In the biblical book of Numbers 21:4-9, the story is told of how the Israelites complained against the Lord’s care for them. In response, the Lord sent ‘fiery serpents among the people’ so that some of them died. Moses was told to build a bronze pole with a bronze serpent upon it and when the people looked on it, they would be healed (our medical culture has kept this picture – ever noticed the snake on a pole icon on the exterior of many ambulances?).

In John 3, as Jesus conversed with a curious Nicodemus, He referred to that bronze pole. He said: ‘And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life’ (John 3:14-15). Just as the bronze pole was the object that people looked upon for salvation, so now is the object of our salvation Jesus upon the cross.

Yet, that bronze pole is mentioned in another place in Scripture. As I spent time in God’s Word this morning, I came across 2 Kings 18:4 where it tells how King Hezekiah ‘…broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it…” The bronze serpent was never intended to be the object of worship like Jesus. It was simply to be used on that one occasion for people to gaze upon and be healed. Yet, humanity once again distorted the act of worship and worshipped the created things rather than the Creator.

Do you think we aren’t plagued with this today? Think again. The reason why so many churches are dying (many of them need to) is because those showing up for ‘worship’ are more focused upon the created thing than the Creator. I could go into great detail but the root problem is this: God is not moving powerfully in many of our churches these days and not too many folks are bothered by that fact. We read the book of Acts and see how those few Christians turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6) and then look at our present church culture and fail to see the disconnect. Yet, too few believers are actually praying for God to change this. Sunday after Sunday, folks are content to show up and go through the motions (worshipping worship) rather than crave to experience and obey God (worshipping God). As long as the song leader sings our favorite songs and the sermon doesn’t make us too uncomfortable and the seats/pews are reasonably comfortable, etc., we’ll go away happy that we’ve ‘worshipped.’

I’m thinking that some things need to die (much like Moses destroyed the bronze pole) but then we would really get people ticked. I wonder if the Israelites got ticked when Moses destroyed the bronze pole…