If you haven't read, Be Lifted High, please take a moment to read it before reading this post. This post is a continuation of Be Lifted High.
This snake came to be known as Nehushtan. The Israelites worshiped the image of the bronze snake and burned incense to it. They worshiped what their hands created and the power of the image instead of the One who gave the image it's power. It was King Hezekiah that destroyed the adulterous image for the people burned incense to Nehushtan in the temple of God. For God never intended the image by which men are saved to be worshiped but only the One through whom we are saved. It was God who gave the image it's power and it was His grace that provided the means of escaping death. The image should have been a constant reminder of the Israelites sin in the wilderness and the consequences of their rebellion. But instead the image lured them further into idolatry.
The LORD said to Moses, "Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live." So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by the snake and looked at the bronze snake, he lived. Numbers 21:8-9
What is idolatry? In the book, Counterfeit Gods, Tim Keller gives us this definition of idolatry, An idol is something that we look to for things that only God can give. Idolatry functions widely inside religious communities when doctrinal truth is elevated to the position of a false god. This occurs when people rely on the rightness of doctrine for their standing faith with God rather than on God himself and his grace. It is a subtle but deadly mistake. Page 131. Tim Keller gives us further insight into the meaning of idolatry when he states, "Sin isn't only doing bad things, it is more fundamentally making good things into ultimate things. Sin is building your life and meaning on anything, even a very good thing, more than on God." Talking about Idolatry in a Postmodern Age
We commit idolatry when we burn our incense to religion and moralism instead of to Jesus, who did what we could not do for ourselves. We nullify His death when we base our salvation on what we do, instead of what has been done on our behalf. We bow down to the false god of moralism when we trust in our good deeds and our ability to perform as the means of salvation rather than place our trust in Jesus, who being in the very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-even death on a cross! Therefore God exulted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow in heaven, and on earth and under the earth and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:6-11
This truth is what separates Christianity from every other world religion. It is because sinless perfection wrapped himself in humanity and did what we could not do for ourselves, shedding His holy blood for the forgiveness of sin. It was at His death that religion died and with His resurrection, death conquered and grace triumphant. W
hen we burn our incense to lesser things, we are in fact exchanging the truth of God for a lie worshiping and serving created things rather than the Creator, who is forever to be praised. Romans 1:25.