Saturday, February 23, 2008

No Stiff-Neck For Me!!

I must have slept wrong last night because I woke up this morning with a stiff neck. I took a little ibuprofen and it is feeling much better now but it has made me reflect on how God called the Israelites a "stiff necked" people. I did a little research and according to Biblegateway the words stiff-necked are used 19 times in the NIV to describe the people of Israel. So I got to thinking about what it really means to be stiff-necked.

Stiff = rigid or firm; difficult or impossible to bend or flex
Neck= the part of the body that connects the head to the trunk

According to this definition, if you have a stiff neck your entire being is rigid, unbendable and inflexible. Needless to say you can't get much done in this condition (believe me, I was there this morning!). Now, I know those Israelites were sleeping in some uncomfortable positions out in the desert but I don't think their physical bodies are what God is referring to when He calls them a "stiff necked" people. God had chosen them to be His people, He had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and was leading them to the promised land flowing with milk and honey. He had even let them see His glory! Yet every chance they got they were rebellious and resistant to God. They preferred their own thoughts and ways to those of God. Consider:

~~when they were hungry & thirsty in the desert they grumbled and complained against God. (Exodus 16:8; 17:3)

~~God sent Manna from heaven with specific instructions on how much to gather and when to gather it, yet some of them paid no attention & gathered extra (Exodus 16:20, 27)

~~After pledging their loyalty to God, the people begged for other gods to lead them when Moses was too long in coming back down from the mountain. (Exodus 32:1)

And this kind of disobedience and rejection has continued ever since. It is easy to sit back and say, "wow, those Israelites sure were stubborn", but then we have to ask ourselves, "have we examined our own necks lately?"

~~Has God given me provision or blessings that I have not recognized and thanked Him for?
~~Do I completely trust Him with my life or do I worry and complain about what my future holds?
~~Have I made Him the LORD of my life and rid myself of all idolatry and false gods?
~~Am I flexible enough to go wherever He leads? Even if it is outside of my comfort zone?

Yes, when I look a little deeper I find that I am a lot more like those Israelites than I would have thought! But here is the good news.......just like I took ibuprofen for my stiff-neck this morning, there is a remedy for having a spiritually stiff-neck as well. Dueteronomy 10:16 says: "circumcise your hearts therefore and do not be stiff necked any longer."

And how do we circumcise our hearts? Romans 2:29 tells us that circumcision of the heart is by the Spirit, not by the written code. The Israelites had been given many blessings, including the written Law of God, but that is not what they needed to circumcise their hearts and heal their stiff-necks. Only the Spirit of God can do that! So there you have it: God Himself has given us the prescription and remedy for a stiff neck. It is our choice whether or not to take it!

I do want to make clear that I am not talking about salvation here, but rather choosing to live in obedience to God and the blessings that come from that obedience. Though we are assured of salvation once we accept Christ, I do believe we need to make a choice to live in obedience and call upon the power of the Holy Spirit daily.


luvmy4sons said...

Great thoughts! Love them! We are a stiff necked people. There is more than just a story in the Old is for us to learn is US...

I bet your little girl looks so much older now. It looks cute!

Joyful said...

Kelley, I love this post! What a wonderful comparison with the Israelites - WOW! The questions you considered - and challenged the reader to consider - are so soul-searching. The last one really got to me, "Am I flexible enough to go wherever He leads? Even if it is outside of my comfort zone?" Praying the Lord will put my neck back in alignment today to follow Him wherever He leads.
Thanks for speaking to my heart.

Linda said...

Well said, Kelley.