In these chapters, God describes the Israelites as rebellious, impudent, hardhearted, and stiffhearted. What a blazing rebuke by God! The Hebrew words used here refer to hardness, cruelty, bitterness, and a refusal to turn. How could they have such hard and bitter stubbornness against the God who delivered them and preserved them and could reward them with so much love and peace and provision? It seems unreasonable, but our human hearts can turn hard and bitter when we begin to live by sight and not by faith. When we insist on understanding the "why" of everything that happens. When we allow pride to demand temporary satisfaction. When we think our ways are more wise than God's. When we begin to think like those who are not God's children. It doesn't seem possible that a heart that is soft and pliable and in love with God can ever become so stiff and hard. But history proves, and perhaps your own experience relates, that all of us, myself included, have that capacity. It seems ridiculous to turn away from the amazing promises God gives to obedient children. But if any of us, myself included, allows pride to overtake our mind and behavior, we will believe the lies of Satan and turn from our Creator and Provider just as Israel did.
Lord, help me to always have open ears to hear and not to forbear. The Hebrew word for forbear in
Ez. 1:7 is chadal, which refers to just sitting and doing nothing. When I begin, in any area of my life, to allow pride to rule, send your word and open my ears that I may hear and act on what I hear. Let my love and gratitude for You guard my heart against bitterness and rebellion.
...And on a side note...notice that even God, the perfect and omnipotent ruler of the universe had disobedient and rebellious children. While we are far from perfect, and sometimes our own poor choices affect our children, even what we consider model parenting sometimes yields rebellious offspring. Though we may fail in certain aspects of our parenting, each person makes his own choices and is responsible to God for those choices. God's great grace is powerful enough to cover our failures and to soften the hard hearts of rebellious and bitter children. Don't give up on them!