Images de page
PDF
ePub

ABEL'S PROFFER OF HIMSELF TO GOD. 211

"1

and to his offering he had not respect.” An inspired comment on this incident is: "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he had witness borne to him that he was righteous, God bearing witness in respect of [or, over] his gifts: and through it he [Abel] being dead yet speaketh."

[ocr errors]

Now, on the face of it, in the light of all that we know of primitive customs in this matter of the bloodcovenant, and apart from any added teachings in the Bible concerning the nature and meanings of different sacrifices, this narrative shows Abel lovingly and trustfully reaching out toward God with substitute blood, in order to be in covenant oneness with God; while Cain merely proffers a gift from his earthly possessions. Abel so trusts God that he gives himself to him. Cain defers to God sufficiently to make a present to him. The one shows unbounded faith; the other shows a measure of affectionate reverence. It is the same practical difference as that which distinguished Ruth from Orpah when the testing time of their love for their mother-in-law, Naomi, had come to them. alike. "And Orpah kissed her mother-in-law; but Ruth clave unto her."3 No wonder that God counted Abel's unstinted proffer of himself, in faith, an acceptable sacrifice, and received it, as in inter-communion 3 Ruth I: 14.

1 Gen. 4: 2-5.

2 Heb. II: 4.

on the basis of inter-union; while Cain's paltry gift, without any proffer of himself, won no approval from the Lord.

Then there followed the unhallowed shedding of Abel's blood by Cain, and the crying out, as it were, of the spilled life of Abel unto its Divine Author.1 "The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground," said the Lord to the guilty spiller of blood. "And now cursed art thou from the ground, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother's blood from thy hand." Here, as elsewhere, the blood is pre-eminently the life; and even when poured out on the earth, the blood does not lose its vitality. It still has its intelligent relations to its Author and Guardian; 2 as the world has been accustomed to count a possibility, down to modern times.3

After the destruction of mankind by the deluge, when God would begin anew, as it were, by the revivifying of the world through the vestige of bloodof life-preserved in the ark,' he laid new emphasis on the sacredness of blood as the representative of

2

1 Gen. 4: 10, II.

For it must be observed, that by the outpouring of the blood, the life which was in it was not destroyed, though it was separated from the organism which before it had quickened : Gen. 4: 10; comp. Heb. 12: 24 (Tapà Tòv "Aßeλ); Apoc. 6: 10" (Westcott's Epistles of St. John, p. 34).

3 See pages 143-147, supra.

4 See pages 110-113, supra.

A NEW COVENANT WITH NOAH.

213

that life which is the essence of God himself. 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

3

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, See also pages 102, 106-109, supra.

19, etc.

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."1 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.

215

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," 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.

« PrécédentContinuer »