The Lord is talking to Moses. The people are stubborn and rebellious. God said He would not go with them. He is angry.
“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” (Exodus 33:3)
If nothing else, we learn from the Israelite’s behavior how God feels when His people rebel against Him. Thank the Lord for His mercy and grace. Thank the Lord for the blood of Jesus!
What an interesting term “stiff-necked” is. The Hebrew word actually is like a farming term—a term used when a farmer attempts to put a yoke on an animal that won’t turn its head in compliance. Instead, it holds its head stiff and resists the yoke. It’s easy to see why the Lord called the children of Israel “stiff-necked.” It’s also easy to see how we could be called the same thing.
An interesting verse ties in with this reference to a “stiff-necked” people found in Matthew 11:28-30 . . . “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Notice this verse is referring to rest and associating it with the yoke. The children of Israel resisted the yoke of God’s authority. Jesus tells us in Matthew 11 if we will take His yoke upon us that we will find rest, that His yoke is easy and burden light. In other words, if we accept the yoke of God’s authority, we will find rest.
Have you ever considered that when you are struggling with frustration and disappointments and disillusionment in life, the very fact you are struggling is a sign that the yoke of God’s authority is being resisted? Yet, when God is in His rightful place in your life and you are allowing Him to lead you and guide you according to His will, the yoke of His authority brings peace and things seem to flow much easier.
Jesus invites us to take on His yoke, to allow Him to place it on us without a struggle and without being “stiff-necked.” Obedience is the remedy for a stiff neck. When mingled with humility, the stiff neck soon becomes compliant and easily submits to the yoke of God’s authority.
God’s authority—the authority of His Word is the yoke which brings ease and rest to our lives. Lay your burden down; stop struggling with life’s problems. Let your obedience to God’s authority produce in you the peace that passes all understanding!
Lord, forgive me for resisting You so often. Change my heart and show me how I can submit to Your authority. Father, I long for the rest, the light burden, the easy yoke Jesus spoke of in Matthew. Help me to apply Your authority in my life every place and in every area I have had a stiff neck. Help me, through obedience and humility, become compliant and submissive to Your will. Show me Your ways; teach me Your will. Help me obey with a grateful and joyful heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.
“The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” (Exodus 33:14)
© Jan Ross
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