8 The LORD said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (Numbers 21:8-9)
2 Ki 18:3-4 (Amp) Hezekiah did right in the sight of the Lord... He broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until then the Israelites had burned incense to it; but he called it Nehushtan [a brazen trifle].
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:14-16)
(Brazen serpent, Michelangelo 1511 Cistene Chapel)
Thoughts: The three passages above illustrate the history of a gift from God turned into an idol and then redeemed by Christ. The people were redeemed from the evil of snakes by the gift of a bronze serpent from God. Whenever they came to this gift of God they were healed. But later the people saw this serpent superstitiously as something to be worshiped. They burned incense to it (a symbol of prayers). Jesus redeemed the true meaning of the serpent as a symbol of God's healing grace. The lifting up of the serpent is even a symbol of Christ's being lifted up on the cross- our Savior from sin.
Every idol is made of good things- for all creation is good- the wood, the clay. Then creation is corrupted by our sin and superstition. But Christ is able to redeem the world by His power and grace.
Prayer: Give me grace to see creation as a gift and to be a good and grateful steward of all that you give.