My friend encouraged me to read Exodus 33 because she said it was “rocking her world.” I had a God-stop at verse 5.
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.
Exodus 33:5 NIV
It was the second time within two verses that God called the Israelites “stiff-necked.” I remembered reading that term in Acts when Stephen was answering the Sanhedrin, but I not realized who came up with that term. It was God.
The first time, of the 19 times it is mentioned in God’s Word is in Exodus 32:9 and it is bookended in Acts 7:51 with the stoning of Stephen.
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 think of a two-year-old who folds their arms in defiance and says, "No!" But really… it is 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 have decided what we want to believe and what we don't want to believe. What we want to trust and what we don't want to trust. What we want to hear and what we don't want to hear. Quite frankly, we stand rigid and stiff when God calls us to face something difficult.
Are we stiff-necked? Even just a little? Are we stubborn at times? Are we hard, difficult or obstinate in areas of our lives?
The consequences of being stiff-necked are unimaginable. God will leave us alone. He will let us stand firm all alone. LORD, soften our hard, obstinate ways to make us moldable in Your arms.
Once we've had the touch of His hand make an impression on our hearts, we will never want to be without His fingerprints again!
Whoever remains stiff-necked after many rebukes will suddenly be destroyed—without remedy. Proverbs 29:1 NIV