The people sowed poison, and harvested snake bites, piercing their bodies without warning, without mercy. The answer to death, dictated by the divine, was to set up a serpent of bronze.
Fast forward a few millennia, at the speed of a bullet, biting metal piercing bodies without warning, without mercy. So the people set up a shrine to firearms.
God did not instruct the people of the covenant to make an idol of the snake that bit them. God did not simultaneously offer the second commandment and command the people to shatter it. Graven images of metal do not divert anyone from the grave.
The bronze serpent was not an amulet, but an icon of futility; an emblem of the impotence of evil in the sight of a gracious God.
The modern casting would be an AR-15 made into a museum piece, rendered harmless, useless, toothless by its irrelevance, not empowered by false reverence.
God has never asked us to acknowledge idols, and if we do, they are liable to come back and bite us. But we know a better way.
“Deliver us from evil,” we pray, not to a serpent or a sidearm of bronze, but to the living God who will not allow death the first or the final, who will not allow the dealers of death to utter the decisive word.
From Mount Hor the Israelites set out by the way to the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the Lord sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the Lord and against you; pray to the Lord to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. (Numbers 21:4-9)
Jesus said, “Just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. (John 3:14-16)