Stiff-necked and stubborn…

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Jeremiah 7:21 Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh. 22 For in the day that I brought your ancestors out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to them or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this command I gave them, “Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people; and walk only in the way that I command you, so that it may be well with you.” 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward. 25 From the day that your ancestors came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day; 26 yet they did not listen to me, or pay attention, but they stiffened their necks. They did worse than their ancestors did.

24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but, in the stubbornness of their evil will, they walked in their own counsels, and looked backward rather than forward.”

What does that mean that the people “looked backward rather than forward”? I’m not sure, so I looked at some of my bible commentaries yet found very little. Finally I found this from “Commentaries on the Prophet Jeremiah and the Lamentations” by none other than John Calvin who was a 16th century French theologian and key player in the Protestant Reformation.

(By the phrase in question) Jeremiah intimates that the Jews turned the back, that they might not look at (God) or go forward. For when one promises to be our leader to conduct us in the way, we immediately turn our eyes to him; but when we turn our back it is a proof of our contempt. And thus God complains of his people, that he was despised by them…”

Of course, the turning of the back is an image of rejection. The people were promised the gift of life if they would but obey the commands of the Lord – but they did not. God sent prophets to warn them of the dangers of disobedience, to no avail. And so death was visited upon them figuratively and literally.

As I reflect on my own life this morning I see that I too turn my back on God when it suits me. I too often walk in my own counsel rather than the counsel of God.

Heavenly Father, I too am stiff-necked and stubborn, turning my back to you on a regular basis. It’s not that I want to, but I do so anyway. Give me grace to overcome my sinful nature that I might live to please you. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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