When A Good Snake Goes Bad

Bible Book: 2 Kings  18 : 1-8
Subject: Godly Living; Godly Leadership; Overcoming Hardships; Snake Handling

2 Kings 18:1-8

I'm going to talk to you today about snake handling, so pay attention. This topic effects every person. But, before I get to the snake, let me give you some information about the man who knew how to handle it.

Aren’t we going to be glad when this pandemic misery is behind us? When all the restrictions are lifted, and we can go back to living life, want we be thankful? I pray that all of you have stayed safe, and when the time is right, we can live our lives in a way that is normal and through those lives we can fully honor God.

Have you thought about the first thing you’re going to do when the Covoid Virus is a thing of the past? I going to go to a restaurant to eat with my wife. I might even do something I consider extravagant – I might just order an appetizer. Seriously, I know we will be so happy when life goes back to some semblance of normalcy.

There is one thing we need to realize about terrible things that happen to us and to society. Such things can drive us to God and to our knees in prayer. Many of us have thought more seriously about our faith in the last few weeks and that is a good thing. Also, other good things come from bad things that happen.

I’m sure you read about the great Chicago fire that took place in 1871. That fire wiped out more than 3 miles of the city of Chicago. Imagine that – 3 miles just gone! Chicago burned for two days, 300 people died, and 100,000 people were left homeless. The good that came from that fire was a mandate that fire-resistant materials, such as brick for future downtown buildings, had to be used in construction. Codes were changed to require unlocked fire exit doors that opened outwardly rather than inwardly in theaters. Also sprinkling systems above stages and in public buildings became a requirement. It is had to estimate how many thousands of lives have been saved due to the terrible Chicago fire.

Likewise, we all remember 9/11 in the USA. On September 11, 2001 radical Muslim terrorists flew two planes into the Twin Towers in New York City, resulting in almost 3,000 deaths. Six thousand other people were injured and thousands were grieving for the rest of their lives. Yet, out of that horrible attack on the World Trade Center buildings, the Pentagon and another plane that was flown into the ground in Pennsylvania came regulations to protect travelers all over the world. Here in America we instituted the Patriot Act (Patriot Law) that provided our intelligence agencies with the tools to intercept and obstruct future terror attacks. The act also linked our law enforcement agencies by taking down walls that had existed between them. Countless attacks have been thwarted since then and tens of thousands of lives saved.

So, you can see that good can come out of something that was meant for evil. So, we must ask the question regarding the good that might come out of this pandemic our world is enduring right now. That leads me to a thought that is tied to our text for today.

Which do you think is most important, a Wish List or a To-Do-List? The Bible tells us about a man who had to decide about his future, a man who had a chance to change his life and the lives of the people around him. So, let’s read about him. Turn now to 2 Kings 18:1-8:

"8 Now it came to pass in the third year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Hezekiah the son of Ahaz, king of Judah, began to reign. 2 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned twenty-nine years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abi the daughter of Zechariah. 3 And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. 4 He removed the  high places and broke the sacred pillars, cut down the wooden image and broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made; for until those days the children of Israel burned incense to it, and called it Nehushtan. 5 He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. 6 For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. 7 The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him. 8 He subdued the Philistines, as far as Gaza and its territory, from watchtower to fortified city."

When you take a hard look at Hezekiah, you will have more in common with him than you might initially think. You see, Hezekiah had to make decisions that would affect his life, those of his family and the entire nation he was leading. His father died and Hezekiah became the King of Judah, but the throne he occupied as a shaky one at best. Everyone around him, or least almost everyone, wanted him to fail. Hezekiah needed to make a list. What kind of list do you think he made – A Wish List or a To-Do-List?

That leads us to a question. How do we make decisions? How do you make decisions? What are the factors in what makes you who you are? People who study mankind will tell you that two factors determine you are as a person and how you make decisions. The first element in determining who you are and what you do is your DNA, which is in essence YOUR NATURE. This involves your family lineage. The second factor involves your DEVELOPMENT, or YOUR NURTURE - the way you were raised and the people and culture around you. I have a third factor that I would like to add, and this is DIETY, - how you recognize God and your relationship to God. All of these are important and play a part in how you make decisions and what you do and what you value in life.

Look at Hezekiah and you will see how these three factors influenced him and made him a man that God could use. I am making an assumption that everyone wants to be a person that God uses for the good Certainly if you are part of this worship service today, you have an interest in what God wants you to be and do. So think of these three important ingredients that are an integral part of who you are and what you will continue to become.

First, let’s consider

I. DNA – The Nature of Hezekiah

Certain things are handed down to us. The color of your eyes, the number of freckles you have, and perhaps even how tall or short you are. These things are in your DNA – the are part of your nature.

When you go to doctor’s office and fill out information, they will ask you series of questions about any physical problems that anyone in your family has experienced. They will even ask you how your family died – what caused the death of your parents or grandparents, for example. They know that some of the problems your forebearers had will likely affect you as well.

Some time ago a woman did research on my family – going back to my dad and mother’s sides of the family. Even back to grandparents’ families. One eerie thing that was included in the documents she gave me were the death certificates of all of them. Now, this is both interesting and troubling. I went through those with trepidation, for I was sure some of them might have been hanged for some crimes up in the mountains years ago. Actually, none of them died as the result of a fight, a gunshot or were electrocuted for crimes. ad these problems. Ill. Of my family history, death certificates, most died with heart issues, some with cancer. None died of gunshot wounds or electrocution. The death certificates did tell me how many different diseases that killed them - diseases that might just be handed down to me.

What we are concerned with today is Hezekiah’s family. What was in the nature of Hezekiah’s family? To start with, let’s look at his father. Ahaz was the father of Hezekiah and he was of the lineage of King David, but he did not have any of the positive qualities that David possessed.

Ahaz did have a nature to worship, just like you have a nature to worship. God created us so that when we are hungry we eat. When we are tired, we sleep. He also put it into all of us to worship – we were created to worship. Everyone worships something. It may be pleasure, money, fame, intelligence – but all of us worship something. Ahaz worshipped ever god on earth except the true and living God. He was defiled in heart, mind and soul. So Hezekiah had a father who was a pagan worshipper. We can say that Ahaz was one of the sorriest men in the entire Bible.

Think about this man, Ahaz. He once sacrificed one of his own sons to idols. We read in 2 Kings 16:3 the following, “But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel; indeed he made his son pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel.” In other words, Ahaz sacrificed one of the brothers of Hezekiah but burning him to an idol God.

Again, Ahaz was so wicked that he closed the Temple, as recorded in 2 Chronicles 28:24. Think of it. This was God’s nation, yet Ahaz was shutting out the very God that the people had followed for generations.

So, let me just point out that Hezekiah had a nature handed down to him that was not stellar. His father was a pagan, evil, wicked and horrible man.

But, let’s now look at …

II. DEVELOPMENT - The Nurture of Hezekiah

Remember that development involves what you are taught by your father, mother, teachers and friends. It involves the influences that affect your life. It involves how you are nurtured as you grow and learn in life.

Hezekiah taught that the evil ways of his father were right. His father thought he was doing the right things and led his son in that way of thinking, even though Ahaz was actually 180 degrees wrong in everything he did.

Also, Hezekiah grew up in a culture that taught him to worship the wrong things, value the wrong things, believe in the wrong things and to reject everything was right in the eyes of God. The culture around him was diabolical in nature. The most important influences around him were all directing him in ways that were wrong.

Let me ask you something. How do you develop your children, grandchildren or the entire generation coming behind you? What do tell them to value? How do you show them that they can find true joy? What is your attitude before them regarding faith in and worship of God? Do you represent a long face, complaining and dour faith in God? Your influence is important and must not be taken for granted.

The greatest influences around him were all telling him that what was wrong was right!

Thankfully, Hezekiah had one man in his life who was absolutely a positive, godly and pure influence. His name was Isaiah, one of the wisest and most godly men who ever lived on this earth. Isaiah told Hezekiah who God really was and how he was to serve him. He told Hezekiah how to be a godly king and to live his best life.

Do you have an Isaiah in your life? Is there someone trying to help you follow God? If so, you need to listen to that person or those people. God puts an Isaiah type person within reach of almost everyone – but so often we do not listen to their directions – directions that are actually coming from God.

Hezekiah had a lot to overcome. His Nature and his nurture appeared place him in an impossible position for success. My friend, you are never in such a place as long as there is God’s Word and someone to help you know it.

So, let’s look at what happened to Hezekiah when his father Ahaz died, and he became king.

III. DIETY – The Knowledge of God in Hezekiah

Hezekiah overcome his nature and his nurture through knowledge of God. There is no knowledge on earth more important than knowing God and His will for your life. That is what Hezekiah received when he opened his heart to God, God’s Word and God’s will.

When Hezekiah became king, we are told exactly what he DID. Remember that I mentioned to you a WISH LIST or a TO-DO-LIST as we began. Well, Hezekiah didn’t depend on a wish list, he had a to-do-list. Look at 2 Kings 18:3, “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” You see that? Hezekiah DID what was right. He didn’t just talk about, think about, wish for it, he did what was right in the sight of the Lord.

How did he know what was right in the “eyes of the Lord?” The Bible says everyman will do what is right in his own eyes. Hezekiah started arranging and transcribing the Old Testament scriptures and he even wrote some Psalms that are in Bible as well. At the end of many Old Testament books, three capital letters occur, HZK. This is thought to be the name of Hezekiah. You see, he studied the texts of the Old Testament and assured that the correct ones were passed down and the others were not. His initials ensured that the text was pure and true. Wow! What a great man he was, especially when you consider all he had to overcome to become what he became!

Now, let’s think for a moment about the title of this sermon today. What does a good snake have to do with it? The people living in Hezekiah’s day had taken the bronze snake that Moses made at the direction of God seven-hundred years before and turned it into something to be worshiped. They made an idol out of that wonderful snake that God ordered made for the healing of the people from snake bite back 7 centuries before. They actually burned incense to the bronze snake.

Hezekiah knew this was wrong. He had the ability to see things for what they were idols for what they were worth – nothing but a brass thing. He could do that because he had the ability to see how one can actually worship God in a worthy manner. Hezekiah was not interested in charming the snake; he was interested in getting rid of the snake. We should be willing to get rid of the idols in our lives that separate us from Jesus Christ.


The Bible tells us that Hezekiah “trusted in the Lord.” V. 5 Are we trusting in tradition or are we trusting in GOD? You see, for 700 years the people had mishandled the snake. They turned it into something is was not meant to be. Hezekiah wasn't trusting in history, in habits or in accessories to faith, he was trusting in the Lord God Almighty!

Hezekiah revealed his trust in God when he opened the temple and celebrated the first Passover held in years. We read in 2 Chronicles 30:26, “Since the time of Solomon the son of David King of Israel there was not the like in Jerusalem.”

Hezekiah proved he was trusting in God when he was serious about the scripture, and making sure that it was being read and understood correctly.

Hezekiah proved he was trusting God when he revealed that he knew the difference between a necessity in faith and an accessory that added nothing to faith. People often add accessories to worship and to church life. These are habits and ways passed down that have no meaning today. They are not necessary and often not biblical in any way. If we want to be like Hezekiah, we better learn what is a necessity before God and eliminate that which is an accessory – something God never wanted in our lives, our habits or our worship.

When doors of our church are opened back up after this pandemic has passed, will you see Church as a necessity or as an accessory? Is our worship life just something we “add on,” like an accessory; or, is our church life a necessity - something critically important to serving God. I think this pandemic might just help many of us recommit our lives to God and turn what has become a habit (an accessory) into some deep in the heart (a necessity). Trusting God and serving Him properly is something better done sooner rather than later!