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THE PRIESTHOOD OF MELCHISEDEK
Victor M. Eskew
II. THE APPLICATION TO THE OT PREISTHOOD (Heb. 7:5-10)
A. Tithes and Descent (Heb. 7:5-7)
1. Tithes to Kinsman (Heb. 7:5)
And verily they that are the sons of Levi, who receive the office of priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they came out of the loins of Abraham.
a. The Levitical priesthood was separated from among the children of Israel as a priestly tribe (Num. 3:5-10).
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him. And they shall keep his charge, and the charge of the whole congregation before the tabernacle of the congregation, to do the service of the tabernacle. And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle. And thou shalt give the Levites unto Aaron and to his sons: they are wholly given unto him out of the children of Israel. And thou shalt appoint Aaron and his sons, and they shall wait on the priest’s office: and the stranger that cometh shall be put to death.
b. The Levites had a commandment from God to take tithes of the people. It is found in Deuteronomy 14:27-29.
And the Levite which is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee. At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and shalt lay it up within thy gates: and the Levites (because he hath no part no inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are within thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the Lord thy God many bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
c. The reason this command was given and was fair is because there was a relationship that existed between the Levites and the Jews. They were brethren.
1) Since a relationship existed, a legal right could be placed upon Israel by law.
2) This payment of tithes to Levi by Israel proved that Levi was superior to the other tribes.
a) They represented the firstborn of the nation (Num. 3:11-13).
b) They performed the service of the tabernacle and the things of the tabernacle.
2. Tithes to a King (Heb. 7:6a)
But he whose desecent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham…
a. Melchisedek had no fleshly relationship to Abraham at all.
1) He had no legal right, therefore, to demand tithes of Abraham, yet he received them from Abraham.
2) It was Abraham who recognized Melchisedek’s superiority and acknowledged it in giving him tithes.
3. Twice Noted King (Heb. 7:7b-8)
…and blessed him that had the promises. And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.
a. The writer reminds his readers that not only were tithes paid by Abraham to Melchisedek, Abraham was also blessed by Melchisedek.
1) Strong (485): dispute :- contradiction, gainsaying, strife
2) Thayer: gainsaying, contradiction, opposition, rebellion
3) “The author expresses here a sort of axiomatic truth; a truth which is so generally acknowledged that it is really beyond dispute” (Wacaster, 256).
4) In essence no one would disagree that Abraham, the less, was blessed by Melchizedek, the greater.
B. Tithes and Death (Heb. 7:8)
1. Priests that Die (Heb. 7:8a)
And here men that die received tithes…
a. “…the author sets forth a third argument to show Melchisedek’s superiority, an argument based upon the fact that, unlike the Levitical priesthood, Melchisedek never had to pass his authority to someone else” (Wacaster, 257).
b. Question: Was this argument made in order to counter an argument of supporters of the Levitical system?
1) The Levites would bless the people.
2) The people paid tithes to the Levites.
3) Thus, here is not that much difference between the Levites and Melchisedek.
c. There was a huge difference with regard to their deaths. The Levites were men that died.
1) Aaron died at the age of 123 years.
2) Just prior to his death, he passed the authority of his priesthood on to his son, Eleazar (Num. 20:23-29).
2. Priest that Died Not (Heb. 7:8b)
…but there he receiveth them of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.
a. Melchisedek is a priest who did not die and did not transfer his authority to another.
b. “Keep in mind that so far as the witness of the Scripture is concerned, Melchisedek did not die…and consequently there was no successor of his priesthood” (Wacaster, 257).
c. This was a major difference between the Levitical priesthood and the priesthood of Melchisedek that could not be reckoned with.
C. Tithes and Denotation (the direct explicit meaning) (Heb. 7:9-10)
1. The Crux (Heb. 7:9)
And as I may so say, Levi who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.
a. The writer employs here the “principle of representation.”
1) Levi was represented by Abraham. When Abraham paid tithes, Levi was represented as paying tithes.
2) Barnes: “It means that, in the circumstances of the case, the same thing occurred in regard to the superiority of Melchisedek, and the inferiority of the Levitical priesthood, which would have occurred if Levi had been present with Abraham, and had himself actually paid tithes on that occasion.”
2. The Cause (Heb. 7:10)
For yet he was in the loins of his father, when Melchisedek met him.
a. “According to Hebrew tradition, a son was subject to any acts or vows made by his father so long as the son was in the loins of the father, when the vow was made” (Wacaster, 255).
b. Abraham paid tithes to Melchisedek. Since Levi was still in the loins of Abraham, he had not yet been born, then, Levi, too, paid tithes to Melchisedek indicating his inferiority to him.
c. The Point:
1) The priesthood of Melchisedek is superior to the priesthood of Levi.
2) Jesus is a priest after the order of Melchisedek.
3) Therefore, Jesus’ priesthood is superior to the Levitical priesthood.