Zedekiah was a descendant of Josiah, one of Judah’s most faithful kings. Unfortunately, his apple refused to grow close to Josiah’s tree. Instead, we read this about Zedekiah’s reign:
He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. He also rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord, the God of Israel. (2 Chronicles 36:11-13)
Zedekiah is sadly relatable. For you see, Zedekiah was his own man. He was captain of his own ship and master of his own destiny. Nobody – and I mean NOBODY – told Zedekiah what to do. He told Nebuchadnezzar where to get off, and refused to humble himself before even God. No sir, Zedekiah was king of his universe.
A closer look at Zedekiah reveals his two biggest issues – a stiff neck and a hard heart. If you’ve ever woken up with a stiff neck, you understand how difficult it is to turn your head. In Zedekiah’s case, his neck was stiff not due to a bad pillow, but a bad (proud) attitude. The Hebrew wording carries the connotation of being “set firm (stiffened) in one’s way.” There is an unbending stubbornness.
Similarly, hard heartedness has the meaning of “becoming bold” in one’s abilities or having confidence in oneself. Both stiff necks and hard hearts stem from pride – the belief that I know best, and I am enough. Proud people need nobody else – not men or God.
I wish stiff necks and hard hearts had died with Zedekiah. They didn’t. I wish they automatically died when we come alive in Christ – they don’t. Instead, we must choose daily to put them to death so the Lord can turn us in any direction.
Are you suffering from a stiff neck or a hard heart? God’s answer is humility. –Dave
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