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TRIED AND TRUE.
and always, reckoned the highest and surest evidence possible of the truest and holiest friendship. And this may well be looked at, also, as a symbol of God's purpose of surrendering his only Son, in proof of his fidelity to his blood-covenant of friendship with Abraham and Abraham's true seed forever.
"Greater love [in friendship] hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends;"1 and no man, as the Oriental mind views it, can so utterly lay down his life, as when he lays down the larger life of his only son. Abraham showed himself capable of even such friendship as this, in his blood-covenant with Jehovah; and when he had manifested his spirit of devotedness, he was told to stay his hand and spare his son: the will was accepted for the deed. "Yea, he that had gladly received the promises, was offering up his only begotten son; even he of whom it was said, In Isaac shall thy seed be called: accounting that God is able to raise up even from the dead; from whence he did also in a parable receive him back." Then it was, that "the Angel of the Lord called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven and said, By myself have I sworn [by my life], saith the Lord, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy 1 John 15: 13.
2 Heb. 11: 17-19.
seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed: because thou hast [even to this extent] obeyed my voice." The bloodcovenant of friendship between Jehovah and Abraham had more meaning in it than ever, through its testing and its triumph, in this transaction.
And it is on this record, and apparently in this view of the record, that the Apostle James says: "Was not Abraham our father justified by works, in that he offered up Isaac his son upon the altar? Thou seest that faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect [consummated]; and the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God."
5. THE BLOOD COVENANT AND ITS TOKENS IN THE
There came, again, a time when the Lord would give fresh evidence of his fidelity to his covenant of blood-friendship with Abraham. Again a new start was to be made in the history of redemption. The seed of Abraham was in Egypt, and the Lord would bring thence that seed, for its promised inheritance in 1 Gen. 22: 15-18. 2 James 2: 21-23.
THE PASSOVER SIGN.
Canaan. The Egyptians refused to let Israel go, at the call of the Lord. The Lord sent a series of strokes or "plagues" upon the Egyptians, to enforce their obedience to his summons. And first, he turned the waters of Egypt into blood; so that there was nothing for the Egyptians to drink save that which, as the representative of life, was sacred to their gods, and must not be tasted.1 So on, from "plague" to "plague" -from stroke to stroke; until the Lord's sentence went forth against all the uncovenanted first-born of Egypt. Then it was that the Lord gave another illustration of the binding force of the unfailing covenant of blood.
In the original covenant of blood-friendship between Abraham and the Lord, it was Abraham who gave of his blood in token of the covenant. Now, the Lord was to give of his blood, by substitution, in re-affirmation of that covenant, with the seed of Abraham his friend. So the Lord commanded the choice of a lamb, "without blemish, a male of the first year";2 typical in its qualities, and representative in its selection. The blood of that lamb was to be put "on the two side posts and on the lintel" of every house of a descendant of Abraham; above and along side of every passer through the doorway. "And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye
1 See Exod. 4: 9; 7: 17-21.
2 See Exod. 12: 1-6.
3 See a reference to a similar custom in China, at page 153, supra.
are," said the Lord to this people: "and when I see the blood [the token of my blood-covenant with Abraham], I will pass over you, and there shall no plague be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt."1
The flesh of the chosen lamb was to be eaten by the Israelites, reverently, as an indication of that intercommunion which the blood-friendship rite secures; and in accordance with a common custom of the primitive blood-covenant rite, everywhere.
(To this day, as I can testify from personal observation, the Samaritans on Mount Gerizim (where alone in all the world the passover-blood is now shed, year by year), bring to mind the blood-covenant aspects of this rite, by their uses of that sacred blood. The spurting life-blood of the consecrated lambs is caught in basins, as it flows from their cut throats; and not only are all the tents promptly marked with the blood as a covenant-token, but every child of the covenant receives also a blood-mark, on his forehead, between his eyes, in evidence of his relation to God in the covenant of blood-friendship.
It will be remembered that in the primitive rite of blood-friendship a blood-stained record of the covenant is preserved in a small leathern case, to be worn as an amulet upon the arm, or about the neck, by 2 See, again, at pages 154, supra.
1 Exod. 12: 7-13.
THE PHYLACTER Y-TOKEN.
him who has won a friend forever in this sacred rite.1 It would even seem that this was the custom in ancient Egypt, where the red amulet, which represented the blood of Isis, was worn by those who claimed a bloodfriendship with the gods. It is a noteworthy fact, that it was in conjunction with the institution of this passover rite of the Lord's blood-friendship with Israel, as a permanent ceremonial, that the Lord declared of this rite and its token: "It shall be for a sign upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes." And it is on the strength of this injunction, that the Jews have, to this day, been accustomed to wear upon their foreheads, and again upon their arm—as a crown and as an armlet—a small leathern case, as a sacred amulet, or as a “phylactery"; containing a record of the passover-covenant between the Lord and the seed of Abraham his friend. Not the law itself, but the substance of the covenant between the Lawgiver and his people, was the text of this amulet record. It included Exodus 13: 3-10, 11-16, with its reference to God's deliverance of his people from bondage, to the institution of the passover feast, and to the consecration of
1 See page 7 f., supra.
2 See page 81 f., supra. It is, indeed, by no means improbable, that the Hebrew word tôtaphôth (ii), translated "frontlets," as applied to the phylacteries was an Egyptian word. Its etymology has been a puzzle to the critics.
3 See Exod. 13: 11-16.