Nick Poindexter

My style's like a chemical spill

Tag: Numbers

Smash Your Nehushtans

[Hezekiah] did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. He removed the pagan shrines, smashed 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 18:3-4 (NLT)

Rewind a bit to the book of Numbers… The Israelites are becoming antsy with God and start complaining. God sends poisonous snakes their way, many of which bite and kill the people. They realize their mistake and beg Moses to do something. God then tells him to make a bronze snake, mount it on a pole, and anyone who looks at it will be healed. And it works.

I’m sure this bronze snake on a pole quickly became an important memento, if you will. To the Israelites, it was a constant remembrance of God’s provision, safety and presence.

The problem is, when it makes an appearance again in 2 Kings, the snake means something more to them. Now they are offering sacrifices to it. They even glorify it with a name — Nehushtan. This object that was originally used by God and was a reminder of God, was being worshiped as God. The bronze snake is now an idol.

It’s easy to read this story and mock the Israelites for their silly worship practices, but in reality, we’re just as guilty. Unfortunately there are still “Nehushtans” in the church today. Maybe you’ve heard these impassioned arguments before…

KJV or NIV? Traditional or contemporary? Sunday best or casual? Pews or chairs?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a certain version of the Bible or certain types of music. In fact, they’re good, wonderful things that steer us toward God. Just like the bronze snake on a pole.

Sadly, people will still fight tooth and nail over these idols. Why? Because like the Israelites, instead of utilizing them to point us to God, they become more important than God himself. Simply, these things were not intended to be worshiped, but rather to guide our worship. The problem is misdirected devotion.

Hezekiah was on to something. For the greater good of God, we all have to do a little housecleaning every now and then. And that may mean destroying some idols in our lives, even those whose beginnings were entirely holy.

It’s always best to smash your Nehushtans.

Right Here, Right Now

It made no difference whether the Cloud hovered over The Dwelling for two days or a month or a year, as long as the Cloud was there, they were there. And when the Cloud went up, they got up and marched. They camped at God‘s command and they marched at God‘s command. They lived obediently by God‘s orders as delivered by Moses.
-Numbers 9:22-23 (MSG)

What a great thing it must have been for the Israelites to have God provide direction and guidance in the form of a cloud. If the cloud moved, they followed it. If it stopped and hovered, they stayed put.

If only it were that simple today.

I figure if there were a list of the top questions that Christians today ask God and wonder aloud, one of the most occurring has to be, “God, what do you want me to do with my life?” We desperately want to follow God’s plan for our future, but at the same time we are desperately confused. We are begging for a sign like the Israelites had to determine our next step.

I wonder if the problem might be that because we focus on the future so much, we miss the present entirely. We are so enamored with the NEXT that we completely overlook the NOW. Farsightedness versus nearsightedness, if you will.

If you notice with the Israelites, the verses note that the people stayed and marched at God’s command. They were ready and anxious to move onto the next place when God said so, but also were prepared to stop and direct their attention to that specific place when he said so. And it didn’t matter if it was a for a day, a month, or a year. If the cloud stayed, so did they. And right then and there is where their focus was until God said otherwise.

Sometimes we forget that we were put right here at this exact moment in time for a purpose. Sure, God may have an amazing, big move in the future for us. But if our “cloud” isn’t moving, neither should we, no matter how long it may stay in one place. Our focus should be on him and where he is staying or going, not the future direction we think is best.

You want to know your purpose? Ask God what he wants you to do right here, right now. Then, when he’s ready, you will be prepared to successfully take the next step too.

God Bless You

God spoke to Moses: “Tell Aaron and his sons, This is how you are to bless the People of Israel. Say to them,
God bless you and keep you,
God smile on you and gift you,
God look you full in the face and make you prosper.
-Numbers 6:22-26 (MSG)

God bless you.

We really throw that phrase around a lot, don’t we?

We write an e-mail and end it with the salutation, “God bless”. Someone sneezes, and we immediately reply, “Bless you”. I mean, do we really even know why we’re saying what we do, or has it all just become everyday jargon?

In chapter 6 of Numbers, God tells Moses specifically what Aaron is to say when blessing the Israelites. To be clear, we’re not talking about our modern day “blessing” here, but rather the real “God, I desperately want your divine favor to come upon this person” type of blessing. This is the real deal, and God breaks it down into 5 points:

  1. To protect
  2. To be pleased with
  3. To be gracious to
  4. To show approval of
  5. To give success to

Wow. Maybe it’s just me, but reading that gives “God bless you” a whole lot more meaning. That little phrase that we spit out daily is literally packed with power.

I’m not saying that it’s wrong to say “Bless you” when someone sneezes, but it’s clear here that God takes the idea of a blessing seriously. So seriously, that he laid it out word for word, line for line, to guarantee that all the bases were covered, intentions were pure, and the speaker understood its significance.

God, help me to demonstrate encouragement and your love through genuine blessing of others.

And selfishly, may God bless me.

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