By Jeff Pulse

Our Old Testament text for Lent II, February 25, 2018, comes to us from the first book of the Torah, Genesis. The text is Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16 and is the establishment of the covenant which is marked by the Sacrament of Circumcision—although the actual verses dealing with circumcision have been left out of the pericope. This is unfortunate because the cutting of the covenant (berith karat) includes the mark of the covenant in the flesh: circumcision. We even have the language that indicates that everyone who is not “cut” shall be “cut off” (vs. 14).

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament lesson for Lent I, February 18, 2018, is from the first book of the Torah, Genesis. The text is Genesis 22: 1-18 and is not only the well-known, much discussed account of Abraham’s sacrifice of his son Isaac, but it also holds a special reverence among the Jewish people who refer to it as the “Aqadah,” which in Hebrew is “The Binding.” The reason this account stands out for the Jews is the unique circumstances that surround it. The Abrahamic covenant is in great danger because the LORD has called upon Abraham to sacrifice his only son, the son in the Messianic line. In addition is the peculiar kind of sacrifice; Isaac would be the ONLY living sacrifice in the Old Testament.

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for Transfiguration Sunday, February 11, 2018, is from the second book of Kings. The text is II Kings 2:1-12 and is the account of Elijah being taken up into heaven in a whirlwind right before the eyes of Elisha, his chosen successor. There are several interesting things to consider in this text, especially as one considers why it was chosen to compliment the Mark account of the Transfiguration of Jesus. We especially want to look at two things: 1) The aspect of death and resurrection demonstrated in this text and 2) the movement through water into eternal life/heaven that is so prevalent in the pages of Scripture, both Old and New Testaments.

By Jeff Pulse

Our text for Epiphany 5, February 3, 2018, is from the book of the Old Testament prophet Isaiah. The text is Isaiah 40:21-31 and is part of the larger narrative of chapter 40 which first addresses the question of God, “Will you save us?” (40:1-11) and then approaches the question, “Can you save us?” (40:11-31). Of course, as we should expect from Isaiah, the answer is “Yes!” He does this by showing/discussing the LORD’s power. R. Lessing outlines this second portion as follows: 12-17: Yahweh’s transcendence over the nations; 18-20: Yahweh’s transcendence over idols;…now, our text for today, 21-24: Yahweh’s transcendence over rulers; 25-26: Yahweh is the transcendent Creator; 27-31: Yahweh wields His transcendent power for the sake of His people.

By Jeff Pulse

The Old Testament text for January 28, 2018, the fourth Sunday of the Epiphany, is from the last book of the Torah, Deuteronomy. The text is Deuteronomy 18:15-20, and we hear Moses addressing the people of Israel and giving them the promise that the LORD will raise up a prophet LIKE HIM from the people. At first, this does not seem to bear much comment, but as we read further into Deuteronomy, we see in chapter 34: 10-12 words that seem contradictory to the words of our text. Chapter 34 says there has not arisen a prophet like Moses who knew the LORD face to face and spoke to Him mouth to mouth.

By Jeff Pulse

Our Old Testament text for this Sunday, January 28, 2018, is from the Book of the Twelve, the Prophet Jonah. The text is Jonah 3:1-5, 10, which begins with a unique case in the Scriptures. Jonah is the only prophet to be “called” twice! As you recall, Jonah’s first call is recorded in chapter one of Jonah. Now this call comes after Jonah rejected the job description and headed in the opposite direction. There’s probably a sermon there somewhere! The language used in the two calls is almost identical—God has not changed His mind through all of this, although it appears that the LORD has toned down His attitude toward Nineveh, as He does not bring up their “great evil” as He did in 1:2. The LORD also makes no mention of the first call, or Jonah’s failure to take up that call.

By Jeff Pulse

Our text for the second Sunday of the Epiphany is from the first book of Samuel the prophet. The text is I Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20), which lays out the Call of Samuel as a prophet of the LORD. It is one of the most detailed of the various Call accounts in the Old Testament. In the Gospel reading for Epiphany 2, John 1:43-51, we have the Call narrative of Philip and Nathaniel. Both the Old Testament and Gospel lessons have a strong “epiphany” flavor as the Word of the LORD is revealed to Samuel and Philip and Nathaniel recognize Jesus as Messiah—The Word Incarnate.