During the Israelites wandering through the desert the Lord sent fiery serpents to punish the people for their speaking against God and many people died from being bit by the snakes. God eventually instructed Moses to make a serpent statue on a pole for the people to look at and be healed from being bit by the serpents. This was OK because God instructed it.
- “8 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.9 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.” Numbers 21:8-9
Centuries later during the reign of King Hezekiah the people began to venerate (bow/pray to or with) this statue of a serpent on a pole as a relic and burn incense to it, much like some false religions do today with the kissing/veneration of the bones and other relics of dead saints or statues/icons. This of course provoked God to anger, the people could not just appreciate this old artifact as an historical item, instead they gave praise to it. God hates this even if people believe they are praising Him this way and He still hates it today. The Bible tells us how King Hezekiah handled the idolatry of the brass serpent:
“3 And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did.4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.” 2 Kings 18:3-4
King Hezekiah destroyed this old artifact that God had once instructed Moses to make, no doubt it was very sentimental but it became an idol and idolators go to Hell. He did what was right in the sight of God. It is important that we learn from this example which is one of many and rid our worship of God of any graven images, relics or idols.
” God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24