This week, we come to Hebrews 7 and the story of Melchizedek. As we dig deeper here, what I hope we will see is that it is not really the story of Melchizedek, but the story of Jesus. If you have read the chapter though, you may find yourself asking about this whole episode of Abraham paying a tithe to Melchizedek. Along with it, there is something about Levi, and then the discussion about someone being superior. How does this all fit together?
Those are good questions, and we will get to them on Sunday as we preach through Hebrews 7. In short, the whole passage is pointing to the fact that the priesthood of Melchizedek was pointing to the greater priesthood of Jesus Christ. It continues the theme found in Hebrews of Jesus’ superiority in all things. But the question remains, what does the tithe have to do with it?
In the context of the passage, the writer is making the case that one pays tithes to someone greater than themselves. His argument is that since Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, and the Old Testament priests came from Abraham’s line, Melchizedek is greater than the Old Testament priests. Since Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, then he is also greater than the Old Testament priests.
I know..I know. You are probably saying to yourself that you didn’t need this confusing logic in order to prove that. Maybe so. But some did, and God in His wisdom gave us this word. While you may not have needed this logical progression, you can, and should, take comfort in seeing how God’s plan of redemption has been unfolding since the beginning of time…all to point His people to Jesus. That reality alone is praise worthy. It may also be the main point of application in this passage, but I believe there is another that we should consider.
This paying of the tithe was not merely a funding mechanism for the Old Testament priesthood. It was also a sign of submission to God in every area of life. It still is. If Melchizedek was worthy of greater honor than Abraham, then Jesus is worthy of even greater honor. Few of us would disagree. The disagreement comes in, however, when we start discussing what that honor looks like. I would submit that Jesus calls us to submit to His lordship in every area of life, including our finances. Maybe, I should say, especially in our finances, as this area of submission provides a clear window into the heart. Abraham knew that when he encountered the priest of the Most High God in Genesis 14. Do we know it when we encounter our Great High Priest?
Hebrews 7 calls us above all to love and worship Jesus. What does the tithe have to do with it? I believe it is the heart of the matter.