Epistle to the Hebrews (7:1-10)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

This Melchizedek was king of the city of Salem and also a priest of God Most High. When Abraham was returning home after winning a great battle against the kings, Melchizedek met him and blessed him. Then Abraham took a tenth of all he had captured in battle and gave it to Melchizedek. The name Melchizedek means “king of justice,” and king of Salem means “king of peace.” There is no record of his father or mother or any of his ancestors—no beginning or end to his life. He remains a priest forever, resembling the Son of God.Consider then how great this Melchizedek was. Even Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, recognized this by giving him a tenth of what he had taken in battle.Now the law of Moses required that the priests, who are descendants of Levi, must collect a tithe from the rest of the people of Israel,who are also descendants of Abraham…” Hebrews 7:1-5

In chapter one, the author presented us Jesus as the Son of God. We have now reached another part of the epistle where the author would like again to emphasise the superiority of Jesus as being the High Priest. In chapter 5 he introduced Jesus as being a High Priest similar to Melchizedek. Now he consecrates a whole chapter to discuss about Jesus being the High Priest for eternity. Chapter 7 established, the author continues with massive arguments drawn from the book of the laws (e.g. Leviticus). From chapter 8 to 10 he discusses about the changes brought to the new covenant. The author therefore takes 4 long chapters to discuss about the superiority of the new covenant over the levitical system. If you’re bored when you read the book of leviticus, then you’re not entirely wrong to think so. It was actually boring to do over and over again the same sacrifices and rituals. These sacrifices could not clean the conscience anyway and they could only cover the sins and not remove them. There’re so many laws and rules in the book of Deuteronomy, Leviticus, Exodus and Numbers. In the New testament there’s no even a single law or rule to follow except to love God and people(which is not boring at all!). Jesus came to accomplish the law (Mat 5:17).

Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” Mat 22:37

No more sabbath day, no more circumcision, no more tithe and no more sacrifices.

As Paul said, let him who gives give with joy.

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 2 Cor 9:6

After Jesus’ death, you’ll not see a single place where God asks Christians to give one tenth of his/her revenues. No, what we read is that we can give what our heart tells us to give. We give out of love, with joy and without pressure.

Giving one tenth is an old testament concept where the people gave one tenth of what they had. It could be grains, fruits, herd or flocks (Leviticus 27:30) to Him. To be more precise, it was not given to God for Him to eat(as if He needed something) but given to feed the reserved people of the tribe of Levi who ministered for the nation. The Levites did not have any inheritance. God was their inheritance.

Remember that the Levitical priests—that is, the whole of the tribe of Levi—will receive no allotment of land among the other tribes in Israel. Instead, the priests and Levites will eat from the special gifts given to the Lord, for that is their share. They will have no land of their own among the Israelites. The Lord himself is their special possession, just as he promised them.” Deuteronomy 18

The Levites were therefore dependent on the offerings the people brought to survive. If they had to work the lands to produce their own crops, how could they be entirely consecrated to the Lord? Since the Levites did not have any possession, God gave a law to protect the Levites. The Levites’ family shall have no inheritance, and yet they shall live very comfortably and plentifully. Birds don’t sow but are fed by the Master, so it is with those in the Ministry. God will make provision. This law tithing is about giving a tenth of one’s production. It is not necessarily money.

By the way, I do not understand why some churches teach about tithing. It’s an old testament concept. The church of Philippi gave a lot of offerings which even exceeded what tithing required to support Paul in his ministry(Philippians 4:10-19). In the book of Acts, some even sold their lands. I believe in voluntary offerings and not tithing. Anyway, this was a just a parenthesis that I’m closing now.

We also have another tithe given by the Levites. It’s called the tithe of the tithe.

Give these instructions to the Levites: When you receive from the people of Israel the tithes I have assigned as your allotment, give a tenth of the tithes you receive—a tithe of the tithe—to the Lord as a sacred offering. The Lord will consider this offering to be your harvest offering, as though it were the first grain from your own threshing floor or wine from your own winepress.” Numbers 18:26

The people of Israel gave one tenth of the best they had to the Levites. The Levites also should have something personal to offer to God. They were not exempted and these ministers also had to support others. So they now gave the best of the tithe they received to Aaron the high priest and his descendants. Aaron (and his descendants) therefore received the best of the best production of Israel. He was the high priest after all and the best given by the consecrated levites was given to him. Freely they received from the labours of others, freely they gave. But should not the one higher in the hierarchy, Aaron, also have something to present? But how could he if there were no minister above him to do the offerings? The well respected father of the nation, Abraham, paid it in advance. Aaron like his brother Moses were of the tribe of Levi and therefore descendants of Abraham. Abraham gave a tithe of the best he had after his victory to someone greater than him, Melchizedek.

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. 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.” Hebrews 7:9

The well respected Abraham after his great victory was now the one who received blessings from someone greater than him, Melchizedek. Was not Abraham the leader of the land and the one who received God’s blessing? Yes, but even the man Abraham should have something to offer and he did. He gave it to an unknown high priest, Melchizedek, even though there were no Mosaic laws yet which required tithing. Since we have no record of Melchizedek’s ancestors and his burial place, we have an image of a high priest who does not have a beginning and end. Jesus is a high priest in Melchizedek’s likeness with no beginning and end. Abraham just won battles against great kings but before the king of peace and justice he had to humble himself.  Melchizedek was the king of holy city of Jerusalem and also priest of the God Most High. These 2 offices he hold made him unique. Moses was the Israelites’  leader who received the laws from God on mount Sinai. On the other hand, Aaron was the high priest and therefore Israel’s religious leader. Melchizedek hold both offices. We do not have more information about this mysterious figure but know well someone who has the same profile.

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Posted September 15, 2012 by Cedric in Theology

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