The Old Testament in the Heart of the Catholic Church
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Read Obadiah, Obad 1:15-17. Obadiah consists of bitter prophecies against the nation of Edom, and

a.   equally bitter prophecies against the nations of Assyria and Egypt.
b.   oracles about the day of the Lord, when the nations will be judged.
c.   reassurance that the people's suffering will be short indeed.


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Read Gen 35: 9-15. Isaac's son Jacob is given a new name as part of the covenant God renews with him. It is

a.   Israel.
b.   Jacoboam.
c.   Jerusalem.

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The name ''Exodus'' means

a.   discover.
b.   going out.
c.   return.

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Read Ex 1 (the book of Exodus, chapter 1). In Egypt, the sons (descendants) of Israel (that is, the people of Israel) were being

a.   left alone to do as they wished.
b.   oppressed and extinguished.
c.   rewarded and honored.

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Read Ex 2. Moses is born and grows up as God

a.   abandons his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
b.   lets his people find their own way out of their misery.
c.   remembers his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

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Read Ex 3. God calls Moses

a.   from the midst of a bush that burns without being consumed.
b.   from the midst of an earthquake that tore the temple veil in two.
c.   in a quiet whispering sound that only Moses could hear.

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God identifies himself to Moses. Whom does God say that he is?

a.   ''I am the God of the Egyptians, the friend of the most powerful people in the world.''
b.   ''I am the God beyond space and time, thus too holy and remote to work in time and space to help you.''
c.   ''I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.''

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Read Ex 3:13-15. God reveals to Moses that he

a.   has a name.
b.   has no name.
c.   is an anonymous force.

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The Holy Father and the bishops poignantly profess [CCC 203] God's loving revelation of himself in giving his name to Moses:

''A name expresses a person's essence and identity and the meaning of this person's life. God has a name; he is not an anonymous force. To disclose one's name is to make oneself known to others; in a way it is to hand oneself over by becoming accessible, capable of being known more intimately and addressed personally.''

In this passage in the Catechism we are probably also meant to see in this revelation by God to Moses and to God's people Israel a foreshadowing of God's complete revelation of himself in his only Son, the Word who ''handed himself over'' for our redemption. <<

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God gives Moses his name, in Hebrew, YHWH (''I AM HE WHO IS,'' ''I AM WHO AM,'' or ''I AM WHO I AM'') [CCC 206]. By giving his name God reveals that he is

a.   infinitely beyond anything we can comprehend and not a God who makes himself close to men.
b.   infinitely beyond anything we can comprehend and the God who makes himself close to men.
c.   not infinitely beyond anything we can comprehend but a God who makes himself close to men.

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God's name also reveals [CCC 207] that he

a.   exists only in the human mind and heart.
b.   is faithful from everlasting to everlasting.
c.   is the Christian name for the living universe.

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Moses takes off his sandals and veils his face [Ex 3:4-6] because [CCC 208]

a.   faced with God's presence, man discovers his own insignificance.
b.   God was very possibly going to hurt him or injure him.
c.   he needed to humiliate himself in God's presence out of fear.

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Be sure you understand what Moses's fear and his sense of insignificance was - it was the knowledge that he was a sinner, and that God is holy [compare CCC 208]. God's holiness, not his power over us, is what makes us feel insignificant before him. We feel insignificant before him because his absolute holiness reveals the sin in our hearts. Yet because God is so much greater than our hearts, he can forgive us, once we see that we are sinners before him.

Moses, like all fallen men, can not ''come near'' the holiness of God [Ex 3:5]. The Holy Father and the bishops note [CCC 2777] that ''Only Jesus could cross that threshold of the divine holiness.'' Yet Jesus's sacrifice on the Cross purifies our sins and brings us into the Father's presence [CCC 2777]. >>

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Also note that Moses (like us) is far too fallen and stupid to recognize the extent of God's holiness, and his own sinfulness, entirely on his own. Moses ''turned aside to see'' the burning bush, because it was so fascinating and mysterious. After Moses ''turns aside,'' then God can call Moses to him, and in his holiness also call Moses's attention more directly to the fact that God is truly holy, and Moses is not.

Only when we become fascinated with God, ''turn aside'' to him, and then hear his call and answer it, can we begin to face him, and see ourselves as we are. Even then, only with his help can we see how holy he truly is, and how sinful we are.

God at once, but also gradually, reveals his holiness, the extent of man's sin, and man's need for a savior. The Catholic Church teaches in the Catechism that God taught Moses himself even more about God's holiness and man's sinfulness by then giving him the Law on Mount Sinai (Ex 20-24). The Church professes that the Law given Moses on Mount Sinai is a principal means by which, over the centuries, God gradually makes the people of Israel more aware of their sins. In this way Israel gradually began to hope for the Messiah [CCC 708]. In Jesus alone can man cross the threshold of the divine holiness. [CCC 2777] <<

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The Catechism [CCC 208] teaches that God's presence in the midst of the burning bush that is not consumed reveals something important about what God's presence is like. God's presence is

a.   boring and useless.
b.   fascinating and mysterious.
c.   repulsive and horrifying.

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God is holy. His holiness is beyond our comprehension. Other than the Mother of God herself, who was redeemed
from the moment of her conception and remained without sin her whole life long [CCC 491-493], by comparison with God's perfect holiness, the greatest saint is merely a sinner. Here CCC 209 is worth quoting in full:

''Out of respect for the holiness of God, the people of Israel do not pronounce his name. In the reading of Sacred Scripture, the revealed name (Yhwh) is replaced by the divine title 'LORD' (in Hebrew, Adonai, in Greek, Kyrios). It is under this title that the divinity of Jesus will be acclaimed: 'Jesus is LORD.''' <<

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Ex 3 recounts a theophany. A theophany is

a.   a fire that does not seem to go out.
b.   a theology of divine visitations.
c.   a visible appearance of God to man.

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CCC 2575 is a beautiful teaching on Ex 3 from the standpoint of prayer: what prayer is, what the course of our prayer will be like, and what God's responses will be. Read CCC 2575 now. <<

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Read First Kings, 1 Kings 6:1-13. Who built the great Temple in Jerusalem?

a.   David.
b.   Jeroboam.
c.   Solomon.

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The contrast between the covenant God has made with the Jews, with the one that Jesus established by his Sacrifice on the Cross, was first pointed out by

a.   Apollonius.
b.   Jesus Christ.
c.   Saint Paul.

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copyright (c) 2001 John Kelleher. All rights reserved.