Stiffnecked, Gainsaying, and Disobedient

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

“But to Israel he saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people” (Romans 10:21 KJV).

Israel was God’s chosen people in the earth but they were just as stubborn and rebellious as the pagan Gentiles described in Romans 1:18-32. In today’s Scripture, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah 65:2 (in which the LORD says): “I have spread out my hands all the day unto a rebellious people, which walketh in a way that was not good, after their own thoughts;”

Verse 3 continues, “A people that provoketh me to anger continually to my face; that sacrificeth in gardens, and burneth incense upon altars of brick;…” Israel ignored the LORD and preferred the Gentiles’ pagan gods! How sad.

For 40 years Moses led the nation Israel in the wilderness wanderings. Their murmuring and rebellion against the LORD caused Moses great distress (Exodus 15:24; Exodus 16:2; Exodus 17:1-4; et al.). The Bible describes Israel as “stiffnecked” (stubborn) eight times in the Old Testament (Exodus 32:9; Exodus 33:3,5; Exodus 34:9; Deuteronomy 9:6, 13; Deuteronomy 10:16; 2 Chronicles 30:8). Miraculously, God in His longsuffering tolerated the Jews.

Unfortunately, Israel acted no better in the New Testament. She refused to listen to her Messiah Jesus and His apostles. Ultimately, she killed her Messiah in disobedience (1 Peter 2:7,8). In Acts 7:51 the prophet Stephen tells Israel’s religious leaders: “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” Did the Jews repent and obey God? No. They rebel and kill Stephen (verse 59)!

Before we condemn Israel for her wickedness, we need to understand we are just as much Adam’s physical descendants as they were. “For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (Titus 3:3). Even as Christians, we rebel against God and His Word (see Romans chapter 7).

We too may be stiffnecked, gainsaying, and disobedient, but praise God for His longsuffering, grace, mercy, and forgiveness