When Symbols Become Idols (Day 4)
Elena Watson

God gave me a holy gut check about the Christmas story while I was studying the Kings of Israel over the summer- and I have been looking forward to Advent ever since. During the reign of Hezekiah, as he restored the temple and pointed people back to God, he destroyed a religious relic. 2 Kings 18:4b says “[Hezekiah] broke in pieces the bronze serpent Moses
made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan)”. Looking back to Numbers 21, the bronze serpent was a sign of healing and forgiveness after yet another instance of Israel complaining and disobeying God. Sadly, a symbol of God’s mercy and
holiness became just another idol to the Israelites and was destroyed for the good of their wayward hearts. In my own life, I considered things I had put unhealthy emphasis on.

A little backstory – both my parents were raised Catholic. In middle school, we joined a parish in Nashville. I took my first communion, was confirmed, and even attended Catholic high school. In 2001, we all personally met Jesus and my family left the Catholic denomination. Together, we wrestled with what religious traditions were more man-made than God-honoring. One of this topics of controversy was the Virgin Mary. In my personal effort to run from idolatry, I convinced myself that not making an idol of her, as some do, meant I had to swing the pendulum the opposite way and do absolutely nothing at all to honor her. I went as far as skimming over Scripture about the mother of Jesus, the woman who carried the seed that crushed the serpent.

It wasn’t until 2018, here with Church on the Hill, that I finally saw her in a different and truthful light. Earl taught a message from one of the epistles and as Paul declared the identity of the believers at the end of the letter, Earl asked the body to respond with Mary’s simple words to Gabriel, “Be it unto me according to thy Word” (Luke 1:38b, KJV). I recoiled at the mention of her name at first, but the Lord graciously opened my eyes to see the gift of faith He gave her and what an integral role she played in history.

I spent so many years running from what I believed to be same idolatry the people of Israel fell into with the bronze serpent that I destroyed a GIANT of our faith for myself. I liken her to Abraham and his faith to leave his home for an unknown land. God chose Abraham because he was the only person alive with that level of faith to respond the way he did to God throughout his life and set the precedent for all believers across all nations to be grafted into the family of God by faith. In the same way, Mary was the only woman, full of faith, who could have humbly responded to God the way she did and carry the Messiah.

As a young woman, I was haphazard and overzealous with my “deconstruction”. God was so gentle and good to show me the truth about one of His daughters. He rebuilt what I had broken in pieces, but this time in the light of His truth and for His glory.