For the Lord had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” Exodus 33:5 (NIV)
My friend encouraged me to read Exodus 33 because she said it was “rocking her world.” I had a God-stop at verse 5, within two verses God called the Israelites “stiff-necked.” I paused and remembered reading that term in Acts when Stephen was answering the Sanhedrin. I didn’t realize the first one to use that term was God.
This description used 19 times in the Bible between Exodus 32:9 and Acts 7:51 must have significant importance. So what does that term really mean? In Hebrew the word is “qaseh” which means hard, harsh, difficult, stubborn, and obstinate.
I had to stop right there and ask a tough question: Does God ever use that term for me?
There have been times when I have been soft and moldable in His hands, but many times I have stood hard and unbending. I picture my grandson when he was two folding his arms in defiance and spouting, “No! You’re not the boss of me!” But in reality it’s more severe than that.
That two-year-old can still be trained and taught. Their mind is still soft like a sponge, soaking up what is right and what is wrong.
As adults, however, we decide what we want to believe and what we don't want to believe. We decide who we trust and who we doubt. Our itching ears lean in to hear what we want and tune out what we don't want to hear. Often we stand rigidly still when God calls.
Are we stiff-necked, even just a little? Are we stubborn at times? Are there hard, difficult or obstinate areas in our lives?
The consequences of being stiff-necked are unimaginable. God will leave us alone. He will let us stand firm alone and that is the loneliest existence.
Once the touch of His hand makes an impression on our hearts, we never want to live without His fingerprints again!
Lord, soften our hard, obstinate ways to make us moldable in Your hands. Remind us that Your ways are better than our ways. Compel us to seek You, turn and be healed, in Jesus’ name, amen.