2 Chronicles 26:14-21
14 Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and sling stones. 15 And he built structures on the walls of Jerusalem, designed by experts to protect those who shot arrows and hurled large stones[f] from the towers and the corners of the wall. His fame spread far and wide, for the Lord gave him marvelous help, and he became very powerful. 16 But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall. He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar. 17 Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the Lord, all brave men. 18 They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The Lord God will not honor you for this!” 19 Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious. But as he was standing there raging at the priests before the incense altar in the Lord’s Temple, leprosy[g] suddenly broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the Lord had struck him. 21 So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord. His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land.
The biblical account of King Uzziah is a classic example of the disaster that accompanies disobedience. Uzziah’s ascension to the throne had probably filled the people of Judah’s hearts with hope. Their last two kings had started out well but finished foolishly. They ended up leading the kingdom away from God and back into idolatry. Instead of bringing joy to the people they had brought judgment, and both Joash and Amaziah, met their death due to conspiracy. Uzziah followed in his families footsteps, like his father and grandfather before him his reign began well. The first part of his reign proved to be promising as he led Judah back to God and the people once again enjoyed the bounty of God’s blessings. Uzziah started as a righteous ruler but over the years, as God blessed him, a secret enemy began ever so subtly to invade his heart. This was no ordinary enemy for this enemy attacked from within. Enemies from without can be clearly seen, they are easier to discern, but the enemy on the inside is different, he is sneaky, cunning and often silent until he strikes. Uzziah’s hidden enemy was the problematic one of pride, somewhere amidst all the blessings, he lost sight of the fact that God was the source of his power, popularity, and prosperity. Pride is one of the most common killers, it attacks your spiritual growth and erodes both your enjoyment and intimacy with God. Why is pride so spiritually fatal, because pride positions us to promote self instead of the Savior. Pride points to me instead of to the Messiah, enthroning self on the seat of the heart only to strangle and suffocate us in the sin of self. Pride causes us to claim the credit for ourselves instead of giving the credit to Christ. Pride will only ever produce one result: “Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” Proverbs 16: 18. Pride may promise to promote self but it will only ever produce problems and pain. 2 Chronicles 26:3 says: “Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years.” Can you imagine the pressure on this sixteen year old adolescent, knowing that the whole nation was looking to him for leadership? I’ve often wondered if this wasn’t part of what prompted him to seek God’s face so often in the early years. It was his seeking of God that was the source of his success. What is sad to see is that he started his reign in humbleness and humility and ended his reign in humiliation. As long as he remained humble and obedient before God he prospered, but the moment pride pushed him to disobedience it brought decades of blessing to a halt. Pride will poison and destroy what humility and dependence upon God has built. 2 Chronicles 26: 4-5 says: “4 He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. 5 Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God. And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.” The basis for blessing was humble obedience before God. He was successful as long as he remembered who he serve. As long as King Uzziah stayed focused and dependent on God, he prospered in all that he did. Uzziah prospered in:
2 Chronicles 26: 6-8 says: “Uzziah declared war on the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod. Then he built new towns in the Ashdod area and in other parts of Philistia. 7 God helped him in his wars against the Philistines, his battles with the Arabs of Gur, and his wars with the Meunites. 8 The Meunites paid annual tribute to him, and his fame spread even to Egypt, for he had become very powerful.” While Uzziah walked with God, God fought and won his battles. The only way to win the war is through obedient service to the Savior. If you desire to be victorious and experience success in the spiritual battle then you must surrender to the Savior. As James says in James 4:7: “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” Not only did Uzziah experience success in battle but also in his:
Uzziah successfully built cities in the land once occupied by his enemy, 2 Chronicles26: 6 “he built new towns in the Ashdod area and in other parts of Philistia.” When he put his trust in the Lord, God enlarged his territory. He also built many fortifications, 2 Chronicles26: 9 “Uzziah built fortified towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the angle in the wall.” He didn’t just sit back after the battle, but built fortifications in preparation to defend God’s people. While his heart hungered for God he lived a prepared life instead of a passive one. Along with success in battle and building Uzziah also experienced great:
He had many sources of water to supply his great herds of cattle, 2 Chronicles 26:10 “He also constructed forts in the wilderness and dug many water cisterns, because he kept great herds of livestock in the foothills of Judah and on the plains” Not only was he a successful rancher but he also experienced great fruit in farming. Scripture says that he experienced great success in the soil, he had many fields and vineyards, 2 Chronicles 26:10 “He was also a man who loved the soil. He had many workers who cared for his farms and vineyards, both on the hillsides and in the fertile valleys.” Not only did he experience a bounty of blessing in his business but His reputation spread as a result of his faithfulness to God. Not only did he get to enjoy and experienced the fruit of faithfulness, but God’s people also got to partake of the harvest.
Yet it was this very success that became his downfall for Uzziah started to serve success instead of the Savior. One of the greatest pride traps is prosperity, Uzziah became proud of his strength and success, 2 Chronicles 26: 16 “But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall.” He forgot that God was the source of his strength and success so he started to boast in self. You would think that after experiencing the bountiful blessings of God that Uzziah would never have fallen prey to the sin of pride. But listen to how David Rhodes describes pride: “It is the dandelion of the soul. Its root goes deep; only a little left behind sprouts again. Its seeds lodge in the tiniest encouraging cracks. And it flourishes in good soil. The danger of pride is that it feeds on goodness” One of the dangers of receiving God’s blessings is that if we’re not careful, somewhere in the midst of all the blessings we begin to believe that we are the recipients because we have got it together. That because we are a notch above the rest that we somehow deserve God’s goodness. Abraham Lincoln noted in his proclamation of a day of National Humiliation, Fasting and Prayer in 1863, how easy it is to forget where our blessings come from when he said: “We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand, which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us.” Pride clouds our conscience and convinces us that we are the cause of success. Verse 21 pens the epitaph of pride, “So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord.” This stands in sharp contrast to the epitaph of Paul in 2 Timothy 4:6-8, “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for my departure is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” Pride was the cause of Uzziah’s demise, he was struck with a dreaded disease that resulted isolation. He went from a man of great reputation to one of ruin because he did not obey the Lord, C. S. Lewis said “God pickles the proud and preserves the foolish.” But notice his greatest ruin was not his reputation but that of relationship, not only with others but also with the Lord. His leprosy prevented him from entering God’s holy house, he traded pain for praise. He traded real wealth, worship of God for what the world could offer, worship of self, so in the end self is all that he had. Because of his disobedience Uzziah died in dishonor. What about you, are you living your life to please and praise the Lord or to promote self and please pride?