Winners and Losers: Part 14 -
Uzziah: A Man of Faith Who Became a Man of Presumption
Kathy's Sunday School Lessons Written for Young Boys and Girls by Kathryn Capoccia
© Copyright Kathryn Capoccia 2001. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold.
Uzziah was a man who inherited the kingdom of Judah from his father, Amaziah, and set about to purge the land of idolatry and of subservience to foreign powers. For as long as he “sought the LORD, God gave him success” (2CH 26:5). But his very success became a snare because “his pride led to his downfall” (2CH 26:16). He became so proud that he dared to usurp the prerogatives of the priests and was duly disciplined for it with leprosy. Let’s turn in our Bibles to 2Chronicles to look at the life of this man who was so successful and then became so foolish.
I. Who Was He? 2CH ; 2KI 15:13, 30-34; ISA 1:1, 6:1, 7:1; HOS 1:1; AMO 1:1; ZEC 14:5.
A. What Was His Name? He had two names: in Chronicles his name was Uzziah “My Strength is The Lord”, in 2Kings Uzziah and Azariah is used, and in the prophets Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, and Zechariah he is known as Azariah.
B. When Did He Live? He lived from about 792/1 B.C. to 740/39 B.C. His reign corresponded to the reigns of Jeroboam, and
C. Who were His people?
1. His father was Amaziah, king of Judah; Uzziah was probably a co-regent with his father (who was murder in 768/7 B.C.), since 2KI 14:23 states that Jeroboam, king of Israel, reigned 41 years, that Uzziah became king in the 27th year of Jeroboam (2KI 15:1), and that Jeroboam’s reign lasted until Uzziah’s 38th year (2KI 15:8).
2. His mother was Jecoliah (2CH 26:3; 2KI 15:2), “Is powerful”. She was from Jerusalem.
D. How long did he reign? He reigned for 52 years, from the time of his co-regency at 16 years of age to the time of his death at 68 years of age (2CH 26:3).
II. What Did He Do?
A. He was Zealous for God
1. He did what was right in the eyes of God
a. He continued the godly things his father, Amaziah, had done (2CH 26:4).
1) Amaziah “did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart”…”, “not like David his father” (2CH 25: 2; 2KI 14:3).
2) Amaziah did “according to all that Joash his father had done” (2KI 14:3).
a) Joash did what was right in the sight of the LORD (2CH 24:2), ie. He was not idolatrous.
b) Joash had repaired the Temple (2CH 24:4-13).
3) Amaziah and Uzziah did not remove the high places: the people still sacrificed and burned incense on the high places (2KI 15:4).
b. He continued to seek God all the days of Zechariah, an unknown prophet (2CH 26:5).
2. He raised Judah to greater worldly power (ISA 2-5).
a. He warred against his pagan neighbors (2CH 6-15).
1) the Edomites (2CH 26:2); he captured the seaport of Elath.
2) the Philistines (2CH 26:7).
a) He broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh and Ashdod.
b) He built cities in Ashdod and other cities in Philistia.
3) the Arabians of Gur-baal (the SE border of Judah: 2CH 20:1, 26:6,7).
4) the Meunites (their capital was Maan, 12 mi. SE of Petra: 2CH 20:1, 26:7).
5) the Ammonites, who paid him tribute (2CH 26:8).
b. He fortified Judah (2CH 26:
1) He built Eloth, a port city on the Gulf of Agaba (2CH 26:2).
2) He built towers in Jerusalem (2CH 26:9).
a) on the NE corner of Jerusalem he constructed a fortified tower.
b) on the west side of the city, at the Valley Gate he constructed a fortified tower.
c) on the SE side of the city, at the Corner Buttress where the Wall of Zion joined with the south wall of the temple hill, he constructed a fortified tower.
3) He protected the wilderness pasture lands(2CH 26:10).
a) He built towers in the steppe-lands on the west side of the Dead Sea to protect his herds against robbers from Edom and Arabia.
b) He dug cisterns for the cattle on the flat lands west and east of the Dead Sea (this was land that had once belonged to the tribe of Reuben but had fallen into Moabite and Ammonite hands until Uzziah had reclaimed it).
c. He built up the army (2CH 26:11-15).
1) He divided his army of 307,500 valiant men into 2,600 detachments led by heads of households.
2) He supplied his army with army shields, spears, helmets, body armor, bows and sling stones.
3) He provided Jerusalem with war machines for the tower defenses: ie. catapults for shooting arrows and stones.
B. He Became Spiritually Corrupt (2CH 26:16-23).
1. He became proud because he was successful
a) He was successful
1) His military fame had spread to the borders of Egypt and farther (2CH 26:8, 15).
2) He was “marvelously helped” by God “until he was strong” (2CH 26:15):
i. In his building projects, especially Elath (when he was 40 years old).
ii. In his extension of control over the Negev and in securing water supplies.
iii. In his defended settlements in Philistine territory.
b) He grew proud
“But when he became strong, his heart was so proud that he acted corruptly, and he was unfaithful to the LORD his God…” (2CH 26:16).
*Another king who grew proud because of his great achievements was Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon (DAN 4:28-37), who said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” He was judged for his pride: (DAN 4:32) “You will be driven away from people and will live with wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone He wishes”. At the end of the appointed time when God’s purpose was accomplished and Nebuchadnezzar was humbled he “praised the Most High; I honored and glorified Him who lives forever” (DAN 4:34).
PROVERB 16:18 SAYS, “PRIDE GOES BEFORE DESTRUCTION, A HAUGHTY SPIRIT BEFORE A FALL.”
AND DANIEL 4:37 SAYS, “THOSE WHO WALK IN PRIDE HE IS ABLE TO HUMBLE”.
Uzziah’s pride led him into sin and God had to judge him for it.
2. He was unfaithful to God
a. He entered the Temple to offer incense (2CH 26:17ff; 750 B.C.).
1) incense was to be burned before the LORD on a gold altar of incense (which stood before the curtain that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies) every morning and every evening in the Tabernacle and Temple (EXO 30:7-9).
WHAT WAS INCENSE?
EXODUS 30:34-37 states that incense was a blend of fragrant spices- gum, resin, onycha and galbanum and pure frankincense- which was salted, pure and exclusive to the LORD. It was to be ground into a powder and presented to the LORD in the Tabernacle and Temple “in front of the Testimony”, probably in a censer over hot coals.
WHAT WAS A CENSER?
A censer, or firepan, may have consisted of a shallow pan with a handle in which live coals sprinkled were placed. Incense was placed on top of the coals so that it would burn; “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, Zondervan Publishing House, © 1978, vol. 1, pg.771.
2) this activity was restricted to the Levitical priests descended from Aaron, who initiated the rite at the command of God (EXO 30:7).
WHY WOULD HE DO THIS?
*Keil-Delitzch hazard this guess- they feel that Uzziah “wished to make himself high priest of his kingdom, like the kings of Egypt and of the other nations, whose kings were also summi pontifices, and to unite all power in his person, like Moses, who consecrated Aaron and his sons to be priests”; this is from “A Commentary on the Old Testament”, vol. 3, pg. 429.
b. He raged at the priests who rebuked him
1) The High Priest, Azariah, and 80 priests confronted Uzziah to rebuke him for trying to attain to the service of incense burning before the LORD (2CH 26:17,18).
“It is not right for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to thr LORD. That is for the priests, the descendants of Aaron, who have been consecrated to burn incense. Leave the sanctuary, for you have been unfaithful; and you will not be honored by the LORD God”.
2) Uzziah became enraged, “vexed” (furiously raving); he began to verbally attack the priests who opposed him as he stood before the altar of incense with a censer in his hand (2CH 26:19).
3. He was humbled (chastened) by God
a. He was leprous: leprosy broke out on Uzziah’s forehead as he raged at the priests (2CH 26:19).
1) disease had been used before by God as an instrument of chastening:
a) Miriam was struck with a temporary leprosy when she jealously opposed Moses’ leadership (NUM 12:10).
b) Asa was struck with a disease in his feet as a result of sin (2CH 16:12).
c) Herod was struck with intestinal worms because he accepted worship as a god (ACT 12:23).
2) leprosy existed in 2 forms in the Old Testament:
a) “lepromatous” leprosy is the more severe and contagious form: it starts as a patch of pink or white skin which may spread widely in all directions. Then tuberous swellings, like boils, grow on and in the body. The hands and feet become deformed as the tissues between the bones and the bones themselves deteriorate; nerve endings become insensitive to heat or injury. During periods of exacerbation fever, pain and weakness occur which might last for hours, days, or weeks, during which time the sufferer is contagious. Periods of subsidence follow the exacerbation periods. In the Old Testament this disease ended in death, either from the leprosy itself (in 10-20 years), or from secondary diseases that the weakened body could not combat. Lepers were isolated from the healthy.
b) “tuberculoid” leprosy is a less severe form which tends to be limited and will run its course in from 1-3 years. It starts with a patch of skin which changes to a pink or white color and is surrounded by a low ridge: more patches will follow but these will not spread to the whole body. These will heal completely even if untreated but may reoccur later. During its life this type of leprosy also has periods of activity and remission, though the periods of exacerbation seem not to be so troublesome. This type of leprosy also called for isolation from others in Old Testament times (see 2KI 5:1-19).
*This information came from “The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible”, Zondervan Publishers, © 1975, vol. 2, pgs. 138,139; “The Victor Handbook of Bible Knowledge”, G. Beers, Victor Books, © 1961, pgs. 256,7, 461.
*Leviticus chapters 13 and 14 deal extensively on the diagnosis and treatment of lepers.
b. He was quarantined (2CH 26:20,21).
1) He was ejected from the sanctuary (2CH 26:20, 21).
“When Azariah the chief priest and all the other priests looked at him, they saw that he had leprosy on his forehead, so they hurried him out. Indeed, he himself was eager to leave, because the LORD had afflicted him” (2CH 26:20).
2) He lived as a leper.
a) lepers, as the “unclean”, were required to warn others of their condition (LEV 13:45,46).
i. They had to wear torn clothes.
ii. They had to let their be unkempt.
iii. They had to cover the lower part of their faces.
iv. They had to cry out “unclean” at the approach of a healthy person.
b) lepers were required to live alone, outside of regular society (LEV 13:46).
c) Uzziah lived in a separate house and never again entered the Temple of the LORD (2CH 26:21).
d) When he died (after 10 years as a leper) Uzziah was not buried in the tombs of the kings of Judah but “near them in a field for burial that belonged to the kings, for the people said, ‘He had leprosy’” (2CH 26:23).
c. He was supplanted: Jotham became co-regent from 750-740 B.C.
1) his son, Jotham, “had charge of the palace” (2KI 15:5).
2) his son, Jotham, governed the people (2KI 15:5; 2CH 26:21).
WHY WAS UZZIAH DISCIPLINED SO SEVERLY?
1. HE WAS A LEADER OF THE PEOPLE AND AS SUCH WAS JUDGED MORE STRICTLY (JAM 3:1; SEE ALSO 2SA 12:13).
2. HE HAD A RESPONSIBILITY TO SET A GOOD EXAMPLE: “FROM EVERYONE WHO HAS BEEN GIVEN MUCH, MUCH WILL BE DEMANDED; AND FROM THE ONE WHO HAS BEEN ENTRUSTED WITH MUCH, MUCH MORE WILL BE ASKED” (LUK 12:48).
WAS HE A WINNER OR A LOSER?
III. What Can We Learn From Him?
A. Pride goes before destruction.
B. The most difficult time to maintain spirituality is when we are successful for then our pride leads us to the neglect our spiritual lives; we also tend to overlook God’s grace, lose our humility and see ourselves as the masters of our own blessings.
C. God will humble the proud: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled” (MAT 23:12), and, “Those who walk in pride He is able to humble” (DAN 4:37).
D. God’s discipline is not punishment, it is a “pruning” (JOH 15:2) for our good that we may share in His holiness (HEB 12:10). Uzziah immediately came back to humility when he was disciplined (2CH 26:20).
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