What a Stiff Neck! #4

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

Isaiah 53:6 contains the greatest definition of the word “sin:” “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus Christ, as the context shows, died for sinners. Sheep going astray, each one turning to his own way, is a graphic illustration of how sinful man (whether Jew or Gentile) drifts from his Creator. Man’s self-will stems from his desire to be independent, wanting to be his own “god,” a being wishing to decide for himself what is right and what is wrong. (Genesis 3:5).

Reflecting on Israel’s history in chapter 9, Moses commented in chapter 10 and verse 16: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.” As he learned from God, there was a heart problem underlying Israel’s sins. Fifteen centuries later, Stephen said to Israel in Acts 7:51, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” Man’s nature is thoroughly corrupt, as the Lord Jesus observed in Mark chapter 7: “[20] And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. [21] For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, [22] Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: [23] All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.”

If a sinner is to be not “stiffnecked,” he or she must undergo a spiritual circumcision. “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). There must be a cutting off of the flesh, the sin nature passed down from our father (going all the way back to Adam). Herein is the realm where God works on the sinner’s behalf….

What a Stiff Neck! #3

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

Israel could never (!) brag about how JEHOVAH God brought her into the Promised Land because of her “goodness.” Rather, it was because of the evil of the Gentiles living in the Promised Land that God was bringing in Israel. Israel was wholly unworthy. Listen to the Holy Spirit as He speaks to them through Moses in Deuteronomy chapter 9:

“[4] Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. [5] Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. [6] Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people…. [13] Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:….”

Lest Israel forget the countless grievous sins she had committed against the LORD God, Moses spends verses 7-29 reviewing her 40-year history (all the way back to her deliverance from Egypt). This new generation of Jews present in Deuteronomy must learn the lessons their ancestors did not. Yet, they too will be negligent, as 2 Chronicles 30:8 remarks centuries later, “Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you.”

Now, we reveal the cause of that stiff neck….

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What a Stiff Neck! #2

Monday, April 1, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

Moses had a ministry to sinners—millions of sinners. He knew them all too well, and for far too long (over 40 years). When he first attempted to minister to the nation Israel, his brethren, they rejected him. One asked him, “Who made thee a prince and judge over us?” (Exodus 2:14). Decades later, they accepted him, and he led them for 40 years from Egypt, across the Red Sea, through the wilderness of Sinai, and all the way to northeast of the Dead Sea. Over and over, he had witnessed their ingratitude to God, their worshipping idols, and their willfulness in doing their own thing (to name a few, Exodus 15:24, Exodus 16:2-8, Exodus 17:1-3, Exodus 32:1-35, Leviticus 10:1-3, Numbers 11:1-3, Numbers 12:1-16, and Numbers chapters 13–14).

Therefore, Moses remarked in today’s Scripture, “For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” He knew exactly what Israel would do after he would pass into eternity. We can read the rest of the Old Testament to see how tragic Israel’s post-Moses history turned out. Some 850 years after Moses’ death, thus arises the fifth course of chastisement—the final round of punishment God brought on Israel because of her breaking His Old Covenant (Law) by worshipping and serving pagan idols.

Jerusalem and Judah’s last king epitomized the Jews. King Zedekiah, a descendant of David, “stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 36:13). Having a “stiffened neck” was true of all 12 tribes of Israel; hence, they were all now in Gentile captivity/exile! “But they obeyed not, neither inclined their ear, but made their neck stiff, that they might not hear, nor receive instruction” (Jeremiah 17:23). Over 2,600 years later, and human nature has not changed a bit….

Bible Q&A #595: “Is it disrespectful to call it the ‘Old Testament?’

What a Stiff Neck! #1

Sunday, March 31, 2019

“For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?” (Deuteronomy 31:27 KJV).

A Christian lady was expressing her frustration over her unsaved family members being “stubborn” as concerning believing on the Lord Jesus Christ. Or, in Bible terms, they are “stiffnecked.”

In today’s Scripture, Moses is issuing some parting counsel to the nation Israel. He will soon die, but they will enter the Promised Land under Joshua. The 40 years of wilderness wandering have just ended. They would have enjoyed the Land four decades earlier, but they rebelled against the LORD, and that generation died off never seeing the Land (Numbers chapter 14).

Today’s Scripture in context: “[24] And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished, [25] That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying, [26] Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee. [27] For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?”

Imagine a willful horse being led in a bridle. As you pull it in one direction, its neck is unyielding. It refuses to obey your orders. Actually, it may even buck backward, moving in the opposite way you desire. That is the sinner defying God, or the nation Israel being “stiffnecked.” In the Book of Proverbs, we read, “So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding” (Proverbs 2:2). “My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings” (Proverbs 4:20). Imagine a man leaning his head down to hear the counsel of his wise father. His neck is flexible, allowing his ear to meet the father’s mouth. Alas, this is not Israel. She refuses to hearken to God’s advice….

A Better Covenant #7

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31 KJV).

Look, the New Covenant—a better covenant!

Considering Israel’s sinful past, how could her people ever have a future in the LORD God’s program? After all, they habitually broke the Old Covenant by worshipping and serving pagan gods. We must remember that, long before the Law/Mosaic Covenant (Exodus chapters 19–24), God had promised to make Israel His people via the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3). The Abrahamic Covenant is unconditional; it depends solely upon God’s performance to bless Israel.

However, sin deceived Israel and she assumed she could make herself God’s people. She wanted that legalistic system at Mount Sinai. God knew it would end in failure—Israel did not. The Jews had to learn firsthand that their works would never, ever be a substitute for God’s grace. Therefore, God let the Mosaic economy operate for over 1,500 years. It was to point them to the Saviour, Jesus Christ. Alas, when He visited them, they preferred the Law and demanded His crucifixion! They supposed they were “good enough,” without a sin problem.

Romans chapter 11 describes Israel’s glorious future despite her failures: “[26] And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: [27] For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins” (cf. Jeremiah 31:31-34). After our Dispensation of Grace concludes, national Israel will be saved at Christ’s Second Coming. Her sins will then be “blotted out” (Acts 3:19-21). Ezekiel 36:21-38 says JEHOVAH God will then put His Holy Spirit in the Jews and cause them to keep His laws—what they could never do by themselves! God will indeed make them His people, one united kingdom (Judah and Israel reunified).

While we are not under the Old Covenant, and yet it condemns us (Romans 3:19,20), so the New Covenant (to be made with Israel in the future) impacts us. The blood shed to ratify the New Covenant can save us, for the same blood that saves Israel saves the Church the Body of Christ (without any covenants—see Ephesians 2:11-22)!

A Better Covenant #6

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31 KJV).

Look, the New Covenant—a better covenant!

God did not deal with Israel via a performance-based acceptance system until they wanted it. They preferred to work for the blessings instead of enjoying those blessings God would give them simply because of His grace. Many such people even now favor laboring under the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law). They ignore the grace-based acceptance system available through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork! Christ worked, He paid our sin debt in full with His shed blood, and He resurrected on the third day to give us a right standing before God. We trust Him alone, place our faith in Him exclusively, and His merits are applied to us. We are blessed, becoming God’s righteousness in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Calvary’s finished crosswork is how God will cleanse Israel of her Old Covenant sins. He will also use that blood shed as the basis for Israel’s New Covenant. Hebrews chapter 10: “[10] By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. [11] And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: [12] But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;… [14] For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

“[15] Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before [Jeremiah 31:33,34], [16] This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; [17] And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. [18] Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. [19] Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, [20] By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;….”

Now, we summarize and conclude this devotionals arc….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is there any chance more angels will leave God and follow Satan?

A Better Covenant #5

Friday, March 22, 2019

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31 KJV).

Look, the New Covenant—a better covenant!

Read Galatians chapter 3: “[19] Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. [20] Now a mediator is not a mediator of one, but God is one. [21] Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

“[22] But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. [23] But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. [24] Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. [25] But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. [26] For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.”

What God desires first and foremost is faith, not works. He wants us to trust His Word, the Divine revelation that shows us that we are totally helpless sinners who cannot save ourselves. We need Him to function as our Saviour. Israel did not learn that lesson. Rather than letting it be a mirror to show them their sin, they assumed the Law gave them a right standing before God. Romans 10:1-3 describes apostate Israel during the Acts period: “[1] Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. [2] For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. [3] For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”

However, when the prophecy of today’s Scripture is fulfilled, Israel will have finally learned the lesson of the Law….