Monthly Archives: January 2017

Living in the Comfort Zone

Living in the Comfort Zone

For many years , I have considered myself to be the least spiritual person I know. When discussions with my friends and community acquaintances turned to spiritual matters, they could fill the room with descriptions of their Spirit-led lives and Spirit-filled events, whereas I rarely had anything to add to the conversation.

After I became aware that I was living in a spiritual desert, I began to ask myself why? I went to church at least two times a week, I taught a weekly bible study for adults in our church, and participated in a regular men’s prayer luncheon. It seemed I was doing all the right things and checking all the right boxes. However, over time and through prayer, I came to realize what I was missing in my life. I had never learned to become dependent upon God the Spirit, or anyone else, for direction in my life. I had always felt I could (and would) direct my own affairs. After all, isn’t that what any red blooded American is supposed to do? John Wayne and Teddy Roosevelt never relied on another’s direction. To be a man – a man’s man – meant that one was to take charge of himself and be directed by his own wits, feelings, and beliefs. Beyond what I apprehended from our culture, I was trained through my education that self-direction was a goal to be obtained in life. In graduate school, I learned about Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. As presented by Maslow, our base needs are physiological, the need for food, water, and warmth. The next level is the need for safety, and then for love and belonging, for esteem, and finally self-actualization. Being the pilot of one’s life was to be our highest aspiration, or so I understood.

For a time, I believed I had obtained a good measure of self-actualization. I seemed to be in charge of my life. Why, then, did I still feel this void inside me? In certain versions of the Bible, the Greek word parakletos has been translated as the Comforter. From my reading, perhaps more accurate translation might render the connotation of Summoned, Helper, Intercessor, or Advocate, or more specifically, one called along side or (in a legal sense) one who pleads another’s cause, as before a judge. Being self-actualized, I guess I never felt I had much need for an advocate or comforter. Boy, was I ever missing something.

The fact is, as much as I tried to fool myself, I never was that in charge of my life. In fact, in my effort to control my life, I was actually limiting my life to those things I could control. I was reluctant to step out of my comfort zone, away from things I thought I could control, and to put myself in a position of vulnerability and dependence upon the help and direction of the Advocate. I have learned, with the help and direction of my friends and of the Advocate, that my foolish attempts at self-actualization were actually self-limiting. As Paul writes in Romans 1:22-23, “Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man”. I found that trying to rely on my own abilities was holding me back. I was limited to staying within my comfort zone. Unless and until I was willing to leave the comfort zone, I had no need for the Comforter. I am still not as Spirit-led as I should be, and I am learning to be less self-actualized.



Nature’s Compass

Image you are the captain of a small ship in the ocean. Suddenly the waves start to roll and the trade winds begin to eerily howl. Huge waves relentlessly billow haphazardly pummeling your ship. Next the sky turns from an azure laden tranquility to the foreboding darkness prophesying a tempest’s wrath.

You are jostled to and fro but somehow you manage to hold onto the helm. Every fiber of your clothing is drenched offering no protection from the elements or the encroaching ocean. Between each shrill crack of lightning you count, “one-one thousand, two one-thousand, three one thousand.”

As each wave smashes against the side of your ship every board and beam creaks and moans with mounting exasperation. You desperately wonder just how long the structural integrity of your vessel will stay intact. All of the sudden you are violently thrown from the helm into the stern.

You muster every ounce of energy to crawl back to helm… until with both hands you clutch the helm in order to counteract the growing threat of capsizing. Hour after hour you battle for your life until finally the unforgiving ocean begins to slowly calm.

You desperately need to get your bearings. Frantically you reach into your pocket hoping to consult your trusty compass. Deep inside you are off your charted course… but how in the world did you end up a full 45 degrees south of your intended destination!

One last surge from the storm again knocks you off your feet. Your chest slams into the helm causing your arms jerk upward. In what seems like a sick twist of fate the compass flies from your hands and plummets into the depths of the ocean. The ocean gladly devours your hope for guidance.

You are now left to navigate the ocean alone without your trusted compass. Silently you wonder if you will ever your destination. At this point all you have left to rely on is your training, “Nature’s compass” and an indefatigable desire to set your feet on terra firma (latin for solid ground).


This story is a metaphor for what many of us are thinking about regarding the moral state of our city, country, and even the world, as we try to gain our bearings and relate to this supposed “Brave New World.” The loss of a moral compass can come while the waves of a mighty tempest are battering “our” small dilapidated vessels or at other times our moral compass is compromised by the pleasures and comforts this life affords us. In other words it is easy over time to lose our moral bearing in both times of plenty and in times of lack.

We can also lose our moral bearing through neglect and carelessness. We are constantly making decisions. In fact we make decisions by the minute, by the hour, by the day, by the month and by the year. Over our lifetime we will literally make millions, if not billions, of decisions. Some decisions we make are fairly light weight and do not carry any easily foreseen moral consequences (such as combing our hair, brushing our teeth, our choice of food, etc.). On the other hand, some of the decisions we make are not only weighty but are clearly laden with dire moral consequences embedded within their very fabric (rebellion, dishonesty, thievery, promiscuity, abuse, anger, adultery, etc.).

The question then remains how are we to regain our moral bearings after we finally realize that we are off course? Non-theists will suggest that “Nature’s Compass” is a trustworthy and reliable guide. However, what good is an instrument, like the compass, without being trained as to how it functions and when it should be used. As theists, more specifically born-again Christ followers, we recognize that every law has an author who wrote that law into existence. Furthermore, the notion of a moral law posits the notion of a moral law giver.

In the coming weeks the book of Proverbs will train us how to regain our moral bearings in our “Mad, Mad World”.

Shawn Arendt

Divine Love

Divine Love

The New Testament contains a daring and dramatic rescue of God’s people. Via the supreme act of divine love, the covenant’s mediator, the Son of God, obediently and sacrificially offers himself as human-divine payment for the forgiveness of every human being on the planet’s sins for all-time. And at the same time, as God’s Son is offering his life as an atonement for sin, the Greatest Change Agent in history, the third person of the triune Godhead, God the Spirit, is also breathing upon the sons of man the truth and self-realization of their own sinful disobedience before a holy and perfect God, as well as, a desperate need for His divine help in obtaining sustainable relief and forgiveness from their sins, so that when they do hear the truth about the God the Son’s atonement for their sins, they now Spiritually trust his offer of forgiveness, become God’s eternal children and receive His Spirit.

Now, because these Spiritually-reborn childen of God are forever safe within their Father’s love and mercy, they begin–along with many other Spiritual siblings, as well as, with the dynamic help and love of their Holy Tutor, the Spirit himself—to Spiritually grow up. And as they begin to Spiriutally grow up, gradually, over time and via lots of sin-atoned-for trial and error mistakes, they also begin to take upon themselves their adoptive Father’s divine values, truths, thoughts, motivations and approach to loving or attracting others (John 13-17; 1 John; Romans 8; Col. 3; Eph. 5).

Thus, having the Spirit of God involved, intertwined and inspiring their new approach to living and decision-making, the newly-reborn child of God begins a renewed effort at learning how to loyally, insightfully and accountably love or be attracted to another human being. Because without the Spirit, man’s attempt at loving is nothing more than a cheap, fake, easily exposed and fragile imitation of divine heaven’s love. It’s NOT real love, not God’s love, not true love, not redeeming love and certainly NOT divine love. But with the Spirit of God, human love, over time, and via thousands upon thousands of daily interactions, can be, is and will be eventually transformed into something much more resembling the Godhead’s divine love, not only for each other, i.e. the Father and Son for one another, but their love for man himself.

And, in the end, this is mankind’s only hope against evil’s deadly and destructive terrors. In fact, I would make the case that the opposite of evil is not just good, but love—divine love, a love of the Spirit, a love or attracting that the Spirit of God births, teaches and inspires, a love like no other–Spiritual love. Thus Good or God’s greatest weapon against evil is in fact, in the end, divine love itself—the love the divine seeks to equip every child of God with in order that they might successful wage Spiritual warfare against evil, just as their Savior and God’s Son waged for our redemption from sin.

Joseph M Cross


Abiding in Peace

Abiding in Peace

Joe has often told us that this world is neither heaven nor hell, but a hybrid of both. It seems to me that most days we find this world to be more hellish than heavenly, but there are those times, perhaps just fleeting moments, when we catch a glimpse of what heaven will be like. Marriage, births, baptisms, or even just a few minutes to hold your loved one’s hand while the two of you watch a beautiful sunset. Heavenly moments here on earth. While these heavenly times may seem all too few and brief, at least they provide some assurance that this life is not all about murder and mayhem, greed and avarice, and power and lust.

In John 15, Jesus instructs His disciples using the illustration of a grape vine, an image very familiar to the people of Palestine in that day. Jesus tells His followers, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (verse 5). Note the order of things here – Jesus does not tell His disciples that he who bears much fruit abides in Him; rather he who draws his sustenance from Jesus, as a branch is dependent upon the vine for its water and nutrients, will grow abundant fruit. A branch separated from its vine is good for nothing, and is to be cast into the fire (15:6).

We live in a fallen world which is neither heaven nor hell. God knew from all time that our choices would cause this imperfection to His perfect creation, and that His people would live this life of constant tension, caught between heaven and hell. In this mixed up world, we can neither be made righteous nor condemned by our works alone, but by our choice to receive or reject Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Our fruit will not gain our escape from hell, our reliance upon the Vine is our only avenue to heaven. In other words, it is not the doing that matters, it is the abiding. Being in Him produces fruit, not producing fruit that causes us to then abide in Him. Fruit is the evidence of being in Him. If we abide in Him, if we truly be, it does not matter what the do is. When we learn to choose being (abiding) over doing, then we begin moving toward a more heavenly life and “the peace of God, that surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”


Stiff-Necked People

You men who are (BT)stiff-necked (sklerotrachelos; 1x;

What does stiff-necked mean?

1) Sklerotrachelos only occurs 1x in the NT; here

2) It is a combination of two words…

  • skleros… 5x; hard; harsh; rough, violent; offensive; intolerable;
  • trachelos; 7x; to be ready to incur the most imminent peril to life…neck…)
  • Harsh-neck; intolerable neck…

3) Must go back to the OT context…

Yahweh calls Israel…

  1. a) 32:9 “I have seen these people,” the LORD said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people

What does “stiff-necked” mean here?

The word…

  1. b) (qasheh (34x); qashah (28x); hard, difficult, severe, stubborn…

ill. like a hard path or journey, stubborn mountain path; replacing a car part; a child; computers; growing a garden; strong-willed child; OC with no mercy).

So qasheh could mean “difficult” as in hard…

10 Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

(qasheh; adjective…

used of Joseph with his brothers before he revealed his identity… “spoke harshly to them,” accusing them of being spies…Gen. 42:7, 30;

Adj. qasheh…Joseph spoke without sympathy, thus hard or harsh…

used of the Israelites’ hard labor and bitter lives in making brick and mortar for the Egyptians…Ex. 1:14;

Thus Israel’s labor in Egypt was hard or difficult and without mercy…

this also caused them to doubt Moses when he first came to the Israelites telling them that God was about to free them… “they did not listen…because of their despondency and cruel bondage” Ex. 6:9;

**Here might be a clue…

If “cruel” is the translation here, and it is…then again without sympathy and thus harsh…and this harsh bondage and despondency caused them not to listen to Moses…which seems to contribute to Yahweh’s and Stephen’s indictments of Israel…

difficult (or complex; or highly disputed) disputes were taken to Moses…Ex. 18:26;

Ex. 32:9; 33:5; 34:9…all used in reference to Israel’s overall “hardness,” or spiritual insensitivity in abandoning their worship of their savior-God, Yahweh, who delivered them from Egypt and creating their own golden calf to worship;

Bottom line…they don’t get it…not spiritually sensitive…hard-headed…perhaps…repeating the same old mistakes, not listening…to God…and his Word…

Ex. 33:3  1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt, and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ 2 I will send an angel before you and drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 3 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.”

4 When the people heard these distressing words, they began to mourn and no one put on any ornaments. 5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people. If I were to go with you even for a moment, I might destroy you. Now take off your ornaments and I will decide what to do with you.’” 6 So the Israelites stripped off their ornaments at Mount Horeb.

Moses tells the later generations that God is not giving them the land because of their righteousness, because indeed, they are a stiff-necked people…Deut. 9:6, 13;

Egypt’s harsh, insensitive, unsympathetic treatment of Israel again…26:6;

despite Moses’ presence Israel was stiff-necked and rebellious, how much more in his absence…31:27;

Here could be another clue…q. is used with meri (from marah; 45x..contentious, disobedient to a father or God); 22x; “rebellious”

Another clue: So could we say stubborn in the sense of constantly being disobedient…refusing to be broken, humble and repentant, teachable by God, spiritually sensitive…which begs the question…why are certain people or kids this way? Stubbornly, rebellious…or strong-willed?

Israel’s overall repeatedly stubborn pattern of spiritual unfaithfulness in following other gods and their practices…Jud. 2:19;

Note this is huge, perhaps the second greatest passage in defining “stiff-necked, after Ex. 32-33 and the golden calf episode; this is the Judges’ Cycle…as recorded in Judges 2…

1 The angel of the LORD went up from Gilgal to Bokim and said, “I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land I swore to give to your ancestors. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, 2 and you shall not make a covenant with the people of this land, but you shall break down their altars.’ Yet you have disobeyed me. Why have you done this? 3 And I have also said, ‘I will not drive them out before you; they will become traps for you, and their gods will become snares to you.’”

4 When the angel of the LORD had spoken these things to all the Israelites, the people wept aloud, 5 and they called that place Bokim.[a] There they offered sacrifices to the LORD.

Disobedience and Defeat

6 After Joshua had dismissed the Israelites, they went to take possession of the land, each to their own inheritance. 7 The people served the LORD throughout the lifetime of Joshua and of the elders who outlived him and who had seen all the great things the LORD had done for Israel.

8 Joshua son of Nun, the servant of the LORD, died at the age of a hundred and ten. 9 And they buried him in the land of his inheritance, at Timnath Heres[b] in the hill country of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.

10 After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel. 11 Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals. 12 They forsook the LORD, the God of their ancestors, who had brought them out of Egypt. They followed and worshiped various gods of the peoples around them. They aroused the LORD’s anger 13 because they forsook him and served Baal and the Ashtoreths. 14 In his anger against Israel the LORD gave them into the hands of raiders who plundered them. He sold them into the hands of their enemies all around, whom they were no longer able to resist. 15 Whenever Israel went out to fight, the hand of the LORD was against them to defeat them, just as he had sworn to them. They were in great distress.

16 Then the LORD raised up judges,[c] who saved them out of the hands of these raiders. 17 Yet they would not listen to their judges but prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them. They quickly turned from the ways of their ancestors, who had been obedient to the LORD’s commands. 18 Whenever the LORD raised up a judge for them, he was with the judge and saved them out of the hands of their enemies as long as the judge lived; for the LORD relented because of their groaning under those who oppressed and afflicted them. 19 But when the judge died, the people returned to ways even more corrupt than those of their ancestors, following other gods and serving and worshiping them. They refused to give up their evil practices and stubborn ways.

20 Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and said, “Because this nation has violated the covenant I ordained for their ancestors and has not listened to me, 21 I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations Joshua left when he died. 22 I will use them to test Israel and see whether they will keep the way of the LORD and walk in it as their ancestors did.” 23 The LORD had allowed those nations to remain; he did not drive them out at once by giving them into the hands of Joshua.

Thus stubborn meaning they won’t give up; they think they are right; addictive to their old disobedient habits and patterns in basically compromising with the other religious present in the Land…

Jud. 4:24…Israel’s hand presses heavier and heavier upon the king of Canaan, until he is destroyed;

Heavy or harsh, unsympathetic hand, power or force…

Hannah…”I am not drunk or oppressed in spirit” 1 Sam. 1:15;

David questions Jonathan as to whether Saul’s response will be stubborn or harsh…1 Sam. 20:10;

Unsympathetic…unmerciful…attacking…It does not relate or have compassion for the other person…So how does this relate the other way for example? Perhaps when a man or woman can be hard or not compassionate or sympathetic to God? No empathy, understanding…Hard…

Nabal, Abigail’s husband is described as being harsh and evil in his dealings…1 Sam. 25:3;

Unrelenting…unmoved; unsympathetic…

2 Sam. 2:17…a severe battle between Abner’s men and David’s;

Unrelenting, no mercy…fierce…

David describes his war-mongering nephews as being too difficult or stubborn for him after they have murdered Abner…2 Sam. 3:39;

Refuses to change; by sympathetic; hard; harsh; same old, same old…

Big Question? Why is a person this way? Anger. Self-centeredness…

When Jeroboam speaks to Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, he asks for mercy because Solomon had made their service hard or stubborn…1 Kings 12:4;

Unmerciful; unrelenting; demanding…thus hard, not malleable, sympathetic or understanding…refusing to move or give an inch…

2 Chron. 10:4, 13; but Rehoboam answered them harshly or stubbornly in return…v. 13 [Note: this may where Christ draws his analogy of “take my yoke upon you for my yoke is easy and my burden is light…” for Solomon’s was apparently not;

Ahijah’s describes his message from God to a disguised Jeroboam’s wife as harsh…her child will die…1 Kings 14:6;

Without sympathy…unrelenting…thus stubborn…

Job pleads his case to God, asking did I not weep for one whose life was hard…30:25;

Seemingly without mercy…

David writes in a psalm, after a painful defeat that God has made his people experience hardship…like a wine that makes us stagger…Ps. 60:3;

The hardship causes us to stagger…it’s a blow…

a lover describes jealousy as being severe as Sheol (the place of the dead)…Song of Songs 8:6;

Jealousy is stubborn, unrelenting, without mercy; it will not go away…

Isaiah describes Judah’s exile as a harsh service…Is. 14:3;

Painful; unrelenting, without mercy…thus hard…

Egypt will be defeated and serve a cruel master…19:4;

Unrelenting…harsh, non-sympathetic…

harsh vision…in which Babylon is destroyed by Persia (JFB) 21:2;

No sympathy…

describes God’s fierce, great and mighty sword…which he destroys even the great dragon…Is. 27:1;

Unrelenting; unforgiving; it slices away; accomplishes its objective; destroys…

again, his fierce wind…27:8;

Unforgiving wind; unrelenting; a tornado or hurricane…no mercy…

Is. 48:3 “I (G)declared the former things long ago
And they went forth from My mouth, and I proclaimed them
(H)Suddenly I acted, and they (I)came to pass.
4“Because I know that you are (J)obstinate,
And your (
K)neck is an iron sinew
And your (
L)forehead bronze,
5Therefore I declared them to you long ago,
Before they took place I proclaimed them to you,
So that you would not say, ‘My (M)idol has done them,
And my graven image and my molten image have commanded them.’

Meaning addicted to sin; would go ahead and pursue wrong; stubbornly rebel, despite the truth or knowledge of the truth…can’t be turned…broken…turned back to God, away from sin and evil…

Another key passage [after Ex. 32-33 (the Golden Calf); Judges 2 (the Cycle) and Is. 48 (the Iron Neck)].

Ezk. 2:1 He said to me, “Son of man,[a] stand up on your feet and I will speak to you.” 2 As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me.

3 He said: “Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their ancestors have been in revolt against me to this very day. 4 The people to whom I am sending you are obstinate and stubborn. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says.’ 5 And whether they listen or fail to listen—for they are a rebellious people—they will know that a prophet has been among them.

6 And you, son of man, do not be afraid of them or their words. Do not be afraid, though briers and thorns are all around you and you live among scorpions.

Do not be afraid of what they say or be terrified by them, though they are a rebellious people.

7 You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. 8 But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious people;

The Key…

open your mouth and eat what I give you.”

9 Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out to me. In it was a scroll, 10 which he unrolled before me. On both sides of it were written words of lament and mourning and woe.

Also see Ezk. 3:7 for a similar comment.

So rebellious, will not listen are key synonyms.

For the verb, qashah

Rachel’s severe labor with the twins Esau and Jacob…Gen. 35:16-17;

Hard, unrelenting, unmerciful…

in Jacob’s blessings upon his son, he curses Simeon and Levi’s fierce anger and cruel wrath…Gen. 49:7;

Unforgiving, unrelenting…non-sympathetic…

Pharaoh’s heart was described as hard because he repeatedly refused God’s signs…Ex. 7:3;

Unrelenting, nonsympathetic…

13:5…thus requiring the last plague…the death of Egypt’s firstborn;

Deut. 1:17…cases for Moses to judge;

God hardens Sihon’s heart refusing Israel access to cross his land, thus causing him to go to war with Israel and lose, also loosing his land…Deut. 2:30;

Not sympathetic; closed-minded; blinded…

**Again…used in conjunction with another of Stephen’s metaphors. Perhaps even the passage that Stephen had in mind because as with his message, these two metaphors are used together…

Deut. 10:12 And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to observe the LORD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good?

14 To the LORD your God belong the heavens, even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it. 15 Yet the LORD set his affection on your ancestors and loved them, and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.


16 Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer. 1


7 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.


Boundaries with respect to evil; sympathy with respect to those in need of help or compassion…


18 He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. 19 And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt.


Freeing indebted slaves will not be hard or difficult for you because of all the labor that they have given you…


Also in Deut. 15:18, Moses says that because a someone has given you double the service in six years, it will not be hard to release him during the seventh year…


The Philistines complain that God is severe because of the ark’s curse…1 Sam. 5:7;




harsh words among the tribes when David returns to Jerusalem…2 Sam. 19:43;




Elijah describes Elisha’s request for a double portion of his power as a hard thing…2 Kings 2:10;


Difficult request; challenging; a lot to ask for…


**Another key passage…


the reason for God’s judgment of Israel…they did not listen, but stiffened their neck like their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God…2 Kings 17:14;


**Another key passage…Note: all the synonyms and antonyms…return to the Lord; unfaithful to the Lord; as your ancestors were; submit to the Lord; come to his sanctuary; serve the Lord;


In return his fierce anger will turn away…


2 Chron. 30:6 At the king’s command, couriers went throughout Israel and Judah with letters from the king and from his officials, which read:

“People of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, that he may return to you who are left, who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria.


7 Do not be like your parents and your fellow Israelites, who were unfaithful to the LORD, the God of their ancestors, so that he made them an object of horror, as you see.


8 Do not be stiff-necked, as your ancestors were;


submit to the LORD.


Come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever.


Serve the LORD your God, so that his fierce anger will turn away from you.


9 If you return to the LORD, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for the LORD your God is gracious and compassionate.


He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”


36:11…Zedekiah stiffened his neck and hardened his heart against turning against turning to the LORD God of Israel…


Again, hardening one’s heart along with stiffing the neck…


Neh. 9:16…our fathers acted arrogantlystubborn…would not listen to your commandments…appointed a leader to return to slavery in Egypt…


More synonyms…arrogance, would not listen…


22 “You gave them kingdoms and nations, allotting to them even the remotest frontiers. They took over the country of Sihon[c] king of Heshbon and the country of Og king of Bashan.


Take note of all their accomplishments…


23 You made their children as numerous as the stars in the sky, and you brought them into the land that you told their parents to enter and possess. 24 Their children went in and took possession of the land. You subdued before them the Canaanites, who lived in the land; you gave the Canaanites into their hands, along with their kings and the peoples of the land, to deal with them as they pleased. 25 They captured fortified cities and fertile land; they took possession of houses filled with all kinds of good things, wells already dug, vineyards, olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. They ate to the full and were well-nourished; they reveled in your great goodness.


Note: rebelled, disobedient, killed the prophets, turned their backs on the law, blasphemies…slander…


26 “But they were disobedient and rebelled against you; they turned their backs on your law. They killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you; they committed awful blasphemies.


27 So you delivered them into the hands of their enemies, who oppressed them. But when they were oppressed they cried out to you. From heaven you heard them, and in your great compassion you gave them deliverers, who rescued them from the hand of their enemies.


Judges 2…now spoken almost a thousand years later…


28 “But as soon as they were at rest, they again did what was evil in your sight. Then you abandoned them to the hand of their enemies so that they ruled over them. And when they cried out to you again, you heard from heaven, and in your compassion you delivered them time after time.


Note more synonyms: arrogant, disobeyed commands, sinned against ordinances; turned their backs; refused to listen; paid no attention;


Also note: the Spirit is brought into the picture…


29 “You warned them in order to turn them back to your law, but they became arrogant and disobeyed your commands. They sinned against your ordinances, of which you said, ‘The person who obeys them will live by them.’ Stubbornly they turned their backs on you, became stiff-necked and refused to listen. 30 For many years you were patient with them. By your Spirit you warned them through your prophets. Yet they paid no attention, so you gave them into the hands of the neighboring peoples. 31 But in your great mercy you did not put an end to them or abandon them, for you are a gracious and merciful God.


Job 9:4…Who has resisted God without harm?;


Ps. 95:8 do not harden your hearts as a Meribah…(before Horeb);


Hardening of the heart again…


How blessed is the man who fears always, But he who hardens his heart will fall into calamity. Prov. 28:14;


Juxtaposed against fear…hardening…


hardens his neck after much reproof will suddenly be broken beyond remedy…Pr. 29:1.


Here we have the actual neck being harden even after much reproof…


Hard pressed and famished…Is. 8:21


Jer. 7:26; 17:23; 19:15…stiffened their necks…17:23…refused to keep the Sabbath holy…destruction of Jerusalem because…19:15…


Jer. 7…


16“As for you, (AD)do not pray for this people, and do not lift up cry or prayer for them, and do not intercede with Me; for I do not hear you.

17“Do you not see what they are doing in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem?

18“The children gather wood, and the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they (AE)pour out drink offerings to other gods in order to (AF)spite Me.

19(AG)Do they spite Me?” declares the LORD “Is it not themselves they spite, to their own (AH)shame?”

20Therefore thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, My (AI)anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the (AJ)trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched.”

21Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Add your (AK)burnt offerings to your sacrifices and (AL)eat flesh.

22“For I did not (AM)speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.

23“But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘(AN)Obey My voice, and (AO)I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may (AP)be well with you.’

24“Yet they (AQ)did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and (AR)went backward and not forward.

25“Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have (AS)sent you all My servants the prophets, daily rising early and sending them.

26“Yet they did not listen to Me or incline their ear, but (AT)stiffened their neck; they (AU)did more evil than their fathers.

27“You shall (AV)speak all these words to them, but they will not listen to you; and you shall call to them, but they will (AW)not answer you.

28“You shall say to them, ‘This is the nation that (AX)did not obey the voice of the LORD their God or accept correction; (AY)truth has perished and has been cut off from their mouth.


Jer. 17…


19Thus the LORD said to me, “Go and stand in the public gate, through which the kings of Judah come in and go out, as well as in all the gates of Jerusalem;

20and say to them, ‘(AP)Listen to the word of the LORD, (AQ)kings of Judah, and all Judah and all inhabitants of Jerusalem who come in through these gates:

21‘Thus says the LORD, “(AR)Take heed for yourselves, and (AS)do not carry any load on the sabbath day or bring anything in through the gates of Jerusalem.

22“You shall not bring a load out of your houses on the sabbath day (AT)nor do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I (AU)commanded your forefathers.

23“Yet they (AV)did not listen or incline their ears, but (AW)stiffened their necks in order not to listen or take correction.



Jer. 19…


1Thus says the LORD, “Go and buy a (A)potter’s earthenware (B)jar, and take some of the (C)elders of the people and some of the (D)senior priests.

2“Then go out to the (E)valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate, and (F)proclaim there the words that I tell you,

3and say, ‘Hear the word of the LORD, O (G)kings of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, “Behold I am about to bring a (H)calamity upon this place, at which the (I)ears of everyone that hears of it will tingle.

4“Because they have (J)forsaken Me and have (K)made this an alien place and have burned sacrifices in it to (L)other gods, that neither they nor their forefathers nor the kings of Judah had ever known, and because they have filled this place with the (M)blood of the innocent

5and have built the (N)high places of Baal to burn their (O)sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, a thing which I never commanded or spoke of, nor did it ever enter My mind;

6therefore, behold, (P)days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when this place will no longer be called (Q)Topheth or (R)the valley of Ben-hinnom, but rather the valley of Slaughter.

7“I will (S)make void the counsel of Judah and Jerusalem in this place, and (T)I will cause them to fall by the sword before their enemies and by the hand of those who seek their life; and I will give over their (U)carcasses as food for the birds of the sky and the beasts of the earth.

8“I will also make this city a (V)desolation and an object of hissing; (W)everyone who passes by it will be astonished and hiss because of all its disasters.

9“I will make them (X)eat the flesh of their sons and the flesh of their daughters, and they will eat one another’s flesh in the siege and in the distress with which their enemies and those who seek their life will distress them.”‘

10“Then you are to break the (Y)jar in the sight of the men who accompany you

11and say to them, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, “Just so will I (Z)break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will (AA)bury in Topheth because there is no other place for burial.

12“This is how I will treat this place and its inhabitants,” declares the LORD, “so as to make this city like Topheth.

13“The (AB)houses of Jerusalem and the houses of the kings of Judah will be (AC)defiled like the place Topheth, because of all the (AD)houses on whose rooftops they burned sacrifices to (AE)all the heavenly host and (AF)poured out drink offerings to other gods.”‘”

14Then Jeremiah came from Topheth, where the LORD had sent him to prophesy; and he stood in the (AG)court of the LORD’S house and said to all the people:

15“Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, ‘Behold, I am about to bring on this city and all its towns the entire calamity that I have declared against it, because they have (AH)stiffened their necks so (AI)as not to heed My words.’


Joseph M Cross