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Sunday, June 5, 2022

Worshiping a Memory: 2 Kings 18:4

 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 18:4

Someone reading this for the first time might wonder why Moses made a bronze snake in the first place. Numbers 21:4-5 gives us the background: 

They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea, to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

Rather than looking to God for help [remember God had parted the waters and they had passed through the sea on dry land, a great miracle], they began to [1] get impatient– God was not working on their timeline and [2] began to complain, looking at their lack of provisions rather than looking to their Provider. To help them refocus, God sends the snakes, but also sends the remedy: He tells Moses to make a snake of bronze and put it on a pole; all who would look on the pole would be healed. Moses does and God keeps His promise healing all those who would look.  “So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” [Number 21:9] 

Fast forward several hundred years and the people of God had begun worship the bronze snake. What had been a reminder of God’s grace and provision for their sin had become an object of worship in and of itself. Rather than remembering the lesson of God’s forgiveness and provision for their complaining and not looking to God as their Provider, they had begun to worship the memory of the occasion focusing on the object that symbolized it all.

As we review all the great things that God has done in the past, we can easily slip into worshiping the memory of a great work of God and delighting more in being a part of it than focusing on God who was the source of the great work. 

We recently “retired” from teaching [though we will still teach some in a limited capacity] and also celebrated 48 of married life. While reading the above passage this morning in my devotional time, God reminded me that as I recall the great and wonderful things that He has done over the years, I must closely guard my heart in delighting in the memory of the feelings and what others might have said at that time more than focusing on our loving God who was the source of it all. 

The next time you read about Moses and the bronze snake, let this be a reminder to you as well. 



  1. I love what you said about remembering all the amazing things God has done. Not just historically but personally as well. That is so important for me because I can get caught up in remembering all of the incredible blessings he has bestowed upon me, and forget to acknowledge all the blessings he has bestowed upon man from the very beginning. Thank you so much for your post. I just found you quite by accident and am so excited to read more of your posts. I wish you posted more frequently. May you and your family stay well and may God bless you and keep you. Natalie

  2. Natalie: Thank you for the kind words. I pray you find encouragement in the other posts as well. You can do a search for topics or scan down at the bottom to see what topics are covered. Blessings, Ed