Thursday, May 16, 2013

Daily Old Testament and Early Christian Writings: Numbers 21 and Origen's De Principiis: Preface 4

Numbers 21 – The king of Arad, just west of the Dead Sea in the Negeb, comes out to fight the Israelites and takes some captive. Verse 3 refers to a vague later time when the Lord will deliver them up to the Israelites but that time is not now apparently.

They set out on the Red Sea road to bypass Edom; and again the people grumble against God and Moses – this time about the wretched food. The Lord sends saraph [burning] serpents to punish them, and they repent and ask Moses to get rid of the snakes.

He is told by the Lord to make a bronze serpent and mount it on a pole.  Anyone bitten by a saraph after that can just look at it and be healed John later refers to this and compares it to the cross on which Jesus was lifted up – John 3:14]. And Justin Martyr also celebrated this as a foreshadowing of Christ’s presence on the cross – one of a multitude of “types” that could be found in the Old Testament.

They do move into the country of Edom, to a place called Oboth and then to the southern border of Edom.  The story does not recount the journey to Aqaba shown on the map.  They pass without event through the land of Moab and come to Sihon, land of the Amorites.  They ask permission to pass through peacefully, but Sihon, the king, comes out to fight them.  They beat him and then also the king of Bashan

Origen (185-254 AD)
De Principiis (First Principles)
4 – The things that are CLEAR in the teaching of the apostles are the following:

First, “That there is one God, who created and arranged all things, and who, when nothing existed, called all things into being—God from the first creation and foundation of the world—the God of all just men, of Adam, Abel, Seth, Enos, Enoch, Noe [Noah], Sere, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, the twelve patriarchs, and the prophets; and that this God in the last days as He had announced beforehand by His prophets, sent our Lord Jesus Christ to call in the first place Israel to Himself, and in the second place the Gentiles, after the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel.”

Second, “That Jesus Christ Himself, who came (into the world), was born of the Father before all creatures; that after He had been the servant of the Father in the creation of all things. . . He in the last times, divesting Himself (of His glory), became a man, and was incarnate although God, and while made a man remained the God which He was; that He assumed a body like to our own, differing in this respect only, that it was born of a virgin and of the Holy Spirit: that this Jesus Christ was truly born, and did truly suffer and did not endure this death common (to man) in appearance only, but did truly die; that He did truly rise from the dead; and that after His resurrection He conversed with His disciples, and was taken up (into heaven).”

And third: The “apostles related that the Holy Spirit was associated in honor and dignity with the Father and the Son. But in His case it is not clearly distinguished whether He is to be regarded as born or innate, or also as a Son of God or not: for these are points which have to be inquired into out of sacred Scripture according to the best of our ability, and which demand careful investigation. And that this Spirit inspired each one of the saints, whether prophets or apostles; and that there was not one Spirit in the men of the Old dispensation and another in those who were inspired at the advent of Christ, is most clearly taught throughout the Churches.”

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