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We Can Only Be Spirit-Filled Because We Are Stiff-Necked



One of the most troubling events in the Torah is when the Children of Israel made a golden calf while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the Tablets of Stone from G-D. Just think about what is taking place. The Israelites can visibly see the fire lighting on the mountain, and they have audibly heard the voice of G-D. They watched Moses go up the mountain and waited 40 days for his return. It is in the midst of one of the most awesome experiences with G-D in the history of the world that the Children of Israel made a golden calf to replace Moses and began to worship it. 


It is important that we remember when Aaron made the calf, he said in Exodus 32:5 that they would worship the golden calf as a feast to G-D:


Exodus 32:5 When Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it. Then Aaron made a proclamation saying, “Tomorrow will be a feast to Adonai.”


The Children of Israel coming out of Egypt made a golden calf in order to worship G-D through worshiping it. They did this according to what G-D says in Exodus 32:8-9:


Exodus 32:8 They quickly turned aside from the path that I commanded for them. They have made a molten calf, worshipped it, and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you up out of the land of Egypt.’” 9 Adonai said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, it is a stiff-necked people.


Notice that G-D said they turned away from what He commanded them because they were stiff-necked or stubborn. In the next verse, G-D tells us the following:


Exodus 32:10 Now therefore, leave Me alone, so My wrath may burn hot against them, and so I may consume them—and make from you a great nation!”


G-D said He was going to wipe out the Israelites, not because of the golden calf, but because of their being stiff-necked. They made the golden calf because of stubbornness. They came to a situation where they didn’t fully understand, and instead of trusting G-D and His covenant promises, they turned away from G-D and His covenant and back to what they knew from Egypt. In Egypt, you worshiped their many gods by making idols for them, and after making the idols, they made sacrifices, worshiped, and had feasts of celebration for the gods, not for the idols.  


In their fear, they allowed their stubborness to control them and they immediately turned away from G-D’s covenant and returned to the way they worshiped in Egypt. So, we see G-D was going to wipe them out because they were stiff-necked and stubborn and turned away from His covenant. They were almost destroyed because of being stiff-necked. 


What we don’t often pay attention to is that as Moses’ conversation continues with G-D concerning the Children of Israel and the ramifications of their sin of stiff-neckedness, we find that their relationship with G-D is restored because of this same stiff-neckedness. 


In chapter 33, we read that G-D told Moses He was going to keep His promise to Israel and drive the inhabitants of the Promised Land out before them, but that He (G-D) would not go into the land with them (Exodus 33:3).


Moses responds to G-D pleading with Him and saying what we read in Exodus 34:9:


Exodus 34:9 He said, “If now I have found grace in Your eyes, my Lord, let my Lord please go within our midst, even though this is a stiff-necked people. Pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for Your own inheritance.”


Isn’t it amazing that Moses asked G-D to “please go within our midst” because the children of Israel were/are stiff-necked? Moses tells G-D it is because the Children of Israel were stiff-necked that they desperately needed G-D to be in their midst. As we read the rest of Exodus 34, we find that G-D accepts Moses' position and renews His covenant promises to Israel. 


Moses made a point that is still true today: unless the presence of G-D remains with His people, our stiff-necked stubborness will lead us to turn away from His covenant and turn back to the ways of Egypt (the world). 


This is the precise reason Yeshua said in John 14:15-17:


John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper so He may be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him. You know Him, because He abides with you and will be in you.


In other words, Moses told G-D that the Children of Israel were stiff-necked and that it was precisely because of our stubbornness that we desperately need Him to remain present in our midsts. G-D responded to Moses by dwelling in the Tabernacle, and G-D extended His response to us today through the indwelling of the Ruach (Holy Spirit).


1 Corinthians 3:16 Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that the Ruach Elohim dwells among you?









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