Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Does Hebrews 7 Teach Us to Tithe?

This post was amended 7 September 2012 * will indicate amended areas.

Hebrews 7:12, "For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law."

*Note: When the Author renders the word 'Church' as shown here, he is referring to our modern day, Corporate Entity, Business Driven, Main Stream, Institutional 'Church' System we are all familiar with. When he renders the word church in all lower case letters he is referring to Christ's Authentic, Legitimate Home based assembly, which He continues to build.

My old pastor, a nice old gent, told us at the closing of a Wednesday night service that he couldn't understand why people say tithing isn't taught in the N.T. I for one didn't realize it was! So, I asked where could I find this teaching and he pointed me to Hebrews chapter seven. I read the first ten verses and said to myself, "Well what do you know? Tithing IS in there! I never really noticed it before!" I wanted a quick-fix. I wanted something from a source of authority to reaffirm that tithing was what God wanted me to do. But like most things, all I really wanted was to get my information as fast as I could. I didn't want to waste time studying it out. I didn't want to bother with the details. Those could really confuse me. So, I relied on another's opinion. Hey, he had a doctorate behind his name. I could trust him, couldn't I? So, for about a year I continued to 'pay' my ten percent. I was trying to live up to my "obligation."

The Problem is, I forgot one of the most important rules when it comes to studying the Bible. I forgot to actually 'Study!' Not only that, even though I read the whole chapter, I never bothered to define the words I was reading. That was too much trouble. I didn't have a Th.D. I wasn't qualified to discern what the rest of the chapter was talking about. After verse 10, what was written down didn't make much sense to me. The chapter spoke about priests, and some guy named Melchisedec being a priest/king. It was a mystery to me. Then after seeing so many inconsistencies over time in the 'Institute' (a.k.a. the 'Church'), I realized that perhaps I should stop relying on what others said about a doctrine and be more like the Bereans and seriously check things out for myself.

Hebrews 7:1-4 goes into detail about 'Mel's association with Abraham. It says that the one-time tithe paid to 'Mel' was from the spoils (vs 4) from the infamous 'Slaughter of the kings,' and that 400 or so years later the Levites were selected to be caretakers of the Tabernacle and receive tithes from the people, who in turn gave tithes of what they received to the sons of Aaron (the priests). Abram never tithed off of his own possessions. He gave a tenth of the spoils from that one incident to Mel, the priest/king from Salem, who met Abram on his way home. Abram's possessions were located in the other direction. Actually, he gave the whole amount of the spoils away. Ten percent went to Mel and the other ninety percent went to the king of Sodom. The only thing that was kept of Abram, was the food his men servants ate on their way home.

*Chapter 6 of Hebrews ended telling us that Jesus was made an High Priest AFTER the ORDER OF 'Mel.' Chapter 7 begins by taking us back to the earthly 'Mel,' who received tithes from Abram. It soon occurred to me that there wasn't just one Mel (Jesus) like I had been taught, but the focus of the chapter was about TWO DIFFERENT priesthoods! I was taught that there was only one Mel, a pre-incarnate Christ as the priest/king of Salem. An example of the appearance in the Bible of a pre-incarnate Christ would show up in the account of the three Hebrew children who were thrown into the fiery furnace in the book of Daniel. The fourth person inside the furnace was said to be like unto the Son of God. Where I got turned around was by not regarding the priesthood itself, but the priest as a person and the mysticism that was attached through years of tradition. In other words, my focus was off. Instead of focusing on the Order, I was focusing on the over-spiritualsation of a person that was fed to me from the pulpit. 

*"Melchizedek" wasn't the priest/king of Salem's name. Melchizedek was the name used for his office, or title. The same can be said for the Pharaohs of Egypt. Ramses was Pharaoh and so was Setti before him. Here in America we refer to the President of the U.S. as 'Mr. President.' The 'Mel' spoken of in Genesis was a man. He was a priest/king of Salem, which was the ancient name of Jerusalem. He wasn't a pre-incarnate Christ, but a type of Christ. He possessed the character needed to assume the Order of this particular priesthood. Actually, he was appointed by God Himself to assume this Order. That is why there was no bloodline needed. Also, when we examine verses 1-3 closely, what is referred to as not having mother or father,... isn't the actual person, but the Order of that priesthood. The actual "Order" of something has no genetic code and therefore has no bloodline or parents. The Bible is talking about a 'thing' here, not a person.

*Here is how it breaks down when we dissect and define these verses grammatically: Hebrews 7:1-4, "For this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; 2 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 (this portion is speaking of the person; more specifically the title that person held. It's like me referring to Pharaoh's title but at the same time we acknowledge the embodiment of that title); (The next verse is where the focus switches to the order of Mel and not who held it).3 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. 4 Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils." Verse 4 speaks of the man who held this office as the only one who held it at the time. I believe his name wasn't mentioned here because God wanted us to focus on the Order and not the individual.

*In verse one, Mel is introduced into the N.T. He is referred to as a king and priest of the most high God. It says he met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings. It says that 'Mel' blessed Abraham. Verse 2 begins by saying that Abe gave 'Mel' a tenth of the spoils. Now here is where most of us 'read over' or 'through' what is written after the semi colon. We see the next statement as a continuation of the person 'Mel,' when the text clearly is now speaking about the TITLE given TO the Order. After the semi colon the text is interpreting what the NAME "Melchisedec" means. When we come to the end of verse 2 we see the phrase, "King of peace[;]." That semi colon means there is a continuation of the same thought; that being the actual ORDER and NOT the person who holds that Order. 

*Verse 3 goes on and says, "Without father, without mother, without decent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made LIKE unto the Son of God:" The Order of this priesthood is what is being referred to. [It] has no bloodline, so [It] has no father or mother. [It], this Order, has no decent because [It] has no descendants. This Order was an appointment instead of having to be born into it as the Aaronic priesthood was. [It] (the Order of Melchisedec) had no beginning of days because of the time of the appointment, which was more than likely just after the Great Flood. [It] doesn't have an "end of days" because another Priest would assume this Order and He lives forevermore. Verse 3 ends with the remark, "but MADE LIKE unto the Son of God;" Jesus wasn't MADE LIKE unto anything. He's The Maker! But, the 'Order' was. Remember, the focus of this Order forms from the second part of verse 2, so it's not talking about a person in verse 2, but an Order ~ Not who held that Order, but the Order itself. Verse 3 begins with describing this Order and how it wasn't from any bloodline. The end of verse 3 tells us that the one who would hold this position had to have the same character AS the Son of God.

*Verse 4 talks about how great this man was. What man? The MAN who held the title of 'Melchizedek.' First off, he WAS a MAN. To be blunt, he was a man who died off, but the Order did not. Second, he was greater than even Abraham. Third, this man saw and experienced first hand the destructive power of God Almighty (the Great Flood of Noah). He was persuaded to do God's will the rest of his life. He had the character and mettle to hold this office, for God knew his heart. God had appointed him to the Order of Melchizedek, for he was the logical choice. Now, who could've filled that roll and still be consistent with Scripture? 

This is a consideration that most overlook because it is a little time consuming to do the math. I am no mathematician, but I do know that if we overlap the life spans from those who survived the Great Flood to past Abraham's life span, we'll see that Shem, the son of Noah, out lived Abraham by thirty five years. And this was during Abraham's lifetime! Abraham might have held the Promises of God, but Shem was a greater man than Abraham. Why? Because everyone knew who he was! Not everyone during Abraham's lifetime knew who 'Abram' was. Abram had not yet established himself as a world wide figure when this 'Mel' met him. Shem however was well known because he helped populate the Earth. Everyone in Asia Minor and Asia was his descendant. He had a father and mother. He had many sons and daughters, which means he had a lineage. His children and descendants were able to 'tell the true tale' of the Great Flood. 

But what is most interesting is that the description of the Order of Mel talks about the Order in an abstract sense because he (the Order of Mel) had no father, mother or descendants. When we consider all things, Shem had a mom and dad. He had a bloodline. He had descendants! Verse 3 says Mel (or when we read it correctly) had no father, mother nor a bloodline. Even Jesus had a bloodline. Remember, we are talking about the Order here, not who held that position as an individual. Born again believers are born of Jesus' blood and have inherited that bloodline. The Order is an appointment which every believer holds as a priest and king. We'l see this later as we move further into the chapter. Again, Jesus had (has) a Father. He had a mother and born again believers are His lineage. But, the same thing cannot be said of a 'thing', i.e., an Order, Office or position.

*One more point regarding Shem. A friend pointed out that God blessed Noah. It was customary for a father to bless his firstborn son. We can see that Shem was Noah's firstborn son from reading Genesis 10:1. In the previous chapter, God blessed Noah and his seed. We know that 'Mel' blessed Abram (Genesis 14) and brought him bread and wine, which typifies the LORD's supper. We know that Abraham blessed Issac, and Issac Jacob. But when we get to Jacob, instead of blessing his first, second or third sons, Jacob chose Judah to receive his blessing (Genesis 49:8-10). 

God chose Levi, the third son of Jacob, by Leah to be the father of the Levitical tribe, which would bring forth Aaron and Moses. This strain was totally separate from the Order of Melchizedek and therefore could not be successive to that Order. However, the tribe of Judah was a Royal strain of blood. Coupled with Christ's character to fulfill the Order after Melchizedek, coupled with His Judah heritage, (as we'll see in more detail below) He is the only choice to carry on this Royal and everlasting Order. Again, these two Orders and genealogies were completely separate. God chose to make one Order an appointment and permanent (Mel's Order), and the other from a successive bloodline and temporary (Levi's and Aaron's order).

It is well known in Jewish culture that the nation of Israel has always believed that Shem was the Melchizedek that met with Abram and blessed him. Although not found in the Holy Scriptures, we do find reference to this in the widely acclaimed ancient Book of Jasher, which the Bible does refer to on two separate occasions. This book is regarded as a credible source of ancient pre-Flood history. Shem also had two strains of genealogies, including the one where Abram sprung from. In this author's opinion, I am persuaded, but not dogmatic, that Shem was the 'Melchizedek' who received tithes from Abraham that day. All in all, the reader can always do their own study to draw their own conclusions if they're in doubt.

Hebrews 7:6-10, "But he  (earthly Mel a.k.a. presumably Shem) whose descent is not counted from them (Shem was not a Hebrew) received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him (Abraham) that had the promises. 7 And without all contradiction the less (Abraham) is blessed of the better (Shem the Melchizedek). 8 And here men that die receive tithes (Aaronic priesthood); but there he (Mel) receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he (Mel) liveth. 9 And as I may so say, (this is a parenthetical statement made by the author of Hebrews) Levi also, who receiveth tithes, (Aaronic priesthood) payed tithes in Abraham. 10 For he (LEVI) was yet in the loins of his father, (Abraham) when Melchisedec met him." (speaking of Abraham's seed).

I was erroneously taught that Jesus was the divine Mel, when in fact He was only after the same Order as the earthly Mel. Both priestly Orders are separated by one glaring fact. One order is human, (the sons of Aaron, who is a son from the lineage of Levi, who is 'a son' of the seed of Abram, who was his Great-Grandfather). The other Order is everlasting. Jesus Christ-THE Priest/King after the Order, not lineage of Mel is what exists today and forever. Actually, to be more precise, 'Jesus the High Priest,' wasn't 'Mel.' He is only identified with 'Mel's priesthood' because they are from the same 'Order,' or character of priesthood. 

The Levites, the descendants of Levi, were not identified in the same way. Although Levi was the first of the Levitical tribe where Aaron sprang from, his order was only human. The Levites were identified with Aaron, the brother of Moses. The Levite priesthood was also known as the Aaronic priesthood, but they kept dying off. There was no High Priest that could live forever after that tribe. To be a Levitical priest, one had to be a son (a male of the lineage of Aaron). The constraint was a bloodline. But, Mel's priesthood, was identified with one who represented God before the Hebrew became a people. This Order didn't Produce a high priest that could live forever either. It was only a blueprint for the One Who would come along to assume the role of Divine High Priest. Jesus made the distinction between man's role, which could never satisfy, with His own Who could. Plus, Jesus' bloodline wasn't through the Levites, but through Juda.

Verses 11-21, the author of Hebrews reasons, "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 Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 13 For he (Jesus) of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. 15 And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, 16 Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. 17 For he (God ~ the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit pretty much think alike) testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. 18 For there is verily a disannulling (abolishment) of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof. 19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God. 20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: 21 (For those priests (Aaronic priesthood) were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him (God) that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou (Jesus) art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)." Notice here the structure of the last part of verse 21. It says "THOU art A priest (singular) forever after the order of Melchisedec." If the author of Hebrews meant that we as believers were the one's he meant in this portion of Scripture, then the Lord would've had the author pen, 'Thou art priests (plural).' Are we now priests and kings with Christ? Yes! But, for the context of this passage of Scripture, he was talking about Jesus.

*This is the whole point of this chapter. It isn't that the N.T. church should tithe. It points out our new priesthood, which is after another tribe and another Order other than Aaron's and Levi's. If we view the chapter regarding it's main thrust, we'd see that it wasn't even about who Mel was. It was about the difference between two separate priesthoods. The first being the Order of Mel and the second being the order of Aaron. Hebrews 7:11, "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 Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?" 

The old priesthood was dis-annulled. That means, it was obliterated! If it is obliterated, then the practice of the tithe is obliterated because Moses spoke nothing of another priesthood attending at the altar. And only those who attended at the altar received tithes from the other tribes, including Juda. Being born of Christ's blood means that we are from the tribe of Juda, not Levi. Tithes were NEVER PAID to the tribe of JUDA, or any other tribe. The tithe was predominantly given to the Levites. The Melchizedek in Genesis who received tithes from Abram didn't have a tribe. He wasn't even Hebrew! But, Levi's priesthood has been done away with in favor of a new priesthood. This new Divine priesthood requires no tithe! Why? Because Christ ended the need for a sacrifice once and for all. If there is no longer need for a sacrifice, there is no need to have someone administer one. When did this priesthood end? At the cross of Calvary. Since the Levites are out of a job, and God ordered a tithe to be given to them that took care of the priestly things alone, then everything the Levites stood for is obsolete. This includes receiving the tithe. 

*Modern day preachers will say that since Jesus has become an High Priest after 'Mel's Order, that we need to pay 'income tithes' to Him as Abram did to the earthly 'Mel' of Salem; and later as the nation of Israel did for the Levites. The Problem is, they are missing the point of the chapter. The point wasn't to pay tithes, it was to notify us that the Levite priesthood had been put to rest and that a new Priesthood was taking over. Spiritualising and superimposing a people or event from the O.T. Law to the N.T. church is sleight of hand, plain and simple.

*'Mel' in Abram's day wasn't an Israelite. He was from Salem. Salem was the fore-city later renamed Jerusalem. Again, Jesus, who became our High Priest, wasn't a Levite either. What's so important about this? Let's see; Hebrews 7:11-14, "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 Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron (a Levite). 12 For the priesthood being CHANGED, there is made of necessity a CHANGE ALSO of the LAW. 13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to ANOTHER TRIBE, of which NO MAN GAVE ATTENDANCE AT THE ALTAR. 14 For it is evident that our Lord SPRANG OUT OF JUDA; of which tribe Moses spake NOTHING concerning priesthood." Did you see that? There was a change in the law! What law? I'll mention just three for starters. For one thing, the priesthood had changed. No more sacrifices were required. And, the practice of tithing was obliterated.

The only tribe allowed to make sacrifices (attend at the altar ~ vs 13), and enter into the tabernacle were Levitical Aaronic priests. The only one allowed to enter behind the veil in the 'holy of holies,' where the ark of the covenant was kept, was the high priest once a year. No one from any other tribe was allowed in. They were not anointed by God to perform such tasks. Only the Levite, through Aaron's bloodline qualified. Heb. 7:5 says that tithing was part of the Mosaic Law. Verse 11 reasons that since the Levite was only human, how could his priesthood be perfect? Verse 12 tells us that a change in priesthoods was made and therefore a change in the law. No longer did the laws observed by the Levite priest apply. Their services were no longer required. There was a new Priest in town, and his name is Jesus. Jesus wasn't born into the tribe of Levi. He was born into the tribe of JUDA. Since our High Priest was from another tribe, another set of rules was in place. Again, No OTHER TRIBE QUALIFIED TO RECEIVE TITHES. Levi was the ONLY ONE. When their usefulness ran it's course, so ended the tithe. Moses said NOTHING about ANYONE from JUDA attending the duties of the Aaronic priesthood (vs 14). Juda never received tithes as did the Levites. Why? Because during the time Jesus took over as High Priest here on Earth, only ONE MORE sacrifice needed to be attended to, and He attended it! He attended it as Sacrifice, Priest and God.

The old Aaronic high priest's succession of the Levites was imperfect because they kept dying off. Why? Because they were all human. They got old; they died off. Happens every day. They no longer had to administer sacrifices day after day. Jesus relieved them of all that with ONE FINAL sacrifice. A new High Priest was to nullify this imperfect order and it's law and accomplish what the Levite's never could. Why? Because He is from a different order, and He'll never die! His name is Jesus! If there are another set of rules, then we ought to know what they are and who they apply to.

When a sinner gets saved, we become a priest and king just as 'Mel' was. That's our new identification. Since our Father (Jesus) is from the tribe of Juda, that makes us of the same bloodline as He. If we are priests of the order of 'Mel,' then there was a changing of the law that needs to be observed. Question: Would that include the law on tithing? Answer: Yes! If the law on tithing is changed, then we need not obey it as it once was. The tithe never applied to us as New Covanent believers in the first place! (I'm just stressing a point here). By the way; the tithe in Israel was always food from the seed of the land within the borders of Israel. Money was widely used then, but the idea of the tithe was to celebrate God's increase on the land in the form of food and livestock. See my article entitled, 'Rejoice and Celebrate' for more on this angle. Money wasn't used for the tithe except to exchange it for a food tithe so large that it was impossible to transport it to the city where God had decided to place His name and celebrate the harvest. The tither would convert the tithe into money, travel to the far city and exchange it back into food to be consumed there. If for some reason he couldn't make the journey, he would bring the tithe to his city gates and celebrate the harvest locally. ~ Deuteronomy 14.

*But one might say, "Well, if Abram gave a tithe of the spoils from the slaughter of the kings, and he gave these tithes to Mel, which included money, livestock, garments, slaves, and other 'income,' then why aren't we supposed to give a tenth of our income to Christ Who is after the Order of Mel?" Okay, lets follow this to it's logical conclusion. If Abram tithed ONLY once, then we as New Covenant Believers could copy-cat Abram and tithe ONLY once to Jesus. Jesus NEVER commanded us to tithe in the first place. Abram tithed that one time either out of an obligation toward an Gentile custom, or out of gratitude to his God. Either way we slice it, he only tithed ONCE. If we want to tithe once out of gratitude, I see no harm in that, but please know that it is not required or prescribed from God. No obligation exists to do so.

If we're a member of the tribe of Juda, we aren't supposed to receive tithes as the Levites were commanded. Since the Levite priesthood is wiped away in favor of a new Priesthood, and no tithes are necessary to be paid to keep them in business, then no one has to pay tithes any longer to anyone! Remember, Jesus fulfilled the law! The temple and it's activities are obsolete! There's no need for a temple and to keep sacrificing animals. No more blood needs to be spilled. That's all been done once and for all! The Levites are out of a job! WE are the temples of God! WE have His blood! WE are free from tithing! WE are priests and kings out of Juda!

A preacher can't just get up and suppose that the law on tithing transposes itself over to Christ's N.T. church just because he heard it from Dr. Dryer-Than-Dust. The Problem is that so many pastors are regurgitating the same cud that's been chewed, and re-chewed in this country and others since Christianity became an Institutionalized industry.

The Problem we suffer today is, well-meaning men, who were wrongly taught, are spewing this false doctrine on tithing out of ignorance. Ignorance isn't a bad thing. It simply means, lack of knowledge. I am ignorant about fixing cars, but I am well versed in other matters. The same applies to each of us. We need our pastors to wake-up and realize they are ignorant! I know of a pastor who realized he wasn't comfortable about the tithing issue and through wisdom, he never took a dime from his congregation through the tithe. He work's a separate job to Provide for his family. He understands that being a pastor is not supposed to be a career. It's a labor of love. I, for one, salute him. I just ask that we not be ignorant in matters of the 'Church' and tithing.

Does Hebrews 7 teach us to tithe? No! It teaches us that we are freed from tithing and that there is a new priesthood that has forever taken over the inferior priesthood of Aaron.

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