Sunday, May 01, 2005

What's Your Brazen Serpent?

Occassionally I want to bring you something from my friend, Robert Fitts.
Robert always challenges me with his messages. I hope he challenges you too. More tomorrow. I'm dealing with some strong issues and conviction right now and what I really want to do is just close myself off.
by Robert Fitts

It is altogether possible that you have a Nehushtan in your life. If you do, you need to deal with it in the same way that King Hezekiah dealt with it. He broke it in pieces.

But what is a Nehushtan? For the people of God in II Kings 18 it was a brazen serpent. For you and me it is something else, but it is still a Nehushtan. The meaning of the word is "An unclean thing."

To understand the spiritual impact of this we must go to the book of Numbers. In chapter 21 we read of the judgment of God upon the Israelites because of their constant complaining about their circumstances. (Take note, complainers) The Lord sent fiery serpents among them, many were bitten and many died. The people cried out to Moses and Moses prayed to the Lord for the people. God gave Moses instructions to make a brass serpent and put it on a pole in the middle of the camp where all could see it and said, "Everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, shall live." The intent of the word "look" is not a casual glance but an attentive, expectant, steady and absorbing gaze. And so it was that if any were bitten, when they looked at the brass ser­pent, they were healed.

Now there was certainly nothing evil about looking at the brass serpent in that way within the context of that pressing need. It was God's means of deliverance in answer to the prayer of Moses. But we read in II Kings 18 that, many years later, the people were burning incense to that brass serpent and looking to it as some sort of fetish. They had made it a little brass god and had their attention focused on it instead of on the living God. Hezekiah turned his fierce anger on it the same as he had done to all their idols.

God has had to deal with Nehushtans in my life. Some years ago I began to experience the release and power that fasting will bring to our lives as believers. That was OK. Then I got my eyes on fasting. It became a "thing" to me. I even got to the place where I didn't feel spiritual unless I was fasting. That was NOT OK!!!

I have had to "break in pieces" that Nehushtan in my life. Not that I no longer fast. I still fast but there was a long period of time in which I could not fast until I was able to see it in its proper light again.

God wants us to focus our attention on Him and not on some brass serpent that represents some aspect of truth or some means of His deliverance that happened in our past. He doesn't want us to build a shrine to anything. The first thing that Peter wanted to do when he saw Jesus transfigured on the mount was to "build three tabernacles . . . " The Lord rebuked Peter with a strong voice right out of heaven, saying, "This is my beloved son! HEAR HIM! God wants our focus of attention to be on JESUS, not even on an experience we have had with Jesus.
It seems we're continually trying to wrap something up in a neat little package so we can put it under our arm and say, "Look what I've got!" It is just too risky to put our trust in something we can't see or feel.

But God is cutting away all our outward props. He will deal severely with our false gods. Some people's Nehushtans are them­selves! Their focus and their trust is in their own strength, talents, intelligence and ingenuity. Others have their eyes on some plan or program. Still others have their confidence in their job, their company, their money, their reputation, their friends, their good looks, their charismatic personality, on and on.

God is very merciful and patient with us and will wait on us for a long time and with great tenderness, but the time will come when he will turn up the heat in order to burn off our lives all things that hinder our coming into the perfection of his plan for us. It is a painful, but "worth it all" experience. Will you pray this prayer with me? "Lord, be relentless with me! Please don't give up on me until I'm thoroughly purged from all things that defile or that grieve your Holy Spirit. And don't give in for my crying. Amen."

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