2 Kings 18:3-4 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. 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 Nehushtan.
Hezekiah was a tender 25 years old when he became king of Judah. I was twenty five once, not so long ago, and I remember the zeal that I possessed – or maybe it possessed me. Hezekiah was like that too. As he was growing up, he probably saw what the kings before him had done and was doing. The best summary of their deeds would be this: they did evil in the sight of the Lord. And seeing this, he was likely saying to himself, “I can’t wait to become king. And when I do, I will correct all that is wrong and sinful to God.”
And that he did.
We are told that Hezekiah “removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars”. These places of worship were not sacred to the Gentiles; they were sacred to the Israelites. By today’s standard, what Hezekiah did would be career suicide. Over night, he became the most unpopular guy in town; perhaps even “public enemy number one”. However, Hezekiah did not care what others thought of him. He only cared what God thought and felt. If God was happy, they would be happy. And Hezekiah was absolutely right.
In the church today, there are too much politicking. So much so that what really matters is not what God thinks but what other people thinks. The opinions of men are elevated above the Word of God. This is the downfall of the church.
Hezekiah also “cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses made”. Notice that it does not say “wooden images” but only “wooden image”. Just as there was only one bronze serpent, there was only one “wooden image”. We are not clear what that is but it certainly held great significance to the people. We know what the “bronze serpent” is. It was that which Moses made by the instruction of God to ward off the snakes that God had released upon the people as a punishment for their sin. And, according to God’s word, all those who looked upon the bronze serpent that Moses made will be saved even though they had been bitten by the serpents.
But what began as a holy instrument to save later became (or was made into) an object of sin – idolatry. How many times has this happened? That is why God had to constantly send fearless men and women to spark a new movement that takes the people of God away from the standing traditions and toward God. Martin Luther led God’s people away from the the salvation by works and towards justification by faith. John Wesley led God’s people away from lukewarm Christianity toward discipleship and the Lordship of Christ. What do you think we need to be led away from today?
The “bronze serpent” was not only worshipped by the Israelites, it was also given a name: Nehushtan, which simply means “the bronze thing”. Herein is a lesson for all of us. Once you are able to name something, there is a risk of it becoming an idol. After all, every idol has a name.
Christianity has invented and developed many things from methods of ministry (such as Inner Healing, Deliverance Ministry) to church models (such as the Cell-Church and the Seeker-Sensitive Church). All these things are in danger of being turned into idols by Christians. I am not implying that there is anything wrong with these things. There is nothing wrong with being sensitive to those who are seeking, and being organized. But how does it help to institutionalize it. Truth be told: it harms more than it helps. In the end, the faith of God’s people is no longer on God alone but on these idols. And instead of pointing people to God, these idols point people to itself.