Nehushtan:The Thing of Brass

We all know what it is like to want to receive a good grade in school.  It was so important for us to receive credit for the work we had done.  Many times we would complete “extra-credit” work just to raise our grade?  Many times, acceptance in to a school of higher learning depends upon the grade we received in our previous years of study. The entire education system of our country is based on giving students the appropriate “credit” for the work they have done.

Even during a job search, our grade point average in High School and College can dictate the opportunities that will come open for our consideration.   For many of us, making sure we give and receive the proper credit for our actions has become a way of life.

Sorry to say, we may not be quite as careful about the credit that we give to our Lord for all He has done for us and in us.  How often do we find ourselves taking the credit for what He has done in our lives?  Our gifts, talents, personality, and intelligence come from Him.  How often do we accept praise for what He has given to us?  What about our health, the possessions we have, or the forgiveness of our sins?  How often do we stop and thank Him for all these blessings He has bestowed upon us?

The both Old and New Testament, the Bible records many different times when the Israelites forgot to give their Lord credit for what He had done in their lives.  Let’s look at one of those times, paying special attention to the results of their forgetfulness.

THE SCRIPTURE:

Num 21:4-9 And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way. And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for [there is] no bread, neither [is there any] water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.  And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

2 Kgs 18:1-5  Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, [that] Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.  Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also [was] Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.  And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.  He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.  He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor [any] that were before him.

John 3:9-16 Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?  Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?  Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.  If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you [of] heavenly things?  And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven.  And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:  That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.  For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

THE STUDY:

Num 21:4-9 (KJV)

4) And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.

5) And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for [there is] no bread, neither [is there any] water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.

They became discouraged, why?  They no longer appreciated all the Lord had done for them.

  1. He had delivered them from Egypt bondage
  2. He had given them manna
  3. He had given them water from the rock
  4. etc etc etc etc

6) And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.

The Lord simply took back one of His blessings (protection) because they were not appreciating them. Remember Job, God had placed a hedge about him and Satan had ot come to God to remove the hedge and work in Job’s lIfe.

7) Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.

The people come to realize they committed sin and this sin was an against to the Lord.  They understood their sin had separated them from communion with the Lord and asked that their godly leader would interceded on their behalf.

8) And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.

The Lord gave Moses the responsibility to make the brass serpent on a pole.  Then wjen they would look upon the serpent they would live.  The looking would be by faith.  It made no sense to look for healing.  Much like Noah building the ark, when there had been no such thing as rain.

9) And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.

Moses faithfully made the serpent/pole. And those who believed His message of salvation and acted upon it lived.

Based upon the Lord’s teachings in John 3:9-16, the serpent on the pole represented Christ and His work on the cross:

John 3:9-16 (KJV) 9) Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be? 10) Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things? 11) Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness. 12) If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you [of] heavenly things?  13) And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, [even] the Son of man which is in heaven. 14) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15) That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16) For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Remember, the serpents were the punishment of the people’s sins.  It is the punishment for our sins that Christ has borne when He hung on the cross for us.  That is why the serpent is hanging on the cross.  Christ, as He hung on the cross was putting to death the judgment for our sins. (1 Pet 2:21-24, 3:18, 2 Cor 5:21)

Just as we must look to Christ to receive forgiveness and salvation from sins punishment, so too, the Israelites were to look, by faith, to the coming Messiah who would take their sin upon Himself.

The really sad part of our account is that the Israelites forgot this lesson they had learned.  After all of this, once again they forgot to appreciate what their Lord had done for them…

2 Kgs 18

1) Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel, [that] Hezekiah the son of Ahaz king of Judah began to reign.

2) Twenty and five years old was he when he began to reign; and he reigned twenty and nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name also [was] Abi, the daughter of Zachariah.

3) And he did [that which was] right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that David his father did.

800 years has now passed since the Israelites were first confronted with the serpents in the wilderness. Hezekiah, the Godly king over the nation of Judah, sought to follow his ancestor David’s example and obey the Lord with all his heart.  Remember, King David was described by God as a “ man after mine own heart”. (Acts 13:22)

4) He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

One of the idols that the Israelites was worshipping was this brass pole with the serpent upon it.  As Hezekiah destroyed this pole, he called it Nehushtan… the thing of brass.

The Israelites had kept this remnant as a reminder of God’s deliverance from the serpents, as well as, the lesson they had learned about appreciating all that Jehovah had done for them.  It also should have been a reminder of their coming Messiah and what He would do on their behalf.  However, over the last 800 years, they had forgotten the blessings of God and the lesson they had learned.  Once again they no longer appreciated the workings of God but had turned this into an idol for idolatrous worship.

This was an abomination before God.

5) He trusted in the LORD God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor [any] that were before him.

Hezekiah was willing to do what many of the Kings of Judah were unwilling to do… destroy the false idols of the Israelites.  It was this faith in his Lord that made Hezekiah stand out among all the kings of Judah.

PRACTICAL APPLICATION:

For those who are saved …

Let’s not follow the example of the Israelites, who were overlooking the Lord’s blessings upon them.   By “counting our blessings” the Lord will continually be encouraging our hearts as we seek to serve Him.  (Psa 40:5)

For those who have yet to be saved…

The Great Lord of the Israelites is still intervening in the lives of people today.  No matter how we may have failed the Lord in the past, He is always ready to forgive and accept you into His family.  He will love you, care for you, and will guarantee you an eternity with Him.

All He requires is that we be willing to put our sinful walk of life behind us and trust Him with our salvation and our future lives.  Submit to His Lordship, turn from your sins and trust in Him… you will be saved.  “… The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.”

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About Rob Barkman

A retired pastor, Bible teacher and author of 20 years, he is currently ministering through Settled In Heaven Ministries. SIH Ministries is an on-line Bible teaching ministry that was founded by Bro Barkman in 2010. Settled In Heaven’s mission is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ by fulfilling two different roles... rendering encouragement and Biblical knowledge to the saints in an effort to enhance their service to Christ; and proclaiming the gospel message to those who are in need of salvation, explaining to them their urgent need to accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
This entry was posted in A CLICK A BLESSING TODAY, CHRISTIAN FOUNDATIONS OF BELIEF, CHRISTIAN LIFE AND THE WORD, CHRISTIAN TEENS BLOGS, SETTLED IN HEAVEN and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Nehushtan:The Thing of Brass

  1. Pingback: Making the Lord Our Banner | YOU DECIDE

  2. Pingback: The Consequences of Faith | YOU DECIDE

  3. I think some of the saddest words in the Bible are “They limited the Holy One of Israel” [Psalm 78:41] What a tragedy! The created limiting the Creator!

    We need to constantly remind ourselves of the blessings upon blessings that the Lord bestows on us. He alone is worthy to be praised.

    What an amazing God!

  4. ptl2010 says:

    The word of guard stands sure today, if we will look to Jesus in faith we shall be saved. Believe and you will be saved. Amen. Praise the Lord.

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