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The Bible In A Year: Day 26

Exodus 14-15
Psalm 22
Mathew 22

The Israelites are en route to the Red Sea when pharaoh decides he’s made a mistake and allowed his free labor to walk away with lots of the wealth of the people of Egypt in tow. He grabs some of his soldiers and chariots and gives chase, catching them by the sea. God then moves from leading them as the pillar of cloud, into a position that protects their rear from attack. Showing that God is their leader and protector.

Then comes one of the most famous moments in biblical history, one that’s even known to nonbelievers. Moses holds out his arms at the command of God, and the Red Sea parts, allowing them to walk through on dry land. Saint Paul mentions this as the moment where Israel was “baptized into Moses” and it has been written about by countless church fathers as a foreshadowing of our own baptism into Christ.

The sea is a type of Baptism, for just as it caused the demise of Pharaoh, so our washing is the end of the devil’s tyranny. In the sea the enemy is slain, and in Baptism our enmity with God lies dead. From the sea the people emerged unharmed, and from the water we step forth saved by the grace of the One who called us.

Saint Basil

This foreshadowing and typological connection is so strong, that the church herself cites it as a forerunner to baptism in the blessing of the water at the Easter vigil liturgy.

But above all, the crossing of the Red Sea, literally the liberation of Israel from the slavery of Egypt, announces the liberation wrought by Baptism: “You freed the children of Abraham from the slavery of Pharaoh,
bringing them dry-shod through the waters of the Red Sea,
to be an image of the people set free in Baptism.

CCC 1221

After walking through the dry sea bed, pharaoh’s army is crushed by the water that suddenly rushes back in. This miraculous rescue prompts chapter 15’s song of praise.

When they’re safe on the other side, after watching the sea split in half, after being led by a pillar of fire and cloud, after being protected from angels of death that administered a plague that killed everyone not observing the Passover, after witnessing the other nine plagues, the people say that Moses has brought them out to the wilderness to die. They lament their current situation and wish they were still slaves in Egypt. This will be a recurring theme for the next 40 years.

They really get upset when they arrive at a watering hole but the water is bad. So Moses is instructed to throw a piece of wood in the water, and that makes it drinkable. Tertullian seen Christological foreshadowing in even this brief episode.

The waters of Marah, made fresh by the wood of the tree, prefigure the waters of Baptism, made holy and life-giving by the Cross of Christ.


For more on Moses check here

Psalm 22

The first line of this psalm should sound very familiar to almost everyone. This line is quoted by Our Lord from the cross, and makes up one of the seven last sayings of Christ, commonly called The Seven Last Words of Christ.

What some people mistakenly think when they hear Jesus say “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” is that Jesus was abandoned by the Father in that moment. But Jesus and the father are one and inseparable, there is never a moment when the Son can’t see the Father’s face, because they are of the same divine substance.

When Jesus speaks those words, he is referring to this psalm that speaks of a righteous man who is unjustly persecuted but in the end is justified. Anyone, that wasn’t a Roman, around the cross and within earshot would have all 150 psalms memorized for prayer, and they would know exactly what he meant when he quoted this psalm.

There are even lines that prophetically speak about hands and feet being pierced, without any bones being broken. Amazingly this psalm was written around 1000 years before the birth of Christ, and about 600 years before crucifixions first began in Persia.

Mathew 22

Jesus begins by speaking in a parable about a marriage feast. This is another allegory where each character refers to a group or person in salvation history, and the feast itself has a double meaning; one being the Eucharistic feast in the liturgy of the Church, and the other the wedding banquet in the eternal kingdom at the end of the age.

The King is God, and the wedding feast is the kingdom of heaven. Those that were invited but refused are the people of the house of Israel and the servants sent out to call them are the Old Testament prophets. W

hen the refuse the call again and kill the servants, the king destroys their city in judgment. This is a prophecy that came to fulfillment in AD70. So then the servants invite those in the streets outside, representing the gentiles that had the gospel preached to them and many headed the call, but those who lacked the proper disposition (represented by the garment).

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,for the marriage of the Lamb has come,and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure”-for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

Revelation 19:7-8

We are saved by grace, working through faith. It is this work of the Holy Spirit in our lives that we cooperate with and receive grace from that allows us to be clothed in the proper garments for the wedding.

Jesus’ invitation to enter his kingdom comes in the form of parables, a characteristic feature of his teaching. Through his parables he invites people to the feast of the kingdom, but he also asks for a radical choice: to gain the kingdom, one must give everything. Words are not enough, deeds are required. The parables are like mirrors for man: will he be hard soil or good earth for the word? What use has he made of the talents he has received? Jesus and the presence of the kingdom in this world are secretly at the heart of the parables. One must enter the kingdom, that is, become a disciple of Christ, in order to “know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven”. For those who stay “outside”, everything remains enigmatic.

CCC 546

After this parable there’s more sparing with the religious leaders. And an interesting note here is that the Pharisees try to team of with the herodians to trap him in an unanswerable question about taxes. The herodians being supporters of king Herod, who was really nothing more than a Roman puppet, and the Pharisees were nationalistic and despised their Roman occupiers. But in a Machiavellian move, they join forces against a common foe.

After their joint effort fails, the Sadducees step up with their own trick question. They represented the religious elites in Jerusalem, whereas the Pharisees were more populist in nature. They ask Jesus a question about a woman who married seven brother, each fulfilling his duty after his older brother dies, unlike Judah and Tamar that we read about in Genesis. This question seems to be based on a part of the book of Tobit.

Jesus answers their question by telling us that I heaven there will be no marriage, and we will be like the angels. He then segues into the fact that the Sadducees don’t even believe in the resurrection, and this is partly due to their rejection of all scriptures but the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible that were written by Moses), but also because they had demystified God and didn’t fully believe in his power or will to raise the dead to a newness of life in heaven. To them it was all about this life, and there was no life to come. So Jesus corrects them with a passage from Exodus, since they would’ve just rejected anything quoted from the prophets.

The Pharisees then decide to take another crack at a battle of wits with Jesus. Jesus answers them by summing up all 613 laws of the Mosaic Covenant with just two precepts; Love God and Love your neighbor. Saint Paul further expands on that by telling us how loving our neighbors fulfills all the requirements of the Law,

Owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.
The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not kill, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this sentence, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

Romans 13:8-10

Jesus then turns it all around on them by asking them a question. He asks them how the messiah can be the “son of David” and yet David calls him “Lord” in one of his psalms (psalms 110). They were dumbfounded and it says that no one dared asked him questions after that. Not that he changed the minds of the Pharisees, it’s just that they’d taken enough of a beating to know they’d never win in this arena, and really doubled down on their efforts to have him killed.

Many Jews and even certain Gentiles who shared their hope recognized in Jesus the fundamental attributes of the messianic “Son of David”, promised by God to Israel. Jesus accepted his rightful title of Messiah, though with some reserve because it was understood by some of his contemporaries in too human a sense, as essentially political.

CCC 439

Tomorrow’s Readings:
Exodus 16
Psalm 23
Mathew 23

One comment on “The Bible In A Year: Day 26

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