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One Hebrew Catholic’s Perspective 

 

God’s Saving Action: The Passover

Unit 2

Step 1.

Suggested Reading: “Moses: Listen ~ Love ~ Live“, or an appropriate alternative account of the Passover e.g. Book of the Exodus.

1.1 All of the epic stories recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures ― Old Testament ― are essential ingredients of Hebrew Catholic spirituality. The account of Moses and the Passover gives us amazing insight and understanding regarding the shape, dynamism and direction which feature in God’s plan of restoring fallen humanity.

1.2 We recommend you print your own copy of “Moses: Listen ~ Love ~ Live“: (or any other substitute you prefer) and endorse it with any notes, markings and supplementary references which you consider will help you remember and understand they key ideas contained in it. We are sure you will return to your notes and highlighting many times.

1.3 The following is one way of summarising this great event.

 

“God’s Saving Action”.

CALL
PROCLAMATION

At Horeb, God
calls
Moses to
lead His people
out of slavery.

God proclaims
His act of
redemption.

His message is
always one of
love for His
people and
restoring them
to Himself.                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exodus 3 — 4

LOVING
RESPONSE

At Sinai, God
commands

love for Himself,
and sacrificial
obedience to
His Divine Will
expressed in
the Holy Torah
— the Instruction
and Law!

Love from His
People is the
response He
requires.             

This love is put
to the test, in
one way or
another, the
whole time
God’s People
are following in
His Way. (Laws.)


Exodus 20 — 24

NEW LIFE
NEW LAND

God gives advance
notice of the
abundant life
His people will
enjoy in the
land yet to be
taken, provided
they are
careful and
committed to
consistent
standards of
holiness, and
remain focused
on His Presence
in their midst,
without becoming
careless and
taking their
privileges for granted.

 

 

Exodus 3: 8 — 9;
Leviticus, Numbers,
Deuteronomy.

God is laying down, in this way, a very clear and precise pattern which His unfolding plan of restoration is to take. As we shall see later in the following Unit (3), Christ the New Moses fulfills all that had been established at Sinai, and unfolds God’s Plan even further.

Step 2

Reflect on the overview of the sequence of events

2.1 Take a look at the vast physical dimension and scale of this amazing occurrence, from Egypt to Sinai en route (after the death of Moses) to the Promised Land. Even this blackboard geographical model below reflects the three-fold action of God’s plan.

2.2 From either “Moses: Listen— Love — Live ” or your selected readings in the Book of Exodus, note your brief personal observations concerning:—

  • God’s message to Moses;
  • The Passover action and the rush for the border at the Red Sea;
  • The lengthy instructions for the building of the first dwelling of God’s Presence — the Tabernacle.

2.3 Now, or at any subsequent time you return to these notes, record any of your thoughts and reactions, including any questions you may wish to investigate at a later stage.

 

Step 3

Compare your notes with the following “skeleton” of what is contained in the account of the whole Passover event: Egypt → Sinai→ Promised Land and add any ideas which help you to consolidate the event in your mind and memory, especially any references to the text of Exodus.

I Egypt

  • Call of Moses and Proclamation of Message of Deliverance
    (God makes known through Moses the reason for His visitation)
  • Passing over the homes of the obedient
  • Release from slavery to New Life

II Sinai

  • Giving of the Torah: Message of God’s love for His People
  • Covenant commitment of loving response and personal sacrifice
    by all participants
  • Constitution of the People of God as a Nation enacted

III Promised Land

Advance notice given of essential religious obligations as conditions of entry and continuing occupation of their new home.

  • Listening regularly (daily) to the Torah: God’s Word and Teaching
  • Following closely everything God commands in the Torah:
    God’s expressed will
  • Living lives which reflect God’s Presence and Holiness

Note

These are the conditions in III above required by God for the Promised Land to be taken. It was not handed to them on a platter. It was a gift from God, but they had to play their part in achieving final victory and peaceful occupation. Their success hung on their personal holiness, following His path and sense of God’s real presence among them.

“Life, increase, entrance into the land, promised to your forefathers, secure possession of it, all shall be yours if you will take good heed to follow the commandments I am giving you this day”. (Deuteronomy 8: 1).

God’s Law and Teaching thus became looked upon as His living Word. See, for example Psalm 119: Words of love giving Light and Life; words providing the Way for His People.

 

Summary

1. Although the account of the Passover and Exodus is fairly well known we have chosen to highlight just a few features which have had a “flow-on” effect down through the ages. This event has shaped the whole psyche and religious practice of the Jewish people. No other nation has undergone anything comparable. For Christians, as we shall see, it is an integral part of the history of our Salvation.

In closing this section about Moses and the giving of Torah, we quote him as he refers to the Messiah, and this further strengthens our understanding of God’s outreach to all humanity.

 

Deuteronomy 18: 15 — 19

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

15    “A prophet like me will the LORD, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen.

16    This is exactly what you requested of the LORD, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let us not again hear the voice of the LORD, our God, nor see this great fire any more, lest we die.’

17    And the LORD said to me, ‘This was well said.

18     I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kinsmen, and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.

19    If any man will not listen to my words which he speaks in my name, I myself will make him answer for it.

 

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible,
revised edition (c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of
Christian Doctrine, Washington D.C. and are used by permission of
the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the
New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without
permission in writing from the copyright owner.

 

2. Fr. Ronald Cox, C.M., in Waiting For Christ wrote this by way of commentary:

 

When our Lord fed the five thousand with five loaves and two fish by the Lake of Galilee, the crowd said: ‘Beyond doubt this is the prophet who is to come into the world’ (John 6: 14). The apostle Philip told his friend Nathanael: ‘We have discovered who it was Moses wrote of in his law; it is Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth’ (John 1: 45). Later, Peter will also state that Jesus was the prophet foretold by Moses (Acts 3: 22); and Stephen also draws the same conclusion (Acts 7: 37). These witnesses show that Moses’ prophecy refers to the person of our Lord, over and above the promise of a prophetic order: ‘In old days, God spoke to our fathers….. through the prophets; now at last in these times he has spoken to us with a son to speak for him’ (Heb. 1: 1— 2).

 

It may help us to ponder:

  • Moses spoke of God’s behalf
  • The Messiah spoke on God’s behalf
  • Whom did the Messiah appoint to speak on His behalf?

The impact of God’s saving action remains indelibly etched into the minds of each member of this People. The essential religious obligations put in place by God all focus (ultimately) upon each person doing their best to develop a close relationship with God in soul, body, mind and strength. (See Step 3.  III above) This feature will evolve further as God’s Plan unfolds. The Messiah chose to use the commemoration of Passover as the occasion when He would shed His Blood lovingly as the Passover Lamb, and fulfill all that Passover stood for. (The Last Supper.)

Reflection

Does any part of the three step chart, earlier in this unit above
together with the “notes” remind you of anything in the life
and ministry of the Lord Jesus?

We encourage you to record something of your thoughts on the
relevant pages. You will value your personal thoughts more and
more as time goes by.

 

Addendum:  Words From the Prophets and Saints

As a link from the story we have just covered to connect us with the coming of the Messiah and New Testament times, we list a few Biblical quotations from the great prophets and early saints of the Church. They are presented in a format which may be printed and distributed, and which is also suited to note-making and highlighting

 

 Ezekiel 36: 22 — 29b

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

22    Therefore say to the house of Israel: Thus says the Lord GOD: Not for your sakes do I act, house of Israel, but for the sake of my holy name, which you profaned among the nations to which you came.

23    I will prove the holiness of my great name, profaned among the nations, in whose midst you have profaned it. Thus the nations shall know that I am the LORD, says the Lord GOD, when in their sight I prove my holiness through you.

24    For I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land.

25    I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you.

26    I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you, taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts.

27    I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes, careful to observe my decrees.

28    You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God.

29    I will save you from all your impurities; I will order the grain to be abundant, and I will not send famine against you.

 

 Isaiah 42: 6 — 7

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

6    I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice, I have grasped you by the hand; I formed you, and set you as a covenant of the people, a light for the nations,

7    to open the eyes of the blind, to bring out prisoners from confinement, and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.

 

 Isaiah 49: 6

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

6    It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

 

Isaiah 53: 1 — 12

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

1    Who would believe what we have heard? To whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

2    He grew up like a sapling before him, like a shoot from the parched earth; There was in him no stately bearing to make us look at him, nor appearance that would attract us to him.

3    He was spurned and avoided by men, a man of suffering, accustomed to infirmity, One of those from whom men hide their faces, spurned, and we held him in no esteem.

4    Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted.

5    But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed.

6    We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all.

7    Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth.

8    Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people,

9    A grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood.

10    (But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him.

11    Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.

12    Therefore I will give him his portion among the great, and he shall divide the spoils with the mighty, Because he surrendered himself to death and was counted among the wicked; And he shall take away the sins of many, and win pardon for their offenses.

 

Luke 2: 29 — 32

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

29    “Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word,

30    for my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you prepared in sight of all the peoples,

32    a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.”

 

Acts 13: 47

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

47    For so the Lord has commanded us, ‘I have made you a light to the Gentiles, that you may be an instrument of salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

 

Acts 26: 22 — 23

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

(The Apostle St. Paul speaking)

22    But I have enjoyed God’s help to this very day, and so I stand here testifying to small and great alike, saying nothing different from what the prophets and Moses foretold,

23    that the Messiah must suffer and that, as the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

 

John 8: 12

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

12    Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

 

                  All of the above Scriptures are used with permission:

Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition (c) 2010,
1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington D.C. and are used by
permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible
may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Click here for a printable copy of these extracts of Scripture

 

Despite infidelity to God’s Torah, His Laws and His Teaching, God has not abandoned Israel. The Church, too, must measure up. There is no room to avoid our responsibility. We are to be a light to the world, as part of God’s Plan of Restoration. Woe betide us if we ignore our responsibilities.

Reflection:

What does it mean to you to be a light for the Gentiles?

 

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