Tag: stiff-necked people

“I see heaven open!”

Scripture reading for May 14th:  Acts 7

One of the new ‘deacons’ was Stephen, a man “full of God’s grace and power.”  (Acts 6:8)  Stephen served the widows but also used the anointing he received to do great wonders and miraculous signs!  This caused controversy among the Jews and Stephen began to fall under persecution and false accusations.  Finally, they seized him and brought him before the Sanhedrin on false charges of blasphemy against Moses and God. (Acts 6:11-14)

As Stephen stood before this hostile group of Jewish leaders, they noticed that “his face was like the face of an angel.” (Acts 6:15)   They asked him if the charges against him were true and as he opened his mouth to speak, he presented an anointed teaching about God’s grace to the Israelites to lead them and speak to them through the Patriarchs and Moses.  He told how the Israelites had rejected Moses the first time questioning his authority!  They also rejected him again when they refused to obey him at Mt. Sinai.  Stephen told how God had judged them for their idolatry and eventually sent them to Babylon.  (Acts 7:39-43)

Stephen’s final point from his explanation concerned those present to accuse him falsely: “You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears!  You are just like your fathers:  You always resist the Holy Spirit!  Was there ever a prophet your fathers did not persecute?  The even killed those who predicted the coming of the Righteous One.  And now you have betrayed and murdered Him–. . .”  (Acts 7:51-52)  This speaking of truth made the crowd furious and they gnashed their teeth at him.  “But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. . .”  (Acts 7:55)  As they rushed him and began to stone him,  Stephen gave his spirit to the Lord and prayed for their forgiveness!

 

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Stiff-necked disconnection!

Scripture reading for January 30th: Exodus 32-34

Moses was on the mountain in the cloud and fire for 40 days.  He received the tablets with the 10 Words from the Lord.  The people came to Aaron, who was left in charge, and asked for gods who would lead them.  Aaron gave in quickly and asked for gold earrings and ornaments.  Aaron had soon fashioned a golden calf and the people wildly worshiped it.

God spoke to Moses about the idolatry.  (Exodus 32:8-10)  God’s verdict–“They are a stiff-necked people.”  Stubborness is as the evil of idolatry and rebellion is as the sin of divination.  (1st Samuel 15:23)  God is jealous!  (Exodus 34:14)  God had just written the tablets on which He emphasized no other gods before Him and to make no idols.  (Exodus 20:3-6)  Moses smashed the tablets in holy anger indicating the breaking of God’s Word by the very people who had sworn to obey!  (Exodus 32:19; Exodus 24:3)

Moses, however did pray and intercede with God, asking Him to spare the people.  He asked on the basis of God’s reputation and promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  God listened but judgment still fell on those who sinned.

Moses called for those on the Lord’s side and the Levites stepped up.  They strapped on swords and executed those who participated in the idolatry, even if it was their brother, friend or neighbor!   (Exodus 33:27-28)  Three thousand were executed that day.  God was jealous! Israel was His Bride!  From her would come His Son, the Messiah!

This loving and compassionate God (Exodus 34:6-7) does not tolerate idolatry and sexual immorality.   Lying often goes with them.  The sword represents a slaying of the flesh!  The flesh must be crucified and stubbornness and idolatry are works of the flesh.  (Galatians 6:19-20)  The sword of the Spirit, the Word of God brings conviction which can lead us to repent and forsake idolatry!    Let’s stay connected with God and His grace through Jesus our Lord.  May the Word of God cleanse us from all stubbornness and idolatry!

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Stephen confronts religious rebels!

Scripture reading for June 10th: Acts 7:30-50

Stephen’s sermon to the rulers of Israel who crucified Jesus and now were plotting to get rid of him was taken from their own Scriptures.  Stephen went on to show how Moses, rejected by the Israelites, was picked by God 40 years later to be their deliverer.  He was sent to them with signs and miracles and led them out of Egypt.  (Acts 7:35-36) Moses also prophesied that God would raise up another prophet like him from his own people.

While Moses was on the mountain of God getting the Ten Commandments, the people rebelled by making a golden calf.  They began to worship the works of their hands and turned away from God.  God gave them over to the worship of the creation and idols that they made.  Their rebellion would eventually send them to captivity in Babylon.  Stephen quoted Amos 5:25-27 showing that God knew about the rebellion and promised to punish them.

Stephen was being used by God to instruct these men, showing God held the Israelites accountable for their idolatry.  They had always rejected His prophets and refused to follow His ways.  Even now, these men were rebelling against the same God by persecuting those who were preaching Jesus Christ as Lord and performing signs and miracles in His name.  Their forefathers had rejected God’s chosen leader Moses and now they had also rejected the prophet like Moses that God raised up, Jesus!  They were in danger of being given over to their own idolatry of the Law and the temple!

Stephen used Isaiah 66:1-2 to show that God had already stated that He was in heaven and that any earthly house could not contain Him.  These truths were made plain by Stephen’s preaching to those who were ruling in Jerusalem.  But truth will either bring conviction and repentance, or bring hardening and God’s judgment.  Stephen’s job was simply to present the truth in the power of the Holy Spirit and let the people choose their response.  How are you at listening to God’s truth when you are living outside of it?   Do you like it when God reveals an area of rebellion in your own life?  God loves each person enough to send witnesses to confront sin and rebellion.  His desire is to save those who will listen!

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A ‘stiff-necked’ people!

Scripture reading for January 31: Exodus 32-34

The nation of Israel quickly turned away from their commitment to obey God.  Moses was on the mountain in the cloud and fire for 40 days.  He was receiving the tablets with the 10 Words from the Lord.  The people came to Aaron and asked for gods who would lead them.  Aaron gave in and asked for gold earrings and ornaments.  The people gave and soon Aaron had fashioned an idol of a golden calf.   They bowed down to the calf-god  made by Aaron and had a lewd party around the idol.  God’s jealousy was aroused!

God spoke to Moses about the idolatry and told him to leave Him alone so He could destroy them.  (Exodus 32:8-10)  God’s verdict–“They are a stiff-necked people.” God is jealous!  (Exodus 34:14)  God had just written two commands that demanded that His people have no gods and make no idols.  (Exodus 20:3-6)

Moses smashed the tablets in holy anger indicating the breaking of God’s Word by the very people who had sworn to obey!  (Exodus 32:19; Exodus 24:3)   Moses, however, did pray and intercede, asking God to spare the people.  God listened but judgment still fell on those who sinned.

Moses called for those on the Lord’s side and the Levites stepped up.  They had to strap on swords and execute those who participated in the idolatry, even if it was their brother, friend or neighbor!   (Exodus 33:27-2)  Three thousand were executed that day.

The lessons for us today are plain.  This loving and compassionate God (Exodus 34:6-7) will not tolerate idolatry or sexual immorality. Lying goes with them, too. Note Aaron’s response about just throwing the gold into the fire and an idol coming out!  We are all born into idolatry and it is a work of the flesh.  (Galatians 6:19-20)  The sword of the Spirit brings conviction which can lead us to repent and forsake idolatry!  We must walk by the Spirit and allow His fruit to grow in our lives.

Let’s not be ‘stiff-necked!’  Bow your neck today in reverence and prayer to the merciful and compassionate Lord who paid to free us from the sin of idolatry.   Jesus is interceding for us like Moses of old.  Instead of smashing the tablets, He kept them fully for us!  Through faith in His life and death, we have hope!

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