Life after Death

From the Orthodox Study Bible (Old Testament): For the ancient Hebrews, death meant a return to the same earth from which all are taken: “For earth you are, and to the earth you shall return” (Gn 3:19; Job 7:21). Nevertheless, a general idea developed that the souls of the dead do continue, though only in a shadowy, semi-comatose kind of existence in a netherworld called sheol, or Hades (Gn 37:34, 35; Pss 114:3, 138:8; Is 14:9-11), a land of “oblivion” (Ps 87:10-12; Job 14:18-22). In sheol – the … [Read more...]

Jesus Christ: Prophet, Priest, and King

From the Orthodox Study Bible (Old Testament): Throughout the Old Testament, God raised up prophets, priests, and kings from among His chosen people to serve and lead Israel. Not only did these servants minister in their own right, many prefigured the coming of Christ our God, the promised Prophet, Priest, and King. PROPHET Deuteronomy 18:15-19 foreshadows Christ as the promised Prophet. The Lord speaks to Moses: “I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and I … [Read more...]

Images and Imagery

From the Orthodox Study Bible (Old Testament): Many people have been taught that the second of the Ten Commandments prohibits icons. However, if correct, all artistic representations of anything would be forbidden. The Lord Himself in the same book of Exodus commanded Moses to make two gold cherubim (angels) “of hammered work,” and to place them at each end of the mercy seat on the ark of the covenant (Ex 25:17-21). The Lord also stipulated that the ten curtains of the tabernacle be woven with … [Read more...]

God’s Covenants with His People Israel

From the Orthodox Study Bible (Old Testament): The Lord had a covenantal relationship with the Israelites whereby He promised to always protect and provide for them as well as rescue them. In return, they agreed to worship and serve only Him, as prescribed. When foreign armies invaded Israel, or when other disasters occurred, the Prophets consistently interpreted such calamities as resulting from the people falling away from their covenantal commitment to the Lord. The Prophets convey God’s … [Read more...]

Creation

From the Orthodox Study Bible (Old Testament): “We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” These opening words of the Nicene Creed, the central doctrinal statement of Christianity, affirm that the One True God is the source of everything that exists-both physical and spiritual, both animate and inanimate. The Holy Scriptures begin with a similarly striking assertion: “In the beginning God made heaven and earth.” St. Basil the … [Read more...]

Christ our Passover

From the Orthodox Study Bible (Old Testament): Passover, the central rite and symbol of Judaism, is based on the experience of the liberation of the Hebrew people from bondage in Egypt (Ex 12:1-15:21). It is called Passover both because the Lord passed over the homes of the Hebrew, sparing them from the death that came to the first-born in Egypt, and because the Hebrews passed over the Red Sea as if it were dry land. Passover celebrates God’s steadfast love and devotion to His people and their … [Read more...]

Apocalyptic Literature

From the Orthodox Study Bible (Old Testament): Within Holy Scripture there are certain visionary, prophetic writings that are specifically seen as revelations because they reveal something about the last day, or end times. These writings within Holy Scripture are part of a larger group of works known as apocalyptic literature (from a Greek word meaning “to uncover” or “unveil”). From about 250 BC to AD 200, there were some thirty to forty such works circulating within the Jewish and early … [Read more...]