Sunday, 18 November 2018
Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, Hebrews 7:9
The order of words in this verse is the reverse of the Greek. More literally, it says, “…and so to speak, through Abraham even Levi who is receiving tithes, hath paid tithes” (YLT). The words, “and so to speak,” are the author’s way of introducing an argument from Scripture based on something implied in the context of what is being revealed. It is a concept which may, at first, seem unfounded or illogical. And so he introduces the thought this way. However, the logic is impeccable, and it is a tenet which bears heavily on other major doctrines which are found in Scripture.
The author has just stated that “there he receives them,” while speaking of Melchizedek who received the tithes of Abraham. As Scripture witnesses that Melchizedek lives, then logically, “Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham.”
The author makes the case (which Scripture testifies to) that because Levi descended from Abraham, so the tenth that Abraham paid to Melchizedek actually included the sacred portion from Levi who was yet unborn. Abraham (the greater based on being the family head) is the father of Isaac, the father of Jacob, the father of Levi. So when Melchizedek received the tenth from Abraham, Levi is considered in this offering. If the Israelites paid their tenth to the Levites who were set apart to God, then the Levites – through Abraham – paid a tenth to Melchizedek, because Melchizedek still lives. It demonstrates the absolute superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood over that of Levi.
As was revealed in verse 7:8, the Levites and priests of the Mosaic Covenant were mortal men. They were born into the priesthood, or into the Levitical service, because the law provided for this. They ministered under this priesthood, and they retired and died under this priesthood. There is nothing of the priesthood which attached to them. Rather, they attached to it. And in fact, if they did not minister properly, there was a penalty of separation from the ministry (see Leviticus 10 in the account of Nadab and Abihu). They simply accomplished the work that they were born into. However, Melchizedek’s priesthood, as seen in Scripture, is based solely on his existence. It is his natural right to minister because the priesthood attaches to him.
As the Messiah’s priesthood is “according to the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110), this means that His priesthood is also superior to that of Levi. The logic is impeccable and proves the superiority of Messiah’s work. Therefore, the New Covenant must be superior to the Old Covenant.
Life application: The author of Hebrews has explained, and continues to explain, the superiority of the Person and work of Jesus Christ over that of those who he compares Christ to. He is superior to the angels, He is superior to Moses, He is superior to Aaron, etc. Further, His work initiated a new and eternal covenant which is superior to that of the Mosaic Covenant. Why is the author revealing those things? It is because in demonstrating this superiority, it reveals that those other things are unable to accomplish anything necessary to restore us to God. If there is one theme that we can draw out of the author’s continued stream of logical points, it is “Come to Jesus.” Nothing else will satisfy because nothing else can satisfy. If you are stuck under the Old Covenant system, you are not God’s friend. Instead, you have become His enemy. Come to Christ and be reconciled to God.
Lord God, there is a place where man can go to be eternally filled and eternally refreshed. There is Bread to fill us, and there is a Fount of unceasing Water to rejuvenate us, and it is found in Christ Jesus our Lord. Nothing else can fill our ever-hungry souls. In Christ, the temporary has passed away. We shall never hunger or thirst again when we come, by faith, to Him. Thank You for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.