The Beauty of Numbers – 3

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Lifting up the Best

Numbers didn’t seem to be long enough for there to be seven “matrix” cycles, but it seems now that this may be a possibility. For the Covenant “five” to “bloom” into a seven, the “Ethics” of the Covenant structure is split into three: Firstfruits, Pentecost and Trumpets, or “Head,” “Fire’” and “Body.” Since Cycle 3 is “Firstfruits,” we should expect the story to include motifs such as Ascension, the Altar-Land, Levitical ministry, the firstborn, tithing and “devotion.” Hey, guess what comes next in Numbers?

Giving the Firstfruits back to God was an act of faith. It was an acknowledgement that the blessings of life come from the hand of God. Once the firstfruits were presented, God was “free” to send the rest of the harvest. Interestingly, this is the principle in the practice of “devoting” a city. Cities “under the ban” were like a “firstfruits” to God. The complete offering of Jericho as the “firstfruits” of the Land would free God to trust Israel with the plunder of the remaining cities. We also see this principle in the offering of Isaac by Abraham, whose faith in God to resurrect him if necessary meant that God could send many more sons.

Finally, this principle is what supported the Levitical ministry of the Tabernacle. Israel, arranged in “four corners” around the house of God was a symbolic Altar-Land, with the Levites continually presented “above” the Land as firstfruits. This has an amazing bearing on the next cycle, but I will have to leave that to the next post in this series.

Numbers 18:1-7 Genesis/Transcendence – Creation/The Levitical Call: Duties of Priests and Levites (with references to fathers and sons)
Numbers 18:8-20 Exodus/Hierarchy – Division/Delegation/Passover: A portion of the offerings of Israel is to be divided, set apart, sanctified, for the Levites. These portions are to be “reserved from the fire.” This includes the oil, wine, grain and firstborn of the flocks. The stanza’s “Sanction/Oath” is a Covenant of salt. However, the stanza’s “Succession” arrangement is that Aaron has no inheritance in the Land. His line is to remain separated from it. I hope you can see that this section is “Firstfruits” with a “Passover” or Division theme.
Numbers 18:21-32: Leviticus/Ethics Given – Ascension/Firstfruits/Altar: Now we have the directions concerning the tithes in their relation to the Tabernacle. Step 3 concerns the four-cornered Land-Altar and the Tent (the ground and the bloody skin-clad Adam). [1] What is really cool is that, as is common, this step is divided into Bronze Altar and Golden Table, and we can see that one sits “fractally” inside the other. Israel brings a tenth of her glorious abundance to the Levites, and then the Levites offer a tenth of that tenth to God. This itself is a microcosm of the nations bringing their glory into the Church: World, Land, Garden.
Numbers 19: Numbers/Ethics Opened – Testing/Pentecost: In this cycle, the significance of this entire cycle as a sacrificial process comes to the fore. We have worked through Initiation (Creation), Delegation (Division), Presentation (Ascension), and we come to Purification (Testing). [3] The process itself works through the threefold Ethics of Altar, Lampstand and Incense, or blood, fire and ashes (Altar/Blood/Priest: God’s face is against you; Lampstand/Fire/King: God’s face shines upon you; Incense: Smoke/Ashes/Prophet: You become God’s face.) The ashes are then administered in holy water. So the process of cleansing is itself a New Covenant and a New Creation. [2]
Numbers 20: Deuteronomy/Ethics Received – Maturity/Trumpets: Step 5 in the pattern is usually the weirdest and most difficult to discern, possibly because it is the “prophetic” step, and prophets are weird and full of signs and parables and riddles. However, since we know what this step entails in other places, we know what is going through the Author’s mind at this point of the literature. Step 5 concerns Covenantal witness, and there are two legal witnesses here, as there was in Pharaoh’s court: Moses and Aaron. What is really interesting is that in this chapter, the Lord cuts off Moses and Aaron from entering into the Promised Land. That is because Moses’ five-fold Covenant pattern ends here. God’s testimony through Moses must be completed before Israel enters the Land. Typologically, this is also good evidence for the canon of Scripture, “vision and prophecy,” eye and mouth, being “sealed up” before the destruction of the Temple. [4] The Mosaic and Aaronic institution had to end before the purified New Israel moved out to conquer the World proper. In between the two accounts concerning Moses and Aaron, we have the rebellion of the false brother, Edom (Esau). This reference to Edom occurs in many places throughout the Bible, including the prophets. We also see it in Judas as the “false brother” who is cut off prior to the apostolic (prophetic) witness of the disciples. Judas was the “eye and mouth” (unholy spy and unholy kiss) of the Edomite Herods (Proverbs 27:6).
Numbers 21:1-20: Joshua/Sanctions – Atonement/Vindication: Numbers 20 is a beautiful illustration of the “XxY coordinate” literary strategy of The Book. Here, we should find combinations of Firstfruits and Atonement. [5] We must first remember that in Hebrew the word “redemption” is a two-edged sword: it means both redeem and avenge. God redeemed Israel by avenging Hebrew blood upon Egypt (the same thing is going on in Revelation). The first story concerns the “deliverance” of Canaanites into Israel’s hand. Israel names the place “Hormah,” meaning “broken rock”, “banned”, or “devoted to destruction.” What a perfect symbolic combination. We can also see that Israel’s faithfulness concerning gifts to God freed God to give “gifts” to Israel. The next mini-cycle is the story of the bronze serpent, which is another wonderful combination of Ascension (lifted up) and Atonement. Finally, we have a reference to the Tabernacle architecture, the Laver, at this step. Israel dwells on the borders of the Gentiles (between the Israelite “Land” and Gentile “Sea”), and God gives them water.
Numbers 21:21-35: Judges/Succession – Booths/Glory: Finally, Israel’s mediatorial rule as judges, legal representatives, “elohim,” over the Gentiles is prefigured in the defeats of Sihon, King of the Amorites and Og the king of Bashan. Legal representation of God means one has passed under the sword of “Passover” and so is qualified as God’s representative. (This is why paedobaptism makes no sense to me. It conflates these two events, giving a flaming sword to “lawless children” before they are “passed over” by Jesus and His fiery, transforming Gospel. This is exactly what is denied to unbelieving Adam in Genesis 3.) The “Firstfruits” coordinate here is the complete “devotion” of these peoples to the sword. “So they defeated him, his sons, and all his people, until there was no survivor left him; and they took possession of his land.” You might also remember that God delayed the possession of the promised Land to Abraham because the sins of the Amorites were “not yet full.” Here we see that Sihon and his people are finally “ripe” for the taking. This devotion also gives us a reference to the offspring of “Succession.” For their unwillingness to submit to the Covenant people, these Gentiles were completely cut off.

The structure of the book is amazing, and I would also like to remind readers that this same structure exists (fractally) in these passages at two levels (at least) within this level illustrated above.

This brings us to the beginning of the story of Balak and Balaam, which is where the real fun begins.

[1] See Half Man, Half Beast.
[2] The sacrificial “week” consists of Initiation / Delegation / Presentation / Purification / Transformation / Vindication / Representation. See Bible Matrix II, p. 119.
[3] Notice that touching the holy water made one not clean but unclean. I believe this cycle is a process of death and resurrection, so the first half concerns the uncleanness that comes from touching unclean things (anything to do with rotting flesh) and the second concerns touching “clean” things, holy things that are “white witnesses” to death. Bones with no flesh remaining, like a completely white leper, were not unclean but “holy.” Death had finished its work. The structure supports this. See Bone and Flesh and The Bone of a Man.
[4] For members only, here is a link to some charts from Bible Matrix II which demonstrate the relationship between the five-fold Covenant pattern of the Head and the seven-fold Creation pattern of the Body, and how the timing of the end of the Torah prefigured in microcosm the timing of end of the Bible.

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[5] Commonly, these two are related by the “Atonement” of a smaller cycle becoming the “Passover/Firstfruits” of a larger cycle. Jesus’ Atonement on the cross became the Passover of the entire first century “Head and Body” pattern. Jesus’ bread and wine become the grain and fruit promise to the disciples of greater things if they will suffer as He does.

Art: Offering of first fruits (Illustration from a Bible card published between 1896 and 1913 by the Providence Lithograph Company)

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One Response to “The Beauty of Numbers – 3”

  • Mike Bull Says:

    One further comment:

    Sihon and Og were kind of “firstfruits” Conquests, so it is fitting that their destruction causes those in Jericho to fear and is remembered in the book of Joshua. Jericho, after all, was the real firstfruits victory of the Land.