Elevating a Snake

The importance of understanding the commandments of God cannot be overstated. The fact that we should be fastidious about doing what He wants is born out in example after example. Nevertheless, even in our sincerity, we can make more of something than God intends and that is just plain dangerous.

Peter experienced what it was like to walk on the wrong side of God when Jesus began to reveal the Master’s Plan, which included a cross; Peter respectfully disagreed. When he took Jesus aside and attempted to correct His “misconception,” Jesus rebuffed him sternly: “Get behind me Satan” (Matthew 16:23). Not what you would call a gentle correction but an indicator of how upsetting it is to God when what He has revealed is twisted into something ungodly.

It is not a new thing to see people’s exuberance outrun their obedience, like that odd reference that comes up at the beginning of King Hezekiah’s reign. His first order of business was getting back to God, which cannot be done with divided religious loyalties. So, along with all the false idols, “He removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan” (2 Kings 18:4, emp. JDS). Really? The bronze serpent, which the snake-bit, rebellious Israelites had to look upon in order not to die (Numbers 21:4-9)? It was not only still around but had been turned into an object of worship. All those years and a lot if ignoring God had turned an image He had created for a particular purpose into an idol.

Turning what God requires into more than God intended has no Divine authority. More, less or different concerning God’s directives is certain spiritual death. As Hezekiah attempted to turn people back to God, he did two things that will solve any false way or worship, even today. (1) He trusted God (2 Kings 18:5). God knows all things. He is always clear and concise. He never asks what we are not able to give. There is no excuse for adding to, taking away or changing what God has revealed. (2) He obeyed God’s commandments and he did not depart from them (2 Kings 18:6). Where God has spoken, His is the final word, no ifs, ands or buts; and no excuses.

Because King Hezekiah followed God so meticulously, “The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went” (2 Kings 18:7). Our abundant life begins and ends with understanding the commitment we must have to God and His commandments. Any revision of His revelation is elevating a snake.

Jeff Sweeten