The rabbis observe that if God wishes to give his people a new body of law, it can be fully accepted as coming from him only if he gives it to the whole people all at once in a national revelation. In this way God’s people Israel know that the Torah is true. It comes from Isaiah’s prophecy, “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken” Is 40:5.
The Catholic Church accepts the Ten Commandments as national revelation, § 2056 “God revealed these ‘ten words’ to his people on the holy mountain.” Moreover, the Church teaches, § 2065, “Ever since St. Augustine, the Ten Commandments have occupied a predominant place in the catechesis of baptismal candidates and the faithful.” And, § 2072 “Since they express man’s fundamental duties towards God and towards his neighbor, the Ten Commandments reveal, in their primordial content, grave obligations. They are fundamentally immutable, and they oblige always and everywhere. No one can dispense from them. The Ten Commandments are engraved by God in the human heart.”
The National Revelation Through Moses
On the sixth day of the Hebrew month of Sivan the children of Israel stood before Mt. Sinai.
There were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Then Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God; and they took their stand at the foot of the mountain. And Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and the smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. And the LORD came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to gaze and many of them perish. And also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out upon them.’ And Moses said to the LORD, ‘The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai; for thou thyself didst charge us, saying, “Set bounds about the mountain, and consecrate it.”’ And the LORD said to him, ‘Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, lest he break out against them.’ So Moses went down to the people and told them Ex 19:16–25.
And God spoke all these words, saying,
I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; in it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your manservant, or your maidservant, or your cattle, or the sojourner who is within your gates; for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it. Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you. You shall not kill. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s” Ex 20:2–17.
Moses told the children of Israel:
Only take heed, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children—how on the day that you stood before the LORD your God at Horeb, the LORD said to me, “Gather the people to me, that I may let them hear my words, so that they may learn to fear me all the days that they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children so. And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom. Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone” Deut 4:9–13.
The National Revelation Through Jesus
God presented both his anointed ones, Moses and Rabbi Yeshua, each in a national revelation, by revealing the identity of his anointed one to all the faithful at once. In addition, because Rabbi Yeshua was the Son of God, he was The Only Person Ever Pre-Announced. And still further, Rabbi Yeshua‘s arrival hit the world with such force that he split all history in two. Every event in world history is measured in time by how many years before or after his arrival it occurred.
Josiah and Hilkiah, on Finding Deuteronomy, saw that God had commanded three great pilgrimage feasts, Pesakh [Passover], Shavuot [Weeks], and Sukkot [Tabernacles] Ex 23:14–16. They had also seen his command, “Three times in the year shall all your males appear before the Lord GOD,” Ex 23:17. But they also saw one passage in particular that they had not noticed before. “You shall seek the place which the Lord your God will choose out of all your tribes to put his name and make his habitation there; thither you shall go, and thither you shall bring your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the offering that you present, your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herd and of your flock” Deut 12:5–6. Pesakh, Shavuot, and Sukkot had become pilgrimage festivals. On these three pilgrim festivals every Jewish man had to travel from wherever he lived to the Temple in Jerusalem.
All Israel, present in Jerusalem, knew Ezekiel’s vision of the dry bones. God told Ezekiel, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. Behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off.’ Therefore prophesy, and say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I will open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel’” Ezek 37:11–12. And they knew Isaiah’s prophesy of a national revelation to come. “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” Is 40:5.
And they saw both prophesies fulfilled in a single awesome theophany. Rabbi Yeshua was crucified on the fourteenth day of the Hebrew month of nisan, when the whole Jewish nation was in Jerusalem! Only a few Jews stood at the foot of the Cross but they all saw and heard and felt:
“Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour” Mt 27:45. “And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom; and the earth shook, and the rocks were split” Mt 27:51. “The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” Mt 27:52. “When the centurion and those who were with him, keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were filled with awe, and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” Mt 27:54. Cleopas exclaimed to Rabbi Yeshua on the road to Emmaus, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” Lk 24:18.
This was the second national revelation for the Jewish nation. It met the rabbis’ main requirement, that everyone experience it while they are gathered together, all at the same time. Rabbi Yeshua‘s Crucifixion, with the tearing of the Temple curtain, the earthquake, the rocks, and the opening of the tombs, was known to “all the inhabitants of Jerusalem” Acts 4:16 and no one could deny it.
Annas and Caiaphas knew it was true. Soon afterward, Rabbi Kefa and Rabbi Yokhanan were entering the Beautiful Gate to the Temple, they saw a man who had been lame from birth begging for alms. Rabbi Kefa told him in an authoritative voice, “I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk” Acts 3:6. Look what happened next! “And [Kefa] took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and walked and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and recognized him as the one who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” Acts 3:7–10. Then Rabbi Kefa explained to all the people watching what had just occurred Acts 3:11–16. Word quickly spread to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem! Annas, Caiaphas, and the rest of the high-priestly family discussed it among one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is manifest to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it” Acts 4:16.
We can only imagine what they said to one after the stoning of St. Stephen. Rabbi Paul, then called Rabbi Shaul, had been one of the most fierce attackers against the young Church. “Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison” Acts 8:3. “But Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” Acts 9:1–2. But, while on the road to Damascus, he encountered a vision of Rabbi Yeshua. After that, “Saul, who is also called Paul,” Acts 13:9, became Rabbi Paul, Christianity’s greatest evangelist. The Jewish authorities could not deny that either.