Saturday, August 20, 2011
Signs of Stubbornness
Diḇre haYamim Bet/2 Chronicles 16
Shabbat Shalom, may the Name of יהוה be praised in this place, aměn! How many of you have struggled at times with stubbornness? What is stubbornness or rather what does it mean to be stubborn? Well according to various dictionary definitions it can be summed up as follows:
‘Having or showing dogged determination not to change one's attitude or position on something, esp. in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so; Difficult to move, remove, or cure; Unreasonable, often perversely unyielding; bull-headed.’
Ever heard of the saying, ‘as stubborn as a donkey’? Stubbornness can also refer to one who has an ‘unrepentant heart’ – one who unwilling to yield to the Truth and change, one who is unwilling to learn and is set in their ways! Praise יהוה that there are no stubborn hearts here, aměn – or is there? Tonight, in a message called, “Signs of Stubbornness”, I would like us to look at the example of a king who had it all going for him and then lost it – due to a stubborn heart, and in the process may we recognise the need to heed any warning signs of stubbornness creeping in, as it can be detrimental to our health.
Please turn with me to Diḇre haYamim Bet/2 Chronicles 16 (Read).
Asa, which means ‘physician/healer’, was a king who started out in the right way in making much reforms and change in his 1st year as king of Yehuḏah. He was one of 22 sons and had 16 sisters – his father had 14 wives! He reigned for 41 years – that is a year longer than Dawiḏ and Shelomoh – perhaps due to his initial obedience in the 1st year that יהוה gave him another 40 – but be that as it may – he had peace for 35 years! It was here in his 36th year of his reign that Ba‘asha, the sovereign of Yisra’ĕl, came up against Asa and built up Ramah to prevent anyone from coming or going to Asa and this was bad for business for Asa. As a result what does Asa do? He certainly does not seek יהוה, and he remains stubborn in not doing so by following after his own ways and as a result his walk was crippled! Here was a guy who had started the race well, following the ways of Dawiḏ and after 35 years of peace at the first sign of trouble he no longer puts his trust in יהוה, but rather thinks he can manage the situation his own way. I wonder how many of us have found ourselves in a similar position – where we figure we can solve and overcome problems and battles on our own, forgetting to put our trust in יהוה after having become accustomed to a reasonably peace filled walk in Him as we walk in obedience? It kind of reminds me of a passage from the book of Yasher – in chapter 22: 47-49:
“47 And יהוה said unto Satan, Whence come you? And Satan answered יהוה and said, from going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it. 48 And יהוה said to Satan, What is your word to me concerning all the children of the earth? And Satan answered יהוה and said, I have seen all the children of the earth who serve you and remember you when they require anything from you. 49 And when you give them the thing which they require from you, they sit at their ease, and forsake you and they remember you no more.”
When you get what you want from יהוה, do you sit at ease and forsake walking in total obedience? From being a king who walked right and did what was right in the eyes of יהוה (Melaḵim Aleph/1 Kings 15:11) to one who became crippled and diseased in his feet – why? Because he became stubborn and relied on his own strength and refused to yield to the Truth any longer and no longer sought after יהוה. Before we get into the signs of stubbornness that we can see in this chapter, what I find very interesting in Scripture is the association used repeatedly of ‘stubbornness and one’s feet/walk going in the wrong dorection’. Here are a couple of examples:
Mishlĕ/Proverbs 7:11 “She was boisterous and stubborn; her feet did not stay at her own house.”
Tehillim/Psalm 81:12 “So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels.”
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 65:2 “I have held out My hands all day long to a stubborn people, who walk in a way that is not good, after their own thoughts”
There are many other Scriptures which give the same picture that we see being expressed here and that is simply this:
Stubbornness results in a diseased walk! Some minds are like finished concrete—thoroughly mixed and permanently set. A previous boss of mine had an expression which he would use when he changed his mind – which at times was very frustrating for us as we would follow His instructions despite us telling him it would not work only to find later that he would change the instructions after the job was completed and say, “A mind that does not change is not thinking, and if you are not thinking you are not growing!” Now there is some measure of truth in this as we are to continuously be transformed from the conformity to the world by the renewing of our minds and not have our minds set like finished concrete. Sadly though when it suited my old boss he would say that he will not change and we are wasting our time trying to change him. A picture of many today – will use the truth when it suites them and reject it when it does not! How about you?
The Hebrew words used for stubborn in the 3 verses I have just mentioned are:
Strong’s H5637 סָרַר (sārar) – which is a root word meaning ‘stubborn, rebellious or defiant to authority’ (Mishlĕ/Proverbs 7:11),
Strong’s H8307 שְׁרִירוּת (sheriruth) – which also means, ‘stubbornness or firmness’ and is also translated as ‘lust’ and comes from the word Strong’s H8324 שָׁרַר (sharar) – which translates as ‘enemy or adversary’.
What we are seeing here is very clear – being stubborn and rebellious to the Truth is the same as being an enemy of Elohim! Kěpha/Peter uses the same picture for us in describing the rebellious that will be judged:
Kěpha Bet/2 Peter 2:10 “and most of all those walking after the flesh in filthy lust and despising authority – bold, headstrong, speaking evil of esteemed ones”
Those whose walk are after the flesh in filthy lust and are rebellious are stubborn, headstrong and unwilling to change their behaviour in any regard. Our walk reveals our heart, and Asa became ‘diseased in his feet’, which in the Hebrew can also be an idiomatic expression for falling slack in his observance to the commands and Feasts of יהוה, for in
Shemoth/Exodus 23:14 “Three times in the year you are to observe a festival to Me.”
The Hebrew word used for ‘times’ is Strong’s H7272 רֶגֶל ‘regel’ – means ‘a foot/feet or to walk’. So as I said – one’s obedience and submission to the Truth is seen in one’s walk – the question is simply whether our walk is healthy and in loving obedience or is it diseased through stubbornness and pride?
Naḥum/Nahum 1:15 “See, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace! O Yehuḏah, observe your festivals, perform your vows. For Beliya‘al shall no more pass through you. He has been cut off completely.”
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 52:7 “How pleasant upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings good news, who proclaims deliverance, who says to Tsiyon, “Your Elohim reigns!”
Romiyim/Romans 10:15 “And how shall they proclaim if they are not sent? As it has been written, “How pleasant are the feet of those who bring the Good News of peace, who bring the Good News of the good!”
How we bring the Good News of the Good is in our walk of obedient faith – the danger we must heed as an obstacle to this is stubbornness and an unwillingness to learn and yield to the Truth daily!
Having said all of that – let us look briefly at 5 danger signs of stubbornness that we can see from the life of Asa in his last days – signs that we must watch out for – and if they are in any way evident must be dealt with immediately!
What are signs of being stubborn?
YOU ARE BEING STUBBORN WHEN:
1 – YOU CHOOSE TO FIX PROBLEMS ON YOUR OWN RATHER THAN GO TO יהוה WITH THEM! (16:1-3)
As I mentioned earlier, for 35 years there had been peace and now in Asa’s 36th year Ba‘asha, king of Yisra’ĕl built a blockade so that no one could trade with Asa, and this was a great problem. What Asa should have done was go to יהוה, but no, instead he goes to a pagan king of Aram, Ben-Haḏaḏ and bribes him with temple treasure from the House of יהוה, so that Ben-Haḏaḏ would break covenant with Yisra’ĕl and join forces with Yehuḏah. What we see here is that Asa tried to figure out in his own way how to avoid defeat and he uses what is not his to use in trading with the enemy! He tried to buy his way out of trouble and would not ask יהוה for help! He was stubborn in his approach at trying to solve the imminent threat on his own. How many of you find that most of the time you try and handle problems that you face on your own, without bringing it before and consulting יהוה, thinking that you can ‘do it on your own’ so to speak? That is pride and outright stubbornness! We are to take everything to Him in prayer and wait upon Him, but sadly for most the waiting is just too much and pride and stubbornness often steps in and is destructive and will rob you of the joy of life. Do not try to handle problems on your own!
2 – YOU SETTLE FOR LESS THAN THE BEST JUST TO SAY “I’VE DONE IT!” (16:4-8)
Asa seemed to solve an immediate problem through his dodgy scheming tactics, all at the cost of a permanent solution – because the problem didn’t stay away for long! In other words his own stubbornness to yield to the Truth in essence cost him as he sacrificed long term security and relief for a short term reprieve. Ḥanani the seer/prophet came along and told Asa that because he had been stubborn and would not rely upon יהוה, but rather on pagan nations for help that he would no longer have victory over Aram who through his stubbornness had allowed them to escape from his hand or rule and was in essence telling Asa not to be so boastful in thinking that he has bought himself a solution through his own means – because he had not. Asa wanted a quick fix for the now without realising the repercussions for the long term. He could have had so much more yet he settled for less that the best – he settled for the ‘now’ in the flesh taking his eyes off of the future hope in יהוה – and so do so many of us today do the same thing more than we would care to realise! How often do you settle for less than the best just to say that you have done it and have the false sense of completion only to find out that the problem just came back? Stubbornness will cause you to make hasty decisions that will cost you greatly!
3 – YOU GET ANGRY RATHER THAN REPENT WHEN CONFRONTED BY THE TRUTH! (16:9-10)
Ḥanani had come and spoken to Asa – Asa had now heard the Truth of his poor decision making and there was still a chance of setting it right as he was now faced with two simple choices:
A – Repent – that is to turn around – turn back from his own stubbornness and embrace the truth and confess – remember what we said last week that to confess is to be in agreement with the Word of יהוה – in other words he could repent and acknowledge the Truth and ask יהוה to get him out of this tight spot.
B – Rebel – Get angry and attack the messenger and never be willing to admit that he was the problem.
We know what choice he made – Asa had heard the truth and didn’t like it – so what does he do? He chucks the seer into prison – thinking “out of sight – out of mind” and thought that he could get around the truth by eliminating the messenger of the Truth and he never saw his own sin or rather lawlessness! What happens when you are confronted with a choice to make like this – do you repent or rebel? We too have the same choices when confronted with the Truth! When the truth is too much to hear far too often too many people just imprison the Truth – that is they shut it out at all costs and will get angry when confronted with what they do not want to hear! Let me ask you – how many times have you been confronted by the hearing of the truth only to reject it as rubbish and rebel, calling the messengers crazy and shut them out! A sure sign of stubbornness is when you refuse to listen to the Truth – perhaps because it hurts! The last days will see more and more stubborn hearts developing as they will seek to have their ears tickled in agreement with the lawless living rather than be spoken to truthfully in order to set them free! How are you at handling the Truth – straight up? Do you get angry?
Verse 9 tells us that יהוה diligently searches the earth – to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is perfect to Him! A perfect heart – what is that? I believe in this context it is speaking of those who are willing to ‘yield’ their hearts to Him and follow Him wholeheartedly – it doesn’t necessarily mean that you know everything because we cannot – not yet anyway! But rather it is a heart that submits and is willing to change and allow the truth to lead them in paths of righteous living no matter the cost – and it is to those hearts that יהוה wants to reveal His strength to!!! Asa’s heart was no longer perfect:
Melaḵim Aleph/1 Kings 15:14 “But the high places were not removed. However, Asa’s heart was perfect with יהוה all his days.”
Now here in this account we read in verse 9 that יהוה is always looking for those whose heart is perfect, yet Asa had now acted foolishly in this – in what? In having a perfect heart – not turning to the right or to the left – walking in the ways of his ancestor Dawiḏ! And because he had acted foolishly he would have battles for the rest of his life! It doesn’t matter how long you think that you have been walking in obedience – stubbornness can come in at any time and we must guard ourselves from this! Do not rebel when the Truth hits you right between the eyes – listen and learn as you have a perfect submitting heart unto יהוה – Listen – if you will – then the promise is sure that He will show Himself to be strong on your behalf – And if He is for us what do we need to fear, aměn! You want His strength shown on your behalf – then do not be stubborn in hearing the Truth!
4 – YOU DO NOT WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH יהוה’s PEOPLE! (16:10)
Asa was so stubborn that he began to oppress many of his own! Look at the difference of heart we see in his life:
Diḇre haYamim Bet/2 Chronicles 15: 8-9 “And when Asa heard these words and the prophecy of Oḏĕḏ the prophet, he took courage, and removed the abominations from all the land of Yehuḏah and Binyamin and from the cities which he had taken in the mountains of Ephrayim, and restored the altar of יהוה that was before the porch of יהוה, 9 and gathered all Yehuḏah and Binyamin, and those who sojourned with them from Ephrayim, and Menashsheh, and Shimʽon, for they came over to him in great numbers from Yisra’ĕl when they saw that יהוה his Elohim was with him.”
Here in the previous chapter we see Asa – a man with a perfect heart, making reforms and gathering great numbers from 5 of the tribes as they could see that יהוה was with him – for יהוה had revealed Himself strong on Asa’s behalf! Now look at the next chapter after stubbornness and pride had set in:
Diḇre haYamim Bet/2 Chronicles 16:10 “And Asa was wroth with the seer, and put him in prison, for he was enraged at him because of this. And Asa oppressed some of the people at that time.”
From walking with a perfect heart – that is a submission, yielding heart to the Torah of Elohim – to a stubborn and rebellious heart! From gathering people together and being in fellowship to oppressing the fellowship and slandering the fellowship! When things went well, Asa loved to fellowship but when the tests came and he buckled under pressure – he couldn’t handle the truth and stopped fellowship and turned nasty! Often a sign of stubbornness is the inability to engage in fellowship and so easily bad mouth or slander those whom you once walked in unity with – all as a result of stubborn disobedience! Neglecting fellowship is a sign of stubbornness and pride where blame shifting becomes the order of the day and getting mad at the messenger and others and isolating oneself away in self-pity and pride!
Wanting nothing to do with the fellowship of the set-apart ones is a sure sign of stubbornness that needs to be dealt with!
5 – YOU REFUSE TO CALL UPON יהוה EVEN WHEN THERE ARE NO OPTIONS AVAILABLE OR LEFT (16:12)
Asa got a serious disease in his feet, and yet he still refused to seek יהוה and live!
Amos 5:4 “For thus said יהוה to the house of Yisra’ĕl, “Seek Me and live.””
Amos 5:6 “Seek יהוה and live, lest He break out like fire upon the house of Yosĕph, and shall consume it, with no one to quench it in Bĕyth Ěl.”
Amos 5:14 “Seek good and not evil, so that you live. And let יהוה Elohim of hosts be with you, as you have spoken.”
Listen to not seek יהוה is not an option for a believer and called out one! We see as recorded in Ḥazon/Revelation the repeated stubbornness of the rebellious – “they did not repent” (9:20; 16:9; 16:11). This is exactly what Asa refused to do – repent and so he rebelled. He rather sought the physicians when he was all sick and crippled.
What we see here is an interesting picture for us- remember I said earlier that his name meant ‘healer/physician’ – well he was not going to the Great Physician yet sought out his own solutions, no matter how bad his situation and circumstances became! I am sure it got to a stage when the physicians must have come to him and said that there was nothing that they could do for him – and yet still he would not turn to יהוה! As a result of his illness he died. More often than not those who are stubborn will tend to say things like, “Well if יהוה hasn’t helped me by now then I am not going to start asking Him now!” – Stubborn to the grave do so many go and we must be careful to never let this happen – bearing in mind that this was a man whose heart was ‘perfect’ with יהוה!
Danger signs of stubbornness – do you have any or have you ever noticed these in operation in your life? If the answer is yes – what are you going to do about it? If your heart is perfect with יהוה in that you are totally submitting a and heed his voice, walking fully in His commands then good – but be warned to not give up in perfecting set-apartness continually and may יהוה come and show Himself strong on our behalf as a growing committed fellowship and family in יהושע Messiah!
Stubbornness is a dangerous thing that can cause a perfect walk to become diseased – let this be a warning to be watchful against this very danger. These were the words that stirred Asa in the beginning of his walk:
Diḇre haYamim Bet/2 Chronicles 15:1-2 “And the Spirit of Elohim came upon Azaryahu son of Oḏĕḏ. 2 And he went out to face Asa, and said to him, “Hear me, Asa, and all Yehuḏah and Binyamin. יהוה is with you while you are with Him. And if you seek Him, He is found by you, but if you forsake Him, He forsakes you.”
Let us take heed of this very Word tonight and not be stubborn in our walk and find ourselves having departed from “righteousness’ path”!
For stubbornness and righteousness are far apart!
Yeshayahu/Isaiah 46:12 “Listen to Me, you stubborn-hearted, who are far from righteousness.”
Stubbornness and lawlessness are closely attached and the end of the lawless in being thrown out!
Signs of stubbornness – do you have any in your life? Do not be bull-headed or as stubborn as a donkey for stubbornness can be terminal to your walk – but rather yield to the King of Kings and our Master Redeemer - יהושע Messiah – for if you love Him you will obey Him and walk upright in Him!
יהוה bless you and guard you;
יהוה make His face shine upon you and show favour to you
יהוה lift up His face upon you and give you peace!