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Who Is God's Representative?

Hebrews 7:4-7
Just think how great he was: even the patriarch Abraham gave him a tenth of the plunder! Now the law requires the descendants of Levi who become priests to collect a tenth from the people – that is, from their fellow Israelites – even though they also are descended from Abraham. This man, however, did not trace his descent from Levi, yet he collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. And without doubt the lesser is blessed by the greater. (NIVUK)

Tithing is a normal part of honouring God. It was embedded into the Mosaic law, declaring that a tenth of all income belongs to the Lord (Leviticus 27:30-32). The tithes were to be given to the priests, as God's representatives, to provide their support: but a tenth of what they received was also to be given directly to the Lord as a sacrifice (Numbers 18:26).

However, about 500 years earlier, in Genesis 14:20, Abraham thanked God for His gracious help in battle. He gave a tenth of all he had gained while rescuing his nephew Lot from captivity. The tithe went to Melchizedek, the king-priest of Salem (later Jerusalem) as God's representative, who had blessed Abraham as he thanked God for His gracious help in saving Lot (Genesis 14:18-20).

The writer of this letter makes the point that Melchizedek is greater than Abraham. The one who gives the blessing is greater than the one who is blessed; and the tithe-receiver is greater than the tithe-giver. Although Hebrew-background believers thought so highly of Abraham, the writer says that Abraham was inferior to Melchizedek. The reason for making this comparison is that Jesus Christ is appointed by God as a King-Priest in the line of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4).

That may all sound a bit complicated, but it points to the question, who is God's ultimate representative – human priests or Jesus? Jesus is a priest like Melchizedek, superior to Abraham and therefore also to Abraham's descendants including the Levites. The law they upheld could never bring life, unlike Melchizedek's priesthood. John 1:17 says, "For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ." Even though all God's people are priests (1 Peter 2:5), He is superior to every priest and we all have free access to God through faith in Him (Hebrews 4:14-16). Let us not make His grace inaccessible to needy people, hiding it behind religious structures. Let us boldly come to Him ourselves and gladly proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ, full of grace: the King-Priest who listens to our cries - who is not only God's representative, but is God Himself (Hebrews 10:22).

Father God. Thank You that Jesus is Your appointed personal representative. Forgive me when I lose sight of the access I have to You through the blood of Jesus, and when I make it difficult for others to seek Your grace. Please help me to grow in confidence that You are the only Mediator I need: to supply forgiving mercy and providing grace. In honour of Your sacrificial love, teach me to give back to You, from what You have given to me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams