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.