07/18/18 Idolatry and a Snake

READING: 2 Kings 18:1-8, 2 Chronicles 29-31, Psalm 48

“He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made.”

2 Kings 18:4 

Today’s reading tells us that the Hebrews made an idol of the bronze serpent Moses had set up in the wilderness to heal the people from poisonous snake bites (Num. 21:4-9). God had given that direction so the people would have life, but they later set up the snake as their own god. Perhaps following the lead of Canaanites who worshiped snakes as gods of fertility, they idolized what God had given them for their good. It was only the intervention of Hezekiah that halted that idolatry: “he removed the high places, shattered the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake that Moses made, for until then the Israelites were burning incense to it” (2 Kgs. 18:4). Apparently, the bronze serpent had no power to prevent it from being destroyed.

Before I condemn the people, however, I must admit that I sometimes follow their lead. I take the blessings God has given me – at times, the very things God has given me for my good – and turn them into my own idols. The parallels with the bronze snake in Moses’ time are hardly exact, but the wickedness of the human heart still rings true. I’ve idolized my education at times. And my possessions, like my home. And my job, both as a pastor and a professor. And my own plans. . . .  And, I regret that I could probably continue the list. God has blessed me, and I’ve turned the blessings into idols. 

I may be wrong, but I suspect I am not the only one who has done so. May God help all of us to worship Him alone. 


  • Spend some time determining whether you’ve elevated any of God’s gifts into an idol. If so, confess and repent. 
  • Ask God to protect you from that tendency in the future. 

PRAYER: “Lord, I can be an idolater. Please forgive me.”