The Psalm writer wrote: Open my eyes, that I may behold Wonderful things from Your law. As we come before a Holy God and hear his word, may we have eyes open to the wonderful and fearful things from his law. May it move us to repent and seek forgiveness, fear disobedience, and live in light of the grace we have received. This is the word of God. It is eternally true and applicable for all of life.
Proverbs 29:1-10 A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy. When the righteous increase, the people rejoice, But when a wicked man rules, people groan. A man who loves wisdom makes his father glad, But he who keeps company with harlots wastes his wealth. The king gives stability to the land by justice, But a man who takes bribes overthrows it. A man who flatters his neighbor Is spreading a net for his steps. By transgression an evil man is ensnared, But the righteous sings and rejoices. The righteous is concerned for the rights of the poor, The wicked does not understand such concern. Scorners set a city aflame, But wise men turn away anger. When a wise man has a controversy with a foolish man, The foolish man either rages or laughs, and there is no rest. Men of bloodshed hate the blameless, But the upright are concerned for his life.
Judas Iscariot traveled with Christ. He heard the sermons, the parables, and saw the miracles. He was given responsibility among the twelve to tend the money box. Judas was a disciple, heard all the commands uttered by our Lord, yet in the end he wound up betraying Jesus. As a result he fell headlong, bursting open in horrible fashion. We repeatedly see in scripture tales of men confronted with the Word of God responding to it not in repentance, not in obedience, not delighting in the Law of God, but rather, by hardening their hearts, stiffening their necks, and gnashing their teeth.
This is the juxtaposition: one either views the Word of God as a delight which is sweeter than the honeycomb, or as a burden which necessitates a hardening of one's neck. There is no middle road with God. There is no lukewarm, indifferent path upon which we may walk. There is only trust and obey, or be broken upon the rock.
The Proverb today warns us:
A man who hardens his neck after much reproof Will suddenly be broken beyond remedy.
Brothers and sisters, how long have you been a Christian? How many sermons have you heard? How many good, solid theological books have you consumed? How much of God's grace have you enjoyed? How many Lord's suppers have you eaten? How many psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs have you sung? How many times have faithful preachers of God's Word pleaded with you to repent, to forsake your sinful ways, to flee from the broad way and strive to enter through the narrow gate?
Do not harden your neck.
Have you forgotten that a good father, which our Heavenly Father is, disciplines the son whom He loves? At the time this discipline seems sorrowful, yet afterward bears the peaceful fruit of righteousness. Rather than hardening your neck because of the discipline which comes to you through the application of God's Word to your conscience, humble yourselves before God. Just prior to being stoned to death, Stephen the deacon was preaching God's word to a crowd of angry Jews. He referred to them as being stiff necked, uncircumcised in heart, and having ears which always resisted the Holy Spirit. In response they gnashed their teeth, rushed at him, and murdered him with stones.
Is this how you have come to respond to the gospel, young person?
Perhaps you don't outwardly gnash your teeth and bum rush your parents or the preacher with stones. Maybe for you, the rebellion is on the inside, where only God can see. You have plugged your ears, stiffened your neck, and seeth in anger because mommy and daddy make you come to church. Older Christian, what says you? You've gone to church so long, you've heard hundreds, if not thousands of sermons. Time, the cares of the world, a weary body, and your desire to cling to some pet sin has left you stiff necked, resistant to the work of the Holy Spirit. Friend, your longevity in the house of God will not save you on the day of judgement. Repent of your sins and forsake your sinful ways before you are broken beyond remedy.
Christian parents, the yoke which our Lord Jesus tells us to take upon us, is easy, and His burden is light. For the Christian, it is a pleasant, joyful thing to obey the Lord. Do your children delight to obey you? Is the yoke which you lay upon your child one that they delight in, or is it one which always leaves them exasperated? Are your children stiffening their necks against God because they see your Christianity and have reasoned that if the way you parent is how God disciplines His children, they want nothing to do with it?
In Psalm 2 it talks about the nations being in an uproar, and the people devising vain things, casting off God's Law and being governed instead by their own passions. It is the cry of freedom uttered by every single person who ever rebelled against our Holy, Holy, Holy God.
Listen to their end from the Psalm:
You shall break them with a rod of iron,
You shall shatter them like earthenware.
Dear friends that is what awaits those who harden their necks against God. Repent today.
If you are able, please kneel and join me in prayer.
May thy Spirit speak in us that we may speak to thee. We have no merit, let the merit of Jesus stand for us. We are undeserving, but look to thy tender mercy. We are full of infirmities, wants, sin; thou art full of grace. We confess our sin, our frequent sin, our wilful sin; All the powers of body and soul are defiled: A fountain of pollution is deep within our natures. There are chambers of foul images within our being; We have gone from one odious room to another, walked in a no-man’s-land of dangerous imaginations, pried into the secrets of our fallen nature.
We are utterly ashamed that we are what we are in ourselves; We have no green shoot in us nor fruit, but thorns and thistles; We are a fading leaf that the wind drives away; We live bare and barren as a winter tree, unprofitable, fit to be hewn down and burnt. Lord, dost thou have mercy on us? Thou hast struck a heavy blow at our pride, at the false god of self, and we lie in pieces before thee. But thou hast given us another Master and Lord, thy Son, Jesus, and now our hearts are turned towards holiness, our lives speed as an arrow from a bow towards complete obedience to thee. Help us in all our doings to put down sin and to humble pride.
Save us from the love of the world and the pride of life, from everything that is natural to fallen man, and let Christ’s nature be seen in us day by day. Grant us grace to bear thy will without repining, and delight to be not only chiselled, squared, or fashioned, but separated from the old rock where we have been embedded so long, and lifted from the quarry to the upper air, where we may be built in Christ for ever.
In the name of Jesus we pray, amen.
(Prayer adapted from the Valley of Vision prayer titled "Heart Corruptions")
Please join me in standing and listen to the comforting assurance of the grace of God, promised in the gospel to his church:
Psalm 128 How blessed is everyone who fears the Lord, Who walks in His ways. When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, You will be happy and it will be well with you. Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine Within your house, Your children like olive plants Around your table. Behold, for thus shall the man be blessed Who fears the Lord. The Lord bless you from Zion, And may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life. Indeed, may you see your children’s children. Peace be upon Israel!
To all those who thus repent and seek Jesus Christ for their salvation, your sins are forgiven in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. Lift up your hearts!
(From the 02/15/2021 liturgy of Sovereign King Church written by Aaron Sabie.)