Sometimes, I think the Father places thoughts in my head leading me on particular studies. I will suddenly think of a term, word or concept and the Spirit will compel me to study it out.
One such thought that had the other day was, ‘what does it mean to be ‘stiff-necked?’ I immediately thought I had a pretty good idea, but the intent of the Spirit/Ruach was to read and confirm or alter my understanding.
Indeed, the study actually opened several neat doors that I will cover in the coming days. All of it is intensely relevant for those who profess belief today!
Multiple passages confirmed what I thought I knew, but did so in a much clearer and precise way than I expected. We’ll look at several passages of Scripture.
Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah through all His prophets and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the TORAH which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.” 14 However, they did not listen, but stiffened their neck [a]like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God. 15 They rejected His statutes and His covenant which He made with their fathers and His warnings with which He warned them. And they followed vanity and became vain, and went after the nations which surrounded them, concerning which the Lord had commanded them not to do like them. 16 They forsook all the commandments of the Lord their God and made for themselves molten images, even two calves, and made an [b]Asherah and worshiped all the host of heaven and served Baal. 2 Kings 17:13-16
Here, a stiff neck is equated with a willful turning away of the Torah, or Yahweh’s covenant. Notice the telling words ‘rejected’ and ‘forsook.’ Notice, too, Yahweh sent ‘seers’ and prophets, but the people will not listen.
Exodus and Deuteronomy both refer to Israel as stiff necked, or in some translations ‘obstinate,’ or ‘stubborn.’
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go [a]down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘[b]This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’” 9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are [c]an obstinate people. Exodus 32:7-9
Obstinance, or stiff-neckedness, is again equated with ‘turning aside from the way which I commanded them.’
A circumcised heart is the opposite of stiff-neckedness!
And the immediately preceding verses say,
“Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to [a]fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the Lord’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?
A circumcised heart will ‘walk in all His ways,’ and ‘keep Yahweh’s commandments and statutes!’
There are more ‘old’ testament verses that repeat this same message, but I want to share a ‘new’ testament passage. This one is like (or, should be like) reading Christianity Today:
“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. 52 Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”
Again, in this passage, we see ‘stiff-necked’ connected with NOT keeping the Torah.
There are several other related points with a message!
- Religious leaders can be stiff-necked and uncircumcised of heart, regardless of their elevated/inflated opinions of themselves.
- Religious leaders can resist a move of the Holy Spirit, regardless of their great education and many degrees. (I maintain that seminary may be an impediment…)
- Religious leaders can talk all they want about how much they LOVE the Law/Torah ‘as ordained by angels,’ but the revelation of their heart is whether they ‘keep it.’
I’ll finish with another ‘visual’ Scripture. Pay attention particularly to Deuteronomy 30:6. This chapter, particularly vss. 1-14, is unfulfilled prophecy and one thing that struck me as we studied it last Torah cycle is the number of times ‘heart,’ or ‘lev,’ is mentioned (see the red circles) and the significant connection to loving Yahweh and ‘walking in His ways.’
I pray this brief study has helped you, if so, please consider sharing. I know it dredged up some interesting side topics I’ll address in the coming days.