt that gave all of us descendants the option of Jesus, God’s promised “perfect” and final “tithe.”

John Piper in Desiring God wrote “…then what is the implication about what we need saving from?…the wrath of God that burns against all ungodliness and unrighteousness.” (Romans 1:18).  

Assurance –

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

That phrase “continue to work our your salvation with fear and trembling” always catches me when I read it because of that other phrase “as you have always obeyed.”  Long before we even had a conscious awareness of our salvation we were learning there were times we could be disobedient and get away with it. Paul is challenging us to consider situational ethics and our faith. God has swept away old boundaries and brought new freedom to our lives. We have our doctrines, we have our statements of belief, we have God’s truth…but we still have our options.

I try not to be a “canned” Christian but it’s so easy to spout the truth you know as if you’ve really figured out how to live it. That’s the challenge of situational ethics. This last year our Pastor quoted someone-or-other with this [paraphrased] statement: “We judge others by their behavior and ourselves by our intent.”  Our freedom in Christ has faced us with options and our situational ethics. That’s why we need to “continue to work out [our accomplished] salvation with fear and trembling.” You don’t think God misses those times when you still get away with misusing your freedom do you? Not a chance! That’s the “fear and trembling” part but we have these words of assurance from Paul.  In the midst of working through matching up our situational ethics with our freedom we don’t have to rely on our doctrines or our statements of belief or our own will. This is God’s truth…”it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.”  You can’t do it alone.