“And the Lord said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the Lord said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:”Exodus 32:7-9
I am not sure when it happened, but it started subtly and then came on full bore. When I was young, I had aspirations of being a pastor. Then I got older and made a pact with my friends to not make decisions for God during summer camp. I remember when I was little hearing a message about giving out gospel tracts, and I went to each door in my neighborhood and gave a tract to each house. I also remember going to a public high school as a senior and being ashamed of the Awana sticker on the back of my truck that said, “Boys and girls for Christ.” It seemed when I was little, I was gung-ho when I heard a Bible message that spoke to my heart, but the older I got, the more I worried about what others thought of my decision.
When I got to my teenage years, I thought my IQ magically rose 100 points, although my family would argue that my IQ didn’t even total 100. I became opinionated about anything and everything, and I loved to argue even though I was ignorant about many things. I set up idols in my life that only made me miserable, but I swore up and down that they were the true source of my happiness. I sought fulfillment in friends, my girlfriend, and in my beloved sports teams. When my teams lost, I was devastated and was a bear to deal with. I was not a good friend, son, or brother. I failed in all aspects of my life, even my 10th grade English class which I had to retake in my senior year in order to graduate. Although I thought I knew so much, it was clear to everyone else around me that I was a stiff-necked person whose head was as hard as a rock. I chose to do things the hard way to prove a point, but I only dug my hole deeper. I would like to say things got better the older I got, but I did not learn right away from my teenage years.
Marriage only showed me that there was someone smarter than me, even though I would have never admitted it to anyone. I worshipped everything but God, even though I was still attending church and reading my Proverbs for the day. I was raised in a good church that preached the word of God with a pastor who cared about his congregation. I heard countless messages warning of hell and the consequences of sin. I knew the truth even though I tried to bury it deep within me, but it was much like trying to sink a life vest. You may try to push it down but it always comes right back up to the top. I had so many opportunities to do what was right, and I was given every opportunity to follow God and worship Him, but I often went the other way.
The children of Israel were slaves to the Egyptians and they pleaded with God for deliverance. God led them through the wilderness with a pillar of fire at night and a cloud by day. He led them to a spot where only He could deliver them, and He parted the Red Sea to show His power and love toward His people. He fed them with manna and gave them water out of a rock. They complained about everything, and God still showed them great and mighty things. He met with Moses on the top of the mountain, and this was viewable by all in the camp. They knew the truth about God, and they saw firsthand the signs and wonders of almighty God. Although they knew the truth, they chose to believe in a golden calf which Aaron created with melted gold. They created an inanimate object they called “god” while Moses was communing with God. It did not take much for them to go sideways, just as it is for us at times. We know better, but we become a stiff-necked people to our God and we refuse to acknowledge Him. We act as if the good in our life is our own doing, and we do not give credit to our Master as we should. We worship the creation and not the Creator.
Where are you today friend? Are you a stiff-necked person? Have you turned your back on God? Do you worship Him as you should or do you hold onto idols and superstitions just in case? Do you thank Him for all that He has done and continues to do in your life, or do you proclaim that you are a self-made person? It does not take long to corrupt ourselves, so may we ever be vigilant to know and be aware of our enemy. God is the One who controls and give all things, and we are foolish to think that we can control or manipulate anything ourselves. An old friend used to say, “A hard head makes for a soft bottom.” May we never forget who our God is, and may our heart remain tender to His leading.