28 Feb 2001

Melchizedek

Submitted by theshovel
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I have to give myself a "Duh!" rating of 10 for a statement I made in the last Shoveletter, where I wrote: "Why is the tithe not even once mentioned after Jesus rose from the grave?". The fact is that there IS a reference to the tithe in Hebrews 7. Not only did I know about those verses, but I had planned to use it in the continuation of this subject, for the passage actually helps to ESTABLISH my point regarding the tithe. What I'm saying is that there is STILL no mention of tithing as if it is a carry-over into the reality of Christ. How I came to word it as if maybe these verses didn't exist is beyond me, especially in view of its significance! Please accept my apologies. DUH!! :)

The whole chapter of Hebrews 7 (included at the bottom) is a historical commentary of the only recorded instance (that I know of) where a tithe - or tenth part - was given before the Law. The real question here is: WHY was this story about Abraham's tithe brought up at this point in the letter? Another question, just as interesting, is: Why did God have this strange account inserted into the record in the first place? Check it out.

And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. And he blessed him and said, 'Blessed be Abram of God Most High, possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand.' And he gave him a tenth of all. Genesis 14:18-20

[In case you didn't know, "Abram" was Abraham's original name before God changed it.]

If you were to read through the story in Genesis, this short piece seems to come out of nowhere, and then disappear just as quickly. I'll bet it was somewhat of an oddity among the rabbis as they debated and argued their various interpretations of the Scriptures, especially in view of this verse written by David:

The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, 'You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.' Psalm 110:4

Do you realize how the writer of Hebrews must have shaken many of the Jews by capitalizing upon this mysterious little piece of info? I think it would be akin to discovering years later that the irritating bump in your mattress was actually a hidden stash of money.

Keep in mind that everything written in Hebrews is a comparison/contrast between Christ and the Law. The whole letter was written to show that Christ is SUPERIOR to the law in every way possible. Now, ask yourself this question: What is the significance of the meeting of Melchizedek and Abraham? Or you might better ask: How does what Abraham did show the superiority of Christ over the Law?

You see, it's in Hebrews that we get the clearest understanding of how the things of the Law are but a SHADOW of the reality that came through Christ (see Hebrews 10:1). The fact that tithing is discussed in Hebrews lends credence to the reality of its passing. Why? Because the whole narrative was designed to show the inferiority of the priesthood of the old covenant in comparison to the priesthood of Christ. For the point of Abraham's 10% gift to Melchizedek is found in the fact that since Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, the priesthood of the old covenant also paid these tithes.

Consider it like this. If your family had gained control of all the commerce in the city and forced everyone to pay 10% dues, your power over that city would be unquestioned. Now, if it had been discovered that YOUR grandfather had honored MY grandfather with a 10% gift BEFORE your family power was established, then MY family would be shown to be the superior. Got it?

You see, the "shadow" priesthood may have RECEIVED tithes, but the fact that they had already PAID tithes to another priesthood OUTSIDE their "ordained by God" system proves that Christ is far superior in mediating between God and the people.

You know, the more I read this I can't see any kind of a reference to the assumed basis of a continued practice of tithing after the manner of Abraham. Of course, if one were to insist upon it then we have a little bit of a conflict. I mean, the one and only mention of Abraham's giving of a tenth has to do with the spoils of a justified, but very violent war with the armies of 5 kings. So, if there is a pattern here, does that mean we should go out and wage a war so that we can give a tenth of the booty? Do you see the problems with the misapplication of Bible verses?

Why was the writer of this letter making every comparison possible between Christ and the Law? Isn't it obvious by how the letter was written, that the Hebrews - who considered themselves to be following Christ - were actually falling back to the Law in every way possible? The point of Hebrews (all the way through it) is that if the Law had been unalterable, then FAR GREATER attention was due to the one who FULFILLED that Law.

Do you understand that using Christian terminology, observing Christian practices, or taking a stand for Christian principles might only be a facade of the desperate struggle to live by your performance? Should you think that I am suggesting something unusual, I would simply draw your attention to the reasons why most of the letters in the New Testament Bible were written in the first place. There is only one rationale behind what has been brought to pass in Christ, and it is Christ Himself. Why do we keep trying to establish Christian reasons to replace Christ? The truth of the tithe is simply this: in Christ, WE are the tithe!

Next time I'll have something to say about "the giving of our substance".

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all, by the translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace. Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest's office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. In this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him. Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron? For when the priesthood is changed, of necessity there takes place a change of law also. For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah, a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests. And this is clearer still, if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK." For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. And inasmuch as it was not without an oath (for they indeed became priests without an oath, but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, "THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND, "YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER"); so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant. The former priests, on the one hand, existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing, but Jesus, on the other hand, because He continues forever, holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens; who does not need daily, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people, because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself. For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak, but the word of the oath, which came after the Law, appoints a Son, made perfect forever. Hebrews 7 (New American Standard Version)

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Comments

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These comments were all transferred over from the original website


Posted: February 28, 2001 by Mike

Jim - I have heard a thousand messages over the years, with pastors distorting the word of God over the issue of tithing. These same contortionists would have had hissy fits if someone had used the same isogesis to interpret scriptures relating to the atonement or other important teachings. There is a stigma attached to this particular issue that makes it peculiarly popular as a tool to motivate folk by guilt. Even though the guilt doesn't work well (the vast majority of evangelicals do not tithe, i.e., a tenth of their income - any part), pastors and teachers are unrelenting in smashing the teaching into the groins of their congregations. As a Bible College student in the 70's I first became suspect of the teaching as I watched evangelists and early para-church leaders fudge around with the terms offering versus tithing, etc. Over the years it became obvious that the bottom line was always the bottom line (a.k.a., the budget). Pastors who taught grace, mysteriously abandoned the concept when dealing with finances. As I have abandoned grace as a theological concept and embraced it as a lifestyle (John 10:10), I have watched the Lord transform me into a more gracious and generous person. Could that be the root of "cheerful" (a.k.a. gracious) giving? :-) Thanks again buddy for delivering the truth with humor and boldness!! Blessings abundant dear brother!!


Posted: February 28, 2001 by Neil

Once again, Jim, right on. I've known the truth about this tithing thing and what this passage is really referring to for about two years now. It still amazes me that preachers and teachers are able to continue to fleece their flocks by using this same scripture (Hebrews 7). But they do. Having come from an extensive stint of being in a churhc which taught that very thing, I know of which I speak. Here's how they do it: Melchizedek was Christ pre-incarnate. So the tithe given to Melchizedek not only precedes the Law (making it, in their argument, actually not a law at all and more permanent than the Law, thus outside of its having to go away), but was actually being given to Christ. In the same manner, our tithe goes directly to Christ. Since Christ established the instituional "church" system (though they don't use that wording) to be the conduit through which He would do all things, it is still appropriate to not only give to and through the church, but the tithe stays in place because of it's direct link to Christ. And since the Apostles were, in effect, the direct inheritors of the priestly line of Levi (supplanting any actual Jewish priests, then or now, who would only be pretenders), they were the ones to whom the tithe was to be given. Todays pastors are the spiritual descendants of the first Apostles (so they can call themselves "apostles" as well) making them the ones appointed to extract this payment. The reason this has never been mentioned in any of the New Testament writings (other than Hebrews)? It was such a well-taught and well-accepted truth that no one questioned it, thus not requiring the practice to be mentioned in letters so as to set people straight. Nice neat and tidy, ain't it? Too bad it's all a crock. Thanks for the teaching.


Posted: February 28, 2001 by Jenny

Dear Jim, Thanks for the scoop on the tithe. It's good. I am further wondering. Are we the tithe or did Jesus give Himself. He gave not just a portion (a tenth). But rather He gave all of Himself? We have to consider the tithe and fulfilled and removed just as the Law. Christ having fulfilled the Law and every aspect of it (the sacrifice, the tithe, etc.) and having done a BETTER thing. Under Law a physical lamb was sacrificed to cover sin. In Christ the Lamb of God gave Himself to remove sin, once and for all. Under Law a tenth was given by the tribes to support the priesthood (tribe of Levi) established and with no inheritance. In Christ, Jesus is our High Priest forever and He gave Himself for us and His Life in us (what greater support, peace, strength, etc.). Under Law the priesthood was specifically established to carry out spiritual laws. In Christ, Jesus gave Himself, Life giving, Life Indwelling. The Old was a tutor to bring the Jews to the Christ. The New is Christ coming to us. Like you said, the book of Hebrews is contrasting the Old with the New and the mention of the tithe is not the substance. It is mentioned to dismiss it and to show the contrast is the old and new priesthoods. Thanks in advance for your consideration. Jenny


~~~~~|||||) Hello Jenny my dear, When you wrote me the response last week I had an idea that you were misreading what I've written, and of course, now that I've read today's email I know you've missed something here. :) Okay, first you have to make sure not to forget what I wrote in last week's letter when you're reading this week's. A tithe was a "portion" of the ordinary that was given to God making it "set apart". It was understood to have been NO DIFFERENT in nature than anything else in the world. What made it "holy" or "sanctified" was simply the fact that it was GOD'S. Jesus was born of a woman, but He was "set apart" for God. We have been taken from the old world and made "holy" even though we were NO DIFFERENT from that which we were taken. As far as the tithe goes do you remember how I was continually insisting that it was a "shadow"? And also remember that I wrote a few times that the tithe has been FULFILLED in Christ. What the tithe CORRESPONDS TO in the new covenant is the reality of that which has been taken from the world and given to God. Our choosing is "in Christ" because He is the chosen one. There are verses galore that refer both to Christ being chosen and set apart, and of us as well. The percentage mark is irrelevant. The "portion" has nothing to do with negating the fact that Christ gave all of Himself ... no more so than the fact that all of OURSELVES have been given to God. Don't try to force the two together as if one cancels out the other and you'll find that you'll get far less conflicts all through such apparent contradictions. I have actually discovered that I LOVE all those apparent contradictions because of the treasure contained underneath of them. Did you follow that, or are you still thinking that I'm trying to revive the tithe in some kind of new testament way? hahaha! Please let me know, okay? Love, Jim (|||||~~~~~


Posted: February 28, 2001 by Paul

WELL! You're certainly not going to get any donations with that kind of talk! Paul


~~~~~|||||) Hey Paul, thanks! I take that as a compliment!! :) (|||||~~~~~


Posted: Jul-24-04 by K

Is it not a shame that we must spend so many hours pondering laws...in which no man or woman can fulfill?
Is it not the most awesome expression of Love that some(One)((God the Father, Jesus the Son, two; but One)), took care of everything (that we can never do) and in One Breath.
Now; in that One Breath (Holy Spirit) we too, can express the Exact Replica of Love.
If God really wanted us to ponder "issues" than we wouldn't need Jesus. He gave us Jesus (Himself) so that we can ponder HIM. Seek HIM, become HIM, because HIS concern is not "issues" (like tithing, even sin!)
His concern was that we would focus on everything but HIM, therefore, He took care of IT ALL so that no one need worry about "stuff". HE already took care of it; everything. (Fulfilled! And even, Finished!)
Now, isn't it perplexing that since everything has been taken care of (fulfilled) that we are still making waves about it all?
Some might even go so far as to say that not tithing is "sin". "Robbing or stealing" from God, therefore; sin.
Ever stop to realize that as a Jesus Filled person, only once you were a sinner (yes, past tense). But since the "wages of sin, is death"...1. Jesus took care of everything! 2. You even paid your entry fee, you laid your sin at the foot of the cross AND DIED!
Yes, you, having put on a new nature, the nature of Christ, you (as a Jesus filled person), can't sin.
When you died and rose again in Jesus, you need only look as far as your closed physical, natural eyes can see. Inside your eyelids, you should only see a reflection of light. The light that is now inside you, Jesus. That is right, there is no darkness there!
Where there is light, there can be no darkness!

Rejoice!!! Tell the lying, no good, evil non-believer, suck in the rut devil to "get behind you"!

A believer doesn't "buy" lies; especially since his own life has been bought for him. Technically we "don't own a thing". Every thing is my Fathers, I just have "rights"!! But not ownership. How can I give something to another without it ever being mine in the first place? Thinking that I was going to give something to "my Father" and claim it was ever mine is absurd.

That is like picking flowers from my neighbors garden and offering them to them at their front door. I would never do that, would you?

Please do not fret over "issues". You are pure, holy, washed in the blood of Jesus. God put you here to be a replica of His Son. He can't sin and doesn't need to tithe, why would you try to be different than Jesus?

What did He do? He awakened early to spend time with His Father, He communicated and did what He saw His Father doing. He never, ever stopped communicating with His Father and never, ever stopped being Jesus, never stopped being His Son.

So, don't ever stop being a Child of God. Pray, spend time with Our Father and do what you see (with your closed eyes) what you see Jesus doing inside of you!

When we Follow Jesus, we will find ourselves looking inside to see Him, so that others can see Him we must realize that He plus me equals no shadow, but the real thing now.

Praise God that He can be radiated through us. People need to see Him. Not a bunch of believers walking in confusion. If you are confused, tell satin to get behind you. (Yes, you are a Mini-Jesus, and you can kick satin out of any where or any one. So, just be...)

Remember; a Father "owns" and a child "has rights".
A Father "grants" and a child "receives".
Because our Father is Who He Is, and we are His children, we go about our Fathers business, and out of our identity, we exercise our authority. And because of the Grantor of that Authority, our "exercises" have "Power".

Rejoice! Let's get onto the business of sharing this good news, many need to be touched by us (mini-Jesus's) and healed. Many demons need to be cast out many dead need to be raised. Lets get on with the things that God wants us to get on with.
We need encouragement and edification and we need to be of one accord.

My name badge says "For Jesus Name Sake".
And so, it is that I love you.

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