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Using the Brazen Serpent to Justify Idolatry

Roman Catholics have used the brazen serpent to justify their idolatry which they say is not idolatry at all.  I would like to first give the context of the brazen serpent then what really happened to it.  I will quote from both the King James Bible and the Roman Catholic Good News Translation.

Numbers 21:4-8 says, "And they journeyed from mount Hor by the way of the Red sea, to compass the land of Edom: and the soul of the people was much discouraged because of the way.  And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.  And the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD, and against thee; pray unto the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people.  And the LORD said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived."

From the Good News Translation, we read:
The Israelites left Mount Hor by the road that leads to the Gulf of Aqaba, in order to go around the territory of Edom. But on the way the people lost their patience 5 and spoke against God and Moses. They complained, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water? We can't stand any more of this miserable food!”  Then the Lord sent poisonous snakes among the people, and many Israelites were bitten and died.  The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Now pray to the Lord to take these snakes away.” So Moses prayed for the people.  Then the LORD told Moses to make a metal snake and put it on a pole, so that anyone who was bitten could look at it and be healed. So Moses made a bronze snake and put it on a pole.  Anyone who had been bitten would look at the bronze snake and be healed.

Remember there is a difference between looking at the brazen image and actually praying to it.  The people were just told to look at it so they can be healed.  Years later, people soon started to venerate the bronze snake perhaps they were playing around with the words "latria and dulia".  Let us take a look at what happened later when the Israelites began to venerate the bronze snake.

King James version:
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 incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan

Good News Translation:
He destroyed the pagan places of worship, broke the stone pillars, and cut down the images of the goddess Asherah.  He also broke in pieces the bronze snake that Moses had made, which was called Nehushtan. Up to that time the people of Israel had burned incense in its honor.  

We can read that King Hezekiah in his reforms got rid of all idolatrous stuff.  Even if the Good News Translation has missing verses, I still cannot deny that part of the message is still intact.  I would assume Luther also read a Bible full of missing verses when he discovered salvation is by faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ.  When the people to do some "latria" or "dulia" to the brazen serpent, it got their mind off God instead of the God who ordered the serpent to be made.  When the bronze snake got the people's mind off God, you know what had to be done.  The king broke in pieces the bronze snake because people were now worshiping it instead of God.

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