Nehushtan

Nehushtan

Hezekiah broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the sons of Israel burned incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan. – 2 Kings 18:4

Ezekiel 14:3-6

 3 “Son of man, these leaders have set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin. Why should I listen to their requests?

 4 Tell them, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: The people of Israel have set up idols in their hearts and fallen into sin, and then they go to a prophet asking for a message. So I, the LORD, will give them the kind of answer their great idolatry deserves.

 5 I will do this to capture the minds and hearts of all my people who have turned from me to worship their detestable idols.’

 6 “Therefore, tell the people of Israel, ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent and turn away from your idols, and stop all your detestable sins.

People like to worship stuff. However, most of us do not consider ourselves idol worshipers. We scoff at the very notion that we worship idols. “Idols?” “What, I have no idols!” A very common notion is that idol worship is something done by ignorant, ancient peoples who prostrated themselves before some dumb, lifeless, carved images that they wrongly believed were deity. Surely, I would never worship a physical object as a god!

The Father provided strong directives concerning idolatry in the first two of the ten commandments. He knew that they would be an ongoing problem for us.

Deuteronomy 5:7-9

 7 “‘You shall have no other gods before me.

 8 “‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth.

 9 You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I the LORD your God am a jealous God,

What is an idol? Webster defined idolatry as “the worship of a physical object as a god.” We need to expand our thinking a bit to get this right. An idol is anything we put before the Father in our heart. We make idols out of things we cherish. It could be our quest for success, a person, a pet, a hobby, an athletic group,  an idea, social media, a car, a boat, and addictive behavior or even ourselves. Yes, people worship themselves and they worship their heroes.

In order for the people to escape death from fiery serpents in the wilderness, The Father instructed Moses to make a bronze serpent (Numbers 21:4-9).  Once it served its purpose, rather than discarding it, the people chose to keep it and they placed it in the Ark of the Covenant.

Although it was a lifeless, useless relic, it became an object of worship, an idol. This is a simple case of a good thing morphing into a bad thing. The Hebrew word Nehushtan meant a bronze serpent, or simply a piece of bronze, a brass thing.

When Hezekiah became king, he purged the land of idols and ordered the destruction of the Nehushtan, because the people had made this 700-year-old fetish into an object of worship. To get right with the Father, we need to take a personal inventory, examine what we rank before the Father in importance and purge our lives of our idols.

1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall.

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick.

REFLECT & PRAY

When we take something made to be good and turn it into something vile, it is time to get rid of it entirely (Stanley).

Father yes, my heart is indeed deceitful and wicked. Protect me from self-deception. A person who is deceived, does not know that they are deceived.

INSIGHT

But there is a far worse kind of idol than a physical one made of stone, wood, or precious metal. There many “false gods” lurking in our hearts of which we are not aware. They do not stand on outward pedestals, but rather on the inward pedestals we erect for them in our hearts.

The Father requires exclusive allegiance, not merely outward but more importantly inward. The Father warned ancient Israel against “idols in their hearts” (Ezekiel 14). Idols of the heart initially, imperceptibly separated them from the Father and then smoothed their slide into sin and lawlessness.

Ezekiel 14:3 [They] set up idols in their hearts. They have embraced things that will make them fall into sin.

For the people of Israel there was a subtle irony lurking right beneath the surface. Little or nothing had changed in their outward allegiance to the Lord. But they were suffering from heart disease. Their souls were becoming lean.

The very things that these people believed were doing them good, were actually harming them. Instead of spurning erroneous thinking and beliefs, they embraced them. It was their downfall. Do you have any old pieces of bronze or brass to unload? Reflect and search for any concealed Nehushtan that might be lingering in your heart. Ask the Father to help you identify it.

Proverbs 28:26 He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but he who walks wisely will be delivered.

Obadiah 1:3 The arrogance of your heart has deceived you.

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