Go For The Gold

Posted: 07/11/2010 in Devotion
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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 to it: and he called it Nehushtan.

Nehushtan=”a thing made of brass” or “brass object”

     This was the very serpent that Moses had built on God’s command when the children of Israel were under judgment for complaining once again. They were complaining about the direction they were travelling, Moses as leader, and lack of water. They were also complaining about the food, the manna, God supplied them each day. As a result, God caused serpents to enter the camp to chastise his people.

     When enough people were bitten and had died they realized that they had messed up once again. They went to Moses to tell him of their sin of complaining against him and God. They asked if he would go to God and ask for the judgment of their sin to be removed. Moses did as the people asked. God then gave Moses instructions on what to do. Moses was to have a serpent made of brass made and placed on a pole. Then this pole with the serpent was to be placed in the middle of  camp where everyone could see it. Then when anyone who was bitten looked upon the brass serpent they were healed. (Numbers 21:4-9)

     This in and of itself is not a problem. The people sinned. They turned from their ways. God supplied the relief. But the text from 2 Kings gives the idea that as the years went on, something went wrong. The people had begun to worship the brass serpent. They began to burn incense to it in worship as a god. It had to go as it had become something that it was never intended to be.

     The people had forgotten why the brass serpent was made to begin with. It was made as a way of keeping punishment from death from taking place as a result of the peoples sin. They took their eyes off the creator and turned to something that was created. This causes some problems that we may not be aware of.

     This is what happens to many of us throughout the week. We go to church on Sundays, Wednesdays, or whenever our church service is and give God everything we have. Then as we live out our lives the rest of the time we give God far less than we should. I am not saying we try to do this. But as a fallen creation we tend to let things get in the way of our relationship with God. The sad thing is we don’t have to do this.

     We promise that we are going to get up early and do a devotion in  the morning or just read the Bible. Or we promise that we will  this before going to bed. The next morning comes around, we hit the snooze alarm. We read the paper. We turn on the TV. We forget about that meeting we promised we would have. We forget to read the Bible. Or the day is stressful so we put God on the back burner or we push him aside. But hey, we will get up early in the morning to have that time with God. And if we do this, we only give him a couple of minutes because we are in a hurry. Or we get overwhelmed by trying to catch up and read as much as we can.

     Peter had a similar problem. Read with me Matthew 14:22-33,

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 multitude away. 23 And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into the 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 in fear. 27 But straightway Jesus spoke 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 was able to walk on the water when his eyes were on Jesus. We are able to make it through the day, no matter how bad it can get, if we keep our eyes on Jesus. It’s when we take our eyes off of him that the day gets worst. That is when we begin to sink. That is the point that Peter began to sink, when his eyes started to look at the circumstances around him. For us that means ded we keep our focus on him through a tough time by taking a time of quietness with him through devotion or just reading his word and/or praying?

     I had a Sunday school teacher ask us this question in class, ” What is your NEHUSHTAN?” What he was really asking was this: “What have you placed or are placing in front of your relationship with God?”

     We all tend to have them. Maybe it is just a small thing. It is a show that comes on once a week. Or your friend calls at the time you set aside for you and God. Or a song, girl/boyfriend, sports and so on. But to God that does not matter. Anything that comes before him constantly or consistently is an idol.

     Now are any of these things wrong in and of themselves? No, of course not. The friend may need help. You may be looking for something online for church and so on. But when these begin to take the place of God, then there is a problem.

     What about the movie you have been waiting to see? But it starts when 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 it before doing anything else. It is sad to think about, but there are Christians that would do just that. They put God in second place. The thing is God does not play second fiddle to anyone. The Bible has many examples of what happens when His people put him second. He gave and still does give warnings today. Check out Exodus 20:5 (KJV)

5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I tthe 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 that is because of what he said in the verses before that one.

Exodus 20:3-4

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 anything God created to worship. It seems like more and more we worship a tree, rabbit, fish, hawk, worm or what have you. We worship things we are not supposed to worship.

     We begin to settle for things that are inferior. In effect we settle for things that are made of brass. Brass has one thing going for it. When it is cleaned and polished, it will shine just like gold. But the truth is, it is not gold. It is brass. We tend to go for the shiny that looks like gold. When we get it we can that it is not gold. But we keep and hang on to it like it was gold. This what we do in our relationship with God. He is the better thing. He is the gold. We settle for things far, far less.

Romans 1:25

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 many people staying home or going to a friend’s house to watch the game. Churches don’t have a Wednesday night service due to lack of attendence. I am too tired to go to church tonight. I have to work on my vehicle. And it goes on and on. We allow too many things to come before God. We remove Him from His throne and place ourselves or something else or someone else there. Is this a new thing? No. Satan started this at some point in an unknown past.

Isaiah 14:11-15

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 thou art 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

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 has been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of they tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou was created. 14 Thou are 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 thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee.

     He even used the same kind of thinking in the Garden of Eden.

Genesis 3:1-5

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 himself. He wants us to settle for the brass object. He wants us to stay at 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 it is OK, God will not mind.

     But God is trying to give us the better things. He is trying to give us the things made of gold. But we throw these things away. We put our hands up saying, “No thanks. I want this instead”. He tries to give us Himself and we say we are not interested. We don’t want you. We would rather have that guy or that girl. He frees us from “Egypt” and we want to return because it was easier and better there. He says, “How about that land?” And we say, “This piece of junk? No thank you.”

     We need to get our priorities right. We need to get ourselves and those things we placed onto God’s throne off of it. We need to put Him back on His throne. We need to be like Peter and say, “Let me come to You.” We need to be willing to go and receive when He says OK.

     We need to let go of the things made of brass like Paul did and reach for the gold. The things that matter are not just for the moment are what Paul wants to reach for.

Philippians 3:12-14

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which I also 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 sitting in it or placing other things on 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 those things that God has for us. We have to drop the Nehushtans, the brass objects, in order to reach for the gold. We must be willing to press towards and reach for the more excellent prize of Jesus Christ.

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