What every Christian should understand about the great Feast of Pentecost

… the Jewish Feast of Pentecost—which literally means “Fifty”, taken from the fifty days counted after Passover—was the Jewish liturgical celebration of the Giving of the Law at Sinai.  If one makes a careful count of the passing of time in the Book of Exodus, one discovers that the Sinai theophany (appearance of God) occurs exactly fifty days after the Israelites departed from Egypt.  So, Pentecost was not only an agricultural festival celebrating the end of the harvest, but also a sacred historical memorial of the day of the establishment of the Old Covenant.

This parallel and its significance is missed by modern readers, but not by ancient Jewish readers of Acts!  At Sinai the Law was given in a fearsome storm, and on tablets of stone.  At Pentecost, there is a “peaceful storm” of the Spirit (the rushing wind, the lightning-like tongues of flame) and the giving of the Law on the Heart.

As St. Thomas says in his treatment of the Old Law in the Summa, “the law of the New Covenant is nothing other than the Holy Spirit.”  The Spirit is the Law written on the heart promised with the New Covenant…

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The Transfiguration

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Seen at The Catholic Treasure Chest Website

Seeking the Lost Ark: The place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and receive(s) them to mercy.

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by Doug Lawrence

My good friend Bob Stanley of the Catholic Treasure Chest website writes:

This post builds on the info recently received from my Israeli friend. Here is something that I think is of great importance, as the Bible appears to tell us where the Ark of the Covenant is.

2Ma 2:3 And with other such like speeches, he exhorted them that they would not remove the law from their heart.
2Ma 2:4 It was also contained in the same writing, how the prophet, being warned by God, commanded that the tabernacle and the ark should accompany him, till he came forth to the mountain where Moses went upand saw the inheritance of God. (see Deut 34:1 below for the name of the mountain, and the other verses which insure that they refer to the inheritance).
2Ma 2:5 And when Jeremias came thither he found a hollow cave: and he carried in thither the tabernacle, and the ark , and the altar of incense, and so stopped the door.
2Ma 2:6 Then some of them that followed him, came up to mark the place: but they could not find it.
2Ma 2:7 And when Jeremias perceived it, he blamed them, saying: The place shall be unknown, till God gather together the congregation of the people, and receive them to mercy.
2Ma 2:8 And then the Lord will shew these things, and the majesty of the Lord shall appear, and there shall be a cloud as it was also shewed to Moses, and he shewed it when Solomon prayed that the place might be sanctified to the great God.

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Deu 34:1  Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab upon mount Nebo, to the top of Phasga over against Jericho: and the Lord shewed him all the land of Galaad as far as Dan.
Deu 34:2  And all Nephtali, and the land of Ephraim and Manasses, and all the land of Juda unto the furthermost sea,
Deu 34:3  And the south part, and the breadth of the plain of Jericho the city of palm trees as far as Segor.
Deu 34:4  And the Lordtsaid to him: This is the land, for which I swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying: I will give it to thy seed. Thou hast seen it with thy eyes, and shalt not pass over to it.
Deu 34:5  And Moses the servant of the Lord died there, in the land of Moab, by the commandment of the Lord:

Source: Douay-Rheims Bible

The Jews, the Arabs and the non-Catholics don’t have the books of Maccabees and they refuse to read them in Catholic Bibles. After all, they say the Catholic Bible is corrupted and Maccabees is not inspired…right? This reminds me of the Indiana Jones movie “Raiders of the Lost Ark” where Sallah (John Rhys-Davies) looked over about half mile away, saw the Nazi’s digging for the ark and rejoiced by saying “They are digging in the wrong place”.

Months ago I asked my Jewish friend where Mt. Nebo was, without mentioning why I would like to know. He said it is in Jordan. That is another reason why the Jews never tried digging there. It makes a lot of sense to me that since the temple mount is a relatively small area and has been explored, dug and tunneled for many centuries and yet never was even a sign or clue that something as large as the Ark was found within it. Even the crusaders made exhaustive but essentially fruitless searches there.

Go back and read again the 2nd sentence of 2Ma 2:7.  Maybe it is happening right now???

Doug replies:

There’s a lot of intriguing possibilities there. I find it interesting, looking at the map, that Moses did indeed have a clear view of precisely what is described in the scriptures. God really did let him see the Promised Land – pretty much in its’ entirety.

It’s been my experience that people expect the site of the lost Ark to be either somewhere on or around the temple mount, or even as far away as Mt. Sinai – assuming that anyone today actually knows the true location of that holy mountain.

Even with the sold description provided in Maccabees, there’s a lot of potential hiding places for the Ark, on and around Mount Nebo.

Maybe Moses will retrieve it and he and (either) Enoch or Elijah will come back to witness in Jerusalem, near the end of the tribulation period? The Ark may even be the energy source for the Heavenly “fire” and the drought. (Rev 11:3-6)

Another interesting note about Moses: Even the devil was unable to find his dead body, so Moses is a very good candidate for having being assumed into Heaven, by God – as was Elijah, in his fiery chariot. The fact that both later appeared with Jesus during the Transfiguration seems to add credence to that possibility.

So we have Enoch, Elijah, Moses, the Blessed Virgin Mary – and maybe even Lazarus – his second time around – all being assumed into Heaven, by the awesome power of God.

That’s almost a bigger deal than finding the lost Ark!

This Week’s Ask Alice: The Bible – Word of God?



Send A Question To Alice

She’ll answer your Catholic questions
right here, every Thursday.

Email responses will also be provided, as time permits.

Rational Asks: Why do you Christians believe the Bible is the Word of God?

Alice Answers: We Catholics and our Christian brothers and sisters believe God is the ultimate author of the Bible.

We believe that God inspired the human authors of the Bible, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to accurately write His words.

Many verses in the Bible proclaim God as the Divine Author of both the Old and New Testaments.

“All Scripture is inspired of God and is useful for teaching — for reproof, correction and training in holiness so that the man of God may be fully competent and equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16)

All Scripture is fulfilled in Christ. Jesus’ own words and deeds are recorded in Sacred Scripture.

The Bible contains a myriad of quotations and teachings from our Lord. In addition, Jesus himself quoted passages from the Old Testament. When He was hungry and being tempted in the desert, Jesus responded to Satan,

“Scripture has it: ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)

While theologians contend that the Bible is the compilation of 40 men who were unknown to one another, ranging from kings to a tent maker, each wrote with a single purpose: to unite people with God, for eternity. Throughout its pages the Bible provides eye-and-ear-witness testimonies to the empowering word of God.

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” (2 Peter 1:16)

To believe, as Catholics do, that the Bible is the word of God is an act of faith. Faith is believing what we cannot see or hear, that which cannot be scientifically proven.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8)

In Christ’s Love,

Alice

Doug Lawrence adds: In addition to faith, we Christians also have tradition and fulfilled prophecy to back up our beliefs.

TRADITION

To put it very simply, tradition is the means by which the Holy Spirit guides and inspires the People of God, from age to age.

Before the Old Testament of the Bible was written, it was faithfully preserved by means of tradition. Before the New Testament was written, the truths contained therein were preserved and disseminated, via tradition.

The entire Canon of Scripture has in a very real sense, been inspired, preserved, set down in writing, defined, confirmed, proclaimed, translated and distributed, by means of Catholic Church tradition.

Why do we say this? Simply because nowhere can we find any specific written or even verbal instructions from God, ordering anyone to write down and/or otherwise record his collective words and/or commands.

About the closest we come to this is Moses’ receipt of the Ten Commandments, in stone, and his subsequent written codification (on paper) of several hundred related statutes and ordinances, known collectively as the Mosaic Law, which was first used to help govern the Israelites throughout their desert wanderings.

We know from scripture that, for some 40 years, Moses often spoke to God, “face to face”. If Moses decided to begin writing things down … and God permitted it to be done … then it must have been OK. (Moses wrote the first 5 books of the what we Christians refer to as the Old Testament.)

Later Hebrew prophets and scribes would choose to do likewise … as would the Holy Spirit inspired leadership of the early Christian church.

This is tradition, in action!

Until the complete Bible was set to writing and finally confirmed by the Catholic Church, it was constantly preserved via oral and written tradition, with the aid of some very distinctive, practical and effective cultural accoutrements, which were part and parcel of both the Hebrew and Christian ways of life.

We know and refer to this as the Judeo-Christian Tradition.

PROPHECY

Another reason people of the Christian faith believe the Bible is the Word of God is the fact that about one third of the Bible is prophetic … accurately predicting very specific persons and events to come, often hundreds or even thousands of years in advance.

People living in our times have the unique ability to identify and correlate specific Bible prophecies with their subsequent fulfillment in what is now past human history.

Some 300 ancient yet very specific Bible prophecies (relating to the divine person-hood, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ) were perfectly fulfilled in the 4 days between Holy Thursday and Easter Sunday, alone.

Many, many more biblical prophecies have already been fulfilled, and still more are thought to apply to the future … many of those centered around the “end times” and the 2nd coming of Jesus Christ.

See:

Proof from the Bible that Jesus Christ is God

What Everybody (especially Christians) Should Know About the Bible

Catholic Prophecies for the End Times

  Click here to see all of Alice’s other columns

Our Sovereign and Awesome God

by Sharon Fane

“Concepts create idols; only wonder comprehends anything. People kill one another over idols. Wonder makes us fall to our knees.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa

Idolatry is addressed by the first commandment, and it takes many forms.

Worshiping a concept, a system of thought, or an individual (holy or not) is a dangerous flirtation with what is antithetical to God’s will for mankind. Simplicity in a direct discourse with God, with Christ, and with the Holy Spirit vanquishes idol worship and cleanses the soul.

The image of Christ in artwork should enable us a closer relationship with Him. Not the image.

The communication of Christ by one human being to another or by one human being to many should (if it bears good fruit) bring them closer to Christ, not necessarily to the human being.

The quote above uses the word “wonder” in the context (by my understanding) of holy fear. Moses possesed this when he returned from Mt. Sinai with the commandments.

Holy fear makes us fall to our knees.

The Commandment: Exodus 20:4, Deuteronomy 5:8

The Israelites’ Response in Holy Fear: Exodus 20:18

Sharia Law: The False Messiah of Islam.

Muslim Sharia Law (with a few modifications) is based on the same Ten Commandments that were given to Moses on Mt. Sinai.

Like the Scribes and Pharisees, who officially interpreted and enforced the old Mosaic Law, Islam has its own group of Ayatollahs and Imams.

Unfortunately, the Jews and the Muslims never came to understand that the old Law 1) was never intended to last forever; and 2) was actually a curse.

Here’s how this works:

The first thing Moses did (after getting a set of replacement tablets, from God) was to add a rather extensive set of statutes and ordinances to the original Commandments, creating what we know as the Mosaic Law.

Over time, other statutes and ordinances were added, making the Law ever more heavy and onerous, until … by the time of Christ … the whole thing was so laden with arcane and pointless requirements … that it … along with its corrupt administrators … the Scribes and the Pharisees … served to spiritually oppress the entire Nation of Israel … much as the Roman occupation oppressed them, civilly.

The Jews of that time had to endure (literally) the worst of all possible worlds!

Now comes Jesus, the Messiah, the promised Holy One of Israel, who would perfectly fulfill all that was written about him in the books of the Psalms and the Prophets, and by his saving death, also fulfill every jot and tittle of his Law, setting it aside … in favor of his all new and better covenant, and his grace empowered Catholic (universal) Church.

Refusing to accept even the possibility that God might choose to send his only begotten son as the redeemer of all mankind, Muhammad fell victim to the same spiritual blindness that still afflicts the Jews.

Meanwhile … thanks to the Holy Spirit … we Christians came to understand that Jesus Christ freed us from the curse of the old Mosaic Law. A law which was never intended to save souls … or to last forever … but only to point out the utter sinfulness and imperfections of man … and to demonstrate the absolute need for a holy redeemer.

In truth … Jesus Christ and his grace … not any law … is the first, best, and final recourse … of every Christian.

So, anyone who prefers to rely instead, on “keeping the law” in order to please God, is bound to fail.

Failing, there is no recourse … so a person is then practically bound to live a cursed existence … constantly oppressed by the law’s onerous, essentially pointless requirements … and always “under the thumb” of various officials, who serve to interpret and enforce it.

This seems to be an apt description of Sharia Law, as currently practiced throughout the Muslim world today. Does it not?

The eternal consequences of this grievous error are also very significant, since as we know, no one ever obtained salvation by “keeping the law”.

But what about today’s Christians, still attempting to observe the Ten Commandments? Isn’t that equally absurd?

Absolutely not!

With Jesus Christ as our savior, the Law no longer constitutes a curse, since even when we fail to keep it, forgiveness, absolution, sanctifying grace, and a fresh start … remain constantly and freely available to us, through the sacraments and devotions of the Catholic Church.

So, even when we Christians fail, salvation is still within our means … since our “means” is none other than Jesus Christ! (How’s that for a practical definition of faith?)

Thanks be to God!

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Why 40?

It is the number Forty that the Church now brings before us: – a number, as Saint Jerome observes, which denotes punishment and affliction [In Ezechiel, cap. xxix].

Let us remember the forty days and forty nights of the Deluge (Gen. vii. 12), sent by God in his anger, when he repented that he had made man, and destroyed the whole human race, with the exception of one family. Let us consider how the Hebrew people, in punishment for their ingratitude, wandered forty years in the desert, before they were permitted to enter the Promised Land [Num. xiv. 33]. Let us listen to our God commanding the Prophet Ezechiel to lie forty days on his right side, as a figure of the siege, which was to bring destruction on Jerusalem [Ezech. iv. 6].

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