Thursday, October 31, 2013

EMMDEV Snippets from Psalms

"How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
Look on me and answer, O Lord my God...
But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me."
(Psalm 13:1, 3, 5-6)

This is a typical albeit short Psalm of Lament. It is a cry to God for help in the midst of perceived separation, struggle and heartache. Yet while it is only six verses long, it teaches us so much about prayer and about who we are before God when we bring our hearts to him.

The Psalm begins with a protest, a protest that the Psalmist feels abandoned, feels that God has withdrawn from him, that God has forgotten him. The earnest cry of "How long?" is one that we all can relate to, whether personally or even simply looking at the evil in the world around us. There are those situations in our own lives, struggles with depression, habitual sin, a persistent illness or consistent pain caused by a loved one. There are those situations we watch in other's lives, unhappy relationships, addiction problems or loneliness and there are those situations in the world, the recent bout of horrific child murders in our country, the injustice of corruption, the horror of abuse…
And for all these things we cry out to God and ask "HOW LONG"?

The Psalmist doesn't stop there though. He moves from Protest to Petition. Lord, you know and only you can help. I know that you have the answer. He addresses his Lord personally saying "my God" showing a move to trusting the One who has called him. This Psalm contains the double ask of Hear me and Help me!

And finally he moves into Praise. Yesterday we spoke of the word 'Hesed' and again we see it here – The psalmist is saying that he trusts in God's active love and faithful helpfulness. This is the kind of faith that cannot separate God from any experience of life – including life's worst. It is the kind of faith that cannot imagine a future apart from God's salvation and his work. Luther referred to the stance of this prayer as the "state in which hope despairs and yet despair hopes."

This prayer is thus speaking to us in our congregation's theme this year, "Singing the Lord's song in a strange land". That agony and adoration, pain and praise hang together in this life that we journey alongside Jesus. We live in the situation where we are saved, renewed by his grace, and building his kingdom of light and love around us, yet we are surrounded on every side by troubles and pain and injustice.
Thus we can cry along with the Psalmist, "How long, O Lord?" and with the same breath sing to the Lord for he has been so abundantly good to us.

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

EMMDEV Snippets from Psalms

"Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the God of gods.
His love endures forever.
Give thanks to the Lord of lords:
His love endures forever." (Psalm 136:1-3)

Psalm 136 is one of the well-known liturgical psalms. It is set out in call – response fashion where the priest would call out the first part of the verse and the people would respond with the refrain: "His love endures forever."

The psalmist continues to list throughout the rest of the psalm the great wonders that God has performed in the lives of the Israelites, starting with creation, but continuing up to and including the present time. It ends up becoming current and personal in verses 23 & 24, where the first parts read,
"to the One who remembered us in our low estate… and freed us from our enemies."

The word love in the refrain has been translated in other versions of the Bible as 'steadfast love', 'loving kindness', 'mercy' or 'faithful love'. The Hebrew word here is 'hesed' which commentators translate as the characteristic of reliable helpfulness. 'Hesed' is thus an action rather than a feeling. Each of the wonders that are listed is thus an outworking of this 'Hesed.'
Three awesome things to note then from this Psalm:

Firstly, the repetitive nature of the refrain, "His love endures forever" can also be seen as a poetic device to drive the reality of 'forever' into our hearts. Just as we repeat it over and over again, so God's love goes on and on and on. It's a love that cannot be measured or quantified. Paul writes to the Ephesians saying, "I pray that you… grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge."

Secondly that this love is not a general 'God loves the world' kind of love, but rather that it is a personal intimate kind of love. This is the kind of love that cares about sparrows falling from the sky, and that knows the numbers of hairs on our heads. God loves each of us, personally.

And finally, that this love is made visible in God's action. The praise in this Psalm is not thank you God for what you've done, but rather thank you God for WHO YOU ARE and how we see this identity in the wonderful works you do.

"Give thanks to the God of Heaven.
His Love endures forever."

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

EMMDEV Snippets from Psalms

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your heart to God."

Good Morning!

For my first devotional I am simply going to tell you a little about the coming weeks and the series that I have felt led to write about.

I'm calling it "Snippet's from Psalms" and rather than tackling full Psalms, or an entire book, I am selecting key verses from a variety of the Psalms and unpacking a few each day. I'll be commenting briefly on the context of the entire psalm that the verse will come from, and would encourage you, if you find a moment in the day, to read through the rest of the Psalm.

The Psalms is most probably my favourite book in the Bible, and I believe it has so much to offer us. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, one of the great theologians talks about its unique place in the Scriptures saying that; "It is God's Word and, with a few exceptions, the prayer of men as well"

Some commentators have even argued that the entire message of the Bible is contained in the book of Psalms. Martin Luther (the great reformer) was one of these as he wrote that the Psalter "…might well be called a little Bible. In it is comprehended most beautifully and briefly everything that is in the entire Bible. It is really a fine …handbook."

But beyond its theology and scope, for me the psalms are intensely personal. They provide words and expressions and ways of relating to God when I find that my own words and ways fail. We find every possible human emotion captured from anger to praise, grief to rejoicing, confusion to clarity and apathy to encouragement. We find that while David and the other authors may have lived centuries ago, they faced the same struggles and heartache that we do, and so in their writings we find ourselves.

A little while back, I was reading through the Psalms in my quiet times and when I came across a verse that specifically spoke to me, I made it my facebook status and tweeted it (more for my record that anything else). I was amazed at how many people commented on these few verses and how much they had meant to them that day. It is many of these verses that I will be unpacking and exploring in these devotionals.

I pray in the next few weeks that you will be blessed by the words, poetry and prayers of the psalmists.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

EMMDEV A quick heads up.

Dear Dev-readers,
For the next couple of weeks our daily devs are going to be written by Jackie Barker who is the probationer who has been doing an internship at Emmanuel and Grace for this year. For the dev-folk who aren't connected to Emmanuel or Grace and don't know Jackie, here's a quick intro:

Jackie and Tim Barker

Jackie and Tim

Jackie is a probationer, having completed her Theological studies, and journeying towards ordination. She has spent the last five years working with youth and young adults at St Mungo’s Church in Bryanston, where she met and married the man of her dreams – Tim, who is a high school teacher.

Prior to that she worked as a Sign Language interpreter for students in University having completed a BA in Psychology and South African Sign Language.

Tim and Jackie are both passionate about ministry and seeing lives change because of Jesus. They also love anything Scottish (Jackie does Highland dancing), anything outdoors and in the mountains, and most recently, archery.

Their family is made complete by two yorkshire terriors, Rodin and Raphael, the most awesome tiny dogs in the world.

Jackie will start sending devs tomorrow - enjoy!

Theo Groeneveld Cell: 082-5510752

Here's how I'm doing 2013:
"They who wait on the Lord will renew their strength They will mount up on wings like eagles..." (Isaiah 40:31)

Friday, October 25, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-25 [Treasure Cupboard] Prayer

This is one of those between-series devs. This one is from the "Reality Bytes" series I did a few years ago and this one came up for me - so this is a three-fingers-pointing-back EmmDev. Much love, Theo
Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Romans12:12

Reality bites us and we think that we are too busy to pray.
If we want to avoid running out of steam, the reality byte we need to download is this: "Be faithful in prayer."

I have an over-busy mind and always seem to be over-run with things that must be done. When it comes to maintaining spiritual fervour through prayer, I am still learning.

Here are some quotes from people who have mastered the truths that I am still learning:

Martin Luther said: "I have so much to do today that I _need_ to spend the first hour in prayer."

Someone else said: "Seven days without prayer makes one weak!"

What about this one? "I have been driven many times to my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had absolutely no other place to go." -- Abraham Lincoln

"One can believe intellectually in the efficacy of prayer and never do any praying." --Catherine Marshall

"Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?"-- Corrie Ten Boom

Fredrik Wisloff said: "You may pray for an hour and still not pray. You may meet God for a moment and then be in touch with Him all day."

And this awesome one: "Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan" --John Bunyan

What I'm learning is to stop making excuses about being busy, about not knowing how to pray and just not quite managing to make time to pray, and I am simply grabbing moments to connect deeply and intimately with God.

And whenever I do, it's like taking a huge breath of fresh oxygen and realising that I've been holding my breath and that I actually _want_ to breathe more often.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-23 [Hosea Highlights] Concluding...

O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a green pine tree;
your fruitfulness comes from me."
9 Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them. Hosea14:8-9

And so we get to the end of Hosea.
It has been a powerful message:
- God reveals Himself as a faithful husband and loving father.
- He has spoken urgently to the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim) who won't listen.
- He offers blessing to those who embrace Him...

And so the book ends on a "Proverbsy" note...

What more does God have to do with idols??
The no-brainer answer is "nothing" and neither should we.

God is depicted as the fruitful pine tree - we should come to Him.
If we were wise and discerning we would get it.
(Unfortunately Israel wasn't and didn't)

And so the conclusion of the book is this:
God's ways are right and we have a choice to make!

Hope you have enjoyed our journey through Hosea.
Any suggestions for the next couple of weeks??

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, October 18, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-18 [Hosea Highlights] A striking parallel (part 2)

"I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
7 Men will dwell again in his shade.
He will flourish like the grain.
He will blossom like a vine,
and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon. Hosea14:4-7

Experiencing the compassion of the Father is the fifth part of the parallels between Hosea and the parable of the Prodigal Son (which Tim Keller rightly says is actually about the Lavishness of the Father's love)

In the story of the Lost Son and Lavish Father, we read that the son returns, expecting nothing more than to be given the status of a lowly servant... But look at what the Father does:
"But the father said to his servants, `Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' So they began to celebrate." (Luke 15:22-24)

Through Hosea, our Father in Heaven shows the same beautiful generosity:
- I will heal their waywardness
- My anger has turned away (which is what Jesus did on the cross)
- There can be growth - note the many agricultural images (dew, blossom, cedar, roots, shoots, olive, shade, grain, vine, and wine)

What an incredible lavishness we see in this imagery.
What a gracious and kind God!
- When we can't change our ways, He will heal our waywardness by the power of the Holy Spirit who transforms us.
- Jesus has absorbed righteous wrath on the cross, turning God's holy anger from us
- We can bear much fruit (Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness...)

Do I hear an Amen or Hallelujah?
Let's especially glorify His name this Sunday in worship!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, October 17, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-17 [Hosea Highlights] A striking parallel

1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
"Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
3 Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount war-horses.
We will never again say `Our gods'
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion." Hosea14:1-3

This is a beautiful passage of repentance:
Notice the steps:
1. Realise your brokenness
2. Prepare words
3. Return to the Lord
4. Acknowledge that nothing else can save you
5. Experience the compassion of the Father.

Now look at how Jesus tells the story of the Prodigal Son (remembering that Hosea has moved from the Husband metaphor to the Father metaphor.)

"When he came to his senses, he said, `How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! 18 I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.' 20 So he got up and went to his father." (Luke 15)

Look at the steps:
1. Hosea: Your sins have been your downfall
Prodigal: I am starving to death - I have sinned.

2&3. Hosea: Take words with you and return
Prodigal: I will go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you

4.Hosea: Assyria cannot save us...
Prodigal: How many of my father's hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! (My own plan didn't work - I need to be with my father)

We'll look at 5 tomorrow...

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-16 [Hosea Highlights] GraveRobber

I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues?
Where, O grave, is your destruction? Hosea13:14

Chapters 12 and 13 of Hosea are tough reading... The text see-saws between judgement and mercy. Again and again, the judgement is justified and Israel's failure is made clear.

But there remains an ongoing "but"...
Although Israel has failed and by earthly standards has fallen beyond redemption, there is still unexpected mercy that interjects itself into their ongoing failure.

Even though these chapters pull no punches on the tough consequences of abandoning God, there are moments of grace, love and mercy throughout.

Here are some examples...
* God urges them to repent in 12:6 : "But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always."

* He reminds them of how He raised Moses to lead the Exodus in 12:13 "The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt, by a prophet He cared for Him."

* In 13:5 He shows His care for them: "I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat."

And in our text verse we have the incredible promise that He will defeat the power of the grave - a beautiful promise that Paul quotes in 1Cor15 in relation to Jesus' resurrection.

Yes - we have sinned and our sin is terminal, but unexpected GRACE will rob us out of our graves.

What an amazing God!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-15 [Hosea Highlights] Roaring

They will follow the LORD;
he will roar like a lion.
When he roars,
his children will come trembling from the west.
11 They will come trembling
like birds from Egypt,
like doves from Assyria.
I will settle them in their homes,"
declares the LORD. Hosea11:10-11

Have you heard a lion roar?
As a 17 year old I went on
walk-through-the-Timbavati-reserve-leadership-course. It was 4AM in the
morning and it was my turn to do campfire duty while everyone else
slept. The lions started roaring. My hair stood on end, the air vibrated
with the sound and I sat spellbound by the power and majesty of those
roars. I will never forget that moment. (We found their spoor less than
100m away from our campsite.)

God's promise to Hosea and Israel is that He would call them back and
that they would return. In typical Hebrew poetry fashion the past and
future are intertwined: While he looks to a future returning, he also
remembers the Exodus from Egypt.

Although the Northern Kingdom was never re-established, those in the ten
tribes who did not intermarry with other nations would ultimately return
to the after-the-exile-rebuilt Jerusalem and as a nation they would no
longer be Israel or Judah, but the "Jews."

But there is another angle:
One of the Messianic Titles for Jesus is "Lamb of God." It is a title we
are familiar with and comforted by. But, in sharp contrast, another
title for the Messiah is "Lion of Judah..."

When we talk about the crucifixion, we think of the Lamb of God dying in
our place, but there is a moment where the Lamb is a Lion... The gospels
speak of a "loud cry" as Jesus breathes His last and says "It is
Finished" and "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." (The Greek
word for "It is finished" is "Tetelestai" and it means "Paid in Full!")
The Lion is roaring: "You can come to me - I have done the unexpected -
I am dying for your sin and by death I will conquer death - It is done,
complete and finished!"

How was mercy obtained?
How is it that God could offer us forgiveness?
Because He is God and not a man!
We could not imagine a God who could be both the Lamb of Sacrifice and
the Lion who will conquer death, but this is who He is.

And His roar is this: "If you come to me, you will encounter majestic
and triumphant love that went to the cross for you!"


Friday, October 11, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-11 [Hosea Highlights] Not like us...

7 My people are determined to turn from me.
Even if they call to the Most High,
he will by no means exalt them.
8 "How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
How can I make you like Zeboiim*?
My heart is changed within me;
all my compassion is aroused.
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger,
nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man--
the Holy One among you.
I will not come in wrath. Hosea11:7-9

As we saw in ch.1-3, God is the God who does the unexpected:
- Nobody would have blamed Hosea for giving up on his wayward wife.
- None of us would expect God to be patient when His "people are determined to turn" from Him.

But God is the God of the unexpected. After making His case clear and demonstrating that His people have completely overdrawn their accounts, Hosea shows us God's heart...

In an incredibly beautiful burst of poetry God makes His ongoing love and compassionate forgiveness for His people clear:
- How can I give you up?
- How can I let you be swept up in judgement?
- My heart is changed, my compassion is aroused

And it all hinges around this statement:
"I am God not man, the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath"

In essence God is saying: "I'm not like you."
I can balance Justice and Love,
I can hold Wrath and Mercy,
I can truly forgive.

We struggle with forgiveness - we come to a place where the wrong we have done or the wrong done to us or others is just too big - we just cannot deal with it.

Thankfully God is not like us!!!
(Let's celebrate that in worship on Sunday!)
Next week we'll see how His mercy works...

* "Admah and Zeboiim were cities that were overthrown when Sodom was destroyed." (NIV Study Bible)

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, October 10, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-10 [Hosea Highlights] First Husband, now Father

"When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more I called Israel,
the further they went from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck
and bent down to feed them. Hosea11:1-4

We come to the last section of Hosea which deals with God's ongoing love for His people. Chapter 11 in particular is one of the most gripping Old Testament pictures of God's relentless and indomitable love.

When we looked at chapters 1-3 we were confounded by the image of Hosea being a faithful husband even though his wife was chronic in her unfaithfulness. In this "living parable" we saw how God's love goes above and beyond what we could expect. When the world expected Hosea to give up on Gomer, he did the unexpected to pursue her, woo her and restore her.

Now in chapter 11 the imagery changes:
Here God is portrayed, not as Husband, but as Father.
God is the Father and Israel is the son.

And what sad imagery it is:
From the very beginning the Father has loved Israel.
He has held them in His arms, He has taught them to walk, He has healed them, rescued them and fed them.

But there has been a sad cycle: He calls and they move further away!

This passage vibrates with emotion and sadness. If we imagined that God had physically written these words on a scroll, it would be easy to imagine the tear-stains on the ink.

Think about Jesus' parable of the Prodigal Son... I imagine that the Father in that story would read these words of Hosea and say "That's how I feel..."

It's easy to imagine God as a Righteous Judge being angry and indignant at our sin. Hosea's poetry catches us unaware. A Great God who grieves, heartbroken, over His children is not what we would expect...

But it's true.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-09 [Hosea Highlights] It is time to seek the Lord

12 Sow for yourselves righteousness,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes
and showers righteousness on you.
13 But you have planted wickedness,
you have reaped evil,
you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Because you have depended on your own strength
and on your many warriors,
14 the roar of battle will rise against your people,
so that all your fortresses will be devastated... Hosea10:12-14

Hosea chapters 6-10 deal with Israel's persistent failure and hardened heart. These chapters document their disobedience and rejection of God's ways. At the end of chapter 10 we see the inevitable climax of their sin:
- They planted wickedness and reaped evil
- They (willingly) ate the fruit of deception
- They depended on their own strength.
And so war (in the form of the Assyrian invasion) will come.

But it is verse 12 that has grabbed my heart:
Even here, in midst of judgement, God is still appealing to them:
- Sow righteousness - reap love
- Break up your unplowed ground
- Seek the Lord.

It is a powerful image - Hosea sees a field (representing their relationship with God) - It is unplowed and unused.
If they would seek Him, He will bring showers of righteousness.

Imagine two fields:
One barren, dry, unplowed and unfruitful.
Another plowed, sowed, rain falling gently and plants sprouting.

If I want to be the second field, I need to walk in righteousness and love, I need to break the unplowed ground of devotion and seek the Lord.

And the rain will come!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Friday, October 4, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-04 [Hosea Highlights] What God requires

6 I want your constant love, not your animal sacrifices. I would rather have my people know me than burn offerings to me. (Good News Translation) Hosea6:6

There are a number of places in the OT where God urges us to throw of the cloak of tradition and ritual and to get real. Hosea 6:6 is one of them. Here are some other passages that point us in the same direction:

Proverbs 21:3 To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice.

Psalm 51:16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart,
O God, you will not despise.

1 Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied:
"Does the LORD delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices
as much as in obeying the voice of the LORD?
To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

Isaiah 1:11 "The multitude of your sacrifices--
what are they to me?" says the LORD.
"I have more than enough of burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure
in the blood of bulls and lambs and goats....
17 learn to do right!
Seek justice,
encourage the oppressed.
Defend the cause of the fatherless,
plead the case of the widow.

Amos 5:21 "I hate, I despise your religious feasts;
I cannot stand your assemblies.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Micah 6:6 With what shall I come before the LORD
and bow down before the exalted God?
Shall I come before him with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
7 Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousand rivers of oil?
Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
8 He has showed you, O man, what is good.
And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.

Psalm 40:6 Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.
7 Then I said, "Here I am, I have come--
it is written about me in the scroll.
8 I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart."

This is certainly food for thought!!!

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Thursday, October 3, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-03 [Hosea Highlights] Hopeful call to repentence

Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth. Hosea6:1-3

Chapters 6-10 are a description of the judgement that will fall on Israel because of her stubborn disobedience.

What is striking is that this tough section starts with the prophet's passionate cry: "Let us return to the Lord, because He will heal and restore us."

We may struggle with the idea of "He has torn us to pieces" and "He has injured us", but let's remember the imagery we started with: Gomer running away from Hosea and getting herself into trouble and slavery. If Hosea had restrained her from running away then she would not have got into trouble, so, in a way Hosea is responsible for her being in slavery.

It is in this sense that Hosea "blames" God for Israel's wounds.
They brought judgement on themselves, but only because of the freedom that God gave them.

What is hard to ignore are the parallels we encounter here:
- The three days that Jesus was in the tomb
- The prophecies of the wounded healer in Isaiah 53
- The way Jesus was "torn to pieces" when He was whipped
- The torn temple curtain that enables us to "live in His presence"
- And the promise of winter and spring rains and streams of living water.

Although we can't strictly call this a Messianic prophecy, I am certainly comfortable to see a Messianic pre-echo...

What a gracious God - that even judgement is preceded with mercy.

Theo Groeneveld
You can see past EmmDevs at

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

EMMDEV 2013-10-02 [Hosea Highlights] The extent of brokenness

Judah's leaders are like those who move boundary stones.
I will pour out my wrath on them like a flood of water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed,
trampled in judgment, intent on pursuing idols.
12 I am like a moth to Ephraim,
like rot to the people of Judah.
13 "When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his sores,
then Ephraim turned to Assyria, and sent to the great king for help.
But he is not able to cure you, not able to heal your sores. Hosea5:10-15

Hosea chapter 5 is all about the extent of the brokenness of God's people. In this chapter the prophet names the priests, the Royal House, the shepherds, Ephraim/Israel (Northern Kingdom), and Judah (Southern Kingdom).

It is a sad and depressing chapter. It catalogues the stubborn rebellion that has taken root in the hearts of the people:

* Hosea accuses Judah's leaders of moving boundary stones. This means that they have turned their back on ancient truths and traditions.

* Ephraim is even worse, in spite of the fact that they are experiencing consequences and judgement for their idolatry, they persist in their pursuit of idols. They simply refuse to learn from their mistakes.

In some ways, this is a reflection of modern society and even the church. As a society we are moving boundary stones - departing from tried and trusted norms and values and embracing "new moralities" without thinking through where these will take us. We're unashamedly worshipping at the shrines of techno-materialism and the adulation of ourselves.

The challenge of this chapter is to grasp both its _truth_ and its _purpose_:
- The truth is that it is a timeless and insightful analysis of a society that drifts away from God.
- The purpose is not to depress us, create images of God as a hard-to-please-judge, or produce paralysing guilt, but rather to understand the urgent situation we are in.

Israel tried to resolve their situation politically - but they would need to come to a place of admitting their need.

The chapter ends with God doing whatever He can to get their attention:
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
like a great lion to Judah.
I will tear them to pieces and go away;
I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.
15 Then I will go back to my place
until they admit their guilt.
And they will seek my face;
in their misery they will earnestly seek me."

May we open our hearts to God long before He has to shake us up like this.

Theo Groeneveld
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