Finding patterns in the Bible

posted in: Homeschool & Parenting | 8
File:Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo 005.jpg
Transfiguration by Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons).

Last week for homeschool we did a narration of the Transfiguration. While reading the story aloud, I had an epiphany: it echoes the story of Moses receiving the 10 Commandments. I shared the parallel between the two stories with my boys. Now I’d like to share it–and the principle behind it–with you.

As a writer and avid reader, I am convinced of the inspiration of Sacred Scripture. (Besides, of course, being convinced as a Christian by the authority of the Church.) Dozens of writers over thousands of years produced the book we now call the Bible. They were from different cultures, used different literary genres, and had diverse purposes.

Amazingly, the same themes are developed throughout the Bible from beginning to end. Types and anti-types, prophecies and their fulfillment, fill its pages. You can follow one idea like a wave on the sea from Genesis to Revelation, or stand on the shore and admire the rhythm of the ocean that is the entire Bible.

I love to share these patterns with my children. I get excited about them, and that excites my boys!

Mt. Sinai and Mt. Tabor

In Exodus, Moses goes up on Mt. Sinai with his assistant Joshua, leaving Aaron in charge.  On the mountain, he speaks with God “face to face” and receives the 10 Commandments. Then he descends the mountain to give the commandments to the people. What does he find? In his absence, Aaron has made them a golden calf to worship.

Then in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus goes up on Mount Tabor with Peter, James, and John. He speaks face to face with Moses and Elijah. Then He descends the mountain to find that the disciples He had left behind were unable to cast a demon out of a boy who was brought to them.

Both stories portray a lack of faith. The Israelites doubted the true God and made an idol, a false god they hoped was stronger than the One that had not let Moses come back safely to them. The disciples, apparently afraid of the power a demon displayed, doubted that they had the power to cast it out.

Literary masters or inspired disciples?

In your study of the Bible, you will find many parallels like this. It’s as though the Gospel writers were literary masters who had studied the Old Testament thoroughly and wove new stories to echo the old. Only,  John was a fisherman. Matthew was a tax collector. We don’t know Mark’s profession, but he was an early disciple of Jesus, and later traveled with both Peter and Paul. He was presumably from a humble background. Only Luke, a physician, is known to have been an educated man.

These men did not create their own stories. They wrote the Gospel as they had witnessed it or learned it from others. Yes, each told the Gospel in his own way, because the holy Spirit works through our natural gifts.  But before they wrote, their eyes were opened like the men on the road to Emmaus. They were able to see Christ throughout the Old Testament. God Himself was the artist who wove history together in such a way that everything points towards Christ. How blessed we are to have Sacred Scripture!

Connie Rossini


8 Responses

  1. melanie jean juneau

    So interesting, Connie. I was also delighted to follow all the foreshadowing of Christ’s life and the teachings of the Catholic Church in the O.T. It is so fascinating and complex that it is simply another sign that the Holy Spirit inspired everything

    • Connie Rossini

      Yes, the Old Testament makes a lot more sense when you are Catholic! Someday I’d like to hear your full conversion story. Do you have it on your blog somewhere? It would be a great fit for CSBN.

      • melanie jean juneau

        it is in bits and just inspired me to write it!! Once i went through the bible marking in a deep red all references to the saints, Eucharist, Mary and other Catholic teachings in scripture

  2. lisanicholasphd

    Connie, I was meditating on the Transfiguration account once and asked, “How did Peter and the others know that the two figures with Jesus were Moses and the prophet Elijah?” The answer that came to me was this — Moses had seen God face to face on Mount Horeb, and his face was radiant afterward ; when Elijah was given proof of the Lord’s presence in the still, small voice, he veiled his face in awe. So I have always imagined Moses standing with radiant face, and Elijah with his mantle cast over his face as the two of them faced Christ transfigured. To me, these postures are the testimony to Peter, James & John that Jesus is the same Lord God who had given the Law and the Prophets.

    • Connie Rossini

      Anabelle, I never thought of that. My dh wants to start create videos for the web, but hasn’t had time to work on it yet. He’s perpetually overwhelmed with projects. I will think about it. That would be fun!

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