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Editor’s Note: This series on the Bible is from the book Catholicism & Scripture. Please feel free to use the series for high schoolers or adults. We will continue to welcome your questions for the column as well. Contact us at the addresses provided below.

Special Course On Catholicism And Scripture (Chapter 8)

To get the people away from worshiping false gods, God ordered them to sacrifice animals to bring about legal purification. The blood of the animals was splashed on an altar because blood was thought to be sacred. It was believed that life was located in the blood. While the sacrifice of animals was a sign of purification, only the blood of Jesus, the “Lamb of God,” shed on the Cross could atone fully for our sins. That sacrifice is re-presented today in an unbloody way (Christ could only die once) at every Mass in every part of the world.
While in the presence of God on Mount Sinai, Moses was told to build a meeting tent or sanctuary that would serve as a portable dwelling place for God until a permanent temple was built in Jerusalem years later. Contained within the tent was the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-covered chest that held two stone tablets with the Commandments on them, the staff of Aaron, and a jar of manna, the heavenly bread which God sent to feed His people in the desert.
While Moses was conversing with God on Mount Sinai for forty days, the people got restless and decided to build a calf out of gold so they could worship it. They cried out, “This is your God, O Israel, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4). Moses was furious when he came down from the mountain. He smashed the tablets with the Commandments on them, ground the golden calf into powder, and forced the people to drink the powdery water. He told those who were still loyal to the one, true God to come forward and ordered that the others, about three thousand of them, be killed.
The golden calf was Israel’s “forbidden fruit.” What golden calf do people worship today — money, pleasure, power, celebrities? What forbidden fruit do we sometimes seek?
Despite his anger at what he called “a stiff-necked people,” Moses continued to lead them and to encourage them to lead holy lives. He also remained in close contact with God, consulting with Him in the meeting tent and going up Mount Sinai a second time to obtain the Ten Commandments. When Moses came down the mountain, his face was so radiant and glowing that Aaron and the others were afraid to come near him. So, he put a veil over his face whenever he entered into the presence of the Lord.
The radiant face of Moses is a preview of the glowing appearance of Jesus when He was transfigured on the mountain in front of Peter, James, and John (cf. Luke 9:28-36). And the dazzling appearance of Jesus is a foreshadowing of the glorious state of our bodies in Heaven.
The people of Israel left Sinai about two years after escaping from Egypt and, as they neared the land of Canaan, Moses sent twelve men to scout the land and see what it was like and whether the people there were friends or foes. The men were gone for forty days and, when they reported back, only two of them — Caleb and Joshua — said that with the Lord’s help, they could take control of the land. The other ten spread negative reports and grumbled against Moses.
God was furious at their lack of trust in Him and threatened to wipe them out. But Moses pleaded with God to pardon the rebellious Israelites, and God said that He would. However, He also said that all those over the age of twenty would never see the Promised Land and that it would take them forty years to reach this goal, one year for each day that was spent scouting the land.
When the people continued to complain, God sent serpents to bite them, and many died from the poisonous bites. Moses interceded with God and was told to put a bronze serpent on a tree, and whenever people looked at the serpent, they would be cured of the poison. This was another type of Jesus, for whenever people look at Him on the cross, they are saved from the poison of sin. Jesus gave us the Sacrament of Penance to obtain forgiveness for our sins (cf. John 20:22-23).
As they again neared the Promised Land, Moses chose Joshua to lead the people into Canaan. He himself was not allowed to enter because he had once doubted God. After giving them their final instructions, Moses told his people to obey the Commandments of the Lord and to “choose life, then, that you and your descendants may live, by loving the Lord, your God, heeding His voice, and holding fast to Him” (Deut. 30:19-20).

List of Answers:

AARON
ANIMALS
ARK
BRONZE
CANAAN
“CHOOSE LIFE”
GOLDEN
JESUS
JOSHUA
MANNA
PENANCE
PROMISED LAND
RADIANT
“STIFF-NECKED”
TENT
THREE
TRANSFIGURATION

Quiz:

  1. The Hebrews sacrificed _____________to atone for their sins.
  2. As the “Lamb of God,” _______________offered the perfect sacrifice.
  3. God instructed Moses to build a meeting __ or sanctuary.
  4. This sanctuary was to contain the __________of the Covenant.
  5. In the Ark were the staff of and a jar of _.
  6. While Moses was on the mountain, the Israelites built a _______calf to worship.
  7. About __ thousand of those who worshiped the idol were struck dead.
  8. God called the Israelites a “______” people.
  9. Moses’ face became _ after conversing with God.
  10. His glowing face was a foreshadowing of the __ of Jesus.
  11. Moses sent scouts to investigate the land of _.
  12. When people were dying of snake bites, Moses placed a __ serpent on a tree to heal them.
  13. Jesus gave us the Sacrament of __________to heal us from our sins.
  14. Moses chose _______ to be his successor.
  15. Moses was not allowed to enter the _ because he had doubted God on one occasion.
  16. Moses’ final words were to “____________” to please God.
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Catholic Replies

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