“Jesus was made Priest not after a carnal commandment to take tithes, but after the power of an endless life (Heb. 7: 16). Because the Law of receiving tithes was weak and of no value it was canceled;
Heb. 7: 18 says: “For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.” A further breakdown of the text says it like this: “For there is truly a cancellation of the previous commandment for its weakness and non-value.” The phrase “going before” in chapter 7: 18 means preceding or previous. “For there is truly a cancellation of the commandment previous…” but in the English language our words don’t go after the subject, they are placed before the subject. So, let’s look at it this way: “For there is truly a cancellation of the PREVIOUS COMMANDMENT…” But what was the previous commandment? Heb. 7: 5 says “And 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:” So, the commandment to take tithes was cancelled. And Heb. 7: 16 is more clearly understood as well because tithing was based on the carnal needs for the maintaining of the Aaronic priesthood.
The backdrop of Hebrews 7, is a few chapters before in chapter 5: 5, and 6, which says: “So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee. As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” How can Melchizedek’s priesthood be eternal or everlasting if he was just a man? So, was Melchizedek just a man? Yes! Melchizedek was not eternal or everlasting. Melchizedek died just like the other priest under the Law of Moses, but the only thing with that is, it is not recorded. This makes his life seem as though he did not die. Under the Law priest had to have their record of genealogy (Ezra 2: 59-62). But the Melchizedekian Priesthood is not under the Law, so the reason why the Melchizedekian Priesthood is everlasting is because it is the person who is the priest who is eternal and everlasting which makes the priesthood eternal and everlasting, Jesus Christ; “… Thou ART a priest forever after the order of Melchisedec.” So then, the order of Melchizedek is the manner, style or way he operated as priest. The key in understanding Melchizedek is separating what is type from what is literal. In typology comparisons were made with Melchizedek’s name and the character of Jesus. Melchizedek’s name is interpreted as ‘king of righteousness’, ‘king of Salem, or king of peace’ all attributes of Jesus. His traceless genealogy, and the everlasting power of the endless life of Jesus. Melchizedek just appears on the scene with no record of genealogy recorded in scripture. Does this mean he had no genealogy? No, but what it does mean is that God is using him as a type of an eternal priesthood.
The first time we see Melchizedek in the Scriptures is found in Genesis 14: 18-20, which says: “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 thy hand. And he gave tithes of all.” The first thing we need to understand about Melchizedek is that he was the king of Salem. But not only was he a king, he was a priest also. This is the first time in scripture that we see king and priest joined in one role. The second thing we need to notice is that Melchizedek was NOT an appearance of the pre-incarnate Christ, which would be called a Christophany. Melchizedek lived and reigned in Salem. Neither was he a Theophany (that is God appearing in another form). The book of Hebrews plainly compares the two. If Melchizedek was Jesus, then Jesus would be a reincarnation of himself; the first coming of Jesus would really be the second coming of Jesus. The third thing we must also understand is that Melchizedek was NOT Shem. We have read and are aware of Shem’s ancestry, when the Bible plainly says Melchizedek’s genealogy was not recorded.
Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to that of Aaron’s. The Levites took tithes from the children of Israel, but the Levites gave tithes through Abraham to Melchizedek showing that Melchizedek’s priesthood was superior to that of Aaron’s. The Aaronic priesthood was limited because the priest kept dying, but the Melchizedekian priesthood is limitless because Jesus lives forever. Under the Law men that die received tithes continually because they needed it to exist. But when Abraham met Melchizedek before the Law, he gave one tithe, and all of Levi to a priesthood who doesn’t need to be continually tithed because it was a tithe to end all tithes. It was a first and last tithe all in one which makes it an eternal priesthood (Heb. 7: 8-28).
Melchizedek gave Abraham bread and wine showing us that it would be the body and the blood of Jesus that would fulfill the Law and be the eternal Blessing on the children of Abraham. Jesus is the eternal priesthood holder who is not just King and Priest, as was Melchizedek, but he is Messiah, Prophet, King, and Priest. The Bible says in Rev. 1: 6, and 5: 10 that Jesus has made us kings and priests unto God. So not only is Jesus Priest or should I say High Priest, he has made us all priests higher than that of Aaron, how? By making us joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. Jesus’ priesthood is superior then that of the Aaronic priesthood.
Yet the principle of setting something aside is carried over in the New Testament. 2Cor. 9: 6, and 7, Show us the way they did it which says, “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”
Jesus doesn’t need tithes the way they gave it under the Old Law, however, the Law is spiritual and it has spiritual significance. The Bibles says in 1 Cor. 15, that Jesus is the first fruit, then we at his coming. If Jesus is the First Fruit, then we must be the tithe at harvest end. God said he had given the tribe of Levi all the tenth in the land of Israel for an inheritance. The tithe was Aaron’s inheritance: Aaron was the High Priest; he received the best of all the tithes given by the Levites. Now Jesus is our High Priest and he has received us, and will receive us at his coming.
In the Old Testament, the children of Israel gave a Tenth out of their Tithes that they ate at Jerusalem to give to the Levites (Deut. 14). The Levites in-turn gave a Tenth out of what they received from Israel to Aaron the High Priest (Num. 18). This they did four times out of a seven-year cycle, but every third year and sixth year which was the year of tithing they left the tithe in the gates of their cities so the Levite, the poor, the widow, the stranger, and the fatherless could eat it and be satisfied (Deut. 14: 28,29). Tithing in this understanding was never money, but grain, livestock and anything landed within the area of the inheritance of the children of Israel. The Bible said if the way was to long for the journey to Jerusalem for you to bring your tithe you could turn it to money, but only to buy food once you reach Jerusalem: Deuteronomy 14: 24-26 says “And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set his name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: Then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: And thou shalt bestow (distribute) that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,” It is interesting to note that Jesus overthrew the tables of the moneychangers; the process whereby they could exchange money from the journey into food. Jesus overturns the tables because they missed their visitation. This event was right after Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem. The house that was supposed be filled with prayer had become a den of thieves. Jesus saw that they trusted in themselves that they were righteous, but if any go up into heaven any other way than coming to Christ the same is a thief and a robber (John 10: 1). Not only did Jesus see the destruction that would happen to Jerusalem in A.D. 70; but he saw tithing today and the destruction that would take place from it.
The Levitical Priesthood was supported by the tithe. The tithe then was a broken system along with the priesthood that no longer had legs to stand on. It was a temporary system that was always going to be done away with. Romans 10:4 says “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” The word “end” here means levy, a tax, or levy paid. Notice how the word Levy and Levi are closely connected. The Levite’s were the IRS of Israel, but Jesus paid all the tax for eternity, so now we have no need for a taxing (tithing) system because Jesus fulfilled it.
In the seventh year of the Jewish tithing cycle no tithe was given because it was a Sabbatical year of rest, the ground had to lie fallow. But in the New Testament as stated before, the principle for setting something aside is modeled after the spirit of the third-year tithe. The Sabbatical year was pointing to a rest that Jesus came to bring. It was pointing to something greater in Christ. A rest from working, a rest to trust in Christ’s work, a sabbatical year of Grace.
Considering what we have just learned about tithing through proper interpretation and its significance now, what about those that advocate tithing along with the curse of Malachi 3: 8-10? Those that hold this view must be careful to not put a yoke of bondage on the people. But those who have placed a curse on the people would be careful to note what the Bible says in Gal. 3: 10: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Meaning that if they are putting people under the curse for not tithing, they are also under it for tithing and not keeping the rest of the Old Covenant Law (Neh. 10: 29). The Law cannot be practiced partially (Mal. 2: 9). Those that have studied to show themselves approved unto God know the truth of what Jesus did for us on the cross which can also be found in Gal. 3: 13, and 14, which says “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Let us walk in love towards one another and support each other in our giving.
Anthony D. Booker