Have you ever experienced a stiff-necked dog? Almost daily I have the opportunity to experience that with my dog Max. His favorite part of being outside is sniffing.... every little thing. I cannot trust him to stay with me and not run away, so he only goes outside on a leash. This always brings about a challenge of the wills. When Max is on a nose trail, not much can stop him. It can be quite frustrating to be the leash holder when his stubborn will kicks in. This picture reflects the daily struggle.
The Israelites are called a stiff-necked people four times in Exodus 32-34 in the New King James Version. The LORD referred to them that way and Moses did, also. How often are we stiff-necked in our obedience to Christ?
I currently have a stiff neck from sleeping on it the wrong way two nights ago. Stiff necks hamper us from being able to accomplish all that needs to be done. They cause great pain. They may affect how we treat other people. Stiff necks limit us in great ways. They block our vision, because we can't turn to look at things as we usually are able. Stiff necks send jabbing sensations throughout our bodies. What about a spiritual stiff neck? How does that affect our lives? They can keep us from obedience to Christ and they cause us to be rigid and stiff.
Although being stiff-necked is a really bad situation to find ourselves in, God's grace comes through. Spiritually speaking, God had every right to wipe out the Israelites, but He had made a promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as many as the sand of the sea (Genesis 32:12). He had every justification to annihilate those people, because they had made an idol to replace Him, only because He wasn't working fast enough for them. Do we find ourselves with the same stiff neck as the Israelites?
But God's grace is sufficient.
Exodus 33:12-17 (NKJV) Then Moses said to the Lord, "See, You say to me, 'Bring up this people.' But You have not let me know whom You will send with me. Yet You have said, 'I know you by name, and you have also found grace in My sight.' Now therefore, I pray if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people." And He said, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Then he said to Him, "If your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth." So the Lord said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name."
He says the same thing to us today. We are full of iniquity, but if we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Savior and asked Him for forgiveness of our sins and iniquity, He forgives us. That grace, which we are so undeserving of, becomes our own. We have the opportunity to walk in that grace and to be personally known by our Creator. We are also called to be separate from the people of the earth. Our lives should look different from someone who does not know Him personally.
That is news that is awesome enough to heal any stiff neck! Ask Him for forgiveness. Seek His face. Receive His grace. Rejoice that He knows your name!