Friday, February 25, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-25 [Moses Meditations] Learning to Stutter

Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22 Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, "I have become an alien in a foreign land." Exodus2:21

Yesterday we looked at Moses' impulsiveness.

Let's look at his CV for a moment:
Age 0: The only survivor of Pharoah's "Hebrew Male Genocide."
Age 1- aprox 20: Adopted as the Princess' son with the education
and privileges of royalty.
Age +-20-25: Murders an Egyptian, trashing all his privileges, has to flee.
The next 40 years: A wandering shepherd in Midian, married with two sons.

One can imagine that the young Moses was urbane and educated. His rash murder of the Egyptian demonstrated his confidence and sense of invincibility. But the years of his exile wore away his confidence. Our text verses show the extent of the depression and regret he has dropped into. "I have become an alien in a foreign land."

Forty years is the amount of time he waited in Midian. In Biblical symbolism forty has become the number of waiting, preparation, separation, renewal and refocusing.
- The flood was for forty days
- Israel wandered the desert for forty years
- Moses spent forty days on Mount Sinai receiving the Law
- Joshua, Caleb and the spies were in the land for forty days
- Elijah walked forty days to get to Horeb to hear from God
- Jesus was tempted in the wilderness for forty days

After forty years God called Moses at the burning bush to lead Israel out of slavery. One of the excuses is that Moses offers is that he is "slow of speech and tongue." I often jokingly suggest that forty years of herding sheep made Moses a stutterer - "Ba-aa-ah!"

Forty years: A time of waiting. A time of unlearning impulsiveness. A time to forgive yourself for past failures. A time to learn about the beauty of the land, the simplicity of the rhythms of work, rest, marriage and parenting. Forty years to forget the gods of Egypt and have one's heart ready for the call of the one true God.

Moses may have always been slow of speech, or he may have learned it in the wilderness. There is no doubt that in view of the leadership task ahead of him, he needed a good deposit of quietness and simplicity.

Is there room for quiet simplicity in your life?

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-24 [Moses Meditations] Impulsive

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labour. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12 Glancing this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand Exodus2:11-12

If first impressions count, what do we learn about Moses in these verses?

1. Physically he was strong and imposing. (If you go down a couple of verses, he confronts two Israelites who are fighting and one of them asks him "are you going to kill me like you killed the Egyptian?") Also when he gets to Midian and the shepherds chased Jethro's daughters away from the well, Moses stands up and his presence is imposing enough that the shepherds back down.

2. Moses is wired for justice. Injustice makes him burn and turn and churn - he cannot be a spectator to injustice - he feels forced to action immediately. He sees the Jethro's daughters being chased from the well and he "_got_ _up_ and came to their rescue and watered their flock." (Ex.2:17)

3. He turned to violence as his first resort. We can probably attribute this to him being young and testosterone-filled. His physical strength was an asset and he naturally played toward his strengths. He would have to develop other strengths...

4. He hadn't yet learned that if you're going to do something that is wrong, there is always someone who will see you!!

This is our initial picture of Moses: Strong, Passionate, Violent and Unwise. But God could transform these qualities into great leadership. We should learn from Moses' mistakes, but also be encouraged by God's transforming grace.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-22 [Moses Meditations] Unexpectedly Thwarted

10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh's daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water." Exodus2:10

The book of Genesis ends with the story of Joseph becoming second-in-command in Egypt and Abraham and the rest of the family coming from Israel to Egypt to see the famine through. Centuries later the Israelites have prospered in Egypt and have become a threat to the Egyptians who oppress them cruelly.

In Ex.1 we read that Pharoah subjected them to slave labour, that he instructed the midwives to kill their baby boys, and when this failed he commanded his soldiers to kill all the boys by throwing them into the Nile. It is evil in its worst form: Kill the boys but leave the women to bear children (with Egyptian dads) - they wanted a nation of slaves and would try to "breed them into submission."

The story of Moses is about Pharoah being defeated by women:

1. The midwives steadfastly refused to kill Hebrew children.

2. A Levite woman had a healthy baby boy and she was determined that she was not going to allow him to be killed. So she strategically placed him in a basket in the river near where Pharoah's daughter would bathe. (I think it is safe to guess that the princess was well known for her rebellious streak!)

3. Pharoah's daughter recognised the baby as a Hebrew baby but decides to adopt him anyway. (A move that would have embarrassed and humiliated Pharoah and that only a doted-upon daughter could get away with!)

4. Moses' older sister is lurking in the background and when she hears the princess' desire to adopt, she runs forward and says "Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women (nudge nudge wink wink) to nurse the baby for you?" And Pharoah's daughter agrees and Moses is raised and nursed by his own mother.

The book of Exodus is about God working in the midst of His people. The cultures of the day disregarded women but here we see God using their courage, compassion and cleverness. There is an amazing amount that can be done to dismantle oppression and evil by being steadfast, strategic and sympathetic.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, February 18, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-18 [Treasure Cupboard] Encouraging

25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching. Hebrews10:25

There is a story that Satan went out of business and sold all his weapons. Doubt was on sale for a million dollars, murder was on sale for two million, deception was one-and-a-half million, and many others at similar prices. At the end of the table was a small box. It was on sale for a whopping ten million! One had to squint to read the writing on the box. It read "Discouragement."

Here's the story of discouragement and how it can affect you in your work for the Lord.

Discouragement is one of the most pernicious enemies Christians face. It sneaks up on you slowly. It doesn't happen to you because you are sinning, but because you are doing right. It's a little bit of tiredness here, a little bit of being taken for granted there, a bit of uphill in the road and a bit of loneliness and before you know it, your get-up-and-go has got up and left!

Once the get-up-and-go is gone, it becomes a bit of a slog, and if it is not checked, you begin measure the personal cost of the service and before you know it, you're feeling sorry for yourself and the work for the Lord isn't fun any more!

So what is the antidote?

We get encouraged in two important ways:
1. Meeting together with God's people. We see others serving too, we see God moving in our midst and lives being changed and it makes it all worth it.

2. We encourage each other. This is so important. If you see a fellow believer serving faithfully, take the time to pat them on the back and say "Good Job!" or drop them an sms or an email or write them a note. Get alongside and help if you see that the load is heavy. Remember them in your prayers.

We all need courage to keep serving God. Life tends to "dis"courage (pull courage apart eg dismember disable) while God calls is to "en"courage ("en" is the Greek preposition for inward.) Let us instill courage in others!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, February 17, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-17 [Jeremiah's Journey] Conclusion 3: Intimacy 2

10 I hear many whispering,
"Terror on every side!
Report him! Let's report him!"
All my friends
are waiting for me to slip, saying,
"Perhaps he will be deceived;
then we will prevail over him
and take our revenge on him."
11 But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior;
so my persecutors will stumble and not prevail.
They will fail and be thoroughly disgraced;
their dishonor will never be forgotten.
13 Sing to the LORD!
Give praise to the LORD!
He rescues the life of the needy
from the hands of the wicked. Jeremiah20:11-13

The masses had a nickname for Jeremiah: "Magor-Missabib" which means "Terror on every side." They thought him delusional and paranoid. They wanted to report him for his treasonous prophecies and they were just waiting for him to go one step too far. He endured terrible cynicism and stubborn opposition from the very people he was trying to save.

It is his intimacy with his God that keeps him going.
We saw his disarming honesty yesterday: "Lord, I really really don't like what's going on - I feel used and betrayed." But in the same breath he says "But the LORD is with me like a mighty warrior!"
He isn't pretending that its all hunky-dory - there is a battle going on, but the long term view is that evil will not prevail.

Jeremiah has relentless faith in God that is definitely not linked to or defined by his circumstances. And so he concludes with praise - for "Sing to the LORD!
Give praise to the LORD!
He rescues the life of the needy"
And so this brings us the end of our reflections on Jeremiah, who is, in my opinion one of the most neglected prophets of the Old Testament. Many call him the "weeping prophet" but that doesn't do justice to the great extent of his ministry:
- Courage to carry out a tough calling
- A passion to reach his people
- His willingness to do the unpleasant breaking of bad foundations
- His brutally honest relationship with God
- His love for and trust in God that carries him through tough times
- The awesome foundations laid for the new covenant
- The prophecies of the coming Messiah
- The hope that he expressed in Israel's worst nightmare (the fall of Jerusalem and the temple.)

I hope you have enjoyed the journey!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

EMMDEV A spelling mistake....

Dear EmmDev Friends
I made a typo in the dev this morning - the type of typo that spell
chequers ( ;-) ) don't pick up...

I wrote:
1. It is ok to tell God who we feel.

Andrew Turpin made the very insightful comment:
.... A spelling mistake "who" but an interesting one because we might
say "who" is our very soul. I don't think we can be in such a dialogue
with God until His name and word are like fire in our "who"ness..

With much love

EMMDEV 2011-02-16 [Jeremiah's Journey] Conclusion 2: Intimacy 1

7 O LORD, you deceived me, and I was deceived;
you overpowered me and prevailed.
I am ridiculed all day long;
everyone mocks me.
8 Whenever I speak, I cry out
proclaiming violence and destruction.
So the word of the LORD has brought me
insult and reproach all day long.
9 But if I say, "I will not mention him
or speak any more in his name,"
his word is in my heart like a fire,
a fire shut up in my bones.
I am weary of holding it in;
indeed, I cannot. Jeremiah20:7-9

While Jeremiah had a ministry that, to all outward appearances, seemed to have failed, we see an intimacy between the prophet and his God that is breath-taking in its honesty.

In the beginning of ch.20 the priest Pashur has Jeremiah beaten (whipped) and then locked up overnight in the stocks. It was life-threatening, painful beyond description and utterly humiliating.

Jeremiah spills his guts to God:
- He tells God that he feels let down, abandoned and betrayed.
- He felt deceived because he wasn't experiencing the respect that prophets usually had from the people.
- He holds God responsible because he believes that God is ultimately in control and that evil can only do what God allows it to.

In Hebrew the words deceived, overpowered and prevailed have a overtone of sexual assault. Jeremiah is, in effect, saying to God "I feel I have been violated." It is a very personal outpouring of frustration and pain and one has a clear sense that God has patiently heard Jeremiah.

The beauty of this passage is that Jeremiah is so close to God that he is able to express his feelings and frustrations to God and that God hears him and comforts him.

The evidence of the comfort, hope and healing Jeremiah receives is in verse 9: "In spite of all that has happened to me - His name and word are like fire in my bones: I can't keep it in!"

Sometimes our lives take disappointing turns. From Jeremiah we learn:
1. It is ok to tell God who we feel.
2. God's goodness and awesomeness can allow us to transcend our circumstances.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-15 [Jeremiah's Journey] Conclusion 1: Evaluation

14 The whole Babylonian army under the commander of the imperial guard broke down all the walls around Jerusalem. 15 Nebuzaradan the commander of the guard carried into exile some of the poorest people and those who remained in the city, along with the rest of the craftsmen and those who had gone over to the king of Babylon. 16 But Nebuzaradan left behind the rest of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields Jeremiah52:14-16

We've reached the end of the book of Jeremiah. Unfortunately it is not a happy ending. Although he had done everything he could to warn the people, Jeremiah had been ignored, resisted and ridiculed.

Now his prophecies were fulfilled. The Babylonians have gutted the city and killed and exiled the people. The verb the author uses for "broke down all the walls" is the same verb that we found in Jeremiah's call: to tear down. It reminds us that that there could have been another outcome if Israel had _returned_ (remember that Hebrew word "shoev"?)

As we conclude there are some questions that remain:
1. Did Jeremiah fail?
2. Did God give him an impossible task?

It is tempting to view Jeremiah as a failure because the people didn't listen to him. But Jeremiah's task was to proclaim a message. He had to explain to God's people:
- Their sin was bringing disaster to them
- They couldn't rely on Egypt or themselves (remember the broken cisterns?)
- They couldn't use the temple as a lucky charm.
- Only true repentance would bring about change.

His calling was to: "uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow"
Jeremiah had to uproot bad theology, tear down idolatry and destroy self-serving nationalistic superstition and overthrow false religious leaders who were hirelings rather than shepherds.
He did this by proclaiming God's judgement on the nation, and when this was fulfilled he was vindicated.

BUT Jeremiah also had to "build and to plant." Jeremiah did this in four significant ways:
- He proclaimed a new covenant to be written on hearts not stone
- He anticipated a Messiah who would be our "Righteous Branch"
- He declared the hardship of exile was not an end, but a beginning
- He modelled an intimate relationship with God (more on this tomorrow...)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, February 11, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-11 [Jeremiah's Journey] Hope and Justice (part 2)

19 But I will bring Israel back to his own pasture
and he will graze on Carmel and Bashan;
his appetite will be satisfied
on the hills of Ephraim and Gilead.
20 In those days, at that time,"
declares the LORD,
"search will be made for Israel's guilt,
but there will be none,
and for the sins of Judah,
but none will be found,
for I will forgive the remnant I spare. Jeremiah50:19-20

Yesterday we saw that God judges nations and He also holds the nations He uses as instruments of justice accountable for the the injustice of their "justice."

Now in the verses that follow we move to hope.
Hope for Israel is articulated in two key concepts: Restoration and Forgiveness.

Israel had sinned and had refused to listen even though God used every means possible to get through to them - (think of Ezekiel walking around naked, cutting off his hair, digging through walls and various other symbolic acts) - but they would not listen!

Defeat and Exile brought Israel to her senses.

And God restores - miraculously!
The book of Daniel tells us how the Babylonian King Belshazzar (son of Nebuchadnezzar) grabs the temple goblets and uses them for a pagan feast and a hand appears on the wall writing "Mene mene tekel parsin" (Your days are numbered, you have been weighed and found wanting and your kingdom will be divided among the Medes and Persians) And that _same_ night Darius of the Persians marches into Babylon and defeats the Babylonians. The policy of the Persians is to allow subject countries to govern themselves and the exiled Israelites are sent home. (They'd been held by the Babylonians for 70 years)

But more significantly, God forgives.
And the forgiveness articulated here anticipates Christ's work on the cross. This is not sacrificial forgiveness where the sinner has to do something to be forgiven. This is the complete forgiveness that is offered by a gracious God to an undeserving people. You can search as much as you like for their guilt - but it is GONE. It's not swept under the carpet - it's not hidden away in a cupboard - it's not locked up in a safe for blackmail - it is GONE!

There is justice and hope!
Be in church on Sunday to worship this amazing God!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-10 [Jeremiah's Journey] Hope and Justice (part 1)

Therefore this is what the LORD Almighty, the God of Israel, says:
"I will punish the king of Babylon and his land as I punished the king of Assyria..." Jeremiah50:18

After Solomon's death, Israel split into two kingdoms: North and South. The Northern Kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians in 721BC. The Assyrians were in turn destroyed by the Babylonians.

Later, the Southern Kingdom was defeated and taken into exile by the Babylonians in 586BC. But God promises that the Babylonians would have to pay the price for exceeding their mandate.

What do I mean?

The Old Testament shows us how God judges nations. Here are the key issues:
1. When Israel sinned, their degeneration made them vulnerable for attack. But there was more at play than simple opportunism, God made it clear that He raised nations and that He marched with them. (Jeremiah tells us that God marched with the Babylonians against Israel)

2. Although God led nations and used them to bring about judgement on Israel and other nations, they were not puppets or automatons. Unfortunately many of them took advantage of the open doors that God had given them and meted out more harshness and cruelty than was needed. So God would judge the nation that had once been His instrument of justice.

Here Jeremiah is proclaiming that although Babylon had been an instrument of justice, they were now in the dock to be judged for doing justice work unjustly. (In Isaiah, Cyrus, King of the Persians, who defeated the Babylonians is called "God's Servant.")

What's the lesson for us?
Sometimes God uses us to expose evil or deal with injustice.
We should be careful about strutting and pridefulness.
Otherwise God may have to deal with us.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-09 [Jeremiah's Journey] Merciful but Just

Do not fear, O Jacob my servant,
for I am with you," declares the LORD.
"Though I completely destroy all the nations
among which I scatter you,
I will not completely destroy you.
I will discipline you but only with justice;
I will not let you go entirely unpunished." Jeremiah46:28

Many people would not be comfortable with this verse.
We prefer passages that tell us that we are forgiven, and that God is merciful. We don't like to think about the consequences of our sin and we don't like to think about punishment.

But before I say any more about this passage, lets look at the circumstances that led to God saying this to Israel...

Jeremiah is in Egypt having been dragged there by a group who believe that Egypt will be safe from the Babylonians. There the Israelites have started sacrificing to idols again. Jeremiah has warned them in the strongest possible terms against this.
But look at their answer:
"We will not listen to the message you have spoken to us in the name of the LORD! 17 We will certainly do everything we said we would: We will burn incense to the Queen of Heaven and will pour out drink offerings to her just as we and our fathers, our kings and our officials did in the towns of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem." (Jer44:16-17)

There are not many passages in the OT that articulate such defiant, deliberate and determined rebellion as this passage does. It is in the light of this level of intransigence that we must view our text verse and then our conclusion is: "Lord, why have mercy on them at all?"

This is the bottom line: every time we think about situations and circumstances where God has punished His people, we need to say: "He still doesn't treat us as our sins deserve."

It is ultimately Christ who suffered unimaginably on the cross taking on Himself all that we deserved.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-08 [Jeremiah's Journey] Be careful of what you ask for

19 "O remnant of Judah, the LORD has told you, `Do not go to Egypt.' Be sure of this: I warn you today 20 that you made a fatal mistake when you sent me to the LORD your God and said, `Pray to the LORD our God for us; tell us everything he says and we will do it.' 21 I have told you today, but you still have not obeyed the LORD your God in all he sent me to tell you. Jeremiah42:19-21

Once the Babylonians had defeated Jerusalem and taken the leaders into exile, they left a puppet king and government in place. Jeremiah was also left behind. The ones who had been left behind saw themselves as the "remnant."

There were factions among the remnant that believed that they could rebel and flee to Egypt. They believed that Egypt was powerful enough to resist and overcome the Babylonians.

They assumed that this was a logical plan and decided to ask Jeremiah to enquire of the Lord. Their assumption was that they would obtain a Divine RubberStamp for their plan.

Jeremiah came back with an unexpected answer: "God says 'No'"
From the chapters that follow, we know that they people didn't listen and dragged Jeremiah with them as their captive... It didn't end well.

Here Jeremiah is warning them of the judgement they are bringing on themselves. They asked for God's guidance and then they didn't want to take it. In some ways they'd have been better off if they hadn't asked...

The bottom line - if we are going to involve God in our plans, we should be very careful to be willing to do whatever He says - even if His answer is not what we expect.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, February 4, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-04 [Jeremiah's Journey] Interlude: Faithful God

We've reached the point in Jeremiah's journey where Jerusalem is overthrown by the Babylonians. We're going to cut across to another book written by Jeremiah: The book of Lamentations...
21 Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
22 Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 I say to myself, "The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him." Lamentations3:22-24

The book of Lamentations, written by Jeremiah in aftermath of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians, is a gut-wrenching exploration of pain. It consists of 5 poems that have been composed with each stanza starting with successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

The poem explores the terribly sad circumstances as thoroughly as possible. It is as though Jeremiah needed to document the horror of what had happened. It is in the middle poem, where the stanzas are longer that we find the bottom line: God's love cannot be defeated by pain.

There is no denying the reality of the pain. The thorough "documentation" of this pain in Lamentations in no way tries to belittle the extent of the pain and loss, but Jeremiah discovers that pain does not have the last say.

God's love is stronger than pain - our problems don't disappear, but we are carried through our loss and sustained in our struggle, we are sustained in our journey even if we can't see the end of the shadowy valley.

The powerful image he connects to is that of a new morning. Sometimes the new morning comes with a stunning sunrise, sometimes it comes in a fairly bland way, other times we can't even see it behind the mist and the rain - but it comes!

In the midst of our pain and loss, let us wait for the Lord!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-03 [Jeremiah's Journey] Truth and Action

Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, "This is what the LORD God Almighty, the God of Israel, says: `If you surrender to the officers of the king of Babylon, your life will be spared and this city will not be burned down; you and your family will live.
24 Then Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, "Do not let anyone know about this conversation, or you may die. Jeremiah38:17-24

It is one thing to hear the truth and another to act on it.

Jeremiah had prophesied that the Babylonians would surround and overthrow Jerusalem. This was the end result of years of idolatry, rebellion and stubbornness on Israel's part.

In a moment of rare insight and wisdom King Zedekiah has a meeting with Jeremiah the troublesome "bad news" prophet. Everyone else has rejected Jeremiah - other prophets were proclaiming deliverance and "get out of jail free cards." Everyone preferred listening to the other prophets. There was one small problem: Jeremiah was the only prophet whose predictions were coming true.

And so Zedekiah meets with Jeremiah and asks for a straight answer: "What should I do?"
Jeremiah's answer is shocking, uncomfortable and, on the face of it, downright unpatriotic: "Surrender."
This is not news that Zedekiah wants to hear!!

But Jeremiah isn't blinded by mindless patriotism or romanticism. He knows that resisting the Babylonians is to resist God who sent them. To fight the Babylonians was not a "good fight." To surrender to the Babylonians means a surrender of the pride and arrogance that stood in the way of Israel returning to God. Surrender would circumvent a terrible war of attrition. Surrender meant less casualties, less destruction and a better hope of recovery.

But this is medicine that Zedekiah doesn't want to take. Fear and Pride keep him from doing the right thing. Jeremiah is forced to remain silent about the conversation and the king leads his people into a terrible 18 month siege and horrific destruction.

It is one thing to hear the truth and another to act on it.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-02 [Jeremiah's Journey] Compassion and intervention

Ebed-Melech the Cushite said to Jeremiah, "Put these old rags and worn-out clothes under your arms to pad the ropes." Jeremiah did so, 13 and they pulled him up with the ropes and lifted him out of the cistern. And Jeremiah remained in the courtyard of the guard Jeremiah38:12-13

Relationships between Jeremiah and the king and his officials had soured. Jeremiah persisted in prophesying that Israel needed to repent or otherwise the Babylonians would defeat them.

The king and his soldiers did not want to listen. The soldiers threw Jeremiah into a cistern (a deep hole in the ground lined with clay for water storage.) It was damp, dark, cold and muddy and Jeremiah would not have lasted long there - he was not a young man anymore.

Enter Ebed-Melech. He was a Cushite (probably an Egyptian eunuch.) His name means "servant of the King." He reported Jeremiah's predicament to the king who relented and gave orders for Jeremiah to be rescued and restored to imprisonment in the courtyard of the guards.

What is striking about Ebed-Melech is the simple act of kindness revealed in our text verses. Jeremiah would have been too weak to pull himself out. So he needed to be pulled up with ropes. Ebed-Melech gets old clothes to pad Jeremiah where the ropes would have chafed him. It is an act of compassionate kindness.

Sometimes God sends angels and sometimes he sends people. We don't know all of Ebed-Melech's story (was he a convert to Judaism? What was he doing in Jerusalem as chaos was erupting? What influence did he have with the King? How did he get a Jewish name?) We do know that he was in the right place at the right time with the right influence to make a difference.

But more than that - he sweated the small stuff - apart from rescuing Jeremiah from certain death - he added a simple act of kindness to the elderly prophet: Soft padding under his arms.

Let's learn from Ebed-Melech's example and use the opportunities God gives us with fearless compassionate thoughtfulness.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

EMMDEV 2011-02-01 [Jeremiah's Journey] Prayer

1 While Jeremiah was still confined in the courtyard of the guard, the word of the LORD came to him a second time: 2 "This is what the LORD says, he who made the earth, the LORD who formed it and established it--the LORD is his name:3 `Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.' Jeremiah33:1-3

Jeremiah's ministry was not popular. For his trouble he had been thrown into a miry pit, held in stocks, confined to the courtyard and he'd had to endure various other forms of opposition

During his time in the courtyard, God promises Jeremiah that he can call on His God.

No matter where we are and no matter what we are going through, we can call on the name of the Lord. What is never guaranteed is that there won't be trouble and that things will always be easy.

The vision that Jeremiah is given in the verses that follow is not an easy or comforting vision at the outset. It describes the devastation of the Babylonian invasion, but it also describes God's long term plan to restore Jerusalem and to bring the Messiah.

The bottom line is this:
Wherever we are, we can always call on the Lord.
He will speak His truth to us.
This will not always be comfortable, but it is always true.
Always it is about bringing us to readiness for the Messiah.

Many say that "Jer 33:3" is "God's telephone number." One should be careful not to take it out of context - if we dial this number to hear what _we_ _want_ to hear, we are heading for disappointment.

However, the promise is true - if we sincerely call on the Lord, He will prepare us for whatever is coming and even if trouble is on the immediate horizon, there is always the hope of His plan of salvation in the long term.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at