2Kings 18:4, “He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it.”
As humanity was created, they were created to worship God, glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. Unfortunately, the devastation of sin entered our world because of sin through a decision and action made by our first parents, Adam and Eve.
From that point, it would seem that our sin saturated hearts chief desire would be to worship and glorify ourselves and anything that would bring personal pleasure to our lives. We so naturally think about ourselves first, glory in ourselves, and reveal in ourselves even though we have the stench of sin as the human race and we are ever so comfortable in it. Think about this, “Does a fish know that its’ wet?” Humanity doesn’t realize that it is saturated in, apart from a supernatural dynamic conviction from the Holy Spirit of God. The man John Newton author of the ever popular song realized that he was a wretch before God, hence the line, “…that saved a wretch like me.” He went from mistreating slaves he transported, to becoming a slave for Christ (Romans 1:1, Ephesians 6:6). The things we may worship are the very things that God created. The Egyptians worshipped the false sun god Ra, yet failed to worship the God that created the sun. This is why the plagues of Egypt were as specific as the plagues were the very gods that they worshipped, and in their thinking, seemingly attacking them at the command of the God of Moses.
Can you imagine worshipping something that God instructed you to make for your healing? This is precisely what took place in the time of King Hezekiah (King of Judah) who did what was right in the Lord’s sight. He removed the high places of pagan worship, and cut down the wooden image of the Canaanite goddess Asherah. However what seemed to really be eye opening was the next idol that he destroyed to pieces, which was non-other than the bronze serpent that God commanded Moses to hold up in the wilderness to bring healing to those that were bitten by the epidemic of fiery serpents.
“Hezekiah broke the Nehushtan into pieces, i.e., the bronze snake made by Moses in the wilderness (Numbers 21:4–9), because Judah had come to worship it as an idol, perhaps influenced by Canaanite religion, which regarded snakes as fertility symbols (The MacArthur study Bible).” Israel was told to look upon it at that time, and because of their obedience and the goodness of God, God healed their infirmities that resulted previously from their own sin. Looking upon it never carried the notion to worship the bronze serpent which Israel did 700 years later. The focus of this was on the God that healed and not on the serpent itself. Instead of it being used as merely a symbol to recognize the goodness and provision of the Lord, Israel began to look at the serpent itself as a deity, and that was a call for its destruction. Destroying this relic was no small matter, as it had lasted, and been preserved for quite some time at this point, but a necessary step in Hezekiah cleansing the land of all idols, even one that although did not being as an idol, and used by Moses, had become an idol, and manipulated by the enemy to drive people away from the true worship of God. However this is such the nature of humanity. Paul reminds us of this fact that happened centuries later in Rome, “Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things (Romans 1:22).”
However, the bronze serpent, although destroyed because of the idolatrous worship that accompanied it, would be used as a symbol by Christ to bring glory to God. Jesus would refer the bronze serpent as a symbol of Himself. John wrote, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life” This Jesus would be lifted up (like the serpent in the wilderness) to bring healing to those bitten by the fiery serpent (Satan), however he would be broken just as he symbolized at the last supper when he said to His disciples, “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, “Take, eat; this is My body.” This Jesus was broken on the cross for our sins. We dare not glory in anything except the cross of Christ. We need not worship, as many do, the symbol of the cross as many look to the cross (as a symbol) without looking to the Christ of the Cross. People because of the evil of heart, and natural desire toward idolatry have used the cross as a relic to protect themselves from evil. Should a man speed down the highway, but because he has a cross hanging on his rearview mirror, expect to be spared from a traumatic accident? It is Christ that saves, not a symbol of Roman execution. Many were executed on the cross during Christ’s time, but it was only the Christ on the cross, that died and rose that gives hope eternal and full of glory.
All of our Christian symbols CANNOT replace the Christ of Christianity. Perhaps that is why we don’t have a picture of Him, because if we did many would worship the picture on Him, instead of Him. If you have been guilty of idolatry, then perhaps there are some things you need to break, remove, and throw away. Then repent to God, and put your trust in the Christ of Scripture. Read your Bible to learn about the Christ of Scripture, and obey the Christ of the Word of God. Then go out and preach in obedience the Christ that was lifted up, and under the conviction of the Holy Spirit He will draw others to Himself.
Until the nets are filled…
Phil Sessa, Evangelist (Soulfishing Ministries)