Numbers 24 is a fascinating and rich Scripture - perhaps the most deeply messianic text in the Pentateuch. We are told that Israel is “like gardens beside a river” and that “his seed shall be in many waters.” The poetic seams in the Pentateuch draw heavily on Genesis 1-11, and this is no exception.
We need to avoid simply noting that there were statues of cherubim in the Inner Sanctuary of the Temple and the Most Holy of the Tabernacle. This flattens out covenant history, making it appear as if icons were always fine, which is against the argument of St. John Damascene, who argues that it was specifically the Incarnation which made it fine.
When you understand the network of symbolic associations made within Scripture itself, you realize that the Bible and the Fathers are not roughly in the same ballpark: both of them are very precise, and they are describing exactly the same thing. Biblical theology and Patristic theology flawlessly roll together.
Despite occasional claims to the contrary, the Church has always confessed the absolute inerrancy of the Bible, not only in doctrinal matters, but in historical details as well. St. Augustine, for example, says that if he finds what looks to be a contradiction, he assumes that he has either misunderstood the passage or that there has been an error in copying one manuscript from another. St. Maximus the Confessor, one of the most influential theologians of the Eastern Church, goes so far to say that the Bible expresses the truth of the eternal God as fully as text can express that truth. But the contemporary naturalistic account of origins doesn’t fit with what the Scriptures declare.
In order to have a coherent doctrine of Scripture, one needs to root and ground the Bible in a coherent doctrine of Christ. One often hears today that “the Bible is not the Word of God” because “Christ is the Word of God.” Popular as this sentiment is among Orthodox and Catholics, the Fathers taught otherwise.
By no means am I claiming that all or most theistic evolutionists are apostates. Nor am I claiming that all will become apostates. On the contrary, I know many who know and love Jesus Christ. What I am saying, however, is that theistic evolution is inherently unstable, that it contains within itself the seeds of theological liberalism, and that for those who are willing to think seriously through its implications, it will ultimately destroy the Christian faith.
The one who was the embodiment of Israel was also the embodiment of God, radiant with divine glory. Since the identity of Israel is mapped around this person, to be constituted as an heir of Israel “not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” means to share in the divine glory which animates the resurrected body. To be justified is to be glorified.
The Gospel of John is about Jesus as High Priest of a New Temple. The whole book is structured according to the furniture of the tabernacle. We begin at the Courtyard Altar, with Jesus identified as the “Lamb of God” and we end at the Holy of Holies, with Jesus emerging out of a Tomb with two angels on either side of His burial place, just as the two cherubim in the Holy of Holies.
The disclosure of the Name of Yahweh is the disclosure of His most fundamental properties, or energies. Energies means activities, and everything God discloses about Himself is an activity. St. Dionysios says that all the processions of God are “goodnesses” so that the Lord tells Moses that He will “make all my goodness pass before you.”
Those who have died in Christ are “greater prophets,” and prophets are intercessors. We know they hear our prayers since they are in direct and intimate communion with the Holy Spirit. Christ knows everything—even in His glorified human mind. We participate in Christ through the Spirit, and those in deep contact with the Spirit participate in this all-knowing.
Most of us assume that we know precisely when historical events occurred in ancient history- after all, encyclopedias and textbooks list, year by year, the reigns of various kings and the dates of various battles. In reality, however, the situation is far murkier than this.