The footnote in the New International Version at 2 Kings 18:4 is most interesting. When Hezekiah found the children of Israel worshiping the brazen serpent made by Moses in the wilderness, he destroyed it. Hezekiah called the serpent “Nehushtan.” The footnote explains the meaning of the word as “a serpent made of brass.”
We wonder how such an idol could have existed for so long. It would seem that it would have been destroyed in one of the reformation movements of one of the judges or kings. In my opinion, it lasted so long because it apparently was not recognized as an idol. Perhaps the children of Israel justified the worship by not calling it an idol. Hezekiah, however, came and called it what it really was-a brass image of a snake.
How often we justify sin by either ignoring it or calling it a different name! Some call adultery “a meaningful relationship.” We excuse covetousness by calling it “prudence” or “economy.” A life of sensual pleasure is “living with gusto.”
In answer to a critic, Abraham Lincoln asked, “How many legs does a cow have?” “Four,” was the reply. “If you call her tail a leg, how many does she have?” “Five,” was the answer. “No,” Lincoln said, “just calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.”
Have we made a similar mistake? Do we think that sin is not sin just because we do not call it by the right name?
– From “2000+ Bible Illustrations.” Also read Nehushtan.