I am a stiff-necked person!
You probably haven’t ready too many books with the word, “stiff-necked” in it. But when a pastor puts pen to paper, or pecks away at a keyboard, you might just find this biblical term. I had to include that phrase at least once in my book Eli vs God. I couldn’t help myself. 🙂 It certainly describes at least one of the major characters in the book.
Now the reason I thought of this particular phrase, is because I currently have a very stiff neck — literally this time around, and not so much metaphorically. (although I certainly am sniff-necked in heart more than I would like). I must have slept funny because I woke up with it a couple of days ago, and it hurts like a [Please insert colourful metaphor here]. No, don’t do that! It simply hurts, a lot!
I’m also not the only person in the household who has a stiff neck right now. “As for me and my household, tis the time for stiff-necks.” It’s in the message bible. Ha-ha! Seriously though, it was kind of scary when we heard a BANG and found BAKA (Deb’s Mom, who is currently living with us) lying prostrate (the humble position, not ‘prostate,’ the gland), face down on the floor. Baka is certainly a woman of prayer, but on this particular occasion she simply fell asleep and met the hard floor with her forehead. Everything turned out okay, as far as no broken bones, but she certainly has a very stiff neck right about now.
When I thought of that image of a person lying prostrate on the floor, it is precisely the position God wants us to be in regularly so that we don’t end up getting a stiff-neck. The stiff-neck metaphor in the bible is always relating to a people who do not listen to the LORD, their God.
23 Yet they did not listen or pay attention; they were stiff-necked and would not listen or respond to discipline
New International Version, Jeremiah 17:23.
It’s also used in the New Testament by Stephen as he preached his final sermon to a crowd of stiff-necks and hard hearts.
51 “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!
New International Version, Acts 7:51.
The remedy for a stiff-neck is to bow our heads, and bow our hearts before the LORD God Almighty. No, don’t fall off your chair and smash your head. I don’t even have an analogy for that one, but get on your knees and pray. Open up His Word, and open up your hearts and listen. Listen to the voice of the LORD who has the words of life. Accept discipline…
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.
7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children.s For what children are not disciplined by their father?
The New International Version, Hebrews 12:6–7.
And how exactly do we become these “sons and daughters” of God? We need a great humble intercessor, like Moses.
8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 “O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,” he said, “then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”
New International Version, Exodus 34:8–9.
We have an intercessor like that. His name is Jesus. He is of course, far greater than the great and humble leader Moses.
8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself
and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!
New International Version, Philippians 2:8.
Jesus’ death made that request of Moses forever permanent. Thanks to his humble obedience, even in the face of a whole lot of stiff-necked rebellion, the LORD goes forever with us. The wickedness of our sin is forgiven, and we are forever His inheritance. Our destination is glorious.
So whenever, you find yourself with a sniff neck, either in body or in spirit, remember the neck of the one who saved you, who forgave you, and gave you the right to be called a son, a daughter of God.
30 When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.
New International Version, John 19:30.