From 2 Chronicles 25-27
King Uzziah becomes very strong. He sought the LORD and is helped to become great. He has made machines of war. I suspect chariots, catapults, ballistas, battering rams, and siege towers. It seems he intends to do a lot of fighting. More than this the people notice his strength. Will he serve the LORD?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
Amaziah son of Joash becomes king of Judah. He does what is right in the eyes of the LORD but not with a whole heart. When he was established he killed those who assassinated his father. But he did not put their children to death.
Amaziah assembles an army of Judeans and Israelites to fight against the Edomites. But a man of God said he should not take the Israelites because the LORD is not with them. The Israelites resent the rejection. After winning the battle with the Edomites they take some of their gods back and worship them. A prophet condemns Amaziah’s actions.
Amaziah provokes Joash (Jehoash) the king of Israel into a fight. Judah is defeated by Israel, Amaziah gets captured and Jerusalem plundered. Amaziah flees to Lachish, but he is pursued, caught and killed.
During the reign of Amaziah, some people of Judah make his son Uzziah king. So at this time there were two kings of Judah. Uzziah, did what was right in the eyes of the LORD according to his father Amaziah. He set himself to seek the LORD and he was instructed by Zechariah in the fear of the LORD. While Uzziah sought the LORD, God made him prosper. He wins several battles against the Philistines and Ammonites.
This is where our passage picks up.
11 Moreover, Uzziah had an army of soldiers, fit for war, in divisions according to the numbers in the muster made by Jeiel the secretary and Maaseiah the officer, under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s commanders. 12 The whole number of the heads of fathers’ houses of mighty men of valor was 2,600. 13 Under their command was an army of 307,500, who could make war with mighty power, to help the king against the enemy. 14 And Uzziah prepared for all the army shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and stones for slinging. 15 In Jerusalem he made machines, invented by skillful men, to be on the towers and the corners, to shoot arrows and great stones. And his fame spread far, for he was marvelously helped, till he was strong. (2 Chr 26.11-15)
Uzziah becomes very strong. He sought the LORD and is helped to become great. He has made machines of war. I suspect chariots, catapults, ballistas, battering rams, and siege towers. It seems he intends to do a lot of fighting. More than this the people notice his strength.
Will he still continue to seek the LORD?
16 But when he was strong, he grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the LORD his God and entered the temple of the LORD to burn incense on the altar of incense. 17 But Azariah the priest went in after him, with eighty priests of the LORD who were men of valor, 18 and they withstood King Uzziah and said to him, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the LORD, but for the priests, the sons of Aaron, who are consecrated to burn incense. Go out of the sanctuary, for you have done wrong, and it will bring you no honor from the LORD God.” (2 Chr 26.16-18)
Uzziah goes too far in assuming how great he is. He burns incense to the LORD. Only consecrated priests are allowed to do this and their role must be respected (Ex 30.7-8; Num 16.40). Azariah and the other priests show a lot of courage to confront the king like this. Perhaps he made a mistake, perhaps he forgot.
His response reveals his heart. Will he be humble and submit or he be proud and get angry?
19 Then Uzziah was angry. Now he had a censer in his hand to burn incense, and when he became angry with the priests, leprosy broke out on his forehead in the presence of the priests in the house of the LORD, by the altar of incense. 20 And Azariah the chief priest and all the priests looked at him, and behold, he was leprous in his forehead! And they rushed him out quickly, and he himself hurried to go out, because the LORD had struck him. 21 And King Uzziah was a leper to the day of his death, and being a leper lived in a separate house, for he was excluded from the house of the LORD. And Jotham his son was over the king’s household, governing the people of the land. (2 Chr 26.19-21)
Uzziah wasn’t immediately inflicted with leprosy for what he had done. It was when Uzziah became angry that the LORD struck him. Uzziah remained a leper for the rest of his life. Having to live with the consequences of his pride and anger.
How do you think he should have responded? What can we learn about the LORD? What can we learn from his actions?
Story of Israel
Some time later, when Judah is in the process of turning away from the LORD. The LORD sends Jeremiah to call them back to repentance. The LORD speaks through him saying;
23 Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” 25 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh— 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.” (Jer 9:23–26)
Jeremiah exhorted his audience to beware pride and to circumcise their heart. To chop off what is evil so only the good remains.
Story of Jesus
Jesus spoke about pride and humility and gave us some good advice.
23 Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. 4 They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues 7 and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. 10 Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. 11 The greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted. (Mt 23:1–12)
Uzziah is an example we can learn from (1 Cor 10.6). Beware pride, humble yourself before the LORD.
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