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Old Testament Catechism
The Book of Genesis

"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.

14.4 Mb 15:50 min.
"...Holy Scriptures tell us that God has, at some particular moment, begun the creation of the World, which before has not existed. Before that moment, to which Bible refers to as 'the beginning', nothing has existed besides God. Thus Hebrew language here uses the verb 'bara' (ברא), which means 'to create out of nothing', as opposed to the other Hebrew verb for creation, 'asah' (עשה), which means 'to produce from something else'.
Out of sheer nothingness, by the will of God, the world came into being..."

6 Mb 15:59 min.
"... Man was, as we said before, created in the image and likeness of God. According to Maximus the Confessor, the image of God in us is what we receive from God at the beginning of our existence and will have until the end, and that is life and eternal life. Likeness of God is what we yet have to attain, in order to be as much as possible like God, and that is mercy and goodness. Without those qualities, what would our eternal life be like anyway? Indeed, it could harldy be called life at all, but rather, the eternal suffering.
...Why such a temptation now? Indeed, how could we otherwise know if somebody loves us? How could we know if someone loves us if they don't have any opportunity to do otherwise, and no freedom not to love us, but to unconditionally make sacrifices for us? We couldn't by any means. It would be forced love. That is, it wouldn't be love at all..."

17.3 Mb 18:23 min.
"...Furthermore, sin has thrown our ancestors into such panic, such absurdity, that they tried to hide from the all-seeing God -- behind a tree.
However, they are not inclined to repent nor to admit their transgression, but what do they do instead? They both transfer the blame to another. The man blames the woman ('The woman you associated with me, has given to me from the tree, so I ate'), the woman blames the serpent ('The serpent deceived me, so I ate'), and all that before the living God, who knows everyone's sins, and seeks repentance only from whom He is addressing. And so happens today as well - Lord does not ask us to "confess" other people's sins, however big they are, and even if committed on us, but only our own sins.
And again, just as in the case of original sin of his parents with forbidden fruit, Cain did not repent, but was justifying himself .... like all of us even today, when we find ourselves in a troublesome situation, the first thing we do is seek justification for ourself. So Cain says 'Am I the keeper of my brother?'...."

18.7 Mb 20:28 min.
"...These people, the descendants of Noah, in order to gain a name for themselves, and not to scatter on Earth, essentially to secure their life on Earth, do the opposite of what Noah did after coming out of the ark. Noah trusted in God's help and offered sacrifices and prayers; they rely and trust their own powers and are building magnificent edifices.
A single language is not evil in itself, but in the circumstances of God-fighting and apostasy, such a language becomes a tool for the effective spread of evil. And likewise today, the development of telecommunications and computerization, should in itself be something good and useful. However, such a sophisticated system in the hands of people who not only do not believe in God, but actively fight against God, becomes a weapon of evil. That is why the diversity of languages and the diversity of peoples, from then until today, is one of God's, so to speak, educational methods towards people prone to deviating from God..."

22 Mb 23:26 min.
"...The moment in which the Lord calls upon Abraham to leave his homeland, his family, in order to go to a land he will show him, is one of the turning points in biblical history. After the Babylonian upheaval, paganism and polytheism prevailed, not only in Chaldea, but everywhere. Ever since the times when there were no people on earth except Noah's family, the Lord God, whom no one knows or acknowledges anymore, for the first time addresses a man, a surely righteous one with a pure heart, and offers him a covenant.
This God's call to Abraham gives us a picture of every future call of God to man. That dramatic New Testament's 'Leave everything you have and follow me'. It is a picture of the Cross and the Crucifixion. It is a picture of repentance which in original Greek means change of mindset or transformation. Repentance, through which every man, from the time of the fall and apostasy, who desires to return to God, must go through.
On the other hand, Abraham's departure from Haran, to a land unseen, to a land only hinted at, is an expression and image of trust in God, that pure, to the mind of this world illogical and superstitious faith. It is the New Testament's "Blessed are those who have not seen, yet have believed." On that faith of Abraham, just like Christ on Peter's faith, the Lord has built a covenant, that is, the Old Testament Church. ..."

15.4 Mb 16:23 min.
"...In Luke's Gospel, the Lord Jesus Christ says, "Remember Lot's wife."
Why is it so? Why does turning cause death? When a man is, with God's help, led out of sin into salvation, it is disastrous to look back, to return to the previous way of life. We need to follow the Lord who guides us and helps us. Turning is the result of our insecurity. When the Lord leads us from sin and death to true life, turning means turning away from the Lord, turning to the old life, life without God, therefore turning to death.
The fact that she was a member of Lot's family, the family who was saved from the pogrom by the grace of God, was not of big help to this woman. It is her personal responsibility before God and her personal actions that were the deciding factors. That is why we should not expect either that our Christian Orthodox name will save us, that we are baptized and that we call ourselves Orthodox, if we do not live Christian and Orthodox values, and if we constantly turn to something else that is not God and where God's life is not. ..."

18.7 Mb 19:54 min.
"...No one has Isaac trusted more than God, so he prayed to him constantly. It was not a relationship of a backward ancestor who wasn't able to enjoy the benefits of civilization development and the development of medicine, so he primitively addresses some undefined higher power. No, Isaac is, just like his father Abraham, a true friend and acquaintance of God.
And what exactly might an "acquaintance of God" mean? That God to him is not just a higher power, or as we often declare today: "there is something", but a person with whom he talks, who introduces himself, who has a name. And when you know someone personally and have boundless trust in him, be it even a man, a friend you love, let alone Lord God himself, what other comfort and support would you need.
Isaac’s prayer for the barren woman is not a fairy-tale ornament to this story, but a great truth, of today’s forgotten way of human life in which everything is based and begins on trust in God. Even today we know of countless examples where sincere prayer to God, after unsuccessful medical treatments, restores fertility and enables offspring to pious married couples. ..."

17.1 Mb 18:15 min.
"... The new name that Jacob received after this wrestling with God will be the name of his generation, the chosen Jewish people.
Israel, which means 'one who fights with God'. But that does not mean fighting against God. When we read this story, we will see that Israel means just the opposite. It is the one who fights for God's blessing, for God's recognition, for God's love and friendship. Jacob says, 'I will not let you go until you bless me.' .
Who fights with himself and with the people around him, who fights with all that is negative in himself in order to respond to God's call. God’s callings such as those of 'Repent', 'Be Perfect' or 'Follow Me' are transforming a grumpy and disinterested human being into a warrior who struggles with a fallen self, to draw closer to God. In that sense, we can say that the old and sinful man in us, struggles with God for God's company and friendship, sought by the new man, also hidden in us and buried in sins.
In that sense, every baptized soul is a picture of Jacob, a fighter, a wrestler who wrestles with himself, people and God all his life, in order to receive a blessing and a transition to the promised land. ..."

15 Mb 16:35 min.
"...Jealousy we have already met in the Bible narration so far. We have met it as a deadly and by no means Divine feeling, a fratricidal feeling that led Cain to kill his brother Abel out of envy of him.
The love that God teaches us through the Old and New Testaments, the Christian love, the love that the Church speaks of, the love with which God loves the world, and to which He calls us, is not some good distributed to all in a mathematical, impersonal manner, that of cold equality and justice. When we say that God loves us all equally and perfectly, it does not mean that it does not bear the stamp of personality, the stamp of a special relationship with each of us, different and unique. Just as we are all different people, each of us having distinct personal characteristics, so is God's love for us, although equal to all, directed and manifested in different ways.
However, envy and jealousy is one unhealthy feeling that occurs as a reaction to that natural and Divine order. Jealousy is a sick and twisted way of measuring and accepting Divine love, not according to what God gives us, but according to what He gives to others.
And the moment when we start weaving our reason and our insatiable desires into God's intentions, and begin to measure them by our standards, that is the beginning of evil that has no limits. ..."

15.2 Mb 16:39 min.
"...As for Joseph, we have already said, everything here bustles with the examples that if a man trusts in God and God's will, there is no such trouble, indeed there is no trouble that can befall him, which will not turn to be God's intention and God's preparation for something great and useful that this man, with God's help, can and should extract from himself and give out to the world, to others and himself. All our tragedies become misfortunes only when we give up, when we do not believe that it is all one Divine act. Not just destiny or a higher power, but the parental care of a loved one, our heavenly Father, for our ultimate salvation.
Only, indeed, as the Apostle Paul says in the Epistle to the Hebrews, 'every rebuke, while it lasts, seems as sorrow, not as joy', and he immediately adds, 'but afterwards it gives the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained through it'. What does this mean? It means to those who, like Joseph or at least similarly, by means of prayer, fasting, righteousness, and living according to the word of God, are ready and are expecting and accepting every moment of their lives as the will of a good God. ..."

23.5 Mb 25:01 min.
"...That is why the surrendering of Joseph to Egypt is the archetype of the surrender of Christ to the Cross, the expulsion of Christ from our lives to death. The arrival of his brothers in Egypt in the time of famine, in order to find grain, and the fact that Joseph is the one who was in charge of distributing food throughout the kingdom, is the archetype of the Last Judgment of Christ, in which we, after passing from our lives into death, where we have sent Christ God Himself, will come right before Him alone, as the King of Glory, the Almighty, and beg Him, whom we killed, to feed us in our hunger, to give us eternal life in our death.
Joseph's words, when he was finally recognized by his brothers, illustrate Christ's call to people who crucified him, to all of us, who have personally repented of that murder during our lives, because in that murder, committed by Jews and Romans in one ancient historical moment, all of us in this world participate with our hatred, envy, self-love, adultery, drunkenness and the like. We participate, while each of us continually having the opportunity to stop killing God.
And when we break out of it, when we stop all this, when we repent, we will hear the words of Joseph, which are in fact the words of Christ:
'And now do not sorrow not lament that you sent me here, because God has sent me before you, for the sake of your life.'