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A NEW COVENANT WITH NOAH.

that life which is the essence of God himself.

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Noah's

first act, on coming out from the ark, was to proffer himself and all living flesh in a fresh blood-covenant with the Lord. "And Noah builded an altar unto the Lord; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt offerings on the altar.”1 From all that we know of the method of the burntoffering, either from the Bible-text or from outside sources, it has, from the beginning, included the preliminary offering of the blood-as the life-to Deity, by its outpouring, around, or upon, the altar, with or without the accompaniment of libations of wine; or, again, by its sprinkling upon the altar.2

It was then, when the spirit of Noah, in this covenant-seeking by blood, was recognized approvingly by the Lord, that the Lord smelled the sweet savor of the proffered offering,—" the savor of satisfaction, or delectation," to him, was in it, and he established a new covenant with Noah, giving commandment anew concerning the never-failing sacredness of blood: "Every moving thing that liveth shall be food for you; as [freely as] the green herb, have I given you all [flesh]. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof

1 Gen. 8: 20.

2 Exod. 24: 5, 6; 29: 15-25; Lev. 1: 1-6, 10-12, 14, 15; 8: 18,

19, etc.

See also pages 102, 106–109, supra.

3 See Speaker's Commentary, in loco.

[flesh with the blood in it], shall ye not eat. And surely your blood, the blood of your lives, will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it: and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man's brother, will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man." Here, the blood of even those animals whose flesh might be eaten by man is forbidden for food; because it is life itself, and therefore sacred to the Author of life. And the blood of man must not be shed by man,—except where man is made God's minister of justice,—because man is formed in the image of God, and only God has a right to take away-directly or by his minister-the life from one bearing God's likeness.

And this injunction, together with this covenant, preceded the ceremonial law of Moses; and it survived that law as well. When the question came up in the apostolic conference at Jerusalem, on the occasion of the visit of Paul and Barnabas, concerning the duty of Gentile Christians to the Mosaic ceremonial law, the decision was explicit, that, while nothing which was of that ritual alone should be imposed as obligatory on the new believers, those essential ele

1 Gen. 9: 3-6.

2" A man might not use another's life for the support of his physical life" (Westcott's Epistles of St. John, p. 34).

A PERPETUAL OBLIGATION.

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ments of religious observance which were prior to Moses, and which were not done away with in Christ, should be emphasized in all the extending domain of Christianity. Spirituality in worship, personal purity, and the holding sacred to God all blood-or life—as the gift of God, and as the means of communion with God, must never be ignored in the realm of Christian duty. "Write unto them, that they abstain from the pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from what is strangled, and from blood,"1 said the Apostle James, in announcing the decision of this conference; and the circular letter to the Gentile churches was framed accordingly. Nor does this commandment seem ever to have been abrogated, in letter or in spirit. However poorly observed by Christians, it stands to-day as it stood in the days of Paul, and in the days of Noah, a perpetual obligation, with all its manifold teachings of the blessed benefits of the covenant of blood.2

3. THE BLOOD COVENANT IN CIRCUMCISION.

Again the Lord made a new beginning for the race in his start with Abraham as the father of a chosen 1 See Acts 15: 2-29; also 21: 18-25.

2 Those, indeed, who would put the dictum of the Church of Rome above the explicit commands of the Bible, can claim that that Church has affirmed the mere temporary nature of this obligation, which the Bible makes perpetual. But apart from this, there seems to be no show of justification for the abrogation, or the suspension, of the command.

and peculiar people in the world. And again the covenant of blood, or the covenant of strong-friendship as it is still called in the East, was the prominent feature in this beginning. The Apostle James says that "Abraham was called the friend of

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God." God himself, speaking through Isaiah, refers to Abraham, as “Abraham my friend";2 and Jehoshaphat, in his extremity, calling upon God for help, speaks of "Abraham, thy friend." And this application of the term "friend" to any human being, in his relations to God, is absolutely unique in the case of Abraham, in all the Old Testament record. Abraham, and only Abraham, was called "the friend of God."+ Yet the immediate narrative of Abraham's relations to God, makes no specific mention of this unique term "friend," as being then applied to Abraham. It is only as we recognize the primitive rite of bloodfriendship in the incidents of that narrative, that we perceive clearly why and how God's covenant with Abraham was pre-eminently a covenant of friendship. "I will make my covenant between me and thee, 1 James 2: 23. 4 The only instance in which it might seem that there was an exception to this statement, is Exodus 33: 11, where it is said, "The Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.” But here the Hebrew word is rea (V) with the idea of "a companion," or "a neighbor"; while the word applied to Abraham is ohebh "a loving one." 5 See Appendix, infra, p. 322.

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2 Isaiah 41: 8.

3 $2 Chron. 20: 7.

THE FRIEND OF GOD.

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and will multiply thee exceedingly," said the Lord to Abraham.1 And again, "I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee; and to thy seed after thee And as for thee, thou shalt keep my covenant, thou, and thy seed after thee throughout their generations." And then there came the explanation, how Abraham was to enter into the covenant of bloodfriendship with the Lord; so that he might be called "the friend of God." "This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you, and thy seed after thee; every male among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of a covenant betwixt me and you."3 The blood-covenant of friendship shall be consummated by your giving to me of your personal blood at the very source of paternity—" under your girdle"; thereby pledging yourself to me, and pledging, also, to me, those who shall come after you in the line of natural descent. "And my covenant [this covenant of blood-friendship] shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant." 5 So," in the selfsame day was Abraham circumcised," and thenceforward he bore in his flesh the evidence

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3 Gen. 17: 10, II.

5 Gen. 17: 13.

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