In our last study, we saw that Am-ats-YAW was a king over Judah who...
2Chr. 25:2 ...did right in the sight of the LORD, yet not with a whole heart.
After he had defeated the Edomites, he took their gods and bowed down to them. Then he was defeated by the king of Israel. Because he had turned away from following the Lord, some conspirators killed him.
Now we pick up in chapter 26.
The son of king Am-ats-YAW and his wife Yek-ol-YAW was Uzziah (in 2Kings 15, he is called Az-ar-YAW). He was made king when he was 16 years old.
His first order of business was to rebuild and restore the city of Ay-LATH, which was down in the south, and until recently under Edomite control.
It looks like Uzziah will be a good king, doing right in the sight of the Lord.
Two generations before, the son of the high priest was named Zechariah who was a prophet (2Chron. 24:20). More than two hundred years later, a prophet named Zechariah will author the Bible's book of Zechariah. This man named Zechariah also has understanding through the vision of God, but we do not know who exactly he is.
When we read that the king "sought the Lord in the days of Zechariah," it sounds like he was one who kept the king accountable and on track with God.
And notice the standard that is set: "As long as he sought the LORD, God prospered him." That is the answer to the prosperity teachers today - don't seek the prosperity, seek the Lord, and He will prosper you. As Jesus said,
Matt. 6:33 "...seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."
Uzziah went to war against the Philistines, and broke down the walls of their cities. You may recall that in our study last week, we saw that when Israel defeated Judah, they broke down a 600-foot section of the wall around Jerusalem. We talked about how not having a whole heart for God results in your defenses being broken down.
But remember, the enemy has defenses as well. The enemy's cities have walls which can also be broken down. What are the enemy's defenses? Lies and misinformation, fear and threats.
How can they be attacked and broken down? How can we put the enemy on the defensive? When we read about the full armor of God in Ephesisans 6, we see that the only offensive weapon is the word - the Sword of the Spirit. And so this is what we use to attack their defenses. Use the Truth to tear down the lies and misinformation. Use the Word to reveal the stand against the fear and threats.
In this way, we put the enemy on the defensive.
James 4:7 ...Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
Once you've got the enemy on the run, how do you keep them on the defensive? Keep up the pressure by setting up shop in their own backyard! Just like Uzziah built cities in the area of Ashdod and among the Philistines, so too we can only keep the ground we've taken by keeping it:
- When the Apostle Paul preached the gospel in a city, he established a church.
- When David conquered the Edomites, he set garrisons in Edom (1Chron. 18:13).
Even while Uzziah was focused on keeping the enemy on the defensive, he knew that he too must have strong defenses against the enemy.
- He built towers to watch for approaching enemies (26:9-10)
- He built cisterns to store water in times of siege (26:10)
- He had an army that was always ready for battle because they were prepared with the proper armor (26:11, 14) and powerful weapons (26:15).
These are the same steps that we should take to build defenses in our Christian life.
- We need to be on the lookout for any approaching enemy.
Matt. 26:41 "Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation..."
And Peter warned,
2Pet. 3:17 ...be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness
- We need to store water for times when our supply may be cut off. Water is symbolic of the Word of God, and we need to have that stored up for times of drought or attack.
Psa. 119:11 Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
Psa. 37:31 The law of his God is in his heart; His steps do not slip.
Ou hearts are the cisterns that store water for dry times.
- We must be prepared with the proper armor, as detailed for us in Ephesians 6.
Eph. 6:14-15 ...HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE
Eph. 6:16-17 ...taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take THE HELMET OF SALVATION, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.
We just read of Uzziah that...
2Chr. 26:15 ...his fame spread afar, for he was marvelously helped until he was strong.
The fame of the name Uzziah spread because of his strength. Now, being strong is obviously not a sin, so as long as we are...
Eph. 6:10 ...strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might.
But strength and fame carry with them terrible pitfalls. They become stones of stumbling which frequently cause good men to fail and fall. You see, if we begin to look at our strength and begin to trust in it, or exalt ourselves because we have become famous, then we are in grave trouble, because...
Prov. 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.
Uzziah became so proud that he acted corruptly and was unfaithful.
Uzziah's pride actually made him think that he was worthy and able to enter the temple to burn incense on the altar. But this was clearly only the work of the priests. God had said in His Law:
Num. 16:40 ...no layman who is not of the descendants of Aaron should come near to burn incense before the LORD...
In pride, Uzziah entered the temple, and this would be his stumbling and destruction.
Az-ar-YAW the high priest, along with 80 other priests, came in after him and rebuked him. They told him he was out of order and out of place.
But Uzziah didn't receive what the priests told him. Instead, he became furious. He was enraged, and he wouldn't repent. Here's a clue for the spiritual life: Rage never results in repentance. James said,
James 1:20 ...the anger of man does not achieve the righteousness of God.
If Uzziah had responded in repentance instead of rage, I believe that things would have turned out completely different. Someone described to me recently that "repentance is like a reset button." Certainly...
1John 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
But like so many, Uzziah left the temple, rather than repent. How many people have failed to repent for what they've done wrong, and leave the house of God instead? How many people react with rage instead of repentance, and fall out of fellowship?
Repentance will wash us clean and give us a new start. But when we refuse to be made clean, we will be made completely unclean. And it's hard to imagine anything more unclean than leprosy on your forehead, visible for all to see the first time they look at you. That is what happened to King Uzziah - leprosy broke out on his forehead.
Now, there is a bit of history that I'd like to insert here. The Jewish historian Josephus wrote in his book "Antiquities of the Jews,"
When a remarkable day was come, and a general festival was to be celebrated, he put on the holy garment, and went into the temple to offer incense to God upon the golden altar, which he was prohibited to do by Azariah the high priest, who had fourscore priests with him, and who told him that it was not lawful for him to offer sacrifice, and that 'none besides the posterity of Aaron were permitted so to do.' And when they cried out that he must go out of the temple, and not transgress against God, he was wroth at them, and threatened to kill them, unless they would hold their peace. In the mean time a great earthquake shook the ground and a rent was made in the temple, and the bright rays of the sun shone through it, and fell upon the king's face, insomuch that the leprosy seized upon him immediately. And before the city, at a place called Eroge, half the mountain broke off from the rest on the west, and rolled itself four furlongs, and stood still at the east mountain, till the roads, as well as the king's gardens, were spoiled by the obstruction. (Ant. 9:10:4)
For some reason, the Chronicler does not mention the earthquake of which Josephus speaks. However, over 200 years later, Zechariah the prophet would write of a devastating earthquake to happen in the last days, saying,
Zech. 14:5 ...you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!
The prophet Amos also mentions Uzziah's earthquake (Amos 1:1). And so maybe the Chronicler thought it was such a huge and unforgettable event that it didn't even warrant mentioning.
King Uzziah's failure to repent brought about uncleanness and a separation from fellowship and the house of God until he died. The Chronicler at this time directs us to the writings of Isaiah. And it was that very year when the prophet Isaiah wrote,
Is. 6:1-3 In the year of King Uzziah's death I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called out to another and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the LORD of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory."
In the year King Uzziah died, Isaiah saw the Lord. Uzziah had been strong. Uzziah had been famous. Everyone had been relying on him, giving them the victory over their enemies, and building strong defenses for them. But when he died, Isaiah saw the Lord. Saints, this is a key for us tonight. Because many of us are either going through, or about to go through, similar situations, when our Uzziahs - the strength of our life, or those people that we're trusting in - are going to go away, or let us down, or fall away, or maybe even die. And we're going to think that it's all over. But the reminder tonight is that even when King Uzziah dies, God is still on the throne. Even when everything is upside down and topsy-turvy, God is still in control. When things are shaking and quaking, the Lord is still God.