Nahushtan: When Blessings Turn Into a Curse

SnakeEverybody wants a blessing! I don’t know of anyone who goes to a minister, or a witch for that matter, and says, “Please curse me.” Everybody I know is looking for a blessing not a curse – including me.

The problem is that when we become discouraged or depressed, it is easy to get caught up in behaviors and attitudes that lead to curses instead of the blessings that we desperately seek. When we want, and need, a blessing the most is the very time that we are most likely to head in the other direction and end up in the middle of a full-fledged curse.

After God freed the people of Israel from slavery, they often lost their focus of the Promised Land, where God was taking them, and instead began to complain about the difficult journey. They apparently forgot, or at least minimized, the captivity, beatings and death at the hands of the Egyptians. Instead, they romanticized it by talking about the food, stability and shelter they had “enjoyed” in Egypt. In many ways, they were still thinking like slaves.

On one particular occasion, the Israelis became impatient and began to complain about God and their leader Moses. They even grumbled against the miracle food which sustained them in the barren desert. You would think they would be in awe over food falling from Heaven every morning, but instead they complained and called it “worthless.” Instead of recognizing the miraculous blessing of God, they considered their blessing a curse. (Numbers 14:28-34)

After David’s sin with Bathsheba, God reminded the King of all the blessings He had poured upon his life. God even told him that if he had asked for more, God would have granted it. (2 Samuel 12:8) God loves being treated like God! He hates it however, when we grumble, complain and act like He doesn’t care. In this case, why didn’t the Israelis simply ask God for a change in menu?

Because of their complaints and lack of faith in Him, God sent fiery serpents which attacked the people and caused many to die. Their belief and focus on their misery had manifested into a real life and death crises. When they realized their sin and turned back to God, He told Moses to make a bronze serpent and place it on a pole. Any person, after being poisoned, who looked on the pole was healed.

In this case, the curse had become the blessing. Ever since the Garden of Eden, the serpent had been a symbol of the curse. When the snakes attacked the people, the curse was tangible. When the curse was lifted up toward God for His intervention however, it became the symbol of blessing. In the New Testament, Jesus reveals that the Serpent and the pole represented Himself. (John 3:14) He became the curse for us and was lifted up as the ultimate sacrifice so that all of us can be free from the bite of the serpent we call the devil. (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13)

We can only imagine how special that bronze serpent became to the people of Israel. It served as a physical reminder of God’s mercy, grace and miraculous power. Many of them would not have been born if their ancestors hadn’t been healed. Unfortunately, over the years, the admiration stopped being about God and instead became about the symbol.

Generations later, King Hezekiah came on the scene. By this time, the people of Israel had once again shifted their focus from the blessing that came from God and instead formulated religion in a way that was easier to relate to. They had named the bronze snake Nahushtan – a name that sounds like Hebrew terms meaning “snake,” “bronze,” and “unclean thing.” Worse, they were worshipping it.

Praise the Lord for a leader who was more interested in the Heart of God than the favor of the people. Hezekiah broke the snake into pieces and clearly illustrated that it was not the blessing that was to be worshipped, rather it is the Blessor.

We must be careful to seek the Blessor instead of the blessing and never ever allow our blessing to become a curse. This begins by listing our blessings and being thankful. If we need God, we must always enter His gates with Thanksgiving in our hearts and into His court with Praise for all that He has done and all that He is able to do. (Psalm 100:4)

Treat God like a King and you will receive a King’s reward. Treat Him like an unloving Task Master, and you will reap the results of Adam’s curse.

Be Blessed!

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