In the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. 3 He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father David had done. 4 He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.) (2 Kings 18:1-4)
- Ahaz (Hezekiah’s father) did not do “what was right in the eyes of the Lord.” Where / how did Ahaz learn to do right, as David had done?
- What Ahaz did “right:” removed high places, destroyed the sacred stones and Asherah poles (Asherah was a mother goddess), and broke the bronze snake from the Exodus that Moses had made
- The people were worshiping at high places, worshiping Asherah, and even worshiped the snake from Moses’ day
It is so easy to get confused about God. Not to excuse them, but the poor folks whom Hezekiah begins to lead got it close in the worship of Nehushtan, the bronze snake. In Numbers 21, the people had sinned and God sent poisonous snakes among them as judgment. God told Moses to make a bronze snake and all who looked up at the snake lived. Over time, it appears, people came to worship the snake itself rather than the God whose deliverance it signified.
How often do I worship God’s blessing rather than God? How easy it is to be passionate, protective about a blessing that God has given as if it were God instead. To confuse the reminder of God’s goodness for God, the testimony to God’s mercy for the Giver of Mercy.
I don’t want to worship (or fret over or defend or obsess about) a blessing of God that then gets in the way of God, that blocks my view of Christ.
Lord, you delivered Israel from the serpents by giving them a sign that pointed to you. And then in Hezekiah you delivered them from their worship of the sign. Deliver me today from the same idolatry – may I not worship the good that you have done for me but you who gave it, not the faith I have but the object of that faith, your son, Jesus. Amen.