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 Historical Context Behind Hebrews

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.

“Who Has Bewitched You?” – Part 6

This information may seem redundant to some of you, but I believe it is important to highlight the vast difference between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. Especially when it comes to the practice of monetary ‘tithing’ which lures Believers back under the yoke of the Old Covenant.

2 Corinthians 3:6 says “This covenant [the new covenant] is not of written laws, but of the Spirit. The old written covenant ends in death; but under the new covenant, the Spirit gives life.”

The tithing laws were a part of the Old Covenant of written laws. The written covenant ended in death because everyone sinned by breaking the law of Moses, and the penalty of sin is death.

The New Covenant on the other hand is not about living by the Old Covenant of written laws. But about living by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit gives eternal life. The tithing laws never gave anyone eternal life. They aren’t a part of the New Covenant ministry.

2 Corinthians 3:7-8 says “The old way, with laws etched in stone, led to death, though it began with such glory that the people of Israel could not bear to look at Moses’ face. For his face shone with the glory of God, even though the brightness was already fading away. Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life?”

The Old Covenant engraved on stones was glorious, but even that glory began fading away. The New Covenant is more glorious because the Holy Spirit gives eternal life. The tithing laws were a part of the Old Covenant, and as such they were not as glorious as the New Covenant ministry. Giving by the Spirit excels tithing under the letter of the law.

2 Corinthians 3:9-10 says “If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God! In fact, that first glory was not glorious at all compared with the overwhelming glory of the new way.”

The Old Covenant (including the tithing laws) brought curses and condemnation, because everyone fell short of God’s glorious standard. But the New Covenant is more glorious because it does not curse and condemn us, but rather, God freed us from sin and declared us RIGHTEOUS by faith in His Son, and His Holy Spirit produces godly character in us. The tithing laws do not set us free from sin. They do not play a role in our justification or sanctification in the New Covenant.

2 Corinthians 3:11 says “So if the old way, which has been replaced, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new, which remains forever!”

In this passage, we are given a third reason why the New Covenant is more glorious than the Old Covenant: whereas the Old Covenant was fading away, the New Covenant remains forever. The Old Covenant was temporary. It was not meant to last forever. It has been superseded by a New Covenant which remain forever.

Some people will not understand these things. In fact, many people who claim to believe in Jesus will become offended and hostile when they are shown (from Scripture) that the New Covenant has superseded the Old Covenant. Even after being shown the tithing laws and the difference between the Old and the New Covenant, they still prefer the ministry of curses, condemnation and death over the New Covenant of life, freedom, and justification by faith.

Like Paul wrote, “But the people’s minds were hardened, and to this day whenever the old covenant is being read, the same veil covers their minds so they cannot understand the truth. And this veil can be removed only by believing in Christ. Yes, even today when they read Moses’ writings, their hearts are covered with that veil, and they do not understand.” (2 Corinthians 3:14-15)

A person can have intellectual knowledge of the Old Covenant laws and articulate the Gospel message verbatim — but until they turn to Lord, a veil will remain over their heart and blind them from understanding the truth about Christ and be set free.

“But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into His glorious image.” (2 Corinthians 3:16-18)

In the next article, I will be sharing from the book of Galatians. This letter speaks directly to the issue of perverting the Gospel by placing Believers in a yoke of religious bondage to the Old Covenant law.

“You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?. . .” (Galatians 3:1a)

Click here for the next article.

“Who Has Bewitched You?” – Part 4

The central theme of Romans is the Good News message that God justifies both Jews and Gentiles by grace through faith.

The book of Romans also explains the purpose of the Old Covenant, and how Christ’s redemptive work on the Cross revolutionized how we relate to God and live out our faith in the New Covenant.

Monetary ‘tithing’ on the other hand is not a part of the New Covenant. It is not based on grace through faith. It is based on the Old Covenant (the ministry of condemnation), which was never intended for born-again Spirit-filled New Covenant Believers.

The New Covenant is not about living by the Old Covenant and its stipulations. It’s about living by the power of the Holy Spirit, by faith, and by God’s grace. It’s about Christ, the hope of glory, living in us and us abiding in Him. When the Lord lives in your heart, He changes you from within, and transforms your very desires into WANTING to give cheerfully, with no strings attached. He will show you that the greater blessing is being able to give, and not in the temporal things. For it is MORE BLESSED to give than to receive!~

I hope that you will see that the issue of monetary ‘tithing’ is not about whether Believers should give 10% of our income or not. It isn’t about the percentage at all (God leaves it up to us to decide how much to give). The issue is. . . giving according to the New Covenant (the new life-giving way of living by the Spirit and by faith in Jesus), versus giving based on an old outdated system of law which brought curses and condemnation and could not save anyone.

Trying to live out our faith in an Old Covenant paradigm, when we are meant to live in the New Covenant, can damage our spiritual growth. Jesus stated this when He said that people do not pour new wine into old wineskins — people do not put something that is new into something that is old. The old wineskins would burst from the pressure, spilling the new wine and ruining the skins. New wine must be stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved (Matthew 9:17). Who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before.

If you are a Believer in Jesus Christ, then you are very different from the Israelites who lived under the Old Covenant, and your relationship with God is very different as well. You have been regenerated, given a new heart, and given a new birth “from above” “from God.” The very Spirit of God lives in you, and you are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. You don’t need to rely on a prophet to give you a word from God — you can hear from God directly! During the Old Covenant, only the priests were allowed to draw near to God, but Jesus leads us beyond the veil into God’s presence for intimate fellowship. The prophets wanted to know more about this gracious salvation and the Good News message that they prophesied of. . . it was a mystery to them — but you are living in the reality of it. It was to you that God revealed these things by His Spirit, so that you can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. This is the awesome privilege of being a NEW Covenant Believer!~

Understanding our position as New Covenant Believers is critical to realizing why the monetary ‘tithe’ is wrong and does not reflect our New Covenant relationship with God.

In the next article, I will share some passages from the book of Romans explaining these things. I appreciate your patience.

Click here for the next article in this series.