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Jun
13

Worshiping Nehushtan

By

Spring

Last week I was reading about King Hezekiah’s religious reforms in 2 Kings and came across this interesting verse. “(Hezekiah) removed the sacred pillars, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke up the bronze serpent that Moses had made because the people of Israel had been offering sacrifices to it. The bronze serpent was called Nehushtan” (2 Kings 18:4, NLT) Interesting!

The story of the bronze serpent is found in Numbers 21:4-9. During their wilderness wanderings the Israelites complained against God and Moses about their lack of water and the limited variety of their diet. God punished them by sending poisonous snakes into their camp. When many of the people were bitten and died, the people repented and asked Moses to intercede on their behalf. God did not take the snakes away. Instead, he instructed Moses to create a replica of the serpent and place it on a pole. When someone was bitten, they could look at the serpent on the pole and live (cf. John 3:14-15). For nearly 700 years the Israelites had kept the serpent on the pole, eventually bringing it out of storage and sacrificing to it as an object of worship.

The greatest mistake we can make in worship is to demand that our likes, preferences and tastes be met to the exclusion of God. If there are elements of worship that we “have to have” in order to connect with God, we could be guilty of creating functional idols. There is a difference between being a worshiper and being a consumer of worship. Worshipers focus on God, while consumers focus on themselves.

Back in the 1990’s, Soul Survivor Church in Warford, England, was facing such a challenge. The pastor of the congregation was concerned about the apathy that had developed in the congregation. Fearing the church was unintentionally creating consumers of worship, he pulled the plug on the worship band and the sound system for a season of time. For weeks the church worshiped with only their voices. Eventually the instruments were introduced back into the service, but not until the church had learned a valuable lesson from the experience. Reflecting on what had happened, worship leader Matt Redman wrote the following lyrics:

When the music fades
and all has slipped away
and I simply come.
Longing just to be
something that’s of worth
that will bless Your heart.

I’ll bring You more than a song,
for a song in itself
is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within,
through the way things appear,
Your looking into my heart.

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
and its all about You, its all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
when its all about You, its all about You, Jesus.

King of endless worth,
no one could express
how much you deserve.
Though I’m weak and poor,
all I have is Yours,
every single breath!

I’ll bring You more than a song,
for a song in itself
is not what You have required.
You search much deeper within,
through the way things appear,
Your looking into my heart.

I’m coming back to the heart of worship
and its all about You, its all about You, Jesus.
I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
when its all about You, its all about You, Jesus.

If you feel as though you’ve lost your way in worship, perhaps its time to smash your Nehushtan. It could be time for you to rethink what worship is really about, or better said, to rethink who worship is really about.

Categories : Worship

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