Broken Beyond Healing
Robert Wurtz II
He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing. (Proverbs 29:1 ESV)
He that is often corrected, yet remains stubborn and obstinate, shall suddenly be broken. The emphasis in the passage is on suddenness. “We must think first not of actual punishment, but of chastening, reproving words; and the man to whom are spoken the reproving words is one whose conduct merits more and more severe censure, and continually receives correction from those who are concerned for his welfare. The door of repentance, to which earnest, well-meant admonition calls a man, does not always remain open. He who with stiff-necked persistence in sin and in self-delusion sets himself in opposition to all endeavours to save his soul, shall one day suddenly, and without the prospect and possibility of restoration (cf. Jeremiah 19:11), become a wreck.” (KD)
The steps to stiff-necked
Recently a young woman was brought before one of our courts on a drug charge. Rather than taking the charge and the court seriously, she behaved in a most flippant and disrespectful manor. At first she was giddy, but as the judge reproved her for her silliness she became increasingly angry, disrespectful and hateful. She seemed to be unconcerned by the fact that the judge had the power to place her in jail suddenly. At last she received a higher bond for her actions at which time she turned and gestured to the judge and cursed him at the same time. This drew a criminal contempt charge and she was given 30 days in the county jail. She went away still acting out all the more. It was this event that passed before my mind in prayer last evening that God used to speak to my heart.
Breaking the rebellion
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, but rebellion is a very foolish and dangerous attitude. The Bible warns repeatedly about it and even likens it to witchcraft and adds that obstinacy is as iniquity and idolatry. It is rooted in pride, the most noxious of all sins. It is the attitude of Lucifer who exalted himself above the star’s of God and sought to be like God. It manifests at an early age and if not dealt with will grow into a monstrous, uncontrollable menace to everyone. The attitude? “I will not bow the knee! Not to authorities and not to God.” God systematically works to break this spirit (attitude) in a person. It is the very first step that we must all take towards God. Let me say plainly that the reason many people never get on with God is because they have come to Him for salvation, but have never really bowed the knee. They refuse to acknowledge Him for who He really is; choosing rather to behave as the young woman in court. They are oblivious to the fact that Jesus said, “But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.'” (Luke 19:27)
Turning the temperature up
The bellows are burned, the lead is melted by the fire; the refiner melts in vain; for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver they call them, because Jehovah has rejected them. (Jeremiah 6:29-30)
Our passage deals with what is effectively an experiment that God is desperately conducting upon His people. Like a person suffering from a terminal disease and are not responding to any treatment, these people are long enduring the goodness and chastening of God who seeks to remedy their rebellion. He turns the temperature up higher and higher and still the wicked are not plucked away. There is no change. Finally, the bellows that is used to fan the flames catches fire and burns up. At that point it is realized that there is no hope. Reprobate silver they call them, because Jehovah has rejected them. (Jeremiah 6:30) They, being often reproved, remained obstinate (stiff-necked) and there was nothing left to do but reject them. It is the saddest of affairs. “The trial of the people has brought about no purification, no separation of the wicked ones. The trial is viewed under the figure of a long-continued but resultless process of smelting.” (K&D)
A sobering question
What’s it gonna take to see some folks leave off the rebellious obstinate attitude that they go on displaying before God? He chastens and they only grow angrier and more hate-filled. They will do almost anything before they will bow the knee before their God. Time is running out. With each passing day the heart grows harder and more difficult to reach. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” So then each one of us will give account concerning himself to God. (Romans 14:11-12) God is going to bring to light the hidden counsels of the hearts of all men and in that day there will be no cover; no hiding place. No excuses. No blaming this person or that person. No blaming our circumstances. By the time we get before the Great White Throne, God will have already thoroughly displayed the faithful who humbled themselves and persevered under similar or worse circumstances than we went through. What will it take to make a change? Men and women are as silver in the smelting pot. The fire is growing ever hotter and the lead is running out.