We are going to pick up where we left off last week in chapter 7:1-10. If you remember, in the first three verses we are given 5 reasons the priesthood of Melchizedek, and thus the priesthood of Jesus and Christianity, is superior to the priesthood of Aaron and Judaism.
The priesthood of Melchizedek was not a national priesthood, it was a royal priesthood, it was a priesthood of righteousness and peace, it was not based on heredity, but personal qualifications, and it was a forever priesthood.
So in these first three verses we have this presentation of the superiority of the priesthood of Melchizedek.
Then in verses 4-10, the writer proves the superiority.
verses 4 to 10
Now had you and I been first century Jews who are undecided about leaving behind everything our forefathers had delivered down to us to follow Christ, and someone comes along and says, Melchizedek is superior to Aaron and here’s why, I think I would want some proof.
So that’s what the writer gives them. Here’s the proof:
Proof #1: Abraham gave tithe to Melchizedek
If you want to know how great was Melchizedek, think about this: Your #1 father of the faith paid tithes to this guy. In the Jewish mind, no one was greater than Abraham, so if Abraham thought it right to pay tithes to this priest-king, he must really be something. That's a pretty major point.
Now we looked at the history of that event last week, and it’s referenced there in verse 2. But I want you to notice that Abraham gave this guy a tenth of the spoils.
That is an interesting word that comes from two words, one meaning “the highest point” and the other means “a heap”. So literally the word spoils translates as “the heap on the top”.
In other words, Abraham didn’t just pay a tithe, but he gave him the heap on the top. Of all the stuff he had to give, he gave Melchizedek the best stuff. And that's really what Old Testament tithing was all about.
In Malachi’s day, God was upset, not because the people weren’t giving, they just weren’t giving the best. They were bringing sick, lame animals that were going to die anyway and letting God have those and God says, "I reject that”.
But that was not the case with Abraham. Abraham gave him the top of the heap.
And the fact that Abraham gave to Melchizedek the best he had to offer just magnifies Melchizedek's greatness.
And of course, the point is obvious. If Abraham gave the top of the heap to Melchizedek, what should we give to Jesus Christ? Some of us don't even give the tenth. Some of us don't even give the top of the heap. We give Him whatever's left of the lame and whatever else. We're not giving to God because of a desire in our heart to be generous. We're giving to God because of the glory of who He is and to our Messiah because he's great, and He deserves all we have.
Notice verse 5
The people were required by law to bring tithes to the priests. And those who were Levites received those. It was a commandment-type of a deal. But in the case of Abraham, there was no commandment. He just did it. It was free-will and voluntarily given as a tribute to the greatness of Melchizedek.
Think about that: If it had been a result of Melchizedek saying, "You give me the top of the heap," then we might say, "That guy's not great. He's selfish." But he says nothing and Abraham simply acknowledges his greatness and gives him the top of the heap.
And that is really the spirit of New Testament giving. People debate whether or not Christians are commanded to tithe. We shouldn’t have to be! We should be so moved by the greatness and love of Christ and His sacrifice that we are eager and anxious to give to Him!
Jews may need a law, and Levites may be authorized to collect those tithes, but not so with Christians and Christ! This man, Melchizedek, received from Abraham an offering that was worthy of who he was, not by commanding it or ordering it, but just by the personal quality of his life.
And Abraham, recognizing that he was a priest of the Most High God, gave him the respect he deserved, as God's priest.
So you want proof that Melchizedek was greater than Aaron? How about this: Abraham paid tithes to him.
Here’s the second thing:
Proof #2: Melchizedek blessed Abraham
In other words, Melchizedek must have been greater than Abraham, because he blessed Abraham. The principle is simply this. God operated in Melchizedek's life on the basis of personal qualification, and he was higher than Abraham in those qualifications. Therefore, he was chosen to bless Abraham.
And if this man was greater than Abraham, then he was greater than anything that came from Abraham. We’ll talk about that more in just a moment.
But for now, just see this: Melchizedek was qualified to be what he was personally, not from heredity.
He was superior to Abraham and, therefore, he blessed Abraham.
Proof #3: Melchizedek is Superior to All Future Priests
Remember we talked last time about he priesthood of Melchizedek being eternal in type. Obviously, aas a man, he didn’t live forever, but on the pages of the word of God he does with no record of birth of death. And because of that Melchizedek was of an eternal priesthood patterned after Christ, the eternal priest.
Now here’s his point: It’s one thing to pay tithes to a dying priest, but with Christ, and in type, Melchizedek, we have a priest who lives forever!
So he is a greater priest, because he's a living priest, not a dying one.
Then we come to this interesting argument in verse 9
Now follow his logic here. Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek. So you must grant the point that Melchizedek was greater than Abraham. But Abraham was not a priest. Only Levites were priests, so maybe they were greater than Abraham, and maybe, if Abraham had been a priest, he wouldn't have done it either.
And the response to that is even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes, so to speak, because he came through Abraham.
Now that is a very Jewish statement because the Jews viewed things through the lens of heredity and genealogy. So when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, it was as if the entire Levitical priesthood had acknowledged his superiority, thus
Melchizedek is superior to Aaron.
Now here’s the thing about that that really knocks my socks off. At just the right time in history, Melchizedek comes on the scene, as verse 3 tells us, “Made like the Son of God. So Melchizedek is patterned after Jesus Christ Himself. Then when Jesus comes along, He is said to be after the order of Melchizedek. Jesus didn’t just invent a new priesthood without an historical precedent. The Jews wouldn’t have bought it.
So in the sovereignty of God, He plans for Abraham to have what appears to be a very random encounter with this mysterious, obscure priest/king named Melchizedek from Salem so that at the time this writer is communicating with these first century Hebrews he can say, “If you look back into your own history you’ll discover that your own father, Abraham, and thus every priest to come from him, paid tithes to a better priesthood. And that one was just a picture of the One and Only Savior of the world, Jesus Christ."
And I love the conclusion that brings us to. Since Christ is a priest of a better priesthood, universal, royal, bringing about righteousness and peace, both personal and eterna, let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.