[King Hezekiah] 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 (NIV)
Wendy and I had the joy of visiting a local high school yesterday to provide feedback on two student theatre pieces on their way to All-State contests this weekend. It was so much fun for us.
Before leaving, we got into a conversation with one of the teachers regarding the ways individuals get offended and bent out of shape by different things. It’s not unusual. In the years that I was President of our local community theatre, I got to field many calls and personal visits from people who were offended by this or that.
One of the things that I observed amidst the anger and the criticism I listened to is that people sometimes hold the most unusual things personally sacred – things I would never expect.
I’ve experienced the same with church. I remember once getting into hot water because the ratty, old, falling-apart King James pew bibles were replaced with new pew bibles in a more modern translation. The ratty, old, falling-apart bibles had become sacred to someone.
In today’s chapter, we begin the story of ancient King Hezekiah of Judah. As the author lists all of the things Hezekiah did to abolish idolatry in the kingdom, he mentions that people had been burning incense to a most unusual object.
Around 750 years before Hezekiah, Moses was leading the Hebrew tribes out of slavery in Egypt. Snakes were biting and killing the wandering tribes. God told Moses to make a snake on a pole out of bronze and anyone bitten by a snake could look at it and they would live. Fast forward to the days of Hezekiah (a time when snake worship was common), and individuals had begun worshipping the bronze pole rather than the God who miraculously used it for a specific purpose at a specific point in time to address a specific situation.
In the quiet this morning, I am simply reminded of the human tendency to make certain things sacred and worship them. I’ve observed people making sacred and worshipping homes, buildings (especially churches), children (deceased or living), ancestors, traditions (lots of these), memories, treasures, celebrities, hobbies, clothes, cars, et cetera.
It is especially easy for me to do exactly as the people of Hezekiah’s day had done. I can hold certain trappings of religion more sacred than the living God to which those trappings are supposed to point me.
So, what do I hold sacred? Are there things, other than God, that I actually worship without thinking about it in those terms?
If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.
Note: The featured image on today’s post was created with Wonder AI