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Old Testament Catechism
The Book of Exodus

"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.

14.9 Mb 15:56 min.
"It is not that this pharaoh was sent from heaven, as a pure evil, existing only to harass the Jews. On the contrary, even the pharaoh, the king of Egypt, is simply a man, free to do as he wants, just as much as the Jews. However, unlike his predecessors, this one, by his character as a man, was intolerant and tyrannical towards foreigners in his country.
That chauvinism towards the Jews, personal and freely chosen, which he as a ruler has spread among other Egyptians, Lord simply did not prevent. And in that sense, it can be said that pharaoh, together with other Egyptians, became a means of fulfilling the long-said promise of the return of the Jews to the promised land.
Also, we cannot say that the Lord did not love the Egyptians and that He used them as a mere tool. We can see this with the next pharaoh who had many opportunities to repent and leave the people of Israel alone after these initial and monstrous repressions. However, he as well, by the choice of his own free will did not want to do so. ..."

14.9 Mb 15:57 min.
"We have seen ever since the creation of man that God’s relationship towards him is a relationship of love and trust. This kind of relationship is a natural normal state for everything created by God, therefore for man himself. I believe every man, deep in his heart, feels this as the greatest truth.
On God’s love and trust we are created and we exist. And as a good parent, who leads us through life, God expects us to have the same relationship with him. This is the meaning of Christ's 'Blessed are those who have believed but have not seen'. This also explains the call of Christ to Peter to follow him on the water and the rebuke after his fear and immersion 'Unbelievers, why do you doubt?'. Now we can remember that Abraham's departure from the land of his ancestors and following the Lord into the unseen, into the unknown - it was an act of love and trust that the Lord expects from each of us.
However, we have seen that the paths of that love and trust are at the same time the paths of temptation, the paths of constant struggle with the selfish, distrustful, self-adoring in us, present in us since creation, since the Garden of Eden. Present, because we were created as free, not as slaves or robots of something, be it even God's love. We are free to not love and not trust the one who created us from non-being and who loves us.
That is why everything constantly tempts us in this transitory and temporary home, so that we can live in that eternal, real home, without a shred of doubt and without a shred of hatred, if we want to. It is a matter of our consent, our 'Abrahamic Exodus from the Old Land', following the eternal call, which lasts until the last second of our lives. And it is never too late as long as God keeps us alive."

15.6 Mb 16:36 min.
"God does not deliver the Jews by addressing the entire nation, the masses of people, but since He is Person, the Lord singles out in front of that mass one person who will lead, who will be a living and concrete example of the possibility of holiness of human life.
The Lord does not sanctify in some magical and impersonal way all individuals in the mass of the people at once. And not because that cannot be done, but because He acts in a way that does not violate human freedom. He chooses a former, a leader, and not based on his reason or beauty, but by his righteousness and piety. He choses and puts him forward as a pattern that can be freely followed. He puts forth a man as an image of Himself, in order to lead people to piety through philanthropy. So that the resulting relationship could be love, and not some incomprehensible mysticism, or isolated and inexplicable individual contact with the Creator.
In the similar manner, later, God the Father will make his Son one of the people. That way many nations will be addressed, not by the immediate enlightenment of the broad masses, by some kind of democracy, but through Apostle Paul, the Bulgarian Prince Boris Mikhail, Saint Sava of Serbia, Saint Prince of Russia Vladimir, Saint Peter of Cetinje, and so on."

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Of course, the history of mankind and the history of our people knows about pious and believing earthly rulers. But there were many who were overpowered by their political power and subjugated by their own earthly authority. It is difficult to explain to a vain man who has authority over people and who feels himself a god in relation to others, that there is someone above him.
Power over nature is in the hands of its Creator. God created nature and natural laws. By His will they exist and act. Nature and the laws of nature are God's property and are governed by His will. Quite often, man, being created to rule the Lord's property, that is, the whole creation, forgets about this and thinks that either he, or that nature, is the supreme reality above which there is nothing.
The problem of the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, and pharaoh's permission, is not just a political issue, a human rights issue. Instead, it is primarily a conflict of two spiritual worlds: one of pharaoh who does not see God or Ruler above him, and the other, Jewish, the nation of Abraham, who was promised God's closeness and God's presence, eternal company and community with God.

18.1 Mb 19:51 min.
"...If, while reading the Old Testament record of the exodus of the Jews, we loathe and dread the death of the Egyptian firstborn, we need to know the difference between the images of the Old Testament. When God's people come out of slavery, it is not only a detail of national history, but it is God's righteous and beloved one who longs for liberation and the Promised Land, that comes out of slavery to sin, flesh and passions. The truth of the New Testament tells us that every man, every human being, is depicted in Old Testament Israel. The most horrible scene of death and destruction, the death of all first descendants, is a sign that tells us what kind of country, what area the righteous, the chosen one leaves when he returns to God. This is the truth that applies to every man who turns from a sinful life to God. The return to God is the return to life, and the departure from the realm of death, from the land where everything dies the most horrible death.
The eternal celebration of this event, as we see, serves not only to commemorate the majesty and significance of the past, but also as a foretaste of the future identical action of God's providence. The Son of God, the Immaculate Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, sacrifices Himself. With his blood and resurrection he delivers from death. As the Easter song says, "Death destroys death." And then after, He is continually giving us His Body and Blood for eternal life. Just as the Old Testament Passover was not only a remembrance of the past, likewise our Liturgy is not a simple remembrance of Christ's suffering, but a foretaste of the future eternal Kingdom of Heaven. ..."

15.1 Mb 16:37 min.
"...Pharaoh's fear before the Lord was only temporary, while the great suffering of the Egyptian firstborn lasted, and while he did not know whether he would also suffer that night. That is why he shouted to the Jews: "Get out of my country quickly, because we all are perishing."
But soon, the ruler's calculations started working again in him and his entourage: "What have we done? We have let the Jews go, we have lost the labor force." So they quickly organized and set off in pursuit of them.
After temporary fear and obedience to the Lord, the Egyptians behaved with earthly logic, that God-fighting thinking that does not count on God's presence, even if it was as obvious as in the case of miracles and penance that the Lord sent to Egypt.
In addition, in pharaoh we see a wonderful example of our behavior, the same logic that guides each of us to the good works of our lives. We are mostly inclined to praying and serving God when some of our ideas and plans, health, life or career of ours or of somebody close to us, are endangered. We do not serve God constantly, the way God constantly serves us, from morning to night, from birth until death, taking care of us at every moment of our lives, and even after death we are in his hands. So instead of reciprocating in the same measure or at least alike, we remember God in sickness, trouble and torment, in those moments in fact, in which God reminds us that we have not wholeheartedly called out to Him for a long time.
We can also notice here the weak faith of the Jews who, despite seeing many miracles of deliverance performed in their name, did not build in themselves a sufficient measure of trust in God, reliance on Him, but instead, as soon as they saw pharaoh's army, they hesitated and protested to Moses that the came out of Egypt at all. Here we see that their logic is close to pharaoh's: not paying much attention to the Lord, they lament for the previous situation and slavery in Egypt.

12.8 Mb 14:01 min.
...How and when do we, individually, become like Old Testament Israel? The life of most of us takes place or has taken place in complete enslavement to our passions, our bodily needs. This bondage, spiritual bondage, is reflected in our unstoppable urge to satisfy our every bodily desire, our every little vanity. And not only can we not but respond to the urges of endless eating and drinking, suspicion, condemnation, lying, self-promotion, attitude towards opposite sex dictated by our passion and not love for man, but with the whole of our life we become disciples of the desires of our body, and we devote all our energies to preparing ourselves as good as possible for the next food, the most beautiful food, for the next lie, the most skilful lie, for the next condemnation of another, the strongest condemnation, and the next depraved thought or action even more tempting and even more innovative than previous.
By this we are enslaved like the Jews in Egypt. And if we happen to notice and pay attention to the spiritual truth, the spiritual pharaoh orders even harder work, that is, even greater debauchery, lies and insatiability, so that we don't become bothered and annoyed by questions of responsibility, truth, honesty and true love for others.
An act of faith is what is needed and what enables man to escape such enslavement to the body and the desires of the senses, stomach, and blood. Firstly, the belief in the existence of some other reality, some different way of life, some freedom in a Promised Land. Each of us, like the Jews in Egypt, that is, like Moses, receives, not once in his life, a call to come out of spiritual slavery to his body and his vanity. Each of us receives that call directly from the Lord, through an event, someone's word, someone's action or something written down.

16.1 Mb 17:09 min.
...(thanksgiving) is above all a sign of great spiritual maturity and care, which is, of course assumed to be from the heart.
Someone might say that "It was easy for the Jews to sing and give thanks, when it was all over, and the Egyptians were catastrophically defeated before their eyes", i.e. it is easy to believe and sing to God when everything is going well and in your favor. But we have seen - it is just the opposite. Pharaoh feared God only while the danger lasted. As soon as it passed, he forgot about the fear of the Lord. We have concluded that it is a common human manner, recognizable in all of us. In the supposedly good circumstances, when everything goes as envisioned, a man, due to sluggishness of his pride and his passions, hardly remembers that there is anyone above him.
The feeling, the thought, that things are going well, and that there are no problems, is one of the greatest spiritual temptations for man. Few are those who at such moments say "God gives me good, God helps me". Mostly we think "I am doing well, I am winning and succeeding". That is why gratitude is an expression of spiritual triumph, a proof that man is convinced with all his being, of God's existence and God's guidance of his life. Thanksgiving is the most beautiful way for us humans to glorify God, because it expresses the view that gains and happiness in this life are a proof of God's existence, not an occasion for us to think of ourselves as gods or the ones who are in complete control.
Through gratitude we express our awareness that all the good things that happen to us in this life have no purpose in themselves, but are means that strengthen us and lead us to ultimate salvation, approaching God’s company and nearness. Sincere gratitude knows that we do not live this life just to have a successful career, a family life without setbacks and with healthy offspring, or to get healed countless times after illnesses, to avoid certain death in dangerous situations, to gain reputation and material goods, but that all these details are temporary circumstances of a transitory life by which the Lord is giving us a gentle parental hand of ascension to an imperishable life, to imperishable goods.

14.6 Mb 16:01 min.
...We may wonder how it is that they do not have calm in front of everything that happened, that they do not have eyes and ears to see and hear that something extraordinary is happening to them. How can they, in the midst of all these majestic events, think of their lowest needs. How is it not clear to them, at least after so many miracles, that they are in the company of the Greatest and Strongest, and that everything will be fine, only if they give Him their trust.
But the Jewish faith is wavering. That is the faith of most of us. Even if we were at some time undoubtedly convinced of God's presence, it typically doesn't indicate for us the existence of a greater and more important reality. It usually doesn't prompt our understanding that God's appearance, His coming to us, indicates to us and obliges us to think about and prepare for something more and different than the daily reality. On the contrary, we blindly believe only in the world constructed by our passions and our vanity. And if something above us, "some" God, sometimes appears to us, be it even in the greatest power and glory, we, oh so easily, take it as something with purpose to enhance and facilitate our life on earth, and not at all to inform us and divert our attention to life from where He is coming.
Thus - the miracle of God's separation of the Red Sea is wonderful, the cloud of fire that goes before us in the darkness is amazing, the death and flood of our enemies is mighty, but dear God, what is this now - there is no food in the desert. I want to go back to Egypt, at least there I could satisfy the hunger that is currently tormenting me.
The distance from the Red Sea, that is, baptism, to the Promised Land, that is, the Kingdom of Heaven, that distance covered with desert and grumbling, is the life of us baptized, who reject and forget the Cross and the Church, us, so-called faithful, who do not believe even our brother, let alone God.

15.1 Mb 16:06 min.
This, by its form seemingly naive biblical story, according to which the social, judicial, administrative structure of the Jewish people arose so that Moses would not get tired resolving all disputes himself, tells us one great truth. Which is that the structure and order of earthly arrangements and kingdoms, originate from the Divine order, and were founded and conceived by God's righteous people like Jotor and Moses.
This further means that the structures of state and social legislation, being of Divine origin, lose their meaning, and turn from good to evil, if they fall into the hands of ungodly rulers and rulers who fight against God.

19 Mb 20:49 min.
What is it by which, even without the help of Scripture, we humans recognize and feel the love of others? It is when we feel that someone respects us, that he respects and notices our uniqueness and distinctiveness, when to that other we are not just the same as anzbodz else, but are somehow special. So in the same manner, God is now revealing his love for the people of Israel to Moses.
Our modern notions of love, and even contemplations on God's love, on the waves of diverse youth rebellions - the hippie movement of this century or human rights theories, are more tied to the principle of absolute free choice, the sanctity of free will and freedom of action. However, in this biblical place, the Lord God just after revealing His love for them, appears in a thick cloud, thunders, commands, orders the procedures of purification and fasting, in order for His beloved people to prepare to meet Him.
The unconditional love that young people build among themselves today, with slogans such as "no strings attached", "marriage destroys love", "I defend my self" and the like, is based on the existence of a single sanctity - the self of young individuals. The love that God here reveals to humanity presupposes a different sanctity, not only God as the greatest among all, but "another" in general. It is not me that is sacred, but sacred is another, and his personality.
It is the principle of love that the Lord begins announcing here with a thick cloud, lightnings and thunders, and it will end with the death of His only Son on the Cross. By this descent from power and omnipotence to his own humiliation, God proves his care for man to be loving, with concern for the interests of others, that is, of a fallen man.

16.5 Mb 18:01 min.
"...Here one can notice the previously stated truth that the Lord speaks to the Old Testament man as to a child, compared to the much more sublime and much deeper way of addressing people by Lord Jesus Christ in the New Testament. In the New Testament, it is enough to tell a story, say one thought, and a complete doctrine of the Kingdom of Heaven is given. In the Old Testament, man is led by the hand like a child from object to object, from circumstance to circumstance, and is told, "It is warm here, it is cold there, it is shallow here, it is deep there". Or: "If an ox gores a man suddenly, the owner is not guilty, but if the owner knew that it might happen, then he is guilty", and so on, and so forth, to the last detail with great care so that no circumstance be accidentally missed.
These exhaustive warnings and instructions announce the breadth and boundlessness of God's love for the fallen man, confused, in need to be led to the right path of perfecting, gradually and with boundless patience."

13.7 Mb 14:59 min.
"...Here in the Old Testament, he does it by sprinkling the people that accepted His word with the blood from the altar.
However, the age of the New Testament, the new covenant with men, will bring an even more terrible testament, with the blood of His only begotten Son. This time, as the apostle John relates at the beginning of his Gospel, the Word of God, spoken in the Old Testament through the laws, has now become flesh. The Word, the Logos of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, sealed his sojourn among men with his blood, to show that he did not come down into the world to glorify himself, but to show the glory of men."

10.4 Mb 11:25 min.
Lack of patience is a sign of a lack of trust, a sign of weak faith. Faith as an expression of man's undoubted attachment to God can weaken, but the image of God in man can not. This aspiration for God, for something Divine over ourselves, is inviolable. It is precisely due to that aspiration and lost faith in one true God, that man constantly builds false gods for himself, various golden calves.
Once those were mythical creatures or celestial bodies, then the rulers themselves, emperors and leaders, then the attribute of deity was given to reason and harmony that 'rules the world',...