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Old Testament Catechism
Other Books of the Pentateuch

"You think - a story, a poetic work, written in an old obsolete language, but behold - the deepest truth of your life."


"Old Testament Catechism" is a weekly radio show of Svetigora Radio (, collected here as podcasts (in Serbian language).

These are extraordinary narratives and interpretations, informative and instructive, but then much more - often deeply inspiring. Interpretation of the stories and events is simple, direct and close to our life today, and it astonishingly reveals the extent to which the same things, situations, and even the same heart movements are happening to us today, just as they have been happening to people throughout history. Thus very quickly one can find a real, live closeness and affection to many of the ancient characters, that we might otherwise have known only as some names from books or history lessons.

Thus, the Old Testament, often hasty referred to as a difficult reading, having vague or difficult to accept messages, intensely reveals and revives here for us its freshness and closeness to the current times and indeed to our own life.


"...First of all, these interpretations and these secrets tell us that the Holy Scriptures were not written in the service of the writer's personal poetic inspiration, or precise, scientific historical expression, nor in the service of something in the realm of modern postmodernist game between writer and reader. Instead, the Bible was written in the service and for the service of men to the Lord God.

Its meaning is not exhausted in a solitary imagination and enthusiasm of the reader, academic discussions, linguistic analyses, poetic and mystical ecstasy of self-proclaimed interpreters, sorcerers and fortune tellers. Its meaning in the Orthodox understanding of life and reality is determined by its physical position in the church, in the Orthodox temple. There, the Holy Scripture is located in the middle of the altar, the Holy Table, that is, in the center of Worship, of the Holy Liturgy, in the center of the miraculous assembly of God and believing people.

That is why, while it seems to us that we have read a report on the political unrest in Egypt, on the exodus of a people, on ancient obsolete customs, while it seems that we have read some unreal Jewish myth, that it is suddenly, through the words of the Church, revealed to us the most far-reaching questions of our personal life. So it is not, it turns out, that we just read a "fictional and scientifically rebuttable report" about the separation of the sea about 30 centuries old, but instead, we read about our baptism, escape of enslaved by paganism and passions, symbolized by Egypt, entering the great desert of this life full of hesitation and disappointments for the baptized soul, and the approach to the final victory and appeasement of the Kingdom of Heaven symbolized by the Promised Land.

Nor do we read "an instructive story of betrayal among brothers and the generosity of the rejected brother", but instead, what is revealed to us is the truth of the suffering Christ, written centuries before his incarnation, recorded before the ages.

That is the secret of Worship Services. The Holy Scriptures, as a Liturgical book, has that secret.

You think - a story, a poetic work, written in an old obsolete language, but behold - the deepest truth of your life.

And so at the Holy Liturgy, you see - bread and wine, while it is the Lord himself who invites you to approach him.

We humans with our reason and sensory powers cannot see the face of the Lord directly. That is why often, relying on such fragmented knowledge, we conclude that we are alone in the whole universe, that there is no God. Faith, says the Apostle Paul, is a confirmation of those things that are not visible to us humans. Faith is that force that directs us into the realms, extremely uncertain and inaccessible to our limited cognitive powers. Faith is our only means and sense before the unknown. By faith we see the invisible God.

By faith, the Jewish exodus from Egypt through the Red Sea becomes a hint of Christ's suffering and resurrection, a hint of our baptism and, accordingly directing of our life towards eternal life, the Promised Land. By faith, the way escaping Israel led by Moses becomes our way. The sufferings and hesitations of the Jews become our sufferings. An old and at first glance naive story becomes a signpost to our hearts. By faith, the Holy Orthodox Liturgy, from a performance for our eyes, a sum of unreasonable actions, outdated traditions and customs, becomes a vestibule, a prelude to the Kingdom of Heaven in which we gather "again and again", as the Liturgical prayer says.

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"The modern man's holiday, at best, represents a beautiful remembrance of an event, with appropriate speeches and memories. In a word, it is a commemoration, a return of some past events to our thoughts and emotions, and that is all. This concept of celebrating and mentioning someone or something is built on the modern consciousness that everything that has passed is gone forever and irreversibly, and that the future is unknown, inaccessible and without any connection to us.
However, the biblical man, the Old Testament Jew, and today's Orthodox Christian, are not people who exist simply and only in the mere present, establishing the connection with the past simply by memory, and with the future by guessing or some uncertain planning.
The biblical man sees the meaning of his life in communion with God, in constant connection with eternity, with that which transcends all transience, changeability and temporal incomprehensibility. Filled with eternity and with the desire for the eternal, biblical man constantly strives to overcome temporal variability and transience that alienates people and events.
...biblical consciousness abhors mere remembrance and commemorative gatherings. When it celebrates an event, it will not simply appropriate or evoke memories, but it always seeks to participate in the event again and again. ..."

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"...Here we are shown not only two different personalities, two types of people, but in prince Balak and the prophet Balaam we have an account of two different attitudes of people towards God, two so to speak, classical experiences of God throughout human history.
Prince Balak wants to direct God's blessing or curse to the needs of his own will and interests, and the righteous prophet first asks what God's will is. The prince becomes angry and disappointed, and the prophet becomes a witness to God's supremacy over human will.
Prince Balak of Moab belongs to the kind of people who do not feel and acknowledge the existence of any force and power above him, which is best shown by his attempt to use the word of God to carry out his idea. In other words, his own will dominates reality and he tries to be the supreme deity himself. He is a man who is a god to himself and the true Lord is his means of achieving some earthly goal.
On the other hand, the prophet Balaam, in this case, gives the image of a righteous man who listens to God's will in the first place, and subordinates his own to what he hears from the Lord. This is best manifested in his words addressed to the ungodly prince: Had Balak even given me his house, full of silver and gold, I would not have been able to transgress the word of the Lord, to do either good or evil of myself. What the Lord says, that is what I will say.
Thus, in this, at first glance naive historical narrative, revealed to us is the image of human fall and the image of the perfect order of God in man, which is reflected primarilly in the mutual love and trust, which further yields submission and obedience of the lesser to the greater, of the child to the parent ..."

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