Thursday, 15 November 2018
…but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Hebrews 7:6
The words, “but he” are speaking of Melchizedek. In order to show his greatness, he is being contrasted with Abraham – a figure known in history as the man of great faith, the father of the Hebrew nation, and the example of patience and perseverance in the face of testing. Despite holding such high esteem among the faithful of Israel, the author says that Melchizedek – who in the previous verse received a tenth of the spoils – isn’t descended from Levi. As he says, “but he whose genealogy is not derived from them.”
The Greek word is genealogeó. It is used only this once in Scripture, and it is the basis for our modern word “genealogy.” Israel was to pay tithes to the Levites, and the Levites, in turn, gave a tithe to the priests. This was a mandate of the law, not an inherent right. And yet, Melchizedek “received tithes from Abraham.” There was no law mandating this, and yet Abraham felt it was appropriate to offer a tenth of the spoils of battle in this way. And this, despite the fact that Melchizedek was not of the Levitical order to whom the law mandated that Israel’s tithes be given.
But what is being said here? It, on the surface, appears to be placing the horse in front of the cart… Levi descended from Abraham, not the other way around. However, we’ll see the impeccable logic of what the author is intending in the verses ahead.
However, in addition to giving a tenth of the spoils, it was Abraham, not Melchizedek, who received the promises from God. Despite this, it was Melchizedek who blessed Abraham. As it says, Melchizedek “blessed him who had the promises.” This was recorded in verse 7:1 when the author stated the facts previously recorded in the Genesis account.
On the surface, this may seem appropriate – after all, Abraham was the one with the promise of blessing from God. However, the author will use the same type of impeccable logic concerning the blessing from Melchizedek in the verses ahead. What we think is backwards or unrealistic is actually something which contains truths which are inescapable when presented from God’s perspective.
Not to get too far ahead, but what is happening in this verse is that in accepting the tithes from Abraham, he was accepting the greater position which was accorded to him by Abraham. In turn, he then blessed Abraham. In accepting the blessing, Abraham was acknowledging he was in a lesser position to Melchizedek. But, as we have seen, Abraham had the promise of God, establishing him as a great man indeed. In fact, he is considered as the father of faith to this day. However, the exchange here demonstrates that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham.
Life application: It is because of the account set before us, and countless other magnificent accounts which arise, that we study the Bible not just once, but for an entire lifetime. Colleges and seminaries are devoted to the Word of God because it is an inexhaustible resource. We can’t simply ignore it, neglect Bible studies and sermons, and expect to be able to comprehend all that the Bible contains. Instead, we need to read, study, listen to, contemplate, pray over, and cherish the Bible each and every day. If we fail in this regard, we can never grow from milk to solid food.
Heavenly Father, You are great and greatly to be praised. And Your word is an amazingly wonderful source of wonder and delight. It is inexhaustible in what it reveals. Layer upon layer of wisdom is revealed in it as we slowly and meticulously search out its pages. And with each layer comes another interconnected item of wonder. Thank You for Your glorious, precious, and superior word! Amen.