Thursday, January 4th, 2024
There is another word that God has been speaking to me that I believe is also for this upcoming year. I am calling it my caution word. The word is: stiff-necked. While we all love to hear positive and gentle things from our Creator, it’s often the healthy dose of truth that really does a body good. It’s in these moments of tough lessons and correcting from our heavenly Father where we see just how much we need the Potter to smooth out our rough edges. Going through the fire may seem impossible, but it’s where we find purification.
I think for many of us, when we hear the word “stiff-necked” our next thought is something along the lines of, “Oh, those Israelites.” We know this is how they were referred to in the Old Testament more than once as they spent 40 years taking an 11-day journey. We quickly recall the foolish things they did and said as they angered God and Moses on more than one occasion. But are we really all that different from the Israelites?
For me personally, in my 41 years on this earth, it feels as though I spent about 35 of them wandering around in my own wilderness. I have known of God and been saved since I was a child, but it wasn’t until the last handful of years that I finally understood what that meant and what that required. I too had a stiff-neck, and to be honest, there are still many obstinate parts that need to be surrendered. So, with this word for my upcoming year God is gently reminding me to look out for those places where I am stiff-necked and surrender them to Him as soon as they come to the surface.
Let’s look at a few scriptures. Acts 7:51 says:
51 “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.
Stiff-necked according to the Greek Lexicon means: stubborn, headstrong, obstinate. Headstrong according to Websters 1828 dictionary means: ungovernable, resolute to run his own way, and bent on pursuing his own will. Those last two are hard to write. I think we all have had those places where our thoughts and/or our body language says, “God, you can have all of me except…” And this fill-in-the-blank has surely been something different at different points in our lives. Let’s look at Exodus 32:9:
9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!
This scripture comes right after the Israelites had fashioned and worshiped a golden calf because they felt that Moses was taking too long to come down from Mount Sinai. Stiff-necked here is Greek word 7186, which has as its root, the Greek word 7185. 7185 shows up as the word “harden” in Exodus 7:3:
3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt.
That’s surely a good visual for the word stiff-necked and stubborn.
Lord, we put ourselves in your hands. Please show us the places where we are stiff-necked. Show us where we have hardened our hearts to Your gentle refining tools. Help us to quickly recognize the enemy’s attempts to cover over these places. Help us not to fall victim to his attempts to convince us that our stubbornness is at all warranted. Before we point the finger at anyone else that we feel is stiff-necked, allow us to see the log in our own eye. Lord, we love who You are. We love the parts of You that are loving and gentle and we love the parts that correct us as a Father. We don’t want to be out of balance, nor would we expect You to be. Help us to allow You to govern every part of our being, from the places where it’s easy to the places where it takes a lot of work. We don’t ever want to be known as a stiff-necked people!