Hard Heads and Hard Hearts

Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, to a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me; they and their fathers have been in revolt against me to this very day… 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 terrified by them….You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen.  (Selections from Ezekiel 2)

God actually describes the Israelites as rebellious three times in one verse.  Another place one of these words is used is in Numbers 14 when Joshua warns the Israelites not to rebel against God by thinking the Canaanites are too big and strong for them to take the Promise Land.  It isn’t a direct rebellion, it is giving into fear instead of having faith.

People are by nature rebellious.  We are self focused and insist on doing what we want to do.  I see a thousand examples around me of people who can’t see beyond themselves to really consider the other person’s viewpoint.  How much more difficult is it then to consider things from God’s viewpoint, to admit that there is a Creator and higher power in the world.  The subtitle to my blog web site is “Living in the Matrix of God.”  I’ve posted these words before, but I want to post again the lyrics to a song I wrote that describes how we must be humble before God.

This day is not my day

These possessions are not mine

Time and physical existence

Are the Lord’s domain, a matrix of God

In Him we live and move and have our being.

So what conceit to live apart from Him

When we don’t look to God at all times and realize our dependency on Him, how our existence is twined in Him, how He is the source of hope and peace and everything good that we need, we are rebellious.

I woke up this morning feeling out of sorts.  But if I give into this and throttle back and try to coast through, I am being just like the Israelites who thought the Canaanites were too big to vanquish.  Not rebelling against God means always believing He will see us through.

And thus God addresses Ezekiels fears, and tells him not to be afraid of the Israelites, that He, the Lord, will see him through.  The most convicting words in this section are that Ezekiel MUST speak, whether they listen or not.  I am always looking to share with those who I think might be open to listening.  But God wants his word to be heard by everyone.  He wants everyone to have a chance.

But the house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for all the house of Israel have a hard forehead and a stubborn heart.  (Ezek 3:7)

The description of the Israelites in Ezekiel 3 is that they have hard foreheads and hard hearts.  They are massively stubborn, completely headstrong,  closed in their heart to being able to consider anything outside of their paltry purview.   They are so sure they are right, so set on the course they are taking.

I think one reason people are so stubborn is because they are insecure.  If they admit the way they’re taking is flawed, their whole construct crumbles.  It’s painful, it’s insulting, but more than that, it’s terrifying to think that you are a failure.  Thus, people decide on the way they want to go,  and that is the hill they will die on.

So when I go out and talk to people about God, at some point they are going to have to realize that adjustments in their life need to be made.  All of us have to be humble and constantly look to God and constantly make adjustments.  People are not going to like that.  They are not going to like the message that something about their life might not be as it should be.  They will take this personally.  How naive I am that I think I can go out and share, and people will all welcome this wonderful message I have!  For many, the message is a threat!

Yet share, I must.  The message is their only hope that they can take their eyes off of themselves and put it on the one who can guide them to the life they were intended to have.  It is their only choice for true blessedness.  And it is a constant reminder to me that I must put my hand in the hand of the One who knows the way, and let Him lead me through the dark valleys.

But I will make you as unyielding and hardened as they are. I will make your forehead like the hardest stone, harder than flint….Then the Spirit lifted me up, and I heard behind me a loud rumbling sound—May the glory of the Lord be praised in his dwelling place!— the sound of the wings of the living creatures brushing against each other and the sound of the wheels beside them, a loud rumbling sound. (From Ez 3)

God is with me, making me strong.  And when I read this description of the living creatures, it reminds me of His unfathomable power, the power that is behind me.

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