This morning I woke up with a “crick” in my neck. (That word is presumably a variant of “creak” (the sound). It is not to be confused with the “crick” in the meadow, which is the same as a creek or stream.) As a result it is difficult to turn my head or raise my hands. In my case it is probably a result of overexertion at the gym. God frequently refers to the Israelites as having a crick in the neck. In their case it was a result of good, old-fashioned obstinacy.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people.” (Ex 32:9; Deut 9:13) Hezekiah even put this description of Israel into an official document.
So the posts went with the letters from the king and his princes throughout all Israel and Judah, and according to the commandment of the king, saying, Ye children of Israel, turn again unto the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, and he will return to the remnant of you, that are escaped out of the hand of the kings of Assyria. And be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the LORD God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see. Now be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the LORD, and enter into his sanctuary, which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the LORD your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you. For if ye turn again unto the LORD, your brethren and your children shall find compassion before them that lead them captive, so that they shall come again into this land: for the LORD your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him. (2 Chron 30:6-9)
This comes in an invitation to all of the Northern Tribes (Israel) to join Judah in keeping of the Passover. Interestingly, most of those who got this letter proved Hezekiah’s description to be accurate. “So the posts passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh even unto Zebulun: but they laughed them to scorn, and mocked them.” (2 Chron 30:10) Only a few from Manasseh and Asher came to the feast.
Even as late as the time of Jesus the Israelites had the same reputation. When Stephen was called on the carpet for preaching about Jesus he gave a history of Israel. His concluding remarks included, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” (Acts 7:51) Two sentences later they took him out and stoned him.
It is not fun to be stiff-necked. A crick in my neck makes it difficult to ride my bicycle safely, since I can’t turn my head to watch for traffic. It is painful and a constant irritation. And yet, many people, like the ancient Israelites, persist in living with a crick in their necks. Although they should know God, they choose to ignore him, to their own harm.
For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened…Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Rom 1:20-21, 32)
When I have a crick in my neck, I want to get rid of it as soon as possible. I massage it, work it, wish I could afford a chiropractor. Too bad that some people rather enjoy their crick. They just don’t know how good it would feel to follow God, the ultimate chiropractor.