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Lessons from Stiff Necks

God sent prophet after prophet to Israel to warn them to turn back to Him and to leave the idolatrous worship they had chosen over Him. But they were a nation of stiff necks bent in following their own way rather than God’s way. While the Bible shows brief periods of the nation turning back to Him when there was a king on the throne who followed after God, most of the kings chose to forsake God. Throughout the books of 1st and 2nd Kings, we see king after king and it can almost become monotonous reading through these books. However, there are some important lessons we can learn.

Lessons from Stiff Necks: A nation’s leader sets the spiritual atmosphere

The first lesson is that a nation’s leader sets the spiritual atmosphere of the entire nation.  If the person in charge of Israel followed after God, the nation followed after God and they saw blessings from God. However, even the good kings that followed God did not completely wipe out idolatry from the nation which always left a door open for the nation to revert back to idol worship. We also see that whenever the king chose to forsake God, the nation experienced attacks, famine, and other calamities. Unfortunately for the Children of Israel, they had more kings following idolatry than they did kings that followed God.

Lessons from Stiff Necks: A nation’s leader sets the moral compass

The second lesson we learn is that a nation’s leader sets the moral compass of the entire nation. Whenever we see an evil king that forsakes God, we find the people following the king in the same behaviors and practices. If the king practice idolatry, so did the people. If the king sacrificed his own child to a false god, so did the people. They practiced witchcraft, soothsaying and “sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord to provoke Him to anger” (2 Kings 17: 17). And in 2 Kings 17:13-14, we find that they did not follow God’s commandments and statutes. If the king’s heart was bent towards sin and evil, so was the people’s.

Today, we can learn from what the Bible tells us about Israel’s kings and understand just how important the right to vote is. As a democracy, we the people choose who will be the leader of our nation and as Christians, we have the responsibility to learn all we can about the candidates running for any political office. We also have a responsibility to pray for them once in office – even if it’s not the person we voted for.

Lessons from Stiff Necks: Turning away from God always has consequences

The third lesson we can learn is that turning away from God always has consequences. It wasn’t like God didn’t warn the nation. He did – time and time again through prophet after prophet. Yet they chose not hear God’s warnings. They stubbornly chose to live like the rest of the world around them. Finally, God had enough and the Assyrians conquer them and carry them away as captives. The Israelites lost the Promised Land.

We need leaders of integrity following after God

These lessons can be applied to nations or to any leader. If you are a supervisor with a team of people under your supervision, you set the tone for your team and how they will treat each other and work together. If you are a pastor, how you lead the church you have been called to we affect the spiritual and moral climate of that body of believers. We need to be leaders of integrity following after God and leading those under our responsibility to follow God’s commands and statutes. 

God offers the chance to change

Because God is merciful, He does offer us the chance to change. The Israelites had prophets sent by God to bring conviction. Today, God works through the Holy Spirit that dwells within Christians to bring conviction. He can also send people into our lives to convict us when we are living outside of His will. It might be through the words of a friend, a sermon from the pastor, a devotional on a website, or a song on the radio.

The Israelites had the opportunity to turn back to God, and when we are living in sin, we also have the choice of repenting and turning back to God or we can be like Israel and stiffen our necks and stubbornly continue in the sin. But if we continue sinning God will eventually say, “Enough!” and He will step in with consequences. 

What sin are you stubbornly hanging on to? Will you be a stiff-necked person with an unrepentant heart? Or will you listen to the conviction of the Holy Spirit and turn back to God? If you are a leader or pastor, are you leading with integrity and Godly principles that direct people to God?

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Our freedoms come from the sacrifice of many. Memorial day is the day we remember and honor those who sacrificed. It’s also a good time to come together as a nation and pray for God to Bless the USA.

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