By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for this Sunday, May 27, 2018, is from the Book of the Twelve Minor Prophets, specifically Hosea 2:14-20. The context is very important because these verses are right in the middle of Hosea’s prophetic object lesson ordained by God. As you may recall, Hosea was told by God to marry a woman of whoredom and have children. This he did. Her name was Gomer, and they had three children—“not my people,” “not loved,” and “Jezreel.” At this point, Gomer left her husband and began to play the harlot with other men. It is finally at this point that the LORD Gods provides Hosea, Israel, and us with a glimmer of what is going on—what’s the point? The LORD tells Hosea that Gomer is Israel! The LORD married her, but she is an unfaithful bride who has played the harlot with other gods and other nations. Therefore, she is not His people; she is not loved! These are harsh words of condemnation, but our text lays out how the LORD will restore the relationship. Following our text, Hosea is instructed to buy back Gomer so that she will be his bride once again. And so has the LORD purchased His bride—not with gold or silver, but with the holy, precious blood of Jesus.

By Jeff Pulse

Our text for Holy Trinity Sunday is from the Book of the prophet Isaiah, chapter 6:1-8. The reason this text is chosen for Holy Trinity is the rare triad in verse 3: “Holy, holy, holy.” The Early Church considered this to be a Trinitarian formula (and I would agree). However, during the Arian Controversy, they stepped away from that use as Arias used this text against them as he supported his heretical position. It took a while, but the Church has returned to that Trinitarian interpretation, and thus it is in the pericopal system for Holy Trinity Sunday.

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament reading for Maundy Thursday, March 29, 2018, is written in the second book of the Torah, Exodus. The text appointed for this special service is Exodus 24:3-11 and is the strange account of Moses and 70 elders (along with Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu—perhaps Joshua) being called up the Mount of Sinai to eat in the presence of God. The language used indicates that this is the full manifestation of God, not simply the pre-incarnated Christ. However, the question is, “How can this be?” Sinful men cannot look upon the face of God and live, and yet here these men are doing just that and not dying. This account is one of the places where God breaks His own rule. We have seen this with Moses as well when God shows him his backside. It is important to remember two things in this regard. First, God is the One who makes the rule. Therefore, He can opt to break it; man does not have that right or luxury. Second, whenever God does break one His rules in the Scriptures, it is always on the side of grace. Therefore, we need not fear that one day God will wake up and destroy us, hate us, or abandon us because He decides to break a rule/promise.

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for the Sunday of the Passion (Palm Sunday), March 25, 2018, is from the Book of the Twelve: Zechariah. The text is Zechariah 9:9-12 and is the prophecy of Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem on what is now called the Sunday of the Passion. This is the beginning of Holy Week and all that is involved in the events leading to the most important celebration of the Church Year: Easter.

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for the fifth Sunday of Lent, March 18, 2018, is written in the Book of the prophet Jeremiah. The text is Jeremiah 31:31-34 and is a very familiar pericope that finds its way into the lectionary frequently. Of strong interest is the language of “New Covenant” verse the Old Covenant that made its way down Mt. Sinai in the wilderness. This is the only place in the Old Testament where the idea of “New Covenant” is written. The language of “yada” (to know) is connected to this New Covenant, as it was in the Old, (though I was a husband to her…) and indicates an intimate relationship in this New Covenant. However, the New Covenant has qualities that distinguish it from the Old and are connected to the promised Messiah. The language of “husband” and the new relationship reminds us of Hosea 1-3 and the living object lesson that the prophet Hosea is subjected to in order to give the prophecy a picture.

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for Lent IV, March 11, 2018, is from the fourth book of the Torah, Numbers. The text is Numbers 21:4-9 and is the interesting account concerning the grumbling and sinning of the Israelites and the LORD’s response of sending the “fiery serpents” into their midst. Moses’ making of a bronze serpent and raising it upon a pole is directly referred to in the New Testament passage from John 3:14: “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so also the Son of Man must be lifted up.”

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for the third Sunday of Lent, March 4, 2018, is written in the second book of the Torah, Exodus. The text is Exodus 20:1-17 and provides us with the first giving of the Ten Words—usually referred to as the Ten Commandments, although the Hebrew does not call them this. While these are very familiar words to us frequently, they are dealt with in ways that fail to take into account the context and the situation.