April 16

2 Kings 18-19, Psalm 106

Though my profession is generally a joyous one, like other fields we have our sad situations also. On Saturday I admitted a patient at 35 weeks of pregnancy for recent decreased movement. Unfortunately, we realized she had a stillbirth and this morning at 2 am, I delivered her little girl. This event is always so heart-wrenching and one of the more difficult things is as in this case and over 75% of the time we have no definitive explanation. It's interesting that the symbol of my profession is the caduceus. The symbol has two serpents winding around a pole with a bow on top. They ascribe it to the rod of Asclepius. But predating this is the bronze rod of the serpent used by Moses. We read of it in Numbers 21:9 after the Israelites were complaining against God that the Lord sent fiery serpents with a poisonous bite, "So Moses made a bronze serpent, and put it on a pole; and so it was, if a serpent had bitten anyone, when he looked at the bronze serpent, he lived. Though this bronze serpent brought healing, it was not the bronze serpent but the power behind it in God. Likewise, though the symbol of our profession signifies healing, we, doctors make a mistake to think that the power lies in ourselves rather than God. Though I cared for the patient last night and was able to pray out loud with them and the nurses present, I had no ability to heal that child. As sad as this was, we know that this child is in heaven (2 Samuel 12:23).

In 2 Kings 18 we are introduced to a king with a true heart for God, as we read in 18:3, "And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father David had done. Though some of the other good Kings of Judah honored God, Hezekiah was the first one to tear down all the objects of false worship which mixed pagan worship with the worship of God. We read of this in 18:4, "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." This word means "bronze thing". Though this object was used by Moses to heal the people, it became a relic and an object of worship for the people. How often this mistake is made when we ascribe power to the object rather than God. Notice the same mistake was made when in 1 Samuel 4:3, after the Israelites were defeated by the Philistines, the elders called for the ark of the covenant and said, "Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies." Notice they were trusting "it" not God. As we read through the miracles of Jesus in the gospel accounts, notice for instance in healing blindness, he touches the individual differently each time. For the power is not in the technique but in Jesus who was performing the actual miracle.

Trusting in things rather than God is widespread. So many of my patients tell me that they put their trust in me for their health. It is my job to be experienced and well read, but my prayer is that I empty myself daily and whatever I do, I do as a vessel filled with His Spirit. So many people worship relics and statues as they did the bronze serpent. Within churches many people will form idols of a style of worship, a particular preacher, a specific order or prayers in a service. Nothing should be elevated above a pure worship of the only One with power, God. Whatever our role in life, whatever our profession might be, may we trust less in ourselves and our expertise and rely on the only One with the power to heal and make a difference in one's life. Jesus referenced the bronze serpent as a picture of Himself in John 3:14-15, "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster