Chapter 7 of Hebrews is the last example of tithing in the Bible that we are going to examine in this series, and it’s also the only mention of tithing that occurs in the Bible after Jesus’ death. For this reason, we should pay close attention to what is said here since it applies specifically to Christians.
Hebrews is a book of better things. It talks about how Jesus and the New Covenant surpass Moses, the Law, the priesthood, and the Old Covenant. Chapter 7 in particular discusses how the high-priesthood of Jesus has replaced the Levitical priesthood. It also makes it clear that a change of the priesthood requires a change of law (from the Law of Moses to the Law of Christ). Since tithing was commanded to the Israelites as part of the Mosaic Law, it has been replaced by the Law of Christ which requires generous giving to anyone in need.
After the Order of Melchizedek
The author of Hebrews begins chapter 7 by explaining how the high-priesthood of Jesus surpasses and replaces the Levitical priesthood. Since God declared Jesus to be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, the author of Hebrews uses the example of Abraham giving a tenth of his spoils of war to Melchizedek to highlight the reasons why Jesus’ priesthood is higher and better than the Levitical priesthood. You can read Hebrews 7:1-10 for the actual text, but here are the main points:
- The Levites only took tithes from the Israelites because of a commandment that was part of the Law that came from God. That tithe was clearly connected to the Law of Moses.
- Melchizedek accepted a tithe of the war spoils from Abraham and blessed him – showing that Melchizedek is “greater” than Abraham.
- The Levites receive tithes but die, while Melchizedek received a tithe but Psalm 110:4 testifies that the priest after the order of Melchizedek (Jesus) lives forever.
- We can say that Levi and all his descendants (the Levites) paid tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham.
All of these facts indicate that a priest after the order of Melchizedek, Jesus, is higher than the Levitical priesthood. After His death, Jesus replaced the entire Levitical priesthood and became the high priest of all those who choose to follow Him. His sacrifice replaces all the sacrifices the Levitical priests made, and it is through Him that we draw near to God (where previously only the Levitical priests could draw near to God).
A Change of the Priesthood Requires a Change of Law
This change of the priesthood necessitates a change in law, because the Law of Moses is what established the Levitical priesthood and tithing is how the Levitical priesthood was supported. If the Levitical priesthood has been abolished and replaced, then the statutes and ordinances surrounding that priesthood have also been abolished and replaced.
11 Now if there were perfection through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people have received the law), what further need was there for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is of necessity a change made also in the law.
Hebrews 7:11-12 (WEB)
The Law made no one perfect. If it had, then Jesus would not have needed to die on the cross for our sins. We could have simply followed the Law of Moses and received our salvation that way. But we all have sinned and no one but Jesus has kept the Law perfectly. Therefore, God chose to replace the Old Covenant with a new and better covenant through His Son. Since we now have Jesus as our high priest and we are the priesthood of believers, the Old Covenant and its rules about the Levitical priesthood (including tithing) no longer apply to us as Christians.
The Priesthood of Jesus Brings Us a Better Hope
We no longer have high priests who are weak and just as unable as we are to avoid sin. Instead, we have Jesus as our high priest forever. And it is through Him and the hope that He brings that we can draw near to God.
18 For there is an annulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), and a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Hebrews 7:18-19 (WEB)
By so much, Jesus has become the collateral of a better covenant.
Hebrews 7:22 (WEB)
We no longer seek righteousness through the Law but through Jesus. We claim redemption of our sins through the blood of Jesus (an eternal sacrifice) and not through animal sacrifices. These are ways the New Covenant is better than the Old.
In the same way, we no longer determine our giving based on the Old Covenant statute of tithing. We are to be led by the Spirit to be generous, cheerful, and sacrificial givers to the poor and needy. How is Spirit-led giving better than tithing? Because we must draw near to God through Jesus under the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know His will for our giving. You can’t figure out how much you should give by using a simple calculation. New Covenant Giving requires a close relationship with God, constant prayer, and careful discernment in order to glorify Him. Giving becomes a continual act of worship – we seek God’s will through prayer, we give according to His will, and then we repeat. This is a process that draws us nearer to God and helps us become more like Jesus.
Why Go Back?
Now that we have a New, Better Covenant, why would we choose to go back to the Old? When you choose to limit how you give by the Law of Moses you are rejecting the guidance of the Holy Spirit and God’s desire for New Covenant Giving. Allow God’s Word to teach you how He wants you to give according to the teaching of Jesus and the examples we have in the New Testament. Here are a few articles that outline New Covenant Giving principles for Christians:
- Give Yourself to God First
- Give in Response to Jesus’ Give
- Give with Sincere Desire and Love
- Give Under Grace Not Commandment
- Give As Much As You Are Able or Even More
- Give So That There May Be Equality
- Give Joyfully and Cheerfully
Seek the guidance of His Spirit before deciding how much you should give. His will for you may be to give much more than just 10% or it may be to give less or nothing at all depending on your circumstances. Let God determine how much you should give instead of leaving it up to arbitrary percentages.