Saturday, May 11, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Numbers 16 and Irenaeus Selections: The New Creation in Christ “Recapitulates” the Old

Numbers 16Two new rebellions—a) Korah’s rebellion and b) a rebellion led by Dathan and Abiram—The rebellions are conflated here, but they clearly are distinct.  Korah, a Levite and Moses’ first cousin, leads 250 “men of note” (16:2) to Moses, complaining as follows: “’Enough from you! The whole community, all of them, are holy; the Lord is in their midst.  Why then should you set yourselves over the Lord’s congregation?” This is the same old story—now the rebellion is from the leaders, jealous of Moses’s particular leadership role, even though they too have positions of importance, of honor even. Moses “prostrates” himself again, and tells Korah that the Lord will decide the matter the next day, that they should all bring their censers with incense to off to God and that somehow he will decide the matter. 

In a different rebellion, Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab (and Reubenites—perhaps angry because of their position in the camp) tell Moses, “Are you not satisfied with having led us here away from a land flowing with mild and honey, to make us perish in the desert, that must now lord it over us” (16:13).  Moses is furious.  His conscience is clear regarding their accusations.

Dathan and Abiram are sucked down to the nether world with everything they owned--the earth closed over them and they perished from the community (16:33-34).

As for Korah and the 250, fire comes down from the Lord and consumes them all—the story ends at 17:27 where the people express fear that every time someone approaches the Meeting Tent, he is consumed.

The story of Korah’s rebellion is hardly ever referred to today in sermons or in Christian writings, but it has always been interesting to me that it played such an important part of George Fox’s vision of the Old Testament narrative. He spends a lot of time discussing it. AND what is most interesting to me is that in his writings it intersects with an idea, which he develops that I first see in early Christian writings in Irenaeus (below) – the idea that the narrative of the Old Testament is “recapitulating” itself in the story of Christ and His redemption of all creation.
Irenaeus doesn’t do with it quite what Fox does – make it into a part of the recapitulation that happens in every believer, but he is the first I am away of who instead of just seeing predictions of what will happen in Christ, sees a recapitulation of the entire narrative line. And just to top it off – I had no plan to include these selections together on my site – it just happened!!

Irenaeus of Lyons (c.180 AD)
Selections from the Work Against Heresies
Book V – Redemption and the World to Come
The New Creation in Christ “Recapitulates” the Old
19 – “So the Lord now manifestly came to his own, and, born by his own created order which he himself bears, he by his obedience on the tree renewed [and reversed] what was done by disobedience in [connection with] a tree; and [the power of] that seduction by which the virgin Eve, already betrothed to a man, had been wickedly seduced was broken when the angel in truth brought good tidings to the Virgin Mary, who already [by her betrothal] belonged to a man. For as Eve was seduced by the word of an angel to flee from God, having rebelled against his Word, so Mary by the word of an angel received the glad tidings that she would bear God by obeying his Word. The former was seduced to disobey God [and so fell], but the latter was persuaded to obey God, so that the Virgin Mary might become the advocate of the virgin Eve.”

20 – “Therefore he renews these things in himself, uniting man to the Spirit; and placing the Spirit in man, he himself is made the head of the Spirit, and gives the Spirit to be the head of man, for by him we see and hear and speak.”

21 – “He therefore completely renewed all things, both taking up the battle against our enemy, and crushing him who at the beginning had led us captive in Adam, trampling on his head, as you find in Genesis that God said to the serpent, ‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he will be on the watch for our head, and you will be on the watch for his heel.’ From then on it was proclaimed that he who was to be born of a virgin, after the likeness of Adam, would be on the watch for the serpent’s head—this is the seed of which the apostle says in the Letter to the Galatians, ‘The law of works was established until the seed should come to whom the promise was made.’”

If you want to see what I came to see in this, you could check out the article entitled John and Genesis.

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