2 Kings 18 records an amazing detail from the history of ancient Israel. When godly King Hezekiah led the nation in revival and reform, he found the children of Israel worshiping the brazen serpent made by Moses in the wilderness. His immediate response, unlike his forefathers, was to destroy it as an idol. In verse 4 the Scripture states that Hezekiah called the serpent “Nehushtan”, from a Hebrew word which refers to “something made of brass.”
It is amazing that such an idol could have existed for so long among the various revivals under David, Solomon and others. It would seem that it would have been destroyed long before Hezekiah’s time. Perhaps it lasted so long because it was not called an idol, but Nehushtan, “something made of brass”. But the godly king recognized it for what it was, a serpent idol, and did away with it that there might be true revival in Israel.
How often we justify sin by either ignoring it or calling it by a different, less objectionable name! Some call adultery a “midlife crisis” or “a meaningful relationship.” Sensuality and carnality are described as “partying” or “innocent fun”. Self-centered living is labeled as “knowing my rights”. Covetousness is justified under the concept as “free enterprise”.
When we call sin in our life by some less offensive name, we still offend the God of Heaven. He sees sin as it is and calls upon us to label it as such and repent of it. 1 John 1:9 gives us God’s prescription for dealing with sin, “If we confess our sins…” The word “confess” literally means “to say the same” – God will not cleanse our sin as His children if we mislabel and justify it, but only if we call it what He calls it with a repentant heart. Then “…He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
Written by Dr. Bud Steadman, Executive Director of Baptist World Mission