By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for this Sunday, October 1, 2017, is from the Book of the Prophet Ezekiel. The Text is Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32. The text could very well include the entirety of chapter 18 because the overall theme and focus is one. This theme is one of “justification” or “damnation” of the individual. At first blush, this may seem somewhat straight up and academic to us in our theological culture, but to the Hebrew/Jew of this era, it was far from it. They were more used to hearing and speaking in corporate or communal terms. This was not wrong; Israel/Church is one entity, one Bride, etc., and when one person suffers, the whole community suffers. When one person rejoices, all rejoice. However, Ezekiel is quite clear here that this does NOT mean that the sons suffer for the sins of the fathers. In other words, when the father does not believe, this does not condemn the son to perdition, and conversely, the faith of the father does not save the son. This false theology actually came from the pagan cultures around them.

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday, September 24, 2017, is from the book of the prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 55:6-9, another short text. It is important to pay attention to the location of this pericope within Isaiah. Chapter 55 follows the section of Isaiah we know as the “Suffering Servant Section.” Chapters 52-53 are the fourth Servant Song of Isaiah, with chapter 54 focusing on the “Eternal Covenant of Peace.” In these chapters, the amazingly gracious work of Christ is foretold: “Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows . . . pierced for our transgressions . . . crushed . . . the LORD laid on Him the iniquity of us all . . . like a lamb led to the slaughter . . . with everlasting love I will have compassion on you.” So, it would be extremely inappropriate to look at our text as a mandate to get your life in order and find the LORD, or else! Do good stuff and get right with Jesus—time is running out! I wish I could say that no one is captured in this snare, but I cannot.

 

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for this Sunday, September 17, 2017, is from Genesis, the first book of the Torah/Pentateuch. The text is Genesis 50:15-21, a short account, but it also contains the ONLY EXPLICIT theological statement in the Joseph narratives (chapters 37-50). This statement in chapter 50 is a condensed version of the same statement as written in chapter 45 and is spoken by Joseph for the same reason. His brothers are convinced that Joseph is going to enact his vengeance upon them for the way they have treated him. All things considered, it is a well-placed fear! In chapter 45, Joseph has finally revealed his identity to his brothers, and because they had sought to kill him earlier, they thought their own demise was at hand. However, Joseph points out to them that it was God who was using all of this. It was God who sent him before them to Egypt to preserve life and to preserve a remnant of the chosen/covenantal people (vs. 4-8).

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament Lesson for this Sunday, September 10, 2017, is from the book of the prophet Ezekiel. The text is Ezekiel 33:7-9, a short section that proves to be a pivotal part of Ezekiel. It is helpful to first back up to Ezekiel chapters 2 and 3. You may recall that chapter 2 is the “call” or “sending” of Ezekiel as a prophet to the people of Israel, specifically to those who are in exile in Babylon. There are three (perhaps four) exiles of the Southern Kingdom to Babylon. Ezekiel was taken in the first exile and is called to be a prophet while in Babylon. So, while Ezekiel begins his prophetic ministry, the city of Jerusalem is still standing—but not for much longer.