Study of Hebrews

A quick review of the purpose of the book of Hebrews is important.  The writer was attempting to instruct Jewish Christians that they should no longer be trying to obey the things contained in the Old Covenant law.  Starting in chapter 1, the writer speaks first of the superiority of Christ over the Prophets, angels, and in chapter 3, Moses.  Chapter 4 shows that Christ is superior to Joshua also.  It is important to illustrate these things to people that held the law and the prophets so dearly to their hearts.  The Jewish Christians were trying to hold onto the law rather than embrace the grace and power that comes with Jesus Christ so the writer had to make these comparisons.  In Hebrews 6:1-2 the writer warns that he is now moving into more mature teaching.
The writer of Hebrews goes on to explain in chapter 7 about Melchizedek and start the discussion about tithing.  Hebrews 7:4-6 first indicates that Abraham in Genesis 14:14-20 gave a tithe of the plunder only.  Contrary to popular teaching, he didn’t tithe everything he had.  Abraham gave a tenth of the plunder that he took from the 3 kings that had kidnapped his nephew Lot.  Be sure to read the section titled Before the Law . The book of Hebrews goes on to explain that the Old Covenant law required tithing to the Levites by all Israelites that farmed or raised animals. The Levites were then required to give a tithe of what they received to the Lord.

Many people have a misunderstanding about Hebrews 7:8.  This verse is talking about the same person written about earlier in Hebrews 7:1-3 and that person is Melchizedek.  Melchizedek is the person ‘declared to be living’ in this passage.  It really doesn’t matter as far as a discussion about tithing however.  In that same verse as well as verse 9 it states two critical phrases in the current tense – ‘…the tenth is collected…’ and ‘…Levi, who collects the tenth…’.  The writer was doing the same as he did in earlier chapters and that was to explain what was happening at the then current time.  The writer was merely stating what was happening then and not giving a command as far as what Christians need to do now.  In fact the writer was attempting to get the Hebrews to stop trying to obey parts of the law that included tithing.

For the benefit of those Hebrews – and everyone else who is trying to keep parts of the law God gave to the Israelites – Hebrews 7:18 ends the discussion.  No matter how you choose to interpret the ‘regulation’ or ‘commandment’ mentioned – it is either talking about tithing, the Levitical priesthood, or all the laws – either way the Bible teaches that it has been set aside.  Tithing was part of the law and the law was given on the basis of the Levitical priesthood (Hebrews 7:11).  The whole chapter is explaining how very important the tithe was under the Law, but points out at the end that now we have a perfect high priest who fulfilled the Law. The Bible teaches that believers should not be trying to keep any of the laws God gave to the Israelites.  We have been given a new and better covenant (Galatians 2:16Romans 3:28,  Hebrews 7:20-22Hebrews 8:6-7Hebrews 8:13).