A Higher Priestly Order: Hebrews 7:4-10
“4) Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth of the choicest spoils. 5) And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people, that is, from their brethren, although these are descended from Abraham. 6) But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. 7) But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8) And in this case mortal men receive tithes, but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9) And, so to speak, through Abraham even Levi, who received tithes, paid tithes, 10) for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.” Hebrews‬ ‭7:4-10‬ ‭
The writer uses this encounter between Abraham and Melchizedek that was recorded in Genesis 14:17-24 to make the point the priesthood of Melchizedek is greater than the priesthood of Levi. Let’s look at four observations that come from the story.
First, Abraham gave a tenth of the spoil to Melchizedek. That must have been a huge amount. It represent 10% of the spoil taken from the four kings with Chedorlaomer over the whole region. The tithe was very large. It establishes that the priesthood of Melchizedek was greater than the priesthood of Levi and Aaron.
Second, though not mentioned in the text, the story from Genesis proves that Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region that was later destroyed by judgement had previously had good news preached to them. Melchizedek Himself, king of righteousness and king of peace had met with them. It appears that they had trampled under foot the witness and warnings given to them. God always gives witness and warning before He gives judgement. Note that Noah preached the entire time he was building the ark to the generation that perished in the flood.
Third, notice that even Levi paid tithe to Melchizedek though he was not yet born. He was still in the loins of Abraham. (See verses 9-10) In the same way, all the descendants of Adam were imputed with the sin of Adam. His sin nature passed on to all of his descendants. We all carry guilt from his original sin.
Finally, verse 7 observes that the lessor is always blessed by the greater. It was Melchizedek that blessed Abraham and his descendants and not the other way around. This underlines the fact that the priesthood of Melchizedek is greater than the priesthood of Levi.
Remember that Hebrews 6:20 ended with the statement that Jesus became a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. This comparison is significant. It proves that priesthood of Jesus was higher than those in the office of Aaron in his day. He occupied a higher priestly office. He was from a higher order of priests.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global