One of my favorite proverb is Proverbs 16:9: “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps” (NIV). We make our plans. God determines our steps. Often, we think we know better. We have these ideas or desires, and of course, it’s the greatest thing ever. We have to do it. We get nudges from the Spirit that there’s another way. We close our ears. We say, “Wouldn’t it be better.” We second guess the God Most High.
God was leading His people. The people did not always want to follow. They asked, “Why is the LORD taking us to this country,” because they couldn’t see the faithfulness of the Lord, or the goodness of the plan. We only see small glimpses or get a promise to go on. We cry out, “Wouldn’t it be better for us” to return to our past situation. We know the past. We are familiar with how it works. We think it might be better.
God calls us to better. Not our “better,” but His better. It might take us through some horrid wilderness. We might need to learn from our stubbornness. We may have to remove the log in our eye. Perhaps, He wants to show us a few things. But the best is coming. Not the better—not what we think will be good. We cannot even imagine what He has for us (see 1 Corinthians 2:9). The next time you consider a wouldn’t it be better scenario, consider with Who you are talking about “better.” Do you not think He knows about better?
“Why is the LORD taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?” – Numbers 14:3 [NLT]
We recently did a Bible study where the term “stiff necked” came up. Many people asked what does it mean to be “stiff necked”? Jokingly, I told them I am stiff necked, hence the reason I see a chiropractor. The truth is, yes, I have a stiff neck that needed extensive therapy. My lower back and my neck were the worst. But I am also stiff necked in the biblical sense of the term.
So what does this actually mean? If we would know about oxen and plowing, we would have a better understanding. When a fellow was working the plow, he would have his oxen in order, and he would use one hand on the plow and the other holding a large pole. Usually there would be two oxen together. The man who was working the field, would use the pole to touch the back of the feet of the oxen, or to touch the necks of the oxen. They did these things so that the oxen would know when to change speed, when to go straight, and when to turn. There were some stubborn oxen who didn’t like to listen. When they would have their necks poked, they would not move as ordered. They were known as hard of neck or “stiff necked.”
I admit I am stiff necked. There are times when I don’t want to move when God gives me a poke. There are moments when I chose to try to control a situation instead of giving it to God. There are times when I am supposed to turn, but I go on a different way. Today, ask God to reveal to you any areas in your life that may cause you to earn the name “stiff necked.” Chances are, like me, you are stiff necked. Don’t worry—we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully Jesus Christ has made a way so that we can find forgiveness despite our stiff necked issues.
“So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” – Deuteronomy 10:16 [NASB]
“Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. – 2 Chronicles 30:8 [ESV]