Friday, September 20, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-20 [Hosea Highlights] Sad reality

The Israelites are stubborn,
like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the LORD pasture them
like lambs in a meadow?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone,
they continue their prostitution;
their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,
and their sacrifices will bring them shame. Hosea4:16-19

The main theme of chapters 4-6 is Israel's rebellion.
Our text for today is a very sad summary of Israel's rebellion and a very powerful picture of brokenness.

Israel should be lambs following the shepherd, but they are a stubborn heifer. I remember visiting a friend on a diary farm and having to deal with the dairy cows there. They're big and stubborn and like to do their own thing.

Israel are described as joined to idols and this is seen as prostitution. What is particularly sad is that their bad behaviour is not limited to times when they are inebriated. There are no "mitigating circumstances." They are sane and sober and yet they continue in their sin.

It is easy for us to look at the Israelites critically.
We can condemn them for their idolatry and sacrifices to idols.
But lets be brave enough to acknowledge that we, with sane and sober minds, are often guilty of stubborn and sinful behaviour. It can bring a whirlwind...!

Let's keep Romans 15:4 in mind: "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

Let's learn from Israel's mistakes.
EmmDevs will take a break for the school holidays...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, September 19, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-19 [Hosea Highlights] A Lack of knowledge

But let no man bring a charge,
let no man accuse another,
for your people are like those
who bring charges against a priest.
5 You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother--
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
"Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children. Hosea4:4-6

Verse 6 ("my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge") is often misquoted... most people use it to mean that people are destroyed because they have not been enlightened, because the knowledge didn't get to them, because they "missed out." But this is not what the context implies: They lack knowledge because they are arrogant and unteachable.

Arrogance and being unteachable are serious blunders.

Israel is very guilty of this:
- They want to accuse and blame each other. ("It's not me!")

- They are arrogant (normally a priest would be considered above reproach) and so it would be mischievous to bring a charge against a priest - but they are willing to to point fingers at priests when they are by no means any better. In a modern context we might say "You're like a drunk spectator telling the Referee how to ref the match!"

- They stumble in the day and the night

- It turns out that their prophets aren't particularly wise either.

- They lack knowledge and they reject it.

These failures have serious repercussions:
God warns that their mother (Israel) will be destroyed, that they will be rejected as His priests, and that their children will be ignored.

We need to learn to be humbly teachable.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-18 [Hosea Highlights] Infection.

1 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites,
because the LORD has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
"There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land mourns,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field and the birds of the air
and the fish of the sea are dying. Hosea4:1-3

If chapters 1-3 are about the unfaithful wife and the faithful husband, then chapters 4-14 are about the unfaithful nation and the faithful God. I won't deal with these chapters in the same detail as the first three chapters, but there are some key thoughts to pick up...

In chapters 1-3 we saw Gomer getting into all sorts of trouble because of her unfaithfulness. The next couple of chapters reveal the same truth concerning Israel.

What is striking about the opening verses of chapter 4 is how Hosea illustrates the destructive power of sin.
The chain reaction is clear:
1. No faithfulness or love or acknowledgement of God
2. Cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery
3. Bloodshed follows bloodshed.
4. The land mourns and beasts, birds, and fish waste away and die.

It's almost as though Hosea is saying that when we break the first commandments (the ones that have to do with God) it is inevitable that we will break the later commandments - the ones that have to do with others (four of the six commandments are alluded to) - and then the "fallout" of this unfaithfulness is that even creation suffers.

Selfish prideful sinfulness places us on the throne instead of God and it leads to the destruction of our relationship with others and also impacts creation.

It is an infection with dire consequences.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-17 [Hosea Highlights] The Power of Love

1 The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."

2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, "You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you."

4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days. Hosea3:1-5

This five-verse-chapter offers an incredible insight into the heart of God.

Hosea is asked to go and show love to his prostitute wife.
He has to find her, buy her out of her slavery and take her home - living with the strong possibility that she might do it all over again (That's what the warning in v.3 is all about.)

What kind of love must a husband have to be able to do that? ? ?
- To SEEK, to PAY, to RESTORE and to RISK.

This is what Hosea does for Gomer.

And what God does for us.

It should have us come trembling to the Lord.

"Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?"

Enough said...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, September 13, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-13 [Hosea Highlights] ... and the Rescue

14 "Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert
and speak tenderly to her.
15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will sing as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 "In that day," declares the LORD,
"you will call me 'my husband';
you will no longer call me 'my master. '
17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
no longer will their names be invoked.
23 I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one. '
I will say to those called 'Not my people, ' 'You are my people';
and they will say, 'You are my God.' " Hosea2:14-23

Yesterday we saw Gomer's failure in detail and it was made clear that she had brought sad destruction on her own head.

BUT once again, God surprises us with Grace instead of Wrath.

And notice the nature of Grace:
He is not standing there with His arms folded and foot-tapping saying "Well, you miscreant... if you come crawling back to me, I may just forgive you..."

The picture painted here is breath-taking in the extent of its love:
- God intends to allure Israel - to woo her back. He pursues her!
- He wants to restore vineyards and turn the Valley of Achor ("Trouble") into a door of hope.
- He wants her to call Him "Husband" not "Master"
- He wants to woo her to the extent that she never names Baal again.
- He wants to plant her, love her and make her His.

The parable of the Prodigal Son tells the same story as the Father _runs_ to his son and gives him a robe and a ring.

This is the heart of our God:
- He shows mercy and love when we least deserve it
- He gives hope and restoration to those far lost
- To those who rejected Him He shows love and makes us His.

Charles Wesley put it like this:
And can it be that I should gain
An interest in my Saviour's blood
Died He for me who caused His pain
For me, who Him to death pursued
Amazing Love! How can it be?
That Thou O God shouldst die for me?
Amazing Love! How can it be?
That Thou O God shouldst die for me?

Let's worship Him this weekend!!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, September 12, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-12 [Hosea Highlights] The Rebuke

"Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the adulterous look from her face
and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts...
5 Their mother has been unfaithful
and has conceived them in disgrace.
She said, `I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.'
6 Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way....
8 She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold--
which they used for Baal...
13 I will punish her for the days
she burned incense to the Baals;
she decked herself with rings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but me she forgot," declares the LORD. Hosea2:2-13

In chapter 2 the story of Hosea's marriage is told from the perspective of God speaking to Gomer's children. In a sense God is explaining Gomer's unfaithfulness and the consequences. But once again (as we will see tomorrow) deserved judgment will be overtaken by mercy and love.

But for today we look at Gomer's mistakes...

1. She has been unfaithful - she has chased after lovers who have tempted her with material things.

2. She has not acknowledged or recognised God as the true source of her blessings. (There has been a lack of gratitude)

3. She burned incense to the Baals (worshipped false gods)

4. She decked herself with rings and jewelry. (Became self-obsessed)

5. She forgot God.

Today we get caught up in materialism and we take the many blessings we have for granted. We don't burn incense to Baals anymore, but we drink down the culture of the day (becoming slaves to it) and become obsessed with our own image and what people think of us. We forget God in our busy-ness.

Take a bit of time to see if you are making any of Gomer's mistakes... (and then ask God for His help!)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-11 [Hosea Highlights] Yet....!

Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, `You are not my people,' they will be called `sons of the living God.' 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel. 1 "Say of your brothers, `My people,' and of your sisters, `My loved one.' Hosea1:10-2:1

Hosea has built a strong case.
He has convincingly shown just cause why God should cut ties with Israel. They have been violent, rebellious, hard-hearted and fully deserving of being scattered, not-loved, and disowned (not-my-people).

But there is a "Yet..."

Israel fully deserves judgement YET God promises mercy, restoration and forgiveness.
The not-my-people and the not-loved will be fruitful, numerous and united.
Jezreel - the place of violence and scattering - will be great.
The disowned will be called 'sons of the living God' and the unloved will be known as the loved one.

This is the unexpected and wonderful reality of Grace.

Grace is unearned, undeserved, and unwarranted.
It is not something we can claim or demand - it is something God does because it says something about Him and not us.

We are loved, claimed and redeemed.
Not because we have earned it or have a right to it, but because God is "unexpectedly" and "unpredictably" good. He does not have to be good - we didn't deserve it. He does not have to show us mercy - we deserve judgement - but with God there is a YET...!


Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-10 [Hosea Highlights] Children's names 3

After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. 9 Then the LORD said, "Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God. Hosea1:8-9

Gomer's third child is a son who is named "Lo-Ammi" ("Not my nation/people".)

In the third child, the full extent of Israel's failure and God's justified wrath is made known.
We have seen the progression from:
- Jezreel: God scatters
- to Lo-Ruhamah: Not loved
- to Lo-Ammi: Not my people.

Hosea is helping us understand why God is justified in allowing judgment to come on Israel.
- Jezreel: The nation is steeped in senseless bloodshed
- Lo-Ruhamah: The nation has been so self-reliant that they have stepped out of the reach of love.
- Lo-Ammi: They have not lived as the people of God and they have not been devoted to God in sincere worship.

Hosea is the earthly father of these children - they could have the security of his love and protection. But the heartbreak of Gomer's children is three-fold:
- They are scattered by the ongoing cycle of her unfaithfulness
- They have been brought out of the reach of love
- They have lost their identity and belonging.

This is a very sad and sobering picture.
But it is not the end of the story: There is a surprise coming...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, September 6, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-06 [Hosea Highlights] Children's names 2

Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them. 7 Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them--not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the LORD their God." Hosea1:6-7

Hosea is a prophet to the Northern Kingdom, Israel. They have been unfaithful to the extreme. Violence and bloodshed (as seen symbolised by the first son, Jezreel) were the order of the day and rampant idolatry was their hallmark.

A bit of background: The Southern Kingdom Judah were more faithful. The NIV Study Bible reminds us that when the Northern Kingdom was finally defeated by the Assyrians in 721BC there were refugees who fled to Jerusalem enlarging the population and requiring an extension of the city walls and King Hezekiah carved an underground aqueduct out of solid rock to bring an ample water supply inside the city walls.
This aqueduct and Divine Intervention (See 2Kings 19) enabled Jerusalem to survive the siege of Sennacherib in 701BC.

Here in our passage, Gomer's second child is called "Unloved" (That's what Lo-Ruhamah means) whereas love and mercy is shown to Judah, and we are reminded that Judah was saved by God and not by military might.

It seems that reliance on horses was a big part of Israel's failure:
They believed in their military might and strategic alliances.
It was self-reliance to the point of self-destruction.

We often recoil at the "harshness" of the naming of Hosea's children - especially "Lo-Ruhama". But we need to recognise that it is sometimes our own self-reliance puts us out of the reach of God's love.

Are you too self-reliant? That's why worship is so important - it affirms that we are not God and that we need Him.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-09-03 [Hosea Highlights] Children's names

3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 Then the LORD said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 In that day I will break Israel's bow in the Valley of Jezreel." Hosea1:3-4

Gomer's children (we are fairly sure Hosea wasn't the father of all of them) are given symbolic names.

The first-born, a son, is named "Jezreel."
Understanding the symbolism around Jezreel is challenging. Here are some thoughts.

1. "Jezreel" and "Israel" sound similar and although Hebrew poetry doesn't rhyme, Biblical authors often made puns of similar sounding words. Jezreel is both a valley and a town.

2. "Jezreel" means "God scatters (seed)" or "God sows."

3. Jezreel is mentioned in connection with Jehu who defeated Jezebel and all her sons in a particularly bloody confrontation in the town of Jezreel.

4. Jezreel was also the site of Naboth's vineyard which King Ahab wanted and so Jezebel had Naboth falsely accused and murdered. Naboth was a Godly man whereas Ahab was a Baal-worshipper.

The problem with limiting the punishment described in v.4 to Jehu's family, is that Jehu had his orders from God. It makes more sense if the "house of Jehu" is seen as Israel, the Northern Kingdom, over which Jehu's house is king.

The Naboth story is given a lot of prominence in 1Ki.21 with Elijah coming to confront Ahab and it seems that this is the "straw" that breaks the camel's back as far as God's patience with Ahab is concerned. It is therefore significant and ironic that Ahab and Jezebel die in Jezreel.

So... Jezreel is a place of betrayal, bloodshed and retribution. Jezreel and Israel have seen great betrayal and bloodshed, and those who do evil like Ahab and Jezebel will reap the chaos they have sown.

And so it is not surprising that God's response is to "scatter."
If Jezreel (and Israel) and Jehu (and the nation under him) continue to massacre and destroy, then the cycle(the bow) will be broken.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at