In 2 Kings chapter 18, we learn of Hezekiah, king of Judah, and his faithful acts to Jehovah. Not only did he destroy various idols that were found in the land, but had a very acute sense of knowing right from wrong in handling one particular idol. Verse 4 provides the details: "He it was that removed the high places and broke the sacred pillars to pieces and cut down the sacred pole and crushed to pieces the copper serpent that Moses had made; for down to those days the sons of Israel had continually been making sacrificial smoke to it, and it used to be called the copper serpent-idol."
Why is this significant? Back when the copper serpent was first formed it was under direction from Jehovah and had a specific purpose. I am pretty sure that some today would criticize God for having Moses make what they conclude was some sort of idol. It wasn’t. God did not tell Moses to tell the people to worship it. Rather, merely to “look at it.” However, centuries later, people were not just merely admiring a piece of historical memorabilia, they were “making sacrificial smoke to it.” In spite of the historical significance, Hezekiah saw right through the real issue -- that Satan had turned a once valuable tool into a form of idolatry. To Hezekiah, it was more important that people not be swayed by idols than that he preserve something from when Moses walked the earth.
The tendency of the Israelites to latch onto physical things was also demonstrated in their claim to possessing the “Law,” the holy writings (of the prophets,) and God’s temple. These things made them cocky and gave them a false sense of security that God would always approve of and protect them, even when they were flagrantly disobedient. Time and again, they were sent into captivity for their disobedience, proving that their false reasoning meant nothing to God.
But what of those who claim a relationship with God today? I am referring to anyone claiming Christianity. Many hold to the symbol of the “cross” as being sacred. It has essentially become an idol to be worshiped. Yet nowhere in scripture is there any mention of it as a holy thing. If even the copper serpent, which at least God did at one time approve of making, was destroyed because it had become associated with idolatry, should something which was used as a murder weapon to kill God’s most beloved son be elevated to even an honorary position? It does not make any sense to do so. Today, Jehovah’s Witnesses are very careful not to elevate any material thing to such a degree. Although we appreciate and tour the headquarters buildings, although we respect the faithful men who teach us, we do not take pictures, light candles, and then build altars of worship around them. The scriptural precedent is quite clear: “We are walking by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)