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When ye come to appear before me,
Who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?
Bring no more vain oblations;
Incense is an abomination unto me.
Wash you, make you clean;
Put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes;
Learn to do well;
Seek judgment, relieve the oppressed;
Judge the fatherless, plead for the widow." 1
And with this very warning against a false reliance on the symbols themselves, the same prophet gives assurance of better things in store for all those who are in true blood-covenant with God; even though they be not of the peculiar people of Abraham's natural descent. Foretelling the future, when the types of the sacrifice shall be realized, he says:
"And in this mountain shall the Lord of Hosts make unto
A feast of fat things,
A feast of wine on the lees;
Of fat things full of marrow,
Of wines on the lees well refined." 2
The feast of inter-communion shall be sure, when the
blood-covenant of inter-union is complete.
Again, by Jeremiah :
"Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel:
Add your burnt-offerings unto your sacrifices, and eat ye flesh.
1 Isaiah I: II-17.
2 Isa. 25: 6.
THE TRUE LESSON OF THE ALTAR.
[But remember that that is not the completion of a covenant with me].
For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them,
In the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt,
[As if burnt offerings and sacrifices were the all important thing];
But this thing I commanded them, saying,
Hearken unto my voice,
And I will be your God,
And ye shall be my people;
And walk ye in all the way that I command you,
That it may be well with you." 1
Once more, by Hosea :
"O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?
O Judah, what shall I do unto thee?
For your goodness is as a morning cloud,
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice;
And the knowledge of God more than burnt-offerings.
[or, as the Revisers' "margin" would render it,
"But they are as men that have transgressed a covenant" :]
[Therein have they proved unfaithful to the requirements of the blood-covenant on which they assumed to be resting, in their sacrifices].
1 Jer. 7: 21-23.
2 Hosea 6: 4--7.
And so, all the way along through the prophets, in repeated emphasis of the incompleteness of the bloodcovenanting symbols in the ritual sacrifices.
Concerning the very rite of circumcision, which was the token of Abraham's covenant of blood-friendship with the Lord, the Israelites were taught that its spiritual value was not in the formal surrender of a bit of flesh, and a few drops of blood, in ceremonial devotedness to God, but in its symbolism of the implicit surrender of the whole life and being, in hearty covenant with God. "Behold, unto the Lord thy God belongeth the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, the earth with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all peoples as at this day. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked."1 "And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessings and the curse which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, and shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul; that then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and
1 Deut. 10: 14-16.
WRITTEN ON THE HEART.
gather thee from all the peoples, whither the Lord thy
God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." when this has come to pass, the true seed of Abraham, circumcised in heart, shall be in the covenant of blood-friendship with God.
So, also, with the phylacteries as the record of the blood-covenant of the passover, they had a value only as they represented a heart-remembrance of that covenant, by their wearers. Says Solomon, in the guise of Wisdom.
'My son, forget not my law;
But let thine heart keep my commandments.
Let not mercy and truth forsake thee:
Bind them about thy neck;
Write them upon the table of thy heart;
So shalt thou find favor and good understanding
In the sight of God and man."
And my law as the apple of thine eye.
Bind them upon thy fingers;
Write them upon the table of thine heart." 5
And the prophet Jeremiah foretells the recognition of this truth in the coming day of better things:
1 Deut. 30: 1-6.
2 Gal. 3:7-9; Rom. 4: 11, 12.
5 Prov. 7: 2, 3.
3 Rom. 2: 26-29; Phil. 3: 3. Prov. 3: 1-4.
"Behold the days come, saith the Lord,
That I will make a new covenant
With the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers.
In the day that I took them by the hand,
To bring them out of the land of Egypt
[That covenant was the blood-covenant of the passover; of which the phylacteries were a token.]
Which my covenant they brake,
Although I was an husband unto them [a lord over them] saith
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of
After those days, saith the Lord;
I will put my law in their inward parts,
And in their heart will I write it:
[Instead of its being written as now, outside of them, on their hand and on their forehead.]
And I will be their God,
And they shall be my people.
And their sin will I remember no more." 1
The blood-covenant symbols of the Mosaic law all pointed to the possibility of a union of man's spiritual nature with God; but they did not in themselves either assure or indicate that union as already accomplished; nor did they point the way to it, as yet made clear. They were only "a shadow of the things to come." 2
1 Jer. 31: 31-34.
2 Col. 2: 17.