Idolatrous Traditions; July 31, 2017

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.)

We don’t know Hezekiah’s history before he became king, except that he didn’t ascend to the throne until he was 25. Perhaps that gave him a little more maturity than some of his predecessors. In any case, he was dedicated to the Lord rather than to tradition, and that is something we certainly need to emulate even today. Verse 5 says he trusted the Lord and verse 6 says he obeyed all the laws of Moses, so he certainly didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. However, it took a lot of courage to destroy the bronze snake Moses had made, in addition to destroying all the other objects of folk religion that were leading the people astray. In some ways that would be equivalent to attacking the liberal agenda today, that has led so many people away from the principles on which America was founded. That should give an indication of the level of resistance Hezekiah probably encountered. Genuinely following God takes courage, sometimes toward enemies but sometimes toward the people you are leading. The matter of the bronze snake stands out here. There were doubtless logical, pious protests against its destruction, but Hezekiah recognized that it was an object that had come to be worshiped, and that by definition made it an idol. I preached not long ago on “Idols of the Heart,” and I don’t need to repeat that here. We are all too prone to let things, be they objects, people, or traditions, usurp the place in our hearts and minds that belongs only to God. Hezekiah was right on.

It’s interesting that this is coming up again right now. I need to be careful that the land next to the church isn’t an idol in my own thinking, since we have desired it for 19 years now. I need to be careful that the approval of people isn’t a higher priority in my heart than the approval of God. I need to be alert to anything that pulls my heart, my devotion, away from God, especially those things that seem admirable or even pious in themselves. For example, my daily devotional time is meaningful only as it connects me to my Lord. When it becomes a goal in and of itself, it is impinging on “idol” territory. I want my life and this church to be dedicated to Christ alone, and not be distracted by anything else.

Father, You know me better than I know myself. You know my genuine priorities better than I do. Keep me dedicated to You and Your kingdom and righteousness, not pulled away by anything else. May we as a church walk in total obedience, allowing You to use us however You please, drawing many into Your kingdom for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!


About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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