Go For The Gold
Go For The Gold
2 Kings 18:4 (KJV)
4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brazen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
Nehushtan = “a thing of brass”
This was the serpent that God had Moses make at the time of, yet again, the complaining of the Israelites. They were complaining of the direction they were traveling, Moses being ruler over them and lack of water. They were also complaining about the manna that God gave them to eat every day. As a result God sent a judgment of serpents to chastise the people.
When enough of the people were bitten, they realized that they had messed up. They went to Moses to tell him of their sin against him and against God. They asked him to go to God and ask that the punishment be removed. Moses did so and God gave him instructions on what to do. Have a brass serpent made and place it on a pole and have it placed in the middle of camp. Then anyone who was bitten by a snake, began to put their attention on the serpent placed in the middle of camp they did not die. (Numbers 21:4-9 KJV)
This in itself is not a problem. But the text from 2 Kings says that in the course of the years after that affair, something had gone wrong. People had begun to worship to the brazen serpent. They were burning incense to it. The item had to go.
The people had forgotten why the brass serpent came to be in the first place. As a way of keeping the punishment of death from taking place. Their eyes had gone from the creator to something created. By doing that can cause problems that we may not see coming.
That is what happens to many of us during the week. We go to church on Sundays, Wednesdays, or Saturdays and give God everything we have. Then as the other days hit we tend to give him far less. That is not to say we don’t try or that all of us do this. But humans being humans, we tend to forget the most important thing when we “don’t” have to.
We promise that we are going to get up early and do a devotion in the morning. Or we are going to stay up later and do it. But the next morning comes and we grab the paper instead of the Bible. We turn on the TV to our favorite news program. Or the day was just to stressful, but tomorrow morning we will get the devotion done. But God gets pushed to the back burner. Then when we do take the time to spend with God, we try to cram it all in to one sitting. Then we get overwhelmed and tend to give up this time.
Peter had a similar problem. But let me first defend him. At least he got out of the boat and did what Jesus was doing. The other eleven disciples did not. Matthew 14:22 (KJV)
Matthew 14:22-33 (KJV)
22 And straightway Jesus constrained his disciples to get into a ship, and to go before him unto the other side, while he sent the multitudes away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone. 24 But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary. 25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea. 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt? 32 And when they were come into the ship, the wind ceased. 33 Then they that were in the ship came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God.
Peter had taken his eyes off Jesus and began to sink into the water. He allowed the waves and the wind to take his focus off of where it belonged.
I had a Sunday School teacher ask a question of us one time. That question was:
“What is your NEHUSHTAN?”
In effect he was asking us, “What have you placed in front of your relationship with God?”
We all tend to have them. Maybe it is just a small thing. But to God that does not matter. Anything that comes before him is nothing more than an idol. TV, radio, computer, girlfriend, boyfriend, sports and the list goes on. Are these things wrong in and of themselves? No. We can get important information from the TV, radio, computer and many other types of media.
But what about when a movie comes on at a time that you are supposed to be in church? What about that concert you heard about on the radio? Or you can’t go to church because your favorite magazine came in the mail and you have to read all of it that night. Many people would not go to church. We place God in second place. And God does not take second place to anyone or anything. The Bible itself tells us how he feels about taking second place.
Exodus 20:5 (KJV)
5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
But what he was also saying here is this:
Exodus 20:3-4 (KJV)
3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. 4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
We are not to make idols to worship. We are not to make a likeness of any created thing to worship. Nowadays we may not worship a tree, rabbit, hawk, fish or what have you. But we do tend to worship things that we are not supposed to worship.
We start to settle for the inferior things. In effect we settle for things that are made of brass. Brass when it is shined and buffed gives the impression that it is gold. But the truth is, it is not. We push God aside for the things that he has created.
Romans 1:25 (KJV)
25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.
We see this everywhere. Churches don’t have an evening service on Super Bowl Sunday due to almost everyone stays home to watch the game. Churches don’t have a Wednesday night service because hardly anyone shows up due to being too tired to go from a long day of work. I can’t go to church because I have to work on my car. And it goes on and on.
We allow too many things to take the place of God. We remove him from his throne and place ourselves in it. Is this thought new? No. Satan started it at some unknown time in the past.
Isaiah 14:11-15 (KJV)
11 Thy pomp is brought down to the grave, and the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. 12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. 15 Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.
Ezekiel 28:12-15 (KJV)
12 Son of man, take up a lamentation upon the king of Tyrus, and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Thou sealest up the sum, full of wisdom, and perfect in beauty. 13 Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. 14 Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15 Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.
He even used the same thinking in the garden of eden.
Genesis 3:1-5 (KJV)
1 Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die. 4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
Satan does not really care what we put on God’s throne as long as it is not God. He wants us to settle for the brass object or nehushtan. He wants to stay home and not go to church. He wants us to follow a preacher instead of God. He wants us to stay home and watch the ball game on Sunday. He whispers in our ear that we will be ok.
But God is trying to give us the better things. He is trying to give us the things made of gold. But we throw it away reach for the brass instead. God tries to give us himself and we tell him we are not interested. We don’t want the creator. We want his creation. He frees his people from Egypt and they want to return. He promises them their own land and they want to return.
We need to get our priorities right. We need to get ourselves and anything else off of God’s throne. We need to put him back on it. We need to be like Peter that brave enough and bold enough to say, “Let me come out there where you are”. We need to be willing to go when he gives us the permission.
We need to let go of the things made of brass and go for the gold as Paul says that did.
Philippians 3:12-16 (KJV)
12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
We need to take our eyes off of the things of this world. We have to place our eyes on Jesus Christ. Otherwise we will sink and the cares of this world will bury us. The throne belongs to God and God alone. We have no business in it. We have to “forget” about all the other things that we allow to grab our attention. We have to reach with everything we have to get those things that God has for us. Reach for the gold and leave the brass behind. Press toward the more excellent prize.