Tuesday, September 22, 2009

It even had a name!

"(Hezekiah) broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it, it was called Nehushtan."
(2 Kings 18:4)

So there's this interesting story in Numbers 21 about a time Moses was with the Israelites in the wilderness.  They were being even more "whiny" than usual, complaining about everything... so God sent a bunch of poisonous snakes into camp.  THAT sure got their attention!  People got really sick and looked to Moses to help save them.  Mo took it to God, and God suggested he make a bronze serpent... put it on a pole... and lift it high up in the air.  Then whenever someone gets bit by a snake, they can gave upon the bronze one, and God would heal them.

Well, over time, it seems this became an 'idol' in the land.  What had started as a symbolic reminder of God's healing power became a god to the people - they made offerings to it and even gave the snake a name: Nehushtan!  (Note: the serpent was also one of the symbols of the Ba'al religion of the neighboring Canaanites!)

I wonder if we've co-opted another one of God's symbolic reminders of Him today: the cross.  It also was used for healing - as Jesus was lifted high on the cross for all to see... and when we gaze upon his crucifixion with reverence, our sins are forgiven.  But Jesus should be the focus, not the cross.  Sometimes I think we in the church have come to elevate the cross even above Jesus!  It's easy to connect to a visible object like a cross.  We can put them no our walls, our desks, in our cars, around our necks, etc.  An yet, God calls us into a relationship with Him - not a cross.  Plus, unlike an inanimate object like a cross, Jesus actually impacts our life.  No more idols... (even Christian ones!).

No comments: