Out With The Old, In With The New! [Hebrews 8]
Although Hebrews chapter 8 does not specifically mention tithing, this chapter (along with the entire book of Hebrews) is a fundamental text in understanding why we are no longer under the tithe or any Old Covenant ordinance.
The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Believers. The content reveals that this letter was written while the Old Covenant temple was still standing, which shows that it was written before the destruction of the Old Covenant temple in 70 A.D.
At this time, while the Old Covenant temple still stood, many if not most Jewish Believers continued to observe the Law of Moses and the Levitical priesthood. But as Jesus prophesied in Matthew 24, one day, things would change drastically. . . .
In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus prophesied to His disciples that one day, the Old Covenant temple and all of its buildings would be destroyed. Not one stone would be left upon another. Why? Because Jesus, the one who is greater than the Old Covenant temple, the one who IS the perfect final sacrifice, the one who IS the eternal Priest, the one whom the entire Old Covenant pointed to, had come to fulfill the Law of Moses and the prophets.
The Old Covenant revolved around 3 main things: the temple, the sacrifice, and the priesthood. Jesus embodied all of these things and brought them to their fulfillment, so they were no longer needed.
The Old Covenant temple was not intended to last forever. It was only an earthly copy of a heavenly pattern, serving a temporary purpose of foreshadowing the Son of God who is the heavenly temple, the heavenly sacrifice, and the heavenly High Priest. And once you have the Heavenly Substance, you no longer need the earthly shadows, copies, and Christ-types to point you to Him.
The time was approaching for the Old Covenant temple to be rendered obsolete. As a matter of fact, before Jesus prophesied of its destruction, He had already warned the scribes and Pharisees that He would leave their house unto them desolate (empty and abandoned). Why? Because they had turned His Father’s house into a den of thieves, a marketplace, and rejected their own Messiah.
The Jewish Believers, while believing in Jesus Christ as their Savior, had not yet realized that the Old Covenant temple system was desolate, obsolete, and ready to disappear.
They had not yet fully realized that Jesus is superior to the Old Covenant temple system.
They were still dependent on the temporary earthly copies, and their faith in Christ was immature and not very strong.
They were not prepared for the persecution and pivotal turn in Jewish history that would surely come after the Old Covenant temple system was gone, and all they had was Jesus to cling to. They were not prepared to walk solely by faith in Jesus and not rely on the old religious system of their forefathers.
And so, the book of Hebrews was written to strengthen the faith of these Jewish Believers, encourage them to progress beyond the elementary teachings of the faith and become mature, transition out of the Old Covenant into the New, and realize the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus Christ.
The Old Covenant temple system was no longer needed to live out their faith in Jesus Christ. They had Someone who was much greater than the Levitical priesthood, the Old Covenant temple, and its sacrifices.
The Levitical priesthood was earthly. But Jesus sits in the place of honor in heaven. And there, He ministers — not in an earthly temple, but in the heavenly Tabernacle, the true place of worship that was built by the Lord and not by human hands (Hebrews 8:1-2).
The Levitical priesthood offered gifts required by the Law of Moses. But they were serving in a system of worship that is only a copy, a shadow of the real one in heaven (Hebrews 8:3-5).
Jesus, our High Priest, has been given a ministry that is far superior to the Levitical priesthood. The Levitical priests had sin. Jesus has no sin. The Levitical priests all died. But Jesus lives forever. The Levitical priests had to keep offering sacrifices year after year. But Jesus sacrificed His life once for all. The Levitical priests ministered a covenant that brought curses, condemnation and death. But Jesus ministers a covenant that brings eternal life and reconciliation with God. He mediates for us a FAR BETTER covenant with God, based on better promises (Hebrews 8:6).
If the first covenant had worked out, then God wouldn’t have needed to replace it with a second covenant. The fault was not with the Old Covenant, but with the children of Israel who continued to break it.
And so, finding fault with His people, God prophesied (in Jeremiah 31) that the day would come when He would make a NEW covenant with His people. This New Covenant would NOT be like the Old Covenant that He made with their ancestors who left Egypt. They didn’t remain faithful to the covenant made at Sinai — so God turned His back on them.
This is the New Covenant that God made with us: He wrote His laws in our minds and on our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. We don’t need to teach one another “know God”, because we know Him already by the indwelling Holy Spirit. In this covenant, God forgives all of our iniquities and He will never again remember our sins and hold them against us (Hebrews 8:7-12).
God called this covenant “NEW”, which means that He made the first covenant OLD. And any agreement that is old is useless and ready to disappear (Hebrews 8:13).
In Christ, we have a better covenant based on better promises — this also includes a better way of giving. Giving that is based on New Covenant principles like love, grace, freedom and faith. Not fear, curses, condemnation, bondage, and compulsion.
In the New Covenant, we do not give because we *HAVE TO* or God will curse us and bad things will happen to us (especially our finances). We give because we are GLAD TO and we know that it is more blessed to GIVE than to receive.
I’m super excited about the next article, because we’re going to journey through the New Testament to see what Jesus and the apostles taught about giving. We’re also going to take a look at some living examples of giving.
Monetary ‘tithing’ has clouded and obscured what true giving is. Many Christians have no idea what it means to give like Jesus and meet urgent needs. Hopefully the next article will shed some light on this and bring understanding.
Click here for the next article in this series.